illustration (c) Josť Villarrubia 2000 digital
illustration (c) Josť Villarrubia 2000
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Art by Chip Zdarsky. Copyright 2002.

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John Cassaday: Tellurian With Technique
An Interview with John Cassaday by Jonathan Ellis.

John Cassaday may have spent a lot of time with a switcher by his side, or on construction sites with tools in his hands, but one look at his work will tell you that he was made for art. Made for comics. John's work on titles like DESPERADOES, UNION JACK and PLANETARY brought a variety of attention to his work. Being able to work in a medley of styles, from a number of influences, along with his unique sense of detail and affinity for rapid energy spectacles has brought him under the eye of the entire medium, and beyond. John certainly is, and to those still unfamiliar, deserves to be, 'one to look out for'

Working with Warren on PLANETARY you have to be versed in several styles, genres, and be able to draw just about everything. How often do you have to go through stacks of research just to get an issue done?

It completely depends on the issue. Sometimes I spend hours at the bookstore and on-line and other times I don't have to budge from the drawing table at all. PLANETARY works on such a varied scale, you never really know.

How often do you use models/friends to get the look of a character?

If the character is playing an important role I may model them after someone, but I rarely use actual models. With PLANETARY #3 I painted the Hong Kong "ghost cop." He needed to have a very realistic look to him, so I definitely used an actual model there. Generally it depends on whether I see the character in my head first or in the face of a friend.

How did you break into the biz? What was your first published work?

I directed television news in Texas for nearly five years, after that I moved to New York and spent a Summer working construction during the day and preparing a portfolio of art at night for the San Diego convention. I had never been to it, but heard it was the place to get noticed if you wanted to break into comics. That's where I met several editors and thereafter started getting phone calls. I quit the construction biz.

Do you ever feel like returning to film and television?

I went to school for film. It's an equal passion to comics. I plan on getting more involved with it at some point.

So how does a day in the life of 'John Cassaday' work out?

My schedule shifts from week to week. Sometimes I'm a vampire, occasionally I find myself waking up at 6AM sharp. I work at home, so there's tremendous freedom in my schedule. I try to work on weekdays and give myself the weekends off, just to keep myself from losing my frame of reference with the rest of the population. I work until midnight, generally completing a pencilled and inked page or more, then I head out to soak in some NYC nightlife. And sometimes in my day, I just "SCREW IT" and go to Central Park and think about everything or nothing, depending on the music in my headphones. New York offers a nice alternative when the walls begin to close in.

Most people see the industry as being in a slump right now, have you been keeping up with any such issues concerning the current state of the biz?

You can't help but hear things, but I try to stay away from too much of the business end of things. It tends to take the fun out of it. Comics aren't going anywhere, they're simply evolving.

What can we expect from the PLANETARY/BATMAN: NIGHT ON EARTH crossover? How do these 'forces collide'?

I'm afraid I can't go into much detail for you. I will tell you it's a crossover, which let's us, along with PLANETARY, analyze the BATMAN and at the same time, provides an exciting adventure worthy of both stand-alone titles.

What's happening in your Spartan one-shot with John Lucas? How did that come about, particularly in lew of your busy schedule?

My schedule wasn't busy enough, actually. Lucas and I wanted to do something big, fun and silly, so this project was created to let us have some fun and give me something to tinker with in my spare time. It's written by Joe Casey, pencilled by Lucas and Inked by me. I believe it's scheduled for a February release.

Most influential Author?

Books- Rudyard Kipling. Comics-Frank Miller.

Favourite old school artist? Writer?

Artist/writers-Frank Miller, Jack Kirby, John Byrne. Favorite artist, period, is N.C. Wyeth.

Best Kirby creation?

Captain America, my favorite character.

Most under appreciated creator currently in the biz?

Maybe Ron Garney. He's been given some big titles, but he doesn't seem to get the attention he deserves. Captain America hasn't been the same without him.

Worst fanboy experience?

Can't say I've had any bad experiences. Let's keep it that way, eh?

Proudest body of work?

To date, Planetary.

Advice to those trying to make it in the Biz today?

Work hard on your portfolios, remember that influences are fine, but don't draw too much from them. Be your own artist. Draw from life when you can.

What has been your favourite book to work on?

Planetary. To be exact, maybe #5.

What comic titles are you reading now?

TOM STRONG, SENTRY, HELLBOY(when it appears), anything by Miller, Moore or Ellis.

How do you think your recent coverage in Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone has affected the series? Has it affected you personally in any ways? Your work?

The attention has maybe only increased some of our sales. And I think there are a few more Hollywood doors knocking now.

What's your dream project?

Aside from something I can't talk about yet, Captain America, World War 2. With a somewhat serious tone.

Comics journalism, in any form, how important is it?

That's a good question. To be honest, while I think it's fun, I don't believe it's always necessary. I mean, wouldn't it be nice to find out what happens in the next issue of your favorite book by actually READING IT IN YOUR FAVORITE BOOK? When was the last time you were surprised by events occurring in the actual comic? Also, half of the news I see just doesn't register with me as "news." So what if there's a new fill-in inker on next month's X-book? Does anyone really care? Things of interest do happen, just not EVERY day. Most of it just comes off as shameless self-promotion. But like I said, it IS fun.

Comics code, we want to get rid of it, you in?

Count me in. It's worthless. It's not the 1950's.

You've just been given a chance to rework the industry, starting with the major publishers and distribution companies, what do you do, what DO you do?

Move them all to the beaches of Thailand, where they can attempt a tan, see the ocean for the shark bait trap it really is and maybe meet a girl who has never cried out the lyrics to "Oh Mickey" while roller skating across an ice rink in utter confusion. Meanwhile, I dance feverishly in the bowels of Battery Park to tribal war chants of the cult of Foghorn Leghorn, leader of the "Chicken Hawk Revolution."

Hell, I don't know.

Finish these sentences;
Right now, in the industry we need more...
and less... Questions.

Before we go, tell us something no one else knows. Something you've never told anyone...

You're kidding, right?

And now...
Plug time! This is where you plug as many things as you want, comics, websites, movies, Charities, prints, John Cassaday drum sticks, novels, anything old, new, current and upcoming, hats, BIG hats, art, and whatever else. Anything that could somehow lead to money in your pocket, in your wallet, in your bank account and stuffed in your freakin socks- just a whole lotta $#!+load of cash.

Oh Hell. What can I tell you? On top of Planetary, the Batman crossover and the Spartan one-shot, I'm also doing a series of six covers for BATMAN: LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT, three covers for TRANSMETROPOLITAN #43-45, GEN ACTIVE #4 and JEZEBELLE #1. Come visit at That's all I can say right now.

Oh, and, who is the fourth man?

It ain't either one of the Darrin's from TVs Bewitched, I'll tell ya THAT!

Thanks John. For those interested in purchasing some of John's pages, check out

Jonathan Ellis is Interviews Editor for PopImage.

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