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  1.  (8327.1)
    You all know Jacen Burrows from CROSSED, among many other things. He's also the illustrator of the new Alan Moore series from Avatar, NEONOMICON, which you can see a preview of here.

    It launches in August, which means it's being solicited to comics stores from this week, I think.

    So Jacen's offered to hang around this thread this week, to talk about NEONOMICON, show off some pretty pictures, answer questions and basically shoot the shit.

    Please welcome Jacen back to Whitechapel.

    -- W
    • CommentTimeMay 31st 2010
    Hello Jacen, hows life?
    • CommentTimeMay 31st 2010
    Hey Jacen - enjoyed your work on Crossed tremendously. I find myself describing the book as "unrelentingly grim" to friends, and I mean that in a good way! This did make me wonder a couple of things, though. Did you ever find you had to tone down what you were drawing for the book because you felt something might be TOO dark? And did you ever creep yourself out with some of the stuff you came out with for the book?
    • CommentTimeMay 31st 2010
    Hey folks. Happy to answer any questions you may have.

    First up, here is a batch of covers from issue 1 of the NEONOMICON, my Lovecraftian horror book with Alan Moore. While running in a completely different direction, this book's disturbing content may rival CROSSED. As those of you who have been buying Avatar for a while know, I really like to have running themes for my cover variants.

    regular cover
    The Regular covers for this series will be based on story content with a few liberties.

    wrap cover
    The wrap around covers will showcase different major players from the Lovecraft pantheon in their domains. Elder Gods, Great Old Ones, etc

    book of the dead cover
    The Book of the Dead covers will all be my own concept illustration plates for the original Necronomicon pulling from all sorts of sources.

    remarqued cover
    This is an ultra rare one-off we're doing. I'll be hand drawing C'thulhu in the crystal ball of each one. A special sketch edition thing.

    Be sure to add the Avatar Flickr feed to your blog reader for more cover previews:
    • CommentTimeMay 31st 2010
    MOALI- Life is good. What other penciler in comics gets to work on such unique material, project after project, year after year with these writers? I feel pretty damn lucky. I couldn't have planned a more fitting and rewarding career path if I tried.

    CURB- I'm not the tone down type. My philosophy when it comes to violence in comics which has run through pretty much all of my work comes down to the unique aspect of how the medium is digested. Unlike film, the reader controls the pace of his experience. You can read most comics in mere minutes if you are focused on the text and getting just the basic statement of the art in each panel or you can choose to dwell on the art. By taking your time and contemplating the image you might get a deeper sense of place, character, nuance. Two people reading the material in their own way may have dramatically different experiences. Knowing this I have chosen to always show as much as I can (within the parameters of the script and my perception of the writer's intent). I want the readers to choose how much they take in. From a glance to a prolonged examination, your experience can shift from PG-13 to a hard NC-17. There are times the writer will choose the Hitchcock-ian "less is more" route to serve the story but when they tell me to go for it, I do.
    And I don't personally find the stuff I draw to be disturbing because of the artistic process. To me it is all mechanical; shapes, volume, perspective, linework, shadow placement. If I saw the finished pieces and they were drawn by someone else's hand I suspect I'd find them quite a bit disturbing but I'd buy the hell out these books. I've always liked the dark stuff. I have had some really crazy dreams over the last year involving the Crossed and various Lovecraftian things but I find them more fascinating than disturbing.
    • CommentAuthorScottS
    • CommentTimeMay 31st 2010
    Jacen, I've heard that Alan Moore's scripts are incredibly dense, whereas Garth Ennis's scripts are a lot less so. Do you find that to be true? Were there any difficulties you encountered working with Moore that you didn't with Ennis (or vice versa?)

    And thanks for doing this :)
  2.  (8327.7)
    Hey Jacen,

    Loved Crossed and very excited to pick up Neonomicon (all the variants too). No real question for you, just keep up the amazing work and another big thank for a commission you did for me a few yrs ago in LA. It is still my favorite piece in my entire collection!!
    • CommentTimeMay 31st 2010
    SCOTTS- Oh definitely! The difference is night and day. For the most part, Garth Ennis tends to describe what is happening in a scene, what action or expression or whatever really needs to come through in a panel and then lets you choose the method for delivering that (pretty standard comic scripting) while Alan Moore's method is to describe in great detail what the composition is and where the various elements fit into the picture plane with intended specificity. Moore's method of controlling the picture plane allows him to work in additional layers of subtext or to affect the story flow from panel to panel in ways other writers don't think of or simply don't care to try. You get a sense when doing an Alan Moore book that every single element has been purposely thought through, part of a greater design. It's a little creepy sometimes.
    What has made it complicated with NEONOMICON is that he wanted to stick to a 4 panel "wide screen" grid which requires a lot of panels with multiple characters and multiple dialog spots. The choreography is very complex even for simple scenes and requires a lot of planning and thumbnailing to make sure there is enough variation in all of these similarly shaped panels to be interesting. It is really forcing me to analyze and adapt new compositional ideas from film, photography and classic paintings since I can only alter placement of elements or the "camera" by small degrees without changing the scripted composition. CROSSED was pretty straight forward by comparison but I am sure I will come out on the other side as a much better artist.
    Everything I am saying here makes sense in MY head but if you need clarification for anything let me know and I'll take another pass at it.
    • CommentTimeMay 31st 2010
    Hey Jacen, you're doing fine. As a writer, I always find it very interesting to hear about the creative process from the other side of the fence, as it can only to improve my ability to convey what I want out of a story to the artist. That being, of course, one of the most important aspects of writing comics. Anyhow, I've read Crossed, Scars and The Courtyard and the artwork definitely shines through on all of them, so kudos. I'll be picking up Neonomicon and hope to see more of you in the future. Relatedly, do you have any plans on what you'll be doing after it wraps up?
    • CommentAuthorSoarerSC400
    • CommentTimeMay 31st 2010 edited
    Hey Jacen, you're my favorite artist in comics right now by far.

    I noticed back in I think '02 you did a splash page in the Ultimate Spider-Man Special, Iron Man I think. I know you're under contract with Avatar but do you have any desire to work for Marvel or DC. If so who would you like to work with / on?

    Thanks for all the great stuff you put out.
    • CommentTimeMay 31st 2010 edited
    STAWES- Right now the plan after NEONOM is to hop back on CROSSED. I'll be doing another arc with Garth. All new characters, all new setting, a new story within the CROSSED-VERSE. No word yet on details or length or anything but it is next on the schedule. After that I have nothing lined up but that's so far out there is no point speculating on what projects might be available.

    SOARER- Thanks man. Yeah that was the last bit of Bendis' Ultimate Team-up book. I did a 2 page Ultimate Iron Man spread which was a lot of fun. For DC I did a 2 page spread for Warren's Transmetropolitan: Filth of the City and that has been the extent of my work for the big two. I do eventually want to play in the mainstream pool a little. Someday. I don't see myself as a traditional company guy in style or personality but a mini or a finite arc would be fun. I'd enjoy the challenge of trying to bring what I do to that audience and adapting to that kind of big, melodramatic, kick-splode type of story telling. The only big 2 superhero books I collected as an 80's kid were Daredevil, Punisher and Vigilante (I was far more into the stuff going on at First, Eclipse, Comico, Mirage, etc). I'd probably fit best with the more crime noir influenced titles but I'd be willing to try my hand at anything that pushed me to evolve as an artist as long as it wasn't too corny. It would be nice to have at least one title that my mom could show to her friends without disclaimers! And while Marvel and DC have a wealth of great writers working for them, I'd rather work with them on creator owned stuff. Given the hypothetical choice of working with say Jason Aaron on some X-family spin-off or working with him on a new concept at Avatar I would always jump at the latter.
  3.  (8327.12)
    Hope everyone does check out Neonomicon, Jacen is killing it on every page once again. What's cool about this series is that Alan wrote it after he had seen Courtyard, so he was able to specifically write to Jacen's strengths. Also his taste for extreme material. It was great fun getting the scripts and seeing Alan just have little conversations with Jacen as part of the script. Clearly he was very comfortable that Jacen could deliver all the insane detail and camera angles. I thought Crossed was such an amazing work, really two amazing creators at the top of their game. Then Jacen had to go off and one up himself on these pages. Talented bastard.
    • CommentAuthordoomweed
    • CommentTimeJun 1st 2010
    Jacen, you've definitely become one of my favorite artists within a super short period of time. I made the comment a few weeks ago that there is a certain style to Avatar-published books, and while the wild writing definitely plays a major part in creating that style, I think the slick, super detailed art is just as important. When I think of Avatar Press, I think of a bold, clean, and creative style; even in a book like Crossed, where the subject matter and a lot of the scenes are horrifying, the art is crisp and bold, and gives us a very clear idea of what is happening.

    I guess I should probably ask a question. Do you think Avatar books do have a particular style? And how responsible do think you are in helping shape the idea of what an Avatar book (or any comic, for that matter) could (and often should) be?
  4.  (8327.14)
    Jacen I realize you've you've worked with both Ellis and Ennis but it must have been a special rush to be offeredthe chance to work with Alan Moore.
  5.  (8327.15)
    Just out of interest, how would you sum up this series without spoiling anything?
    • CommentTimeJun 1st 2010
    Hey man. Really enjoyed your work since you turned me on to Avatar back @ SDCC a couple years ago. I remember strolling buy and you asking me if I've checked out Avatar and I replied yeah I read some of the Faust stuff and you were like that's the olllld Avatar, check this out and you handed me a copy of Wormwood, which I thought was fantastic and bought every one there and since. I blame you now for Avatar being my favorite publisher and having to jonez for more content and verbally abuse my local CM owner when Avatar titles don't arrive when expected :D Just wanted to say thanks man. Looking forward to Neonomicon!
  6.  (8327.17)
    Hi Jacen, is that the same gate in the Neonomicon as from The Courtyard? Do the stories exist in the same universe?
    • CommentTimeJun 1st 2010
    DOOMWEED- I think it is natural for books published by the same publishers to have a certain consistency because of the production and graphic design people but no concerted effort to create a house style was ever made. I'd say it comes down to coincidence or the end result of William's personal tastes when it comes to hiring new pencillers. My personal style may appear to stand out as the house style just because I do so many covers but it isn't deliberate. As for influence, all artists are constantly looking for inspiration and influences and I suppose those of us working for the same publisher are bound to influence each other. I learned a lot studying Ryp and Wolfer and now I'm really loving Gianluca Pagliarani's stuff. I think our stuff all looks pretty different but I think we all have similarities in storytelling which you could probably chalk up to working with these writers who are masters of their craft.

    KOSMOPOLIT- Yeah, an original Alan Moore project is the Moby Dick of comic collaborations. It is a very selective and small club of comic guys who have had the opportunity to work with him and I know it will be one of the highlights of my career and one of those crazy dream assignments that my 13 year old self would never have believed would happen. I'm really taking my time with it and enjoying myself.
    • CommentTimeJun 1st 2010 edited
    MJMARTINEJOHN and ROOTFIREEMBER- Yeah, Neonomicon is a direct sequel to the Courtyard. You won't have to have read the Courtyard to know what is going on but it will help. The plot is basically about a team of FBI investigators tracking down details about what happened in the Courtyard story which leads them into a Lovecraftian nightmare. We end up with a genuinely creepy and disturbing deconstruction and modernizing take on Lovecraft that I think is going to blow people's minds.

    FRANK CASTLE and M3T4LFI3ND- Thanks for supporting us. I think the coolest thing about working at Avatar is knowing we have a fanbase of readers who really get what we're doing. You guys pay the bills which lets us keep making the comics we love!
    • CommentTimeJun 2nd 2010
    Some more recent cover art for you guys...

    fam val 1
    After Norman Rockwell

    fam val 2
    After Grant Wood

    fam val 4
    After Andrew Wyeth

    I can't find a copy of #3 online which is based on Whistler's Mother. And one more random wrap around from Crossed:Family Values...