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WAITING FOR TOMMY - DAN FRAGA
By Richard Johnston

Here's the point I'm getting to, the answer to your question. I have no regrets. I am the person I am today because of the places I've been in my life. Good and bad. I thank God for all of it.

RICHARD: Did any of this affect your behaviour when setting up Gear Station and related projects? When you became your own boss and employed others? Did you ever repeat mistakes made towards you?
DAN: I think that my experiences do affect the way I approach doing business. When I was employing the people who worked with me on Gear Station, I used Rob as a model in a few ways. I looked at peoples potential. Rob has always had a great eye for peoples potential. Look at the list of successes that came out of Extreme: Pat Lee, Danny Miki, Liquid, Tim Townsend, Jeff Matsuda... I could go on... Rob hired all of us before we were ripe, so to speak. He gave us all a chance. I suppose that is why I stayed loyal to him so long. I try, even now, to help all of the young talent today because of the generosity Rob showed us. In contrast, I am also very aware of all of the things that I disagreed with while working with Rob. I also look at those experiences as a model for what not to do in certain cases. I know the one mistake that I've repeated that I shouldn't was the lack of follow through on projects. I let my fears and insecurities get the best of me and it was very obvious to everyone around me that I was damaged goods. Fortunately, I'm still young and can repair those mistakes.

RICHARD: Talking of which, you've also been known for what some consider a few false starts. Black Flag, Black Panther, Gear Station - lots of sound and fury that, some may argue, signified nothing and you soon left the projects after initial publication. Is this fair?
DAN: Yes it's totally fair. I'm to blame for every one of those with the exception of Black Flag. That book was cancelled by Rob. The other books, I chalk up to my utter insecurities about my work. I hated what was coming out of my pencil. I couldn't stand looking at it. I didn't feel like I was a real artist. I was focusing on all of the wrong aspects of why I wanted to draw comics in the first place. Instead, I wanted to be a star. Stupid thing to want. In my desires for the wrong things I developed a case of self-loathing. You can see it all over my work. I was drawing like Jim Lee, Art Adams, Mike Turner, Todd McFarlane, and everyone else that I saw a spark in their work. Wrong motivation. I was drawing my interpretation of a drawing and not life. I found value in my work only if it looked as good as or like the guys I was into. Another misnomer. You can never say something is your work and be happy if you are trying to be someone else. Lots of guys had this problem. Bryan Hitch and Bill Sienkiewicz come to mind. Instead of say, drawing a face like I see in my imagination, I only would focus on how Art or Mike, or whoever would draw it. I always failed. I hated my work as a result. Chasing the heat as they say. What a bad move. My insecurities would make me freeze up, and I'd procrastinate. "Procrastination is the thief of time" I read somewhere. They are correct. I've had to re-evaluate my goals and motivations in life to finally be happy with myself and my work. I've been going to comic conventions since I was 14 years old. A lot of people in this business have got to watch me grow older. It was time for me to grow up. I've had help from a lot of great friends that have helped me see what an ass I'd been. I owe a bunch to my wife, Lary Stucker, Keron Grant, Anthony Bozzi, Ed McGuiness, Brian Murray, Matt Yackey and my editors. That's how it is. I'm working on fixing all the stuff I've broken.

RICHARD: How do you feel you're doing at that? Making progress? Do you feel you have a reason for doing what you're doing now?
DAN
: I feel that I have my own voice now. My work is something that comes from inside of me, and not from external sources. I've been able to start enjoying what I'm drawing because it's mine. I'm the sole author of my work. I still have my influences. But I don't use them as a crutch or as the "end all be all" anymore. I'll ask as many questions as I can about something I like and make decisions based on the answers that I come up with. This process is more satisfying than style biting. I don't hate myself when I draw anymore. Since Black Panther, I've drawn a couple of unpublished issues for Marvel And DC. Both of those issues were such challenges for me, because of the growing pains I was going through with my new outlook. I'm so grateful to Eddie Berganza and Mike Marts for giving me the chance to work out my kinks. I had to learn how to draw like me and not somebody else. I will always be thankful for their support and friendship. I know that I'm making progress because of how much I embrace and enjoy what I do now. It's a feeling that I hadn't had since drawing in high school. I'm a lot happier. I used to want to be a star in the business because I looked up to stars. It was an empty chase. The reason I get going now is because I love drawing and painting. I enjoy the challenges. I still get frustrated, but that's part of the process and part of the fun of it all. I like to see how hard I can press myself to do good and original work. I find myself being pleasantly surprised. That's a real confidence builder.

Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 Continued Here...

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