Last month we spoke to comic creator Jason Kruse about his creation, "World of Quest", and its exciting pick-up as a new WB Kids Cartoon Show for this Fall. Now, in continuation of our coverage of all things "Quest", we turn our attention to Shannon Denton, the man responsible for giving Kruse his first big break. Denton is the co-founder of Komikwerks, LLC, the online publishing company that produced "World of Quest". Denton is also a comic book writer and artist himself - in fact, his comic artwork was prominently featured in Lara Flynn Boyle's infamous final episode of "Las Vegas". Comics2Film recently chatted with Denton about this and, naturally, all things "Quest".
Laura Ellison for Comics2Film (C2F): When did you first start writing comic books?
Shannon Denton: It was in 1997. Started drawing at Image several years before that and then got into animation working for FoxKids. I was working full time at FoxKids and coming home at night and working on my own comics. I had a lot more energy then!
C2F: How did Actionopolis and Komikwerks first start?
Denton: Komikwerks, LLC first started in 2000 when Patrick Coyle and I realized we wanted to make comics for the sake of making comics. The internet allowed us to work without the constraints inherit in traditional comics and the need to recoup costs. Last year when we decided to create a separate company that would be focused on novels for kids we decided to use the name Actionopolis as I already owned it. It was the name of an anthology book I put out with Antarctic Press in 2001. And here we are. Actionopolis, LLC!
C2F: Tell us about your relationship with Warner Brothers, Cartoon Network, Disney, DC Comics, Foxkids and all the rest? How did it start, and what kind of work have you done for them?
Denton: Freelance work on various shows, magazines, etc. over the years. I'm fortunate that people like my work well enough to pay me for it. I jump around from writing to character design to directing to storyboarding to....basically I do what I can get paid to do. So even if you have a staff job at FoxKids or WB they aren't really staff jobs because as soon as the show is on hiatus or ends you need to jump onto something else. I usually use these breaks to work on my own stuff rather than rushing on to another show.
C2F: Speaking of shows (or rather, "shows to be"), tell us about the development of "World of Quest". For instance, what were your first impressions of it when Jason Kruse first brought it to you? Did you work closely with him in the development of the novel?
Denton: Jason gets all the credit on the Quest. I saw a guy who had some great sketches and a great story and really all I did was take a hands on approach to getting out of his head and onto paper. It's been a blast.
C2F: When did you decide to bring "World of Quest" to Warner Bros. as a potential Kids WB Cartoon show?
Denton: Immediately. It's the perfect property for animation. Action with loads of comedy. I set a meeting with the vice president, I pitched it, and we had a deal moving forward later that afternoon. It was awesome to call Jason and say they want a meeting with you as they want to tell you how much they love it (cause they already said they'd option it). It was the most stress free deal I'd done. Four years later, it's the CW versus Kids WB, but the people are all the same. Our animation team, Cookie Jar, have been great too. They are the newest addition but are extremely enthusiastic and fun to work with.
C2F: Jason Kruse said that "Quest" has been in development with the WB since November of 2003 - why so long? What were some of the hold-ups that prevented "Quest" from becoming a show until now?
Denton: Actually, I was thinking how fast all of this is happening. Outside of the biz, that may seem like forever but I was telling Jason congrats on getting "fast tracked". It's really just a matter of loads of money gets spent to make a film product so every "T" is crossed before committing to something you can't back out of.
C2F: Did you have to basically stay on Warner Bros' case about "Quest" - i.e. many phone calls, letters, etc?
Denton: No. We talk regularly. The thing is QUEST is our number one priority but the thing every creator has to remember is they have other shows already in production and other new shows in development as well. All of those are someone's baby as well.
C2F: So how is the writing and development of the "Quest" show going? Have you been able to be involved in the script writing process, and if so, how is that going?
Denton: We are writing scripts now. Jason and I are included in that. It's a lot of fun. The pace may seem insane to someone that doesn't do this every day but TV is always a rush. That's part of the fun.
C2F: Can you tell us anything else about "World of Quest", and what we can expect for the future? For instance, have you been working with Jason on the second graphic novel?
Denton: It's no secret I'm a huge fan of Quest. I bug Jason all the time to hurry it up so I can read it! Creatively I just throw out ideas the way any friend does but at the end of the day it's all Jason's baby. I'm just having fun getting to be a part of it.
C2F: Do you have any other projects coming up that you'd like to talk about?
Denton: The Actionopolis books. Get some for your nieces and nephews, sons and daughters, and those young at heart. And tell your librarians about us! You can go to www.actionpolis.com to check out the books!
C2F: Finally, some would say you had a part in getting Lara Flynn Boyle killed off on the TV show "Las Vegas" - especially since your drawing of "Mothwoman" inspired her ultimate fate. Do tell.
Denton: Ha. That wasn't me. I just got flown out to meet her and the other gorgeous ladies on the set while I was working on the episode. You know, the usual day to day supermodel meetings all us comics and animation guys do on a regular basis.