By Orrin Farries
Daniel Schneider is an artist with a unique transformational journey.
From family roots in the cattle herding industry to a pipe cracking his skull open, Daniel has lived a peculiar story. From the spaces in his currently uncracked skull, he lets stories flow from his mind to the creative space of comic books.
“I came from a very loud family,” said Schneider. “Whoever was the loudest got the floor, and we all thought we’re super hilarious, so we’re all constantly kind of seeking that center of attention.”
Schneider first began writing comics at the age of 5, but it wasn’t until he was offered to write for “Many Happy Returns”, a collaborative comic book project done by ‘About Comics’ that he knew this was to become a natural extension of his creative being.
Schneider has worked on comics such as the Saga of the Jack of Spades, Ape Court, Fatherhood, Merc, and other freelance collaborative work.
Each of the comics he’s worked on showcase his versatile artistic abilities in creating unique characters.
“Every single piece that I have, there’s a story behind it and I pretty much want to talk people’s ears off about the story behind the drawings that I’m creating,” said Schneider.
“[With comics] I don’t need to tell you the story. The pictures will give the meaning, the emotion, and the feelings that I want to get across to the audience.”
Once Schneider had a foot in the door, he was hooked. So much so that he wanted to spread that love and make comic book writing more accessible to future generations.
This drive led to him becoming a part of Drawn to Books, a non-profit organization that educates young students on the many facets to the craft of comic book writing, and some of the soft-skills that are necessary to making their comic book dreams become a reality.
“I remember talking to Jay Bardella, who owned Happy Harbor Comics, (which eventually became Wonder Harbor),” said Schneider.
“I grew up in the cattle show circuit, and we would do junior shows where kids would learn the skills and abilities needed to become successful in their futures.”
Schneider attributes this youthful community of networking to much of his own career success. He implemented a similar strategy when creating the program Drawn to Write, a platform of Drawn to Books that allows young illustrators and storytellers to collaborate and learn in a community of like-minded creators.
“I built the classes with my friend Jeff Martin and the whole thing was organized by the heart and soul, our backbone, Tania Gee,” said Schneider.
The triumvirate have found great success in their program at schools, and are looking to get into using the platform as a way to reach kids with comic books in an informative way, similar to the Scholastic book fair program that many of today’s adults would be accustomed to.
With the way the world is at present day, Drawn to Write has found success reaching aspiring comic book artists through virtual workshops over video chat.
Through his time as a creator, and as an inspiration to the younger generation, Schneider has found his key to success in the arts in a changing atmosphere.
“[Online spaces] open up the gates to so many more voices and so many more different creators,” said Schneider.
“It’s really important as artists we learn to get out there and support each other. We raise each other up and we let our unique and diverse voices be heard.”
On top of being a skilled illustrator, storyteller, and instructor of his craft, Schneider’s personal story is an important lesson to all aspiring artists.
“As a freelance artist without a guaranteed cash flow, I was always picking up jobs that would guarantee an income,” said Schneider. “In this particular case, I was basically a mechanic’s helper, and the job was taking precedence over my artwork.”
What happened next, Schneider calls “a super miracle”, a pipe hit him over the head at work, cracking his skull open, putting him in critical care, and given little chance by the doctors for a full recovery.
“Smashed head, which is now my online handle, the whole reason for that is because I learned a lot,” said Schneider. “[Art] no longer can be a secondary thing for me, it has to be my primary focus in life.”
His next comic book creation to be published in the coming year is called 10 Days in the Knox, where he appears as the artist for the first issue and as the alternate cover artist for consequent issues.
Daniel Schneider can be found these days working at Wonder Harbour Comics downtown, and online streaming sketches and doling out comic book wisdom on his twitch channel, twitch.tv/smashed_head.