Interview And EXCLUSIVE Art Preview: Talking With ‘Canary’ Artist Dan Panosian

by Rachel Bellwoar

There are few sentences more chilling than “there’s something in the water,” but that’s what Marshall Holt and geologist, Ed Edwards, are in Canary to find out — is there something in the water and could it possibly be responsible for the recent string of murders that have been happening in the area? Writer, Scott Snyder, and artist, Dan Panosian have created a horror western like no other in Canary. Read on to find out more about Panosian’s design for Marshall Holt’s mask and to see an EXCLUSIVE art preview from Canary #3:

Rachel Bellwoar: Marshall Holt is famous for wearing a coffin mask. What made you decide to single out that piece of clothing as Holt’s trademark (versus a cowboy hat, or a pair of boots)?

Dan Panosian: Superman has the “S” symbol, Batman has his Bat Symbol. Every hero needs something iconic to separate him or herself from the crowd. An identifier. In our case, we bounced around quite a few ideas and finally landed on the coffin. Within the story, and I don’t want to give much away, there’s a very distinct reason Holt identifies with a coffin…!

Bellwoar: While superheroes often wear masks to hide their identities, most people seem to know what Holt looks like without his. With that in mind, I really appreciated that the mask was functional, too, in that when Holt takes it off, he can wear it around his neck as a scarf. Were there many (if any) other designs for the mask that were considered?

Panosian: Like I mentioned, the mask was something we really spent some time on. I believe there were at least four versions of it. At one point, midway through issue number two, I had to retroactively change the art because we decided to go in a different direction.

Words: Scott Snyder / Art: Dan Panosian / Letters: Richard Starkings

Bellwoar: Over the course of his investigation into the strange murders that have been taking place in the area, Holt has to interact with a number of different characters. So many of those conversations, though, are buoyed by the page layouts, and the subtext that gets added when – in issue one, for example – Holt and the Sheriff start out in a widescreen panel but then it becomes a grid, so their conversation feels like a dual that Holt wins by crossing to the other side. Did you always want to use such a wide variety of page layouts in this series?

Panosian: Yes. Panel configuration and pacing are aspects of the storytelling I take into consideration on every page. Scott and I are creating an experience and we’re taking you to another place. Another time period. Canary should be an escape from reality – and our job is to keep you on your toes and develop a language to convey emotion, danger and suspense.

Bellwoar: Color plays a strong role in Canary, as well, in terms of establishing mood, and signaling when a flashback is taking place. Did you always want there to be such sharp contrasts, between locations, color-wise?

Panosian: Very much so. This is a brand new book. So because of that, we can establish the world and a very big part of that for me was developing a color palette that could convey beauty but at times – stark horror. The color is a very big component of Canary.

Words: Scott Snyder / Art: Dan Panosian / Letters: Richard Starkings

Bellwoar: What made you decide to associate blue with the flashback sequences?

Panosian: Blue is pretty eerie, in my opinion. It also sets a tone and even if the story takes place at night, there’s still something dark about using all blue.

Bellwoar: Was it difficult figuring out how to merge the horror elements of the series with the western genre, so that they believably co-exist?

Panosian: Normally it would be, but Scott’s story lends itself easily to the balance between the two genres. There’s something very unsettling about the town of Canary, the people who call it home and the mine below them.

Words: Scott Snyder / Art: Dan Panosian / Letters: Richard Starkings

Bellwoar: While we don’t meet Mabel until the end of issue #2, she has a much bigger role in issue #3. How did you approach her wardrobe for this series?

Panosian: Scott and I wanted to dole out the story like a movie and introduce characters in a cinematic fashion.  Each character has a very significant role moving forward and Scott has all sorts of creepy surprises ahead…!

Bellwoar: Thanks for agreeing to this interview, Dan!

Canary #3 goes on sale October 25th from Comixology.

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