Thursday, December 6, 2012

Blessed Nerd Interview with 'Cursed Pirate Girl's Jeremy Bastian...

Jeremy Bastian

Folks...Jeremy Bastian's highly unconventional but still, so damn intricate and unique. We had to get some thoughts from him...his ingenious work speaks volumes for itself and he's got a lot of insight to shed so I'd just let the grandmaster do his talking...

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

JB: Drawing is the one thing I've ever been able to do well.  And the one thing I love to do more than anything.  My father always told me "if you can make a career out of the thing you love to do, you'll be the happiest person in the world".  I started reading comics probably with The New Mutants back when they started in 1983, then I jumped to The Saga of the Swamp Thing - this was when John Totleben was illustrating Alan Moore stories.  It just escalates from there, Arthur Adams X-Men, Silvestri X-Men, Neal Adams Batman, Bill Sienkiewicz Stray Toasters (not to mention my first intro to him on The New Mutants: Demon Bear Saga), Mignola Hellboy, Gianni Monstermen and Guy Davis Marquis all being important artistic benchmarks that helped me understand the beauty of the medium.  

I knew from the very start that that's what I needed to do, to draw comics.  It was the coolest career path I could think of, so ever since that realization I've been constantly trying to improve my skills to be able to compete in such an intense industry.

'Ye Old Lore of Yore'

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

JB: I started going to shows and showing artists my work asking for critiques and that led to spending hours in portfolio review lines in San Diego waiting to get reviewed by editors.  I listened to everything they had to say, because my work was never sacred, I knew if I wanted a job in comics I had to improve on so many levels.  I had to become as good as any book on the comic stand.  

All the while my parents were becoming more and more supportive of my career designs, they could see how focused I was and how determined I was to be better.  They drove me to all those first conventions and would even talk with artists asking them tips to help me along.  I eventually came up with my own story and self-published it and took it around to different publishers and it found it's way into just the right hands and was picked up and published through Olympian Publishing.  

Cursed Pirate Girl was not my first book, the first two books I did were Phantom Corp. and a collaboration project with David Petersen (the creator of Mouse Guard) called 'Ye Ol Lore Of Yore'.  As much as I loved Phantom Corp. it just didn't have the grab I thought it would and so I changed tracks.  I created something a little more personal but for a broader audience. 

CBNAH: What were your favorite memories from the books you did or sketches and conventions you impacted on?

JB: My favorite memories of the book are those little moments like the swordfish bros. or the very dangerous potato or the turkey head in a cart.  Places that called for a character and I pushed it to the limits of strange.  When it comes to conventions, my favorite memories are meeting my artistic heroes and finding that they like what I do.  They even remember my name at the different conventions I set up at and ask me how the work is going.  That just floors me every time.

CBNAH: Do you ever see yourself having a lengthy run at one of the big 2 aka Marvel or DC?

JB: No.  There's no way.  I'm waaaaaaay too slow. Maybe an individual issue, or small story arc that I could work on at my leisure, but nothing that they would need on schedule.  

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

JB: It starts with the original image that comes into my head when I was writing the script, then I thumbnail it out, and then rough it out at actual size.  Sometimes the original size rough comes very easily, usually the first time I draw it, but mostly it takes many tries at getting the character or scene just cool enough.  

And then other times I'll have to come back the next day and give it a fresh look, sometimes it can be pushed a little more creatively.  That's when I have the most fun, when I draw one thing and think to myself- "this could be so much better", and then I keep going until it is.

CBNAH: Some of your artistic influences?

JB: I've already listed a bunch of my comic book artistic influences, I'll just list some others instead of talk about how much they influence me because I love a lot of artists and this article would become way too long. William Hogarth, Hendrik Goltzius, Albrect Durer, Thomas Rowlandson, Walter Crane, H.J. Ford, Aubrey Beardsley, Harry Clarke, Sidney Sime, Heinrick Kley, Kay Nielsen, Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac, Gustave Dore, Brian Froud, Yoshitaka Amano, Andrej Dugin, Olga Dugina, Gennady Spirin, Tony DiTerlizzi, Alan Aldridge, Windsor McKay, Vania Zouravliov, K.Y. Craft, James Christensen and Aaron Horkey.

'Cursed Pirate Girl'

CBNAH: How has the CURSED PIRATE GIRL title been treating you as it's quite a fun title?

JB: It was one of those names that is so simple that you read it and think "oh really... so what?", kind of like the Punisher.  When I first encountered the Punisher I thought to myself "ooh, he's the Punisher, he punishes people, how intimidating".  But the more times you read it or say it it becomes linked to the image of "the Punisher" and all that is associated with him.  Guns, knives, skulls, explosions, blood, etc.  

I'd like people to imagine wooden sculptures of arcane-looking fish decorated with gold embellishments with little jolly rogers sculpted into them, possibly with barnacles covering some of the wood and cracks running along the side.  Like a pinata from the 1800s and when it is opened bones and treasure will fall out, maybe a crab or two as well.

CBNAH: What's the favorite thing about being a sketcher and artist for a living?

JB: Well the question answers itself.  You get to sketch for a living.  I mean come on, pretty much the only thing better would be to have sex for a living and that isn't something you really share with your parents.  :)  I get to create really weird things from my imagination and exchange them for money.  

CBNAH: Best advice you ever got?

JB: The Iron Fist and All-Star Squadron artist Arvell Jones told me in a comic book workshop to "have fun, get into the character", he said this as he was climbing onto a chair and acting out a fight scene.  I'll never forget that.  

 The second thing I won't forget was in a Hall H panel starring Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez about their Grind House collaboration.  An audience member asked advice on how to get into the filming biz and at the end of the reply Quentin just blurted out "...or just make a really bad-ass movie".  And I've tried to apply that to making a comic, to put all I can into it, to make it as bad-ass as possible.

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

JB: Still trying to figure out the best way to do it, unless we can get an app or something that allows one to zoom into the art, it will be quite difficult for a viewer (especially a viewer who is reading comics on their phone) to be able to see all the information I try to pack into each panel.  I really created this book so that you wanted it on a shelf.  

I'm a little old fashioned I know, but I really like being able to hold a physical book and I like the craftsmanship that goes into making books.  I really like different kinds of paper, I like the tactile sensation of turning the page, the smell of old books the whole printing process.  I've constructed books using chip board, glue, fabric, and so many other ingredients, it's an art-form in itself.  

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

JB: I think just to see the audience grow would be good enough.  I'm glad to see so many independent books out there.  Comics aren't just about capes and cowls, it really is its own art form and I think more people are slowly starting to realize that.  They realize it in other countries and I think that is because they don't hold to the paradigm of the super hero.  There are beautiful personal stories out there challenging the perception of what this medium is all about.

CBNAH: 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 and are you gonna be delving into it anytime soon?

JB: Yes, I think Kickstarter has changed the game.  I have already seen some major names in the industry put up projects on KS and get them backed, it takes out all the middlemen.  An artist can fund their project by basically taking pre-orders and not only be able to fill those orders but then be able to afford more product they can take to shows or even try to get them into stores themselves.  This is a very exciting time for the indie artist or writer, they can achieve the first victory along the path of becoming a professional in the comic world, getting published.    

CBNAH: If you weren't doing art, what would you be doing?

JB: I'd probably have a good stable job with a lot of security and insurance and it would be dull and I'd have to find many hobbies to get me through the weeks of monotonous repetition.  Or I'd be a musician.

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

JB: The one book I've always wanted to work on is Swamp Thing, I really love drawing organic things most and I really enjoy how creepy Swamp Thing books can get.  My favorite arc from Alan Moore and John Totleben was the underwater vampire story.  Soooooo creepy!  It was awesome.  Another factor is that I don't think my style would benefit many titles.  Do you think Neil Gaiman has a Swamp Thing story in him he needs an artist for?

CBNAH: Advice for upcoming writers and artists?

JB: If you're upcoming then you're not there yet.  Listen to criticism, know that you have to improve, don't take it personal and don't get defensive.  If you're really intent on becoming a professional you'll look at your work as constantly "in progress".  And until you can pick up a copy of Batman and honestly say to yourself "I'm this good", you'll never work for DC.  

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

JB: They're full of imagination and far from mundane.  Normal people suck.

No comments:

Post a Comment