Monday, December 10, 2012

Bad Karma/Good Interview with Jeremy Haun...

Jeremy Haun

Jeremy Haun has been kicking ass at Top Cow comics and he's done so in style. The guy's highly underrated to me so I caught up with him for a few words...and I don't have much to say except that Jeremy more than covered enough bases here with some very strong words. Have a go!

CBNAH: What got you into comics and drawing them as a career?

JH: Comics were always a part of my life. Some of my earliest memories were looking at and drawing the characters from comics. That just carried through as I grew up. I remember being in third grade and figuring out that these were epic continuing stories. I think that was the thing that hooked me. This would have been right around '84. I pretty much started grabbing every Spider-Man and X-Men book I could find. In high school, I kind of lived in terror that I wouldn't get to work in comics and would have to flip burgers my entire life. Somehow though, I was one of those guys that was just dumb and thick-headed enough to stick with it.

CBNAH: How did you break into the business and were your family supportive of your dreams?

JH: Comics were never discouraged at home. My mom worked in a pharmacy in the tiny town where we lived, growing up. She was always coming home with comics for me. I think like all parents she was worried about me being a destitute artist, but she was always supportive of my wanting to work in comics. My break into comics was more a slow and steady climb. Like most people in the 90's that wanted to draw comics, I drew my own thing and went to shows hoping to get a gig from one of the big guys. I stood in a LOT of lines. As I said, I'm pretty thick-headed. I took the advice I was given and I just kept working at it. 

I ended up really breaking in with a book called Paradigm. It started out as a self published thing by writer Matt Cashel and myself. Image saw the book and was awesome enough to let us do our crazy little black and white book there for twelve issues. It was a hell of a learning experience. From there I did project after project. Paradigm lead to Battle Hymn, which lead to work for IDW. I've steadily worked since then. I think the big break came with The Leading Man at Oni, with my frequent collaborator, writer, B. Clay Moore. The book was well received and got me on Marvel's radar.

Buy Civil War Iron Man/Captain America

CBNAH: What were your favorite memories from the books you did at Marvel and DC and which titles stood out most to you?

JH: Working for both Marvel and DC were wonderful...and slightly terrifying experiences. was given the opportunity to work on Civil War Iron-Man/Captain America right out the gate at Marvel. It was a hell of a first project there. Working on the book, I had the opportunity to not only draw a story centered around two of the biggest Marvel characters, but also do these great bits featuring a HUGE cross section of the Marvel universe. 

I've always been a Batman fan. Getting to work in the Bat-office at DC was a real dream come true for me. Everything that I got to do over my nearly two years there was great to work on. The thing that easily stands out was the Arkham Reborn story that I did with David Hine. It ended up being this wonderfully horrific arc that ran through a one-shot, a three-issue mini and wrapped up in two issues of Detective Comics. Arkham Reborn also paved the way for David and I getting to work together now on The Darkness. We worked too well together not to move onto something big together after our DC work.

CBNAH: What's it like working for 'smaller' publishers such as Top Cow, IDW, Oni Press, Image, Devil's Due etc as opposed to the big 2?

JH: It's a completely different pond to play in. There are positives...and at times a few negatives to every company. Marvel and DC are producing their brand. Working for them, you understand that. Companies like Oni and Image are all about creator-owned work. While I love working for the big two, there's something really exciting about doing a creator-owned project. There is a lot of wonderful stuff coming out from Image and Oni Press, right now. It's a great time to be a part of that. 

Working for Top Cow has been a pretty fantastic combination of independent and company comics. I'm drawing the Darkness, which is a book that Top Cow has been doing for over 100 issues. It's Marc Silvestri's baby. The interesting thing about working for Marc and Matt Hawkins over at Top Cow is that while we're doing their big book, it's treated a lot like an independent project. They give us the opportunity to take the book and really do our own thing with it. There is a lot of freedom to that. It's kind of the best of both worlds. 

CBNAH: Can you describe your creative process of materializing the visuals from a script?

JH: In the beginning it's always mostly a lot of blind panic and me pacing around muttering "How the hell am I going to draw this thing?". After that initial read-over and bit of worry, I sit down and re-read the script and begin to break everything down into thumbnails. For me, thumbnailing out a book and really nailing the storytelling is key. I spend most of that time trying to make sure that things are clear as well as visually interesting. Once I've nailed down the thumbnails, I gather all of my reference for an issue as quickly as possible and then dive straight into penciling the pages. 

Penciling has really become the part of the process that I enjoy the least. I've already figured everything out in the thumbnails. Penciling is just me trying to get the general information on the page just clearly enough so that it makes sense to me to ink. Over the past few years, I've really grown to love inking. With my simplified pencils, the inking is where I'm really doing most of the work. It took a while for me to learn to really appreciate inks, but now it's the step where everything really comes together. 

CBNAH: Some of your artistic influences?

JH: From comics, the guys that I'm constantly going back to aren't necessarily creators that you're going to see much of in my work. Maybe a subtle feel here and there, but I'm more inspired by creators that are pretty stylistically different from me. I'm consistently going back and looking at work by Wally Wood, Jim Steranko, Joe Kubert, Walt Simonson, Moebius, and Dave Mazzucchelli. 

And of course Mike Mignola. I'd say that Mignola is my single biggest creative influence. There are a lot of current artists that are absolutely outstanding. I'm constantly blown away by guys like Chris Samnee, Brandon Graham, Greg Tocchini, Marcos Martin, Paolo Rivera, Frank Quitely, Stuart Immonen, and James Harren. I said, I'm all over the place with influences. 

The Darkness

CBNAH: How has the Darkness ride been treating you?

JH: Working on the Darkness has been an absolute dream. It isn't often that you get invited to work on a project and it ends up being even BETTER than promised. I owe so much of that to the support of Top Cow and my creative partners on the book: David Hine and John Rauch. We've come up with some crazy stuff so far in our first year on the book. We've really hit a groove. We're even taking things farther next year. It's going to make for some exciting, horrifying stories.

Bad Karma on Kickstarter

CBNAH: Can you describe your Kickstarter project to us? We love hearing the new stuff...

JH: I'm working on a new project as part of a writing collective with Alex Grecian (Proof, The Yard) B. Clay Moore (Battle Hymn, The Leading Man, JSA: The Liberty Files-- The Whistling Skull) and Seth Peck (Sorrow, '76, Wolverine, X-Men) called "Bad Karma".

The project we are producing is a 200 page hardcover original graphic novel debuting five original concepts (in self-contained stories). On top of that we're going to have prose pieces, full page illustration pieces, and short comic stories all based on the five main concepts. 
We've brought in some of the industries leading artists on the project including: Phil Hester, Chris Mitten, Tigh Walker, Mike Tisserand, Chris Samnee, Rafael Albuquerque, Jenny Frison, Robbi Rodriguez, Menton Matthews III, Riley Rossmo, Tony Harris, Francesco Francavilla, Scott Morse, Nathan Fox, Ben Templesmith, and many more. We have a brilliant cover designed by Jonathan Hickman. These people are just fantastic and have graciously contributed to the book. 

Of course, doing it through Kickstarter we're doing more than just the book. We're offering rewards of t-shirts, beautiful hand-pulled screen prints, slipcase editions, original artwork, and opportunities to be drawn into the stories. We even have a special edition of the book that comes in a hand-crafted clamshell box. This thing is going to be great. We're hand building and wrapping these boxes and setting them with a zinc printing plate that we used in creating some of the prints. The box will come with a slipcase edition of the book, a special screen printed book showing hints at the secret history behind the nefarious Kraken corporation from the project, a headsketch from me, and a ton of other cool stuff. 

We're really working hard to make this book special for people. And as with a lot of Kickstarter projects, if our backer pledges stretch beyond our original goal we have some pretty crazy stuff planned. There is a lot of talk about what people do with the money given beyond the initial goal. I donate to a lot of Kickstarter projects myself. I'm always curious. We have a definite plan to do some cool upgrades to the book and give back to our supporters. They're the people that are making this book happen. We appreciate that and want to create something exciting for them.
It's going to run from December 10th through to January 10th. It's a hell of project. We're excited about it. 

CBNAH: Why opt for Kickstarter rather than pitching it to Image etc?

JH: Everyone has been talking about Kickstarter, lately. It's something new and exciting. A way for creators to produce something absolutely the way they want to. It's also an opportunity for fans to help support a project AND get a more special edition package than we get with most comics. We wanted to get together, the four of us, and build a project from the ground up. We all started out in independent comics, doing creator-owned work and since then have gone on to do a lot of big, varied things. This was our chance to create something that got back to those independent roots. Kickstarter really allowed us to do that. We've had our hands all over this project from moment one. 

While on one hand it's really nice to have a publisher package something for you, with "Bad Karma" we're able to make every aspect of this special. We wrote the stories, hand-picked everyone involved, chose our printer, and the materials that went into physical production of the book-- everything. 
The product that we're giving people in the "Bad Karma" Kickstarter is unique. Sure, there's a possibility that we might re-print it down the line elsewhere, but it will never be available in this exclusive hardcover with all of the added bells and whistles again. It's an opportunity to give fans something special. They can be involved in it. We like it that way.

CBNAH: How has the digital age impacted comics for you and your work?

JH: It's certainly allowed for more readers to have easy access to the books we're putting out. I was recently in Dubai for the Middle East Film and Comic Con. I talked to fans from all over the Middle-East that said that thanks to digital comics they were finally able to read them before they hit trades in book stores. Personally I still prefer to read traditional comics, but it's nice to be able to easily buy and read stuff digitally. There have been plenty of times lately where I needed some visual reference from a book in the middle of the night and was able to buy it digitally for a couple of bucks. It's definitely convenient in that sense.

I'm REALLY digging the way Marvel is doing their digital download codes in books. I've found myself picking up physical copies of books at my local shop and then downloading them to my iPad to read on the road. It's nice to have both options. I think we're certainly going to see a lot more of that in the near future.

CBNAH: What would you like to see happen to the industry over the next two years?

JH: Growth. Continued excitement. I want to see both creators and readers continue to get excited about comics.  There is so much wonderful, exciting stuff coming out right now. We need to keep this trend going. As much as I love mainstream comics, I'd like to see more creators continue doing their own thing. 

Kraken Original Watercolor Painting by Jeremy Haun

CBNAH: As you are soon to see with your project, how do you think Kickstarter is going to change the way that indie comics, music etc are put out? Do you see this as the biggest revolution for creators in some time?

JH: Oh, absolutely. I think it's going to change a lot of things. Beyond just the creation of something, there is a LOT of financial risk in producing an independent project. Kickstarter is going to allow a lot of people to take some chances on projects: comics, movies, music, all. I think Kickstarter and the development of digital media on top of some major support from publishers like Image have done amazing things for creators over the past couple of years. I think the revolution is just beginning. 

CBNAH: Which writer has impacted the most on you during your working career?

JH: This is where I sound like a jerk for singling someone out. Great. I've said it a few times, but I've been remarkably lucky in my career to have worked with so many fantastic writers. Each of them has helped me grow creatively. I think both B. Clay Moore and David Hine have had the most impact creatively. They're guys that I've worked with several times on different projects. Even though they have pretty different styles, they are guys that I definitely clicked with. Liking someone's work is important, but being able to really connect with a co-creator is key for a long term collaboration.

CBNAH: Dream book you'd like to work on and with whom?

JH: Hell...I don't know. I've been lucky in my career. Batman was always my dream character. I did that. Of course, I wouldn't mind revisiting Gotham City someday. I'd certainly like to do some more work with Marvel at some point. Daredevil is a favorite of mine. Marvel has a stable of great characters and creators over there. Jonathan Hickman is someone I'd like to work with at some point. I'd love to work with him. Honestly though, I'm having a lot of fun at Top Cow on the Darkness with David Hine. It's kind of perfect. I don't see that ending any time soon. Other than doing my own stuff, I'm probably going to be drawing the Darkness for a good long while.

Bad Karma Coaster Set

CBNAH: Advice for upcoming writers and artists?

JH: It's the one you're going to hear time and time again. Just create. Do the work. If you want to get better, draw or write one hundred pages. You'll be twice as good as when you started. And honestly, a harsh truth-- if you don't want to work hard, for long hours, on tight deadlines, do something else. You'll probably be happier for it. 

CBNAH: LASTLY, finish this - comic book nerds are hot because _______?

JH: We get it, right? I mean we've always known that this stuff is great. It's just taken a while for everyone else to catch up and realize that we were pretty damned hip. 

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