Creator Q&A Series Ep. 7: Denys Cowan!

The DC Creator Q&A Series has officially kicked off for 2024! In celebration of Black History Month, join Denys Cowan as he dives into your questions!

Congrats to @Kimberly_Butler for winning a signed copy of DC POWER 2024! :clap:

Q&A Transcript

Denis Cowan: Welcome to episode Seven of the DC Creator Q&A Series. My name is Denys Cowan, and I’m known for doing a book called The Question for DC, written by Daniel O’Neill and I drew it. I’m also known as one of the co-creators of Milestone Media. We created characters such as Static, Hardware, Icon and Rocket, The Blood Syndicate and many others.

Hub City Question: What an honor to have you with us, Denys Cowan… It’s an honor to be here! I’m going to ask you a question I get asked all the time as a huge Question fan. What makes the question a more interesting character than, for example, Batman?

I don’t know if he’s more interesting than Batman, because Batman is a very interesting character in and of itself. But I would say what makes The Question an interesting character is his environment, is the Hub City environment where he comes from. The type of… good man in a corrupt place trying to bring good to a corrupt city. And the fact that he has no face. So, I always found it fascinating to try to convey the Question with any kind of emotion or any kind of emotional intent, but not have the luxury of having a face to draw facial expressions. So, what made it interesting for me personally was that artistic challenge of trying to convey this hero that you couldn’t see, couldn’t see his face. So that’s what made him interesting to me.

CKComics asks: How has Milestone helped you in your career and how has milestone become part of the wider DC universe affected your work?

How has Milestone helped me in my career? know, I never thought about it helping my career. I always thought about it as part of my life. So, It’s not an easy question for me to answer because I don’t know how it’s helped my career. I know that it’s enhanced my time on this planet. I know that through Milestone, we’ve been able to do some comics, create some characters, and work with people, underrepresented people, and that’s been a big, big joy for me. So that’s how it’s affected my career, helped my career. It’s put me in contact with so many great creators. But as one of the founders of Milestone, I never looked at it that way…Milestone becoming part of the wider DC universe affected my work…No. I mean, the mission for Milestone Media has always been the same, which is to bring underrepresented characters and people into comics. And the Milestone characters being incorporated into a larger DC universe only spreads that message even further. So, I’m happy that it’s happened. I’m happy that it is happening.

Mercurie80 asks: Who is your favorite milestone character and why?

That’s a good question. My favorite milestone character would probably be Hardware. It was the one that, um, one of the first ones that Dwayne and I came up with–all of us came up with–but that was when I was closest to who Dwayne and I were at that time. Or who we thought we were. It was really taking that Iron Man mythos and flipping it on its head…It was also taking the idea of affirmative action and bringing it into comics and flipping that on its head. And the idea of the angry young man expressing himself kind of came through with hardware. So, I’ve always gotten a kick out of that. I got a kick out of it when I drew it in the 90s and I got a kick out of it when I got a chance to come back. a couple of years ago and enjoy the character again. He’s always been a favorite. So my favorite character would probably be Hardware.

All right, let’s see this question (from NYJT3)…If a DC character was set to be permanently placed in the Milestone universe, who do, I guess it means who do I think would be the best fit?

I never thought of that. Who would be good? Well, I just finished drawing for the, I think it was the DC Power books, which is out now, so you should go get it. I drew a Black Manta story. And I just found that a fascinating character, not knowing a whole lot about Black Manta except from the movies and a few of the things in comics I’ve seen. But when I drew that character, I drew that eight-page story, I just thought he was fascinating. So Black Manta would probably fit into the Milestone universe pretty good with his anti-hero attitude and everything.

Storyteller91 asks: Who is my favorite DC character?

I think, you know, it’d probably be between Batman and The Question for DC. I’ll pick The Question since that’s the book I drew the most of and I’m more familiar with that character, but I love me some Batman, I have to say. Batman–Love Batman. But The Question is my boy. So, thank you Storyteller91 for that question.

BJ Kicks…I know you, BJ! Mr. Kicks! all right BJKicks asked: What is the hardest or most frustrating part about drawing Hardware?

Since I just finished talking about Hardware. There is no real hard hard or frustrating part about drawing Hardware. I love drawing Hardware, so I’ve never had a frustrating hard part about drawing him. I think, maybe in terms of difficulty, always when you have an armored guy fighting other armored creatures in the comic books and in the same panels, it can be a lot of armor, a lot of blasting, and a lot of confusion if you don’t do it right. So I think that would be the most difficult part of navigating anything with Hardware. But other than that, it’s always a joy.

Brvsiewayne. Who, what, no. What do you want to see in the future of DC?

More milestone. Thank you for that question!

StaticShocks: So honored to have you here, Denys! (Exclamation point) As a Static fan, my question is, how do you feel about the evolution of Virgil Hawkins’ character between Static 1993 and the more recent series like Static Season 1: Shadows of Dakota?

That is a good question. When we first conceived the Static, he was more, it was more like in a Spider-Man kind of mode, especially the young Spider-Man when he was like 14 in high school. And then he got, you know, he was like kind of a geek and got picked on and never got the girl. And then he got superpowers and was a geek and got picked on and never really got the girl even then. So, we were like looking at the black version, like what would that look like if he was, if he was, you know, a black kid? That was in the 1990s, you know, and the world was a little different. The core thing with Static is the same, but with the new incarnation, with what Vita Ayala did, and with what Nikolas Draper-Ivey did, was they brought more modern sensibilities to a different time, you know? And they were very successful in what they did, so it’s a different interpretation of Static than the one that we started, but, you know, but part of the thing with enduring characters, if they are truly enduring characters, is that they can take many permutations and many different versions of them, and you’ll still get the essence of what they’re about. So, I love the evolution of the character. I love where Static went under Nikolas and Vita, and I look forward to seeing what happens with him next. So that was a good question, Static Shocks, which is an excellent name.

RexRebel…See, my online name is just Denys Cowan. I can’t think of anything clever. Okay, RexRebel. Maybe his last name is really Rebel, which would be great…As one of the founders of Milestone Media, how do you think it would be different if it was founded today instead of back in 93?

That is a very good question because there would be many, many things that are different. In fact, I think it would be set up so differently that I can’t even get into how many different ways we would set it up now…but that is a great question and it’s worthy of its own, of its own whole thing. So thank you, RexRebel.

(Keath asks) Looking back on the founding of milestone. what, if anything, would you have done differently?

That’s a complicated a complicated answer to a very simple question. I don’t know if I would have done anything differently founding Milestone. I think what we founded was pretty solid and what we did was pretty correct and on point. So I don’t think I would have done anything differently in the founding of it. Maybe in the setting up of it, it would have been a little different. But that’s a different question, isn’t it? Keith, which is a very interesting way of spelling your name. K-E-A-T-H. There you go.

JDBouchero.68281. What are DC Comics series, stories, or characters that you feel are underrated or overlooked?

Hmm…Well, I have to make a confession. Since I started drawing comic books, I really read the ones that I draw. I read the ones that I co-created, I read the ones that we helped develop, but I rarely read other comic books because there’s no time to read everything that’s been done. So, I’d have to go back in time to say what was underrated or overlooked…there were several series that stood out for me. One was Twilight by Garcia Lopez, which was so awesome. I think it was three issues, but it was the epitome of comics. Another thing by Garcia, Star Raiders to the Galaxy. Star Raiders? I think it was called Star Raiders. A graphic novel that was overlooked, and that was just awesome. I’m going to keep coming up with Garcia Lopez things because he’s been on my mind. Batman Versus Hulk…take a look at that if you want to see some superior comics, if you can find it. All those things, all those three examples I gave you are, one, excellent books and primers on how to really do comics, if you’re interested in how to do comics. Check those out. And I think those were underrated and overlooked.

Brainwise asks: Mr. Cowan, what kind of character or genre or story that you have not had the opportunity to draw that you would like most to work on? Is it something that already exists with a publisher or maybe something that is entirely your own creation?

I’ve been lucky Brainwise, because I’ve been fortunate and I’ve drawn just about everything I’ve ever wanted to draw. Everything from Batman to Superman, Green Arrow, The Question, Robin. I’ve done all, like, there aren’t many characters I haven’t done in my career. So…here isn’t many—y’know there’s one. There’s one character that I think would be fun to draw that I haven’t tried and I probably be Jonah Hex. Though I did draw like for Jonah Hex covers. I don’t think I’ve ever drawn a Jonah Hex interior. So, I would like to I would like to try that, and a writer buddy of mine had some very interesting ideas on what to do with Jonah Hex. So maybe while I’m here at DC, I’ll pitch somebody and we’ll see what happens. Thank you, Brainwise. That was a good question, man. All right.

Pcahiwat? How do we pronounce pcahiwat? Okay…Who are your non-industry influences?

By that, I would take it to mean the non-comic book artists, the non-comic book writers who have influenced me. Too numerous to mention. Too numerous to mention. Chester Himes, a writer. Cotton Comes to Harlem, A Rage Up in Harlem–he’s a great writer. Dashiell Hammett is another writer that’s influenced me greatly. A lot of artists–Andrew Wyeth is one of my favorites. I don’t draw anything like him…can’t conceive anything like him, but his work just sends me into a different space. Gustav Klimt. A lot of American illustrators from the golden age of illustration. So, so, so many. A lot of musicians, a lot of music: I’m a Curtis Mayfield fan. I’m a Jimi Hendrix fan. Prince fan. I’m a Soundgarden fan. I’m a Chris Cornell fan. There’s just like, and I get inspiration from all those things. I don’t really look at comics a whole lot for inspiration, mostly my inspiration comes from the other mediums. And I kind of bring that into my work. So, I think those are my non-industry influences, or at least some of them, some of them. I’ll probably think of more when I’m done with this. I’ll be like, why didn’t I say this and that and the other. There you go.

Kimberly_Butler. See I have a feeling Kimberly Butler uses, like that’s Kimberly’s name. Like mine is just Denys Cowyn–nothing cute. What is your favorite thing about the evolution of black heroes throughout comics time?

What is my favorite thing about it? Do I have a favorite thing about the evolution? My favorite thing is that there’s more of them, I think would be my favorite thing. There’s more black characters, there’s more varied voices telling these stories. There’s more of a recognition on comic book publishers’ parts that these characters are important, not just for the black readership, for all their readership, for the for growing the entire industry. So that’s my favorite thing, is seeing these characters being brought to the forefront. And also, the sophistication. Now we have more of a variety of black comic book heroes, whereas in the 70s, and you could take it back to the 40s or the 50s for the few black characters, there wasn’t a whole lot of range between Ebony White and, you know, whatever else character, whatever else stereotypical things you had going on back then, but now it’s a little different…it’s a lot different. Sowe have more variety–so that’s my favorite thing is seeing the different voices and the evolution of black characters in comics. Thank you, Kimberly Butler!

FelixLeiter asks, With regards to the factors that led to the creation of Milestone Media, what progress have you seen in the comics industry in the last 31 years? And what areas do you believe still need to change?
I’ve seen some progress in the last 31 years in terms of characters of color like we just discussed. They’re more prominent. There’s more of them. They seem to be taking more of a place in comics. What do I think needs to change? There’s a lot that still needs to happen. There’s a lot that still needs to happen.

More integration into the regular comics world. There’s still this weird backlash inside of comics that have to do with the race of characters. Whether there’s a black Superman or a black Batman or whatever, all these crazy things…and I would like to see the attitudes towards that kind of stuff change. Because what we’re dealing with, in my opinion, is when you’re talking about, oh man why did they race change this? Why did they do this? And I’m thinking, you’re not talking about anything real. You’re talking about fictional, fictional characters. They are not real. They can be whatever we want them to be. They’re fiction. So never get so attached to something so bad that you can’t see different iterations of it. Because you’ll still have your original thing. You’ll still have your original Batman, you can always look at those stories. But this is just a different flavor and that’s okay. I would like to see that kind of attitude change in comics. But despite that, the fact that we can even have that discussion now is an indication of how far things have come. Because when I first got into comics, you couldn’t have that discussion because there were no race swapped anything, there was nothing like that. You know, you had Mal from the Legion of Superheroes, and you had Black Lightning at DC–that was it. So, there was no race swapping or no reason to ever talk about it. Now we can talk about it. So, you know, that’s progress.


Hahaha, I loved how he touched on my question! (And kudos to the kudos for the username. :sunglasses:)

This was amazing! I never knew Virgil was based on the same character archetype as Peter Parker — they’d be great friends.


Awesome™:+1: Stuff
Manta would be a cool fit.

Congrats @Kimberly_Butler :tada:


Congrats @Kimberly_Butler!


Very cool :clap:

Congrats @Kimberly_Butler! Enjoy your signed copy!


Great interview and congratulation @Kimberly_Butler! :grinning:


Hehehe. Asking the real important questions there @storyteller91


This is my favorite Creator Q&A yet (i may say that every time :laughing: ). So many great questions about such a range of topics. Very insightful, thought provoking and inspirational. Thank you to the legend Denys Cowan for taking the time to do this and for being so forthright and thoughtful with his replies. Thank you to @jitsu and everyone at DC Universe Infinite for putting this together and congratulations to @Kimberly_Butler on winning an epic prize!


Denys Cowan was the guest on, in my opinion, the best episode of DC Daily, so it’s no surprise he’d knock it out again here. Terrific interview guest.


I miss that show and miss seeing you on that show.


Congratulations @Kimberly_Butler! :partying_face:


Congrats, @Kimberly_Butler ! Anyway, I could listen to Denys all day.


congarts @Kimberly_Butler


Thank you Mr Cowan for your time (and for your interesting way of spelling “Dennis” :wink:), and thanks to the team for organizing this.

Of course, now he’s given me a follow up question. :rofl: :rofl:


Thank you to everyone! :black_heart::black_heart::black_heart: