An interview with “Doom Patrol” artist Nick Derington at New York Comic Con 2017.
DC’s Young Animal imprint is currently producing some of the most exciting and unique stories in comics. Mastermind Gerard Way leads the charge, and around him, he’s assembled some of the most talented creators in comics today. Nick Derington is one of Way’s pickups and works with him directly as the illustrator on Doom Patrol. I was lucky enough to sit down with Nick at New York Comic Con 2017 and talk Doom Patrol, dream projects and tacos!
AiPT!: How did you and Gerard Way come together and what did the process of putting your ideas and his vision together for the book look like?
Nick: It’s a weird story. It was pure dumb luck. A year and a half ago I was out, out, out of comics. Comics are hard in a crazy world and I had moved on to other stuff like animation and film stuff, things like that. By pure chance when Gerard and Shelly Bond were looking to put together this Young Animal project, they came across a random Twitter sketch of mine. The very night they’re looking to get started.
I was contacted by Shelly the next day. I said “Give me the weekend, let me read Doom Patrol, all the Grant Morrison Doom Patrol because they were building off that and let me read all of Gerard’s comics, the Umbrella Academy stuff.” I sat down and didn’t move for two days straight. Read all of it in one go and was like, “Alright. I’m fucking on board.”
So Gerard and I had a little phone meeting to feel each other out and what not. So right away we’re all; same age, ’90s punk rock kids, also into artsy stuff, like we speak the same language.
AiPT!: So instant best friends?
Nick: Instant best friends! So we knew we had to do it, there was no backing out. So it’s been that for the last year and a half and it’s been a wonderful journey.AiPT!: The Casey Brinke Infinite Crisis homage is easily one of my favorite pieces that’s come out of Doom Patrol. Is that something you’ve been wanting to work into a project for a while or did it happen organically?
Nick: That was one of the big things I wanted to do in the first issue. I had started obsessing over Danny the Ambulance. The history of Danny the Street and all that stuff he did. Using street signs and smoke coming out of chimneys. Words and pictures to talk to the people on Danny the street. It sounds a lot like comics, using words and pictures to talk to people. So I said to Gerard, “What if Danny became a comic book? What if Danny became the comic you were reading? Wouldn’t that be awesome?” And he’s like, “Yes, that would be awesome. Hold my beer!”
AiPT!: I’m very excited for issue 8 with the cat cover. My girlfriend loves that cat.
Nick: [laughs] Everyone loves Lotion the cat.AiPT!: A lot of incredibly talented artists that have worked on Doom Patrol, such as Bruno Premiani, Steve Lightle, John Byrne and Matt Clark. How much of their work influenced how you approached this project?
Nick: I came into it as a huge fan of the original ’60s stuff. Bruno Premiani and Arnold Drake did that first run and it’s so odd and so weird. Bruno Premiani is this Italian guy who came to the U.S. and was this big artist over there and comes to the U.S. and starts doing comic books. His drawing style is so underrated and so awesome.
He was also a major influence on Mike Allred, who was my art hero growing up. It was such an honor to him have on board [Doom Patrol #7]. It’s like this long tail of influence.
AiPT!: Are there any easter eggs you’re trying to drop in from the previous runs?
Nick: Yeah there’s little easter eggs here and there. The thing is we don’t want it to be continuity-heavy. We want it to be accessible to new readers. But at the same time we want to reward the observant reader. So yeah we have our classic characters like Larry, Cliff and Jane. There’s new stuff like Lotion, Casey and Lucius.
AiPT!: If you could choose any book you want, is there a character out there that you’d jump at the chance to put your own spin on?
Nick: The cliche answer is everyone has a Batman story they want to tell. That’s the cool thing, though. All these characters have so much history and stuff behind them, that you can take anything and make something cool out of it. It’s such a rich world to work in. Whether it’s Kite Man or Superman, there’s cool stuff to say with it all.
I have two kids now. So ever since then, all of a sudden, Superman has been making a ton of sense to me. Like whoa whoa, Superman is an important character. Responsibility and paternal figure! Being a role model as a person of power. So yeah Superman would be fun.
AiPT!: Is there a dream project that you’ve been sitting on, waiting for the right time to take on?
Nick: I’ve got a lot of stories that are half figured out and almost ready, so yeah I’ve got projects. I’m all Doom Patrol for the foreseeable future.
AiPT!: I loved your Mr. Miracle covers.
Nick: It makes me so happy that it’s connecting with such a huge audience. This is a weird superhero artsy thing that Tom’s doing with that. People are loving it. Yes! Way to go readers. It makes me happy that people get it and are jiving with it.
AiPT!: I recently visited Austin and I’m fairly certain I gained a solid five pounds before I left. The food is amazing. What’s your favorite place to get a taco?
Nick: El Chilito. It’s awesome. Simply divine.