Here’s an interview I did recently with writer, artist and tattooist, Mr Dan Henk.
First, how did you become interested in the world of horror?
I’ve always been drawn to the dark side. My absolute favourite is sci-fi horror. I remember one of my earliest memories was seeing War of the Worlds as a kid, and that was the beginning of the end. The Twilight Zone and the Outer Limits quickly became my favourite TV shows. When we got a TV, of course, which wasn’t until I was in the 5th grade, but that’s another story.
What made you want to become a tattoo artist? Who inspired you?
I wanted initially to be a comic artist. A boyfriend of a goth girl who was a friend of mine owned a shop in Virginia Beach. He saw my art and offered to teach me. Even though I wanted to be covered in tattoos, I had this notion that they were all old-school based designs, and turned down the offer. Years later, as a starving artist in New York City, another tattooist offered to teach me, and this time I jumped at the opportunity. I also knew the tattoo world better, with artist’s like Aaron Caine and Robert Hernandez breaking all previous notions of what could be done.
Do you work full time as a tattoo artist? Tell us about your studio etc.
I own half of The Abyss Fine Art Studio in New York, do a week a month there, with the rest of the month spent at Third Dimension Tattoo in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. At the spots in NY I tattoo all day every day. In PA, I tattoo about 3 days a week, with the rest spent on illustrating books and magazines or writing. In both studios I have private rooms, the walls decorated with art and horror.
You jet about to tattoo conventions. What do you enjoy most about doing the conventions? Do you have many lined up for this year? Do you book up in advance? Do you get a lot of repeat customers, etc?
For a while I was doing about 25 conventions a year. Mix that with all the guest spots I was doing, and I was away more than I was home. Now I do about 6 a year, with the random guest spot here or there. The novelty of them wore off, and at this point I’ve been all over the world and arrived on the decision that I’d enjoy exotic locations more if I didn’t mix in work. A few I still do all the time, like my upcoming one in Toronto. That said, I have many repeat clients all over the world and feel bad if I never travel to their area and tattoo them, so it’s hard to cut back too much. Not to mention, I’m friends with quite a bit of the tattoo community and enjoy seeing old friends.
You’re also a writer and an artist. You illustrated your next book, THE END OF THE WORLD. Tell us about the project. What’s the book about, etc?
I originally wanted to be a comic artist, even interviewing with DC, Marvel, and Image comics. Depressing interviews with all the majors (many of whom were on the verge of bankruptcy), convinced me a better form of expression for what I wanted to accomplish would be illustrated novels. In a way it was hearkening back to my pulp magazine favourites like The Shadow or Kane. THE END OF THE WORLD is my new novel, a loose sequel to my first book, and focuses on a small band of misfits trying to survive amid the fall of the US government. Anarchy rules the streets, and a conspiracy among the surviving oligarchy involves bringing back an ancient evil.
Where did you get the idea from?
I actually had the core of the idea when I was a teenager living with my parents. I used to do full page comic book storyboards and bring them to local indie comic artists for critique. So the core of the idea existed for years, going through several evolutions before it finally erupted in novel form.
Who’s publishing it and when’s it out? Any reasons why you chose Crossroads Press?
Crossroad Press is putting it out. I started with Anarchy Books, graduated to the larger Permuted Press, with a momentary slide into the nightmare that was Damnation Books. Not happy with the ever changing standards of Permuted Press, I asked other writers for advice. Several recommended Crossroad Press, and I have nothing but good things to say about them so far. It should be out later this year.
Will there by a print version?
Of course! There will be an audio edition as well.
What’s your writing process? I imagine you’re extremely busy with your art and working. How do you go about writing?
I actually I have more ideas than I have time to express! I write down ideas as I think of them on the “notes” app of my iPhone, and I’ve found that whenever I reach a block in the story I’m writing I pause, take some time out, and go for a run. That never fails.
Along with tattooing and writing you’ve done some awesome art, such as the covers you’ve done for me at Splatterpunk Zine. Why do I not see more of your art on book covers?
Ha! Good question! But on a serious note, I do a lot. I tattoo, own a shop, train in MMA 2-3 hours a day, write, paint, and draw. I just don’t have time to pursue more. I’ve done 8 book covers, 6 album covers, 3 magazine covers, and I don’t even know how many illustrations for books, magazines, bands, and clothing companies. I did a regular comic strip for Madcap Magazine for two years, and another for TAM for a year and a half, and put out an illustrated calendar for 4 years. I tend to always have more projects than I have time to get to.
What do you have planned for 2019?
My new book is coming out of course, and that’s my main focus right now. I sent a short story to Dark Regions Press, just won a boxing and a month later a Muay Thai fight, and started two podcasts with my shop, one focusing on artists and entitled Third Dimension Tattoo. It’s at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QWmCyMAg8E&t=1s Another is on current social, political, and economic topics. It’s called Man in the Chair and you can view it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3HjCQENC0s&t=219s
More to come I’m sure, but the year is still young!
Questions by Jack Bantry