Inside Look is Broken Frontier’s director’s commentary-like feature in which creators take you behind the scenes of one of their latest comics to hit the stands. In this edition, writers Matt Gagnon and Michael Alan Nelson discuss Day Men #5 published by BOOM! Studios.
By Matt Gagnon and Michael Alan Nelson
The fifth issue of DAY MEN is the first part of our second story arc, Ex Curia. Our lead character, David Reid, is the specially trained (and very human) daytime protector of a powerful family of vampires called the Virgos. When the sun is shining and the Virgos sleep, David is on the job. And it just so happens that job now entails the unsavory position of being a wartime enforcer for the Virgos as they take up arms against their nemesis, the Ramses family.
Issue #5 was such a great issue to work on. We had already established the basics of the world and the characters by this point, so we really had a chance to ratchet up the stakes and start to bring this initial story closer to its climax. Conversely, there’s also a couple “quiet” moments this issue that we’re really fond of. It gave us a chance to explore these characters further and see what makes them tick as their respective worlds come crashing down around them.
MATT GAGNON: One thing we utilize in most of the DAY MEN issues is a cold open. We’ll jump in time or even introduce you to new characters or environments to kick things off. I love starting off an issue with a situation that readers may not completely be able to wrap their brains around just yet. If the scene is working, it will either consciously or subconsciously hook the reader and bring them along with you for the ride.
There’s also a “day in the life” quality to David Reid’s job as a Day Man that we always wanted to convey. Protecting vampires while they sleep is a pretty surreal job, but it’s still a job. Every day usually presents new challenges. We have a lot fun dropping David into these various conflicts and situations. If we’re getting a kick out of showing what this job actually entails and how crazy it is, hopefully the readers will, too.
Now, here’s a way you typically don’t want to start off an issue with your artist. Your lead character is in a packed club with DOZENS of dancing people partying everywhere. As you can imagine, we’re not exactly helping our awesome artist build a ton of momentum! However, we all agreed we needed this scene and Brian was game for the challenge. He did a great job of making this scene flow and keeping the focus on Casey, David, and this new character, Roy.
And speaking of Roy: THOSE SIDEBURNS.
MICHAEL ALAN NELSON: Misdirection is always fun. You try to make your reader think you’re headed one way when you’re really headed in the opposite direction. That’s what we were trying to accomplish with this opening scene. You have both David and Casey at a nightclub trying to enjoy what they think might just be one of their final evenings. Only it isn’t until later we discover they are, in fact, there for another reason entirely.
I really enjoyed this scene because it gave us an opportunity to see David and Casey, the two humans of the Virgo clan, out mingling with their own kind. Casey was able to mingle quite well, but David still comes across as isolated, an island in a sea of people. Even when he’s approached by a beautiful woman, he doesn’t build that relationship because he’s working. It says a lot about how he sees himself in the world.
NELSON: The morgue scene was an idea we had discussed at the very beginning of the series and here we finally had a chance to use that setting. It made sense to us that if a Vampire needed to hide out, the morgue would be a great place. Though our original idea was a bit different from what we finally crafted for this scene, it still captures the idea. And it’s in this scene where David finally realizes just how screwed he is. It felt fitting to have him come to that realization in a morgue.
GAGNON: This scene showcases David’s primary fight sequence in the issue. Fight choreography, character movement, panel-to-panel action–this is where Brian really excels. His page designs are always cinematic in sequences like this. When characters punch, kick, lunge, and jump, you can feel the power of those movements.
This is a scene where we start to see David as a character beginning to get worn out. This whole Virgo-Ramses war is taking its toll on him. He can’t catch a break. For every step forward it feels like he’s taking two steps back. And there’s no greater example than finding a legit witness who could give him and the family proof of what’s transpiring, only to be forced to kill him.
I thought the vampire’s mangled left arm and face was a nice touch by Brian.
GAGNON: Page Fifteen Panel Two is one of my favorite panels in the entire series. It’s a simple moment; there’s just two people talking. But Brian and Darrin elevate it with some seriously spectacular lighting and shadows. A great art team can do that–turn a conventional moment into something special. Brian and Darrin bring the thunder for this series every issue.
Team Day Men can’t get enough of Titus. We love this guy. As the family’s champion his entire purpose is to be the Alpha. Yet, he and his family’s interests are often left in the hands of a human while the sun’s shining. And a lot can happen while the sun’s shining. This drives Titus up the wall.
NELSON: This is one of my favorites scenes in the entire series. Mostly because Brian did such an amazing job with the art, but also because we get Titus’s Sand Speech. Titus has always been an ominous figure in the series. As the Virgos’ champion, he needs to be. But when we see Kellen and Heinrich waiting in the wings, hesitating to disturb him from his meditation, you really get to understand just how dangerous Titus is. This is also a turning point for the series because this is where the Virgo family starts to realize that they’re not going to survive.
GAGNON: Thanks for checking this out! If you’re already reading DAY MEN, I hope this behind-the-scenes feature gave you greater insight into what we’re doing. If you’re not reading, I hope it encouraged you to give us a shot. We love our readers. And really, who doesn’t need more love?!
You can find me here on Twitter: @mattegagnon. The rest of the gang go by these handles: @roquesdoodle (Michael Alan Nelson), @Stelfreeze (Brian Stelfreeze), @Eric_BOOM (Eric Harburn, Editor), and @eDukeDW (Ed Dukeshire, Letterer).
The DAY MEN V1 TP (collecting issues 1-4) and DAY MEN #5 are both on sale 11/5 in finer comic shops everywhere.