Monday, March 25, 2024

A Chat with Nick Davis, a DC-adjacent cartoonist

Awesome Con photo by Rhode
by Mike Rhode

I was walking around Awesome Con with another local comics fan who wanted to check out the children's section. Since I know that some of the best cartoonists are making comics for children, and local cartoonists John Gallagher, Kata Kane, and Carolyn Belefski set up there, I was glad to follow along. With a British accent, Nick Davis introduced himself as DC-adjacent which was enough to get him a ComicsDC interview offer right there (we also do visiting cartoonists, so heck, anyone can appear here). Nick sent a very thoughtful set of answers to our standard questions.

What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

I write and self-publish fantasy adventure stories, featuring the Night Guardians, cuddly toys and kids who protect you from the monsters under the bed, and their master the Boogeyman. The stories are fantasy adventures, much in the same vein as the Amulet, or Wings of Fire and I consider them to be all ages adventures, written to appeal to kids and adults alike.

And if you are a fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, especially their first appearance, I publish a series of books called Let’s Hunt Montas! Which is more cartoony violent, a lot like Rick and Morty, set in the same fantasy world as the Night Guardians.

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

Veronica Smith, the artist I work with on the Night Guardian adventures, works the layouts in pencil and then the final art in Manga Studio. The Let's Hunt Monstas! comic, that I exclusively write and draw, is drawn completely in Procreate.

There is a movement that digital art isn’t real art in the comic book community, but you don’t get to draw on these tablet programs without putting in the hours using traditional pen and ink methods. The skills transfer. You can’t cheat your way to good storytelling art, you have to put the hours in.

When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

I’m generation X, the largely forgotten generation, the one that has to get things done, because we were left to it. I was born in the early 70’s in a small English market town called Melton Mowbray.

Why are you comics-adjacent to Washington now?  What  area do you live in?

I work in DC for a health care non-profit that overseers medical accreditation, when I am not in DC (which is a lot). I live in PA, right in the middle of Amish country.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning?


I am trained graphic designer, so I have art courses that are attached to that, you know form, life drawing, color theory, but I received no formal training in comic book storytelling. While schools like that do exist, you can only learn from reading comics and doing it yourself.

Who are your influences?

The biggest is the King himself, Jack Kirby, I used to dislike it, then I started telling comic book stories and the sheer storytelling power of his work, the mastery of his panel storytelling is the pinnacle. 

I grew up in the UK reading the Beano, 2000AD, Warlord, Battle, so I have a very heavy black and white influence. The book that really blew my mind was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it was unlike anything I ever saw before, and those turtle boys captured lightning in a bottle. 

So, I guess you can add Eastman and Laird to my influences too.

If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change? Or rather, how are you hoping your career will develop?

You learn more from your mistakes, than you do from your successes. I try not to look back at things I do, as that isn’t the direction I am going in. Learn what works, apply it to future work and keep moving forward.

My career in cartooning? I would love it to develop to the point where I don’t have to work a day job and can live making comics. It’s an independent dream, few of us actually achieve it. Personally I would love to have the success the turtle boys had, but that was very much a time and place thing.

At the moment my goal is to keep telling good stories and having readers come back wanting more. So far, I’ve been mostly successful in that area.

What work are you best-known for?

The Night Guardians - Awakenings graphic novel was a work of a couple of years to get done and told one of my longest stories about four cuddly toys who have to journey into the realm of the Boogeyman to save their child. It hit all the themes I wanted it to, about courage, friendship and hope, and told a fun fantasy adventure in the dark fantasy voice (with a touch of whimsy) that I wanted it too. 

It was also my first real dive into the world of comic book storytelling and I am immensely proud how it came out.

What would you like to do or work on in the future?

I am working on two separate books at the moment, with my artist I am working on Dream Warriors, the tale of two children and their teddy bear spirit guide, who find themselves becoming the defender of dreams. And my Let’s Hunt Montas! Book, that allows me to play fast and loose with my Night Guardians world and inject some Tom & Jerry style humor into things. I guess LHM is very much my safety valve and allows me to release more of my 2000AD ID.

What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?

There is no secret to writing, except to write.

Accept whatever your first write is a pile of poop, once you do that, let the words flow until whatever story inside you is out. Then go back and turn it into something that actually makes sense. Remember it is your world, you control everything, and do not have to kowtow to realism. Let yourself go wild.

The biggest issue I have found with folk who want to write is they are scared of what they want to write, that it is silly, that is nonsense. Tell your story, embrace the absurd.

What's the story about the FCBD issue pictured here?

Every year the comic book store that hosts me for Free Comic Book Day, gets a complimentary FCBD book from me that is exclusive to their story. The book, in this case Adventures Ahead, is a compilation of extracts from the opening pages of Let's Hunt Monstas! Dream Warriors and TeamD, It's a fun little comic book that gives the reader an idea about my stories and gives the comic book store, an extra air of exclusivity.

The book will also eventually be available as a digital download via my Comix Well Spring online box store at

What do you think will be the future of your field?

That is tough, comics as an industry is largely stagnant, not shrinking, not really growing. You would think after all the superhero movies we would have a new readership. But the simple fact is can you find a comic book that easily?

Manga for example is everywhere, American style comic books are relegated to niche stories, that are mostly uninviting, and the books within tell stories for adults, into the wonder of superheroes and worlds beyond our own that we read as kids.

I fear that my generation is the last one that grew up reading all types of comic books, we simply had no choice because we read what we could get. Now, you can choose what you want to read, and the funny kind of freedom directs you into niches, or silos, and you inherit a fear of trying something new.

Comics are not doomed, they will survive. I think the Manga style is going to dominate in another ten years or so. I hope my stories can keep up and continue to grow.

I like to think the future is bright, but it's hard work if folk don’t recognize your work and the kids they are with want Deadpool.

What local cons do you attend? The Small Press Expo, Awesome Con, or others? Any comments about attending them? I know you were at Awesome Con - how was the show for you?

I just finished Awesome Con, which turned out good for me. I was a little worried at first, but folk came, brought my books and it was worth my time going too.

I would like to attend the Small Press Expo, which is dependent on their lottery system and my next big show is Four State Comic Con in Hagerstown, MD. You can view all my ‘tour’ dates on my website.

What comic books or strips or webcomics do you read regularly or recommend? Do you have a local store?

My local store is Comic World, it's a great comic book store, before that I used to pick up books at Collectors Corner, sadly they are no longer local to me. As for reading, I read all kinds of books. As you can imagine I am a huge turtles fan, and the Last Ronin stuff is a return to form. 

What's your favorite thing about DC?

DC is an interesting city, I love how walkable it is and you can always find something interesting to do, and it is surprisingly free.

Least favorite?

Traffic, really easy to get into the city, really hard to get out of it.

What monument or museum do you like to go to?

There are some amazing, breathtaking monuments in this town. I enjoy the American Art museum and the National Air and Space Museum, because I am a huge plane nerd.

How about a favorite local restaurant?

Gosh… There are so many good restaurants here.  One of my favorites is Sol Mexican, it's very much a hole-in-the- wall place on H street, but has the best Mexican food ever.

Do you have a website or blog?

Certainly do, you can find all my work and learn more about me at

How has the COVID-19 outbreak affected you, personally and professionally?

The lockdown hit just as I finished the Night Guardians Awakenings book, I lost an entire year to market and sell the book and I’ve only just started recovering from that. You would think being locked in place would be a boon to a cartoonist, it really wasn’t because I couldn’t tour my work and lost a lot of momentum.

Thank you for this opportunity, cartooning is hard work, it's fun, get good folk around you, to play with and work with and it becomes more than just cranking out a page. Especially when folk start reading your work, everything takes up a life of its own.

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