Dan Brereton Discusses His ‘By the Blade’ Kickstarter Project: The Conskipper Interview

Dan Brereton, the artist and creator behind Nocturnals, Giantkiller and so much more, has launched a Kickstarter campaign for his brand new book and portfolio set entitled By the Blade and Swordplay respectively. With eleven days to go in the campaign, the project has nearly tripled its funding goal and amassed over 425 backers to date. To mark the occasion, Mr. Brereton answered our exclusive questions about the new project, his artist process, and more.

We last spoke on the record when you were prepping your Children of Night book towards the beginning of the pandemic. How have you been keeping busy since then?

Dan Brereton: Oh man, I’ve been so busy. Between Kickstarter projects like Children of Night, Autumnkind, etc , and maintaining my Patreon page The Night Studio, as well as some freelance comics work. I’m also working on a new Nocturnals graphic novel . It’s 96 pages, penciled and awaiting the painting stage.

Has your artistic process largely stayed the same, or have you made any adjustments to how you work in light of the different phases of the pandemic?

Brereton: As a freelancer, I’m already used to working from home, so that’s not been much of a transition. I feel fortunate in that at least. And while I miss doing more conventions, The extra time available by sticking to the house has been useful to be as productive as possible.

You describe By the Blade as your, “tribute to sword & sorcery, samurai chambara, weird tales and heroic fantasy.” How and why did you arrive at this theme?

Brereton: While I was prepping Autumnkind last year there were illustrations which didn’t quite fit the theme – I’m a big swords guy in terms of my story interests so it made sense to compile a book featuring swordslingers.

How is your process for creating and compiling this work similar to your approach to books like Children of Night and Autumnkind? How is it different?

Brereton: Laying out any art book, and prepping the Kickstarter which funds it is very similar to the one before or the one to follow. One thing I do for each book is have a theme so the book isn’t just “Art of Dan Brereton Vol 7,8,9”, etc . I find this dry and a wasted opportunity. Each book has its own unique character from year to year and I want to take advantage of the ability to come up with fun title and cover imagery.

By the Blade is possibly the most focused of the art books I’ve done for theme. It’s been very inspirational and many new images have come out of it .

What is it about this campaign that you’re most excited about?

Brereton: Really it’s just about my being a huge fan of the subject matter – fantasy, warriors, samurai, epic adventure- it’s an aesthetic which has captivated me since I was 11 years old . The works of TH White, Tolkien, Howard, Lieber, Moorcock- and so many others – I’m paying homage to them (and the illustrators who depicted their stories and characters so indelibly) and that makes me very happy.

When thinking about the theme and subject matter of By the Blade, who are the artists of this material who have most inspired or engaged you as a fan and as an artist? How come?

Brereton: Easy list – John Buscema, The Brothers Hildebrandt, Jeffrey Jones, Frank Frazetta, Goseki Kojima, Gil Kane, Barry Windsor Smith, Frank Thorne…those are the towering giants, though by no means close to naming them all.

Some genres come and go, but swords, sorcery, barbarians, and monsters seem to never go out of style. What is it about this genre that people of every generation seem to be able to connect with it and love it?

Brereton: I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me the stories and images are such a great escape. As a teen, tales of questing, dragon-slaying , tavern-brawling, romantic, savage, cursed swordsmen (and woman) coupled with magic blades, sorcerers, creatures, maps of imaginary lands – I’m still drawn to it. Going back to Arthurian Legend all the way through The Lord of the Rings and into the realms of Robert E Howard… those stories are extremely powerful. Whether you’re a Dungeons and Dragons gamer, an armchair barbarian or an aficionado of Feudal Japan, getting lost in those worlds is intoxicating.

You are about to complete your seventh successful Kickstarter campaign. What are some things you’ve learned and adjustments you’ve made by now on Kickstarter that you wish you could go back in time and tell yourself when you were first starting out on the platform?

Brereton: I’m always learning with each campaign. I’m thankful for the hurdles and missteps in a way, because they’re how I learned to do it the right way. The biggest lesson learned- keep it simple. The more streamlined, the better. Let the strength of the project do it’s thing.

Your original art rewards, such as original watercolors and hand-drawn sketches, are always the first options to be sold out when you launch Kickstarter campaigns. In the age of dawn of the digital NFT, why do you think original artwork made by human hands is still so important to so many collectors?

Brereton: John , you and I both know that nothing will ever take the place of artwork you can hold in your hands! You don’t get more one-of-a- kind than a drawing or a painting.
I love to make physical art, and feel extremely fortunate there are collectors who cherish this as much as I do- and I say this as a fellow art collector.

Are there any other projects that you’re working on alongside this project or any other upcoming projects you can tell us about at this time?

Brereton: I’m trying to make room to paint Nocturnals story pages- the comic is all drawn. I’m also working on art and design for another Nocturnals project I can’t talk about yet. It’s a foray into a new medium for me and I’m really excited about it. I’m equally excited about the next graphic novel, but I want to complete more of the work before launching the campaign. Crowdfunding has been a lifesaver, Patreon as well. Being able to connect directly with folks on these platforms has been a revelation to creators.

The By the Blade Kickstarter campaign is available to back through February 14th, 2022.

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