Column by Philip Perron
COVID-19 is a horrible thing. The most important aspect is the loss of lives throughout the world. In the United States, there has been 450,000 deaths alone because of the pandemic (including my father on January 14, 2021). Many folks have lost their jobs as restaurants, theaters, lounges, stores, and the service sector have been forced to close. A lot of talk has been spoken of about the medical community and all the good they have done during their fight on the front line. But frontline workers include much more than doctors and nurses. Retail clerks and sanitation workers have been right there doing their very best, risking their health and safety as they keep the world moving.
What does that mean? The fact that conventions (which are generally part of the service sector) have been cancelled and postponed seems little of importance based off what has been stated in the first paragraph of this article. But many folks make their livelihood attending such things; selling their products, interacting with clients in person. But there has been replacements. What about virtual conventions? Well, these just aren’t a “thing” for many people.
So why not show off some fine talent through our website here and give some really talented people a big shout out. During the shutdown of the convention circuit, the well known and successful Williamsburg, Virginia convention, SCARES-THAT-CARE, still has a presence on-line. As long as people are here, there will always be breast cancer, sick children in need, and those that are burn victims. SCARES-THAT-CARE is a great convention that brings horror fans together while also donating all proceeds to a person with each of these unfortunate conditions.
A lot of their work is done on-line with virtual auctions and designated donation days. In a recent fundraiser, my fellow co-host Mike of the Dark Discussions Podcast and Cinema A La Carte Podcast won some fabulous artwork by a very generous duo of artists that donated their time and work to help SCARES-THAT-CARE. I’ll let Mike tell it himself:
“I had commissioned work done by Blair Webb and Dana Webb of Fright Night Sketches. This was purchased at the Scares That Care fundraiser in October and arrived a bit before Christmas. I left it all in Blair’s hands with the caveat that it might hang in my classroom. He chose the Ghostbusters theme, and I love the chemistry nods he incorporated. If you see them at a convention I recommend them highly.”
When I saw this incredible work that Mike finally shared with us, I figured it was about time to get in contact with the artists, Fright Night Sketches, and interview these fine folks for the Dark Discussions News Network as soon as possible. So who are these talented folks? Well, let’s talk to them and find out.
Philip of Dark Discussions (DD): So Mike was pretty excited with the final product that you folks created for him. It was pretty solid work, I must say. So why don’t you tell us a little about who you are.
Dana Webb of Fright Night Sketches (FNS): Thanks for getting in contact with us and appreciate the time to get to know us. Well, Fright Night Sketches is myself Dana and my husband Blair Webb. Or to sound more generic, we are a husband and wife team that creates stylized and exaggerated horror-comic commissions and cartoon images. More specifically, Blair does the pencils and inks. While myself, I’m a model and cosplayer, but I happen to also be the boss lady along with the digital colorist for FNS.
Philip of DD: I know a lot of artists aren’t able to do their passion as a full time job. Many have to work a day job to pay the bills. So to put this into two questions, how long has Fright Night Sketches been around? And are you able to do it full time?
Dana Webb of FNS: We’ve been a little lucky. Though naturally talented, there has been a lot of hard work too. For example, Blair is self-taught and has been drawing since he could hold a pencil. For me, I actually started modeling back in 2007, and then extending into cosplaying since 2013. Adding to my own resume, I became a digital coloring artist back in 2019. The two of us have been very fortunate to get to say that this is our full-time job. We love the fact that we get to do our passion everyday as our vocation.
Philip of DD: There’s all sorts of art work and many different genres people can get into. What made you folks get into both horror and genre art? Were you always into horror movies and thrillers? Or just into monsters in general?
Blair Webb of FNS: Like a lot of imaginative minds, I’ve always been into horror since I was a child. It was the only genre that actually peaked my interest other than comic books, of course.
Dana Webb of FNS: I was raised on horror movies. As a child, obviously you’re a bit too young to understand the movie magic that’s going on, yet that being said, as a little girl it was terrifying but exciting at the same time. As I got older I became so intrigued with the genre that I started looking into the science behind making such movies, which also drove me to becoming obsessed with special effects makeup. I’ve always loved the adrenaline rush you get with anything horror and there are no other genres that give you that high.
Philip of DD: Dark Discussions News Network isn’t just horror. The network talks about all sorts of things. That’s why we have a few catch phrases, to paraphrase, “we discuss horror, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, comic book movies, and even mysteries.” As a result, our audience would be very interested with my next questions. Have you folks done actual comic books for well known comics or comic companies? (whether the big boys like DC/Marvel or smaller companies like Image, Fat Cow) or do you do more self published and independent works? Do you do it for writers or do you have your own stories you do the art for?
Dana Webb of FNS: We have never worked for or with the big leagues…yet. However, Blair has written and illustrated his own comic, Ghostman, which has also included a crossover comic with Patrick Thomas called Ghostman and Hell’s Detective in Case of the Moon Maniac. We also have a comic in the works that I am writing and Blair is illustraing. So that is very exciting. Also, Blair has done pin-ups for several independent comics such as PLB, X Knight Productions, and a few others. Our ultimate goal, however, would be to end up drawing a Batman/ Harley pin-up for DC and in a DC book.
Philip of DD: Was there any specific thing as a child or teenager (things like a movie, a horror author, a horror monster) that affected you and turned you into focusing on a specific subject?
Blaire Webb of FNS: Oh yes! The werewolf transformation in American Werewolf in London greatly influenced how I like to draw werewolves. It inspired me to study more transformations of the lycanthrope. That movie definitely got me focused on where I wanted to go in my artwork.
Philip of DD: Seeing your love of a classic horror move, what is your favorite horror movie and why?
Dana Webb of FNS: That’s a tough one. Honestly, there isn’t just one. But I love any horror movie with vampires.
Philip of DD: And what about books? Do you folks have a favorite horror book/author?
Blair Webb of FNS: Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King because, well, werewolves.
Dana Webb of FNS: Mine would be the House of Night series by PC and Kristin Cast and yup, because of vampires
Philip of DD: So American Werewolf in London is one of the great classics in horror cinema. So I can see that being an influence. To expand on that, even though you are distinct artists with your own techniques and your own visions, were there any artists (comicbook or otherwise (Boris Vallejo, etc.)) or publications (Heavy Metal, specific characters like Witchblade, anime like High School of the Dead, etc.) that influenced your work and the path you took to be who you are today as artists?
Dana Webb of FNS: That would be a looooong list but Blair has always been a huge Batman fan while I’ve always loved Harley Quinn and Wonder Woman (we’re a DC household, fyi lol). Some of Blair’s biggest influences include Frank Miller, Neil Adams, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko (for The Creeper, obviously).
Philip of DD: You folks have mentioned some of your independent comic books you’ve worked on. How about telling us a little about some of your other past projects that would be of interest to speculative fiction and horror fans?
Dana Webb of FNS: Blair created the mascot/logo for Pop Rock ‘N Horror Con as well as exclusive prints for the convention depicting the show’s special guests as horror characters. He has also done the art for a couple of indie horror musicals such as You’ve Got Red On You (a Sean of the Dead musical parody) and Evil Dead- The Musical both by Bootless Stageworks. We have also worked on an indie horror movie poster for Bloody Summer Camp by Slasher 15 productions. Another cool thing we did was work on monster designs for Cryptid Crate, a horror themed monthly subscription box. You could say we’ve been super busy … and we want to keep it that way.
Philip of DD: Taking a look at your available works online, I see that there is a variance of artistic style which makes you folks a chameleon in a sense to what you are drawing. From more grand guignol to classical horror to grindhouse art, does the type or style depend on who commissions your work or what story you are trying to present?
Dana Webb of FNS: The client and the project dictate the style and direction of the artwork. We aim to make it fun and original. So if someone out there has an idea or a specific thing in mind, we are most certainly available to get it down for them.
Philip of DD: You’ve mentioned movie posters and convention work. How about books and games. Have you ever done work for roleplaying games or covers of novels or inside chapter headers?
Dana Webb of FNS: We certainly have. Blair has worked on chapter headers for The Stories In- Between- a short stories collection. He’s also worked on punk rock album covers for bands such as The Lot and Stolen Wheelchairs. So we’ve done almost everything. But we’d be glad to work on roleplaying games too if they came our way.
Philip of DD: Exciting news, I heard you folks are a finalist for Inked Magazine related to cover work? Tell us all about that? And do you folks do tattoo work too?
Blair Webb of FNS: Dana is actually in a contest to be a model on the cover of Inked Magazine. So, if you’re reading this, please vote! It would help us out so much! Here is the link to where you can vote everyday: https://cover.inkedmag.com/2021/dana-webb
Dana Webb of FNS: We haven’t done tattoo work, but we are currently working on a huge project for a tattoo shop called Cosmic Primate which includes 8 11×17 panels of the shop staff battling face huggers, xenomorphs, and the alien queen from the Alien movie franchise.
Philip of DD: Oh, nice! Alien is one of my favorite horror films of all time with some of the coolest “villians” of all time. What about you folks? What is your favorite horror villain or monster?
Dana Webb of FNS: Oh yeah, xenomorphs for sure. My favorite.
Blair Webb of FNS: You’d probably guess I’d saw a werewolf based off my love for American Werewolf of London, but to be honest, if I had to choose my top monster or villain of all time in a horror film it would be the spirits from the movie Thirteen Ghosts.
Philip of DD: People are probably wondering right now a big question based off what they’ve seen so far. Are you folks able to do commissioned work for anyone who might find you online? And how does that work if so?
Dana Webb of FNS: Absolutely!! In fact that’s how we get most of our gigs, especially now that there are no conventions (cue sad face). Anybody can reach us at email@example.com or message us on our facebook page: Fright Night Sketches.
Philip of DD: Can people who are frugal in these times still buy prints of works you’ve done?
Blair Webb of FNS: Absolutely!! Our prints, which can be ordered online, sell for $10 each or 3 for $20. However, that does not include the pricing for commissions or blank comic sketch covers.
Philip of DD: And what about the great help you have done by donating your work to SCARES-THAT-CARE. How did you get involved in helping a charity like Scares-that-Care and coming up with the idea to help?
Dana Webb of FNS: Well, family is important to us. Blair and I are truly family people. Any charity that works with families in need is something that we hold dear. So yeah, we wanted to play a part in any way we could. We loved being able to design a special exclusive piece of work to sell. And working with SCARES-THAT-CARE, all the proceeds went directly to the charity to help fight the “real monsters” while supporting the real heroes like cancer survivors, burn victims, and sick children.
Philip of DD: Amen!!! And as stated, co-host Mike loved the work you did for him through the charity. Now, we mentioned it a bit earlier, but once more, where can folks find you.
Blair Webb of FNS: Sure, and thanks for giving us the time interview us. Once again for any commissioned work, opportunities you want to offer us, or anything else you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dana Webb of FNS: Yes, absolutely, thanks for taking the time to contact us. People can find us on both Facebook and Instagram: https://www.facebook.com/frightnightsketches/
And my cosplay and modeling facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/MakeupByDayners/
And please vote for me daily for Inked Magazine cover model: everyday: https://cover.inkedmag.com/2021/dana-webb