september Marvel kicks off it's Mature line with ALIAS. Meet Jessica
Jones, a former costumed super hero who, in fact, stunk at it. With
powers unremarkable in comparison to the great icons of Marvel,
Jessica never found her niche. But once she hung up her cape, she
was surprised at how quickly she fell out of the spandex loop. Sure,
she may hang out with some of the Avengers socially, but she's not
welcome in Avengers Mansion. And she feels the rejection. She's
self-destructive, drinks too much, and has a huge inferiority complex.
And now she's a Private Investigator who specializes in cases of
the super human variety. Mixing the Marvel Universe with a bit of
film noir will be the combo of writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist
it was announced Michael Gaydos would be the artist on the upcoming
ALIAS my mind went directly to one of my fave NEGTIVE BURN pieces
- I WON'T FORGET - with story by Paul Jenkins. Do you find that
since the announcement attaching you to a major Marvel project that
people have been drawn more to your past works?
that I know of, but I would certainly be happy if they did. There
are quite a few projects that I am pretty proud of including the
short story I did with Paul. Others would have to include SCORCHED
EARTH, which was my first foray into comics courtesy of Tundra,
INFERNO which was published by Caliber and written by Mike
Carey (who has done quite well for himself over at Vertigo), and
CITIZEN WAYNE which was a short story I did with Bendis for DC.
did the job on SCORCHED EARTH come about?
EARTH was originally part of my final thesis for my last year
at the Cleveland Institute of Art (whose alums also include Brian
Bendis and Brian Azzarello). A college friend of mine, Dan Berger
(look for his self-published book GUTWALLOW),
was also very much into comics and got a job with Mirage Publishing
doing some TMNT work. This was about the same time that Kevin Eastman
was putting together Tundra. Dan was kind enough to show SCORCHED
EARTH to Kevin who really liked it and it went on from there.
I had written the original college version, but decided I needed
someone to flesh things out. John
Gentile who I had known since high school came aboard for his first
comics work and did a fine job.
Dave McKean much of an influence on your work? Most people are usually
drawn to Dave's mixed media pieces but your use of blacks, architecture,
fire - my thoughts turn to Dave's ink work on CAGES.
I love the work in CAGES. I had the fortunate opportunity
to see the originals come in while I was at Tundra and that was
a great treat. His handling of architecture is definitely something
that has intrigued and inspired me. Kent Williams, Teddy Kristiansen,
and Mike Mignola are a few other contemporary comic artists who
I admire and have shaped my work.
about classic artists? Are there any particular artists or periods
you draw inspiration from?
to lean toward the Expressionists for inspiration. Among those strongly
influencing me are Schiele, Klimt and Munch. Other artists both
classic and contemporary include Degas, Van Gogh, Sargent, Anselm
Kiefer and Francis Bacon.
you ever use reference models for any of your work?
but not always. I mainly use photo reference for gesture and some
facial expressions. The finished work isn't a copy of the reference,
but a manipulation using the reference as a guide.
you ever change how you'll approach a page when working with colour
as opposed to black and white?
no. I start a colour piece as I would a black and white one with
line work and strong blacks. Once I have the gesture and contrast
down, I go crazy with the paints.
Hollingsworth, whose work is always great, will be joining you on
the series as colourist. Do you find yourself being more or less
conscientious with your blacks since someone will be taking over
the page once you've finished?
more conscientious. Having mostly done B&W comic work, I was concerned
how my work would look coloured. It's really hard for me to see
it any other way than B&W, so believe me when I say, I was thrilled
when I got word that Matt was coming aboard. He is a tremendous
colourist and I am trying to leave him as much room as I can to
work his magic. As ALIAS progresses and we get a better feel
for what each other is doing, I'm sure the way I approach a page
will be a little bit different.
ALIAS won't be the usual Marvel title, but it will feature some
well known characters - did you have any desire to do superheroes
or any of the classic or archetypal characters?
down - yes. Growing up on a steady supply of comics I still have
a soft spot for the superheroes. Miller's DAREDEVIL, Byrne's
X-MEN, Simonson's THOR were comics I couldn't wait
to get my hands on. Once I realized I may get the opportunity to
draw some of Marvel's great characters, well I guess it brought
out some of that excited fanboy again.
ALIAS something you and Bendis had been planning together before
the Marvel Mature Line or did Bendis come to you with it after interest
all Brian's doing. He came to me when they were looking for an artist
for the series he was proposing. I have been thanking him since.
added advantage of this series will be the covers by David Mack.
Are there any plans on the two of you perhaps doing a cover collaboration
- along the lines of what Joe and David did on DAREDEVIL?
hasn't really come up, but that would be very interesting and a
lot of fun. David's cover for the first issue came out great.
can you tell us about HEAVENS WAR? Will this be told as a series
or [hopefully] as a single OGN?
WAR is the baby of writer Micah Harris, who I have had the pleasure
to work with on this project. It is approximately 100 pages of fantasy
and intrigue. The story follows the writer Charles Williams with
his fellow "Inklings", Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, as they try to stop
the demonic Aleister Crowley from taking over Heaven. Williams confronts
many of his inner demons as he questions his own spirituality along
the way. This short explanation really doesn't do the story justice
as it is ripe with detail and imagination.
there is no publisher for the book, but we hope that will change
shortly. It is set up as a three issue series, but I can easily
see it as an original graphic novel.
do you share any fondness to those writers yourself? Will any other
recognizable names show up along the way - the Lovecraftian prophet
Tolkien and somewhat to Lewis, but I didn't have an "inkling" to
what Charles Williams had done. Being the main character it was
interesting to find out about his background, the work he did and
what shaped that work.
think many of the other characters are very recognizable. They are
however greatly researched by Micah and their backgrounds are quite
the images of Heaven based on any particular religious factions
beliefs or more of a theological stand point?
is actually portrayed in a surreal way with religious elements popping
up here and there.
noticed that you sometimes work in small dimensions but with such
fine detail - do you have any preferred tools you use? Crowquil?
work with a crowquil, but have been recently using micro-fine roller
ball and gel pens. I like the Pentel Permaroller Gold for very fine
line work and the Paper-mate Gel-writer for much of the rest. Everything
else is done with brushes.
made you want to get into comics? How much time is spent doing comics
and how much time is there spent to your paintings or illustration
I loved comics and I could draw. As my general art tastes changed
from commercial to fine art in college, I found my tastes in comics
were also changing to the painted and more experimental books. It
renewed my interest in comics and made me feel as though there was
a place for me there.
Much of my time is spent doing comics at the moment. I do occasional
illustration work for White Wolf who have been a great company to
work with. Painting, on the other hand, is something that I have
vowed to make more time for, be it personal work or illustration.
I would love to get the opportunity to do another painted book.
of your past works have carried a certain mythos with their content:
apparitions, vampires, lycanthropes, the crow... do you ever research
any of these characters with such heavy backgrounds before approaching
of the research is done for me in the form of the script or story.
I have been lucky to deal with writers who are very detail oriented
and provide insight into the background of these characters and
mythos. The research I do mainly focuses on finding the appropriate
visual elements to make their content real.
journalism, in any form, how important is it?
As in any entertainment field, which comics essentially is, it is
important to give insight behind the books and their creators. Interviews
and reviews feed our curiosity, which in turn sells books and helps
do you feel about coming onto your first Marvel book without having
to worry about the code? Are you planning to go all out if need
be or do you set any boundaries for yourself?
they need me to go all out, I'm right there. I think some boundaries
are set, not particularly in response to what people expect to see
now that the code is gone, but for the sake of telling the best
story we can.
these sentences, in this industry we need more... We need more
support for the creators and artists who are struggling with just
getting their work out there and seen, be it self-publishing or
small publishers. A lot of us have come up this way and know others
who are still doing it simply because they love comics.
and less... We need less. To be honest I can't think of anything
off hand. Right now I am happy with how things are progressing.
advice would you give to those trying to make it in the Biz today?
may sound cliche, but I would say persistence. I'm living proof.
I have been in the comic industry for ten years and although my
first book was with a high profile publisher, it has been a long
road to a project like ALIAS. The most creative and most
talented don't necessarily wind up with the big break thrown at
them, they have to go after it. So, hit the conventions, send samples,
do that pin- up for your friend's book, get something out there
for people to see. Make yourself visible and available.
Having a friend like Bendis doesn't hurt either.
of course Plug Time. Any and all parting words to the eager audience
that can, in some and anyway lead to cash in your pocket. Where
to go for your art, prints, spoken word albums, whatever can eventually
lead to money in the hand.
first off, buy ALIAS. I think you will enjoy it.
for those of you not familiar with my work, please stop my website
Say hi, take a look at what I do and by all means purchase something
you like. I should be updating it shortly.
out these special advanced preview pages of ALIAS courtesy of Marvel
on the thumbnails to view the larger image.
Jonathan Ellis is Interviews Editor for PopImage.
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