ASK ME ANYTHING #2 (PART TWO)
Here is part two of my recent installment of AMA. This week I tried to get through as many of the remaining questions from paid subscribers for the Q&A as I could. If I missed your question I will do my best to continue to reply in the comments section and please forgive me in advance if I can’t and time gets away from me.
So here we go…
What are some of your favorite, work-for-hire books that you've done? I have and love all of your creator owned books and now I'm diving into your work-for-hire books from Marvel, DC and Valiant. Thanks for all the amazing stories, I can't wait for everything coming out in the new year.
Here are my favorite work-for-hire books from each company I worked for…
DC: Animal Man, Green Arrow, Frankenstein: Agent of Shade, The Question Black Label, Robin and Batman, Swamp Thing: Green Hell, Joker: Killer Smile
MARVEL: Moon Knight and Old Man Logan
VALIANT: Bloodshot (maybe the most underrated and overlooked work for hire book that I’ve done? I wrote almost 50 issues Bloodshot and am really proud of the run).
Hi Jeff, any chance of a return to Sentient with TKO? That book was amazing!
I loved writing that story and the best part was learning how well I worked with Gabriel Walta, who is incredible. There are no plans for more Sentient but there will be a deluxe hardcover of that book next year. And Gabriel and I are working on a big new ongoing Image series for late 2022. If you liked Sentient I think you’ll really like this new series. Too soon to talk about specifics but we will likely announce it in Summer ’22.
Where did you get the confidence from, starting a career in comics? I ask because your early stuff (Astray + Lost Dogs) looks so rough, compared to regular mainstream artists at Marvel and DC or even for independent artists like Dan Clowes or Set.
2) What if Essex County hadn't open the door for you in Comics as it did? Where would you be now?
My best guess is my confidence built over time. It came from seeing enough little improvements and glimpses in my work that kept me going. There were times I doubted myself for sure, but there were just enough small strides and small steps forward to keep the hope alive and point me to telling stories the way I hoped I could one day.
I hate to even think about that. I think I would still be working a day job, likely in restaurants and still self-publishing my comics. But who knows? Comics are everything to me so thankfully I was able to make a living with them.
Just wanted to preface this with saying Black Hammer really reignited my obsession with comic books and it's my favorite universe in the medium. I have just a couple questions!
1. With Black Hammer Visions being written by other writers, I was wondering if the series is still within canon or if it exists outside of it? Wondering especially because it features the origin of the Horseless Rider and introduces a new character in the Cabin of Horrors issue.
2. I was also wondering about the live action Black Hammer series or movie? I remember there being talks awhile back. Also would you hope for it to be a direct adaption or an extension of the comic universe?
Anyway thank you for all that you create! Every month, my significant other and I look forward to picking up the new "Jeffies" from our pull list at our LCS.
Honestly, I kind of see them as out of canon. They are fun, cool stories with other writers interpreting the world and I gave them free reign to do so. But I don’t necessarily think of these “Visions” as in continuity.
I was developing it as a TV show with Legendary but their option expired. Black Hammer is now being optioned for TV at a new studio. I can’t announce anything yet but I will as soon as it’s official.
I’ll keep making them if you keep buying them, thanks for supporting!
Who are some of your biggest influences, comics and otherwise?
In comics the list is so long and so varied. So many creators influenced me at different points in my life and career. I’ll try and make a huge list one day. In terms of non-comics I am mostly influenced by filmmakers and musicians. The Pogues, Tom Waits, Nick Cave, The Clash are big favorites. In terms of filmmakers, David Lynch, Wim Wenders, Stanley Kubrick, Jim Jarmusch, Gus Van Sant are probably my faves.
Will Trillium ever be made into a movie or tv show? How about After Death?
Both Trillium and AD: After Death are optioned and in development. AD is at Sony Pictures and they have a screenplay and are approaching potential directors. Trillium is just in the earliest stages of development at this point. If either of these projects get any closer to the screen I’ll be sure to update you and everyone else on The Farm.
Can you tell us a little about Black Hammer: The End. Is this going to be the last Black Hammer series or is it more like the Black Hammer version of Kingdom Come?
I can’t tell you too much yet, as it’s too soon. Details and an official announcement for Black Hammer: The End will be coming sometime in 2022. I will say that it is not a “Kingdom Come” style story. It is the next chapter in the core Black Hammer series and as you read Black Hammer: Reborn you will begin to see where things are heading. The End will indeed be the last BH story for the foreseeable future.
What are your thoughts on digital comics and do you ever see a tipping point where digital comics would ever over take physical comics in sales? Thanks!
I don’t really see the day where digital comics totally take over. I am still very much a print-oriented creator. While things like the books I am doing on this Substack and the stuff I have done with Comixology are good experiments for me, I think they only work when they are done in conjunction with print editions as well. I still love books and holding comics in my hands and I know most readers do too.
I have no idea what the future holds but It’s nice to have these different formats available, but in the end I still love print and comic book stores are still the lifeblood of the industry. That’s why every comic I do here will eventually also be available in print.
Have you ever written with a particular age range in mind? What, if any, of your books do you think would most connect with readers under the age of 18?
(Selfish side question: Do you ever speak to students and would you ever consider talking to my middle school kids?)
I don’t ever write with an age range in mind. I think if I tried to write “younger” the results would feel forced or watered down. I just need to follow the ideas where they take me.
I don’t have a lot of time to speak with students, unfortunately. Sorry!
1. What are your favorite brushes/pens currently?
2. If you could pick a TV show (current or past) to write an episode for, which show would it be?
3. I understand that you're pretty much official done working on projects that are not creator-owned, which I applaud and understand. I was wondering if there was an exception to the rule where there is a character you have a story in mind for that would be so meaningful to you that it could draw you back for one more story, assuming that you'd have "final cut" and could pick your own creative team, and the story would not have to be canon.
I pretty much use a combination of the same three tools for all my inking now, a Uniball Fineliner pen, a Hunt 104 nib and a Windsor-Newton Sable Haired #1 brush. I did a process post on the art style of Mazebook a few weeks back that went into detail on my tools and drawing process. I recommend looking that up. And I’ll try and do more step-by-step drawing demo things on this Substack soon.
Twin Peaks, of course. Or LOST.
Nope. I’ve luckily already done that. Robin and Batman and the Swamp Thing book were those two last projects. I had full control and got to do them the way I wanted. I don’t have any other itches left to scratch with DC or Marvel.
1. In your vast array of characters, which one would you say is the most reflective of your own personality.
2. I am a middle school teacher and I run a graphic novel club after school. Which of your books would you say has a message that you think all kids should hear?
I have always had a fondness for Lou and Lester from Essex County. In many ways they are sort of two sides of my personality I think.
It is really hard for me to answer that. I never really write or draw a story with any “message” in mind to be honest. I often don’t even really know what the books are about until they are done.
Are we going to see the sequel to Berserker Unbound? Any talks on a follow up to Cosmic Detective?
Can we get a pdf of Fortress from UR Magazine?
No plans for a sequel to either book right now. I had a loose idea for another Berserker but I don’t know that we will ever get to that. And Matt and I have discussed more Cosmic Detective, but we are both really busy so it would have to be something for the future.
I can definitely try and get a PDF of Fortress for you all. It may take some time though.
I'd love to know a quick rundown of your process - from writing to thumbnails to pencils to inking etc
Definitely. But this feels like another full post. And a few others asked me about this as well, so I’ll work on a full step-by-step post on this as well as my writing process posts for early next year.
When will those signed Primordial copies hit your Secret Store?
Brian…next week! Very limited supply so be ready!
What goals/dreams do you have for your career? (being as accomplished as you already are)
My only real dream and goal was to be able to publish my stories and get them out there and hopefully to be able to make a living and keep doing it. Anything beyond that is just extra. So I am kind of living my dream every day. I get to wake up and go to my studio and make comics all day. I can’t really ask for anything else.
I’ve gotten to do stuff in comics I never dreamed I would and I try not to take any of that, or any of you who support my work, for granted.
Can you give us the specifics on the change from Doctor Star to Andromeda, was it prompted by potential legal action?
I’m not able to give any specifics as part of the legal agreements made. Sorry. But honestly it wasn’t really all that dramatic. It was dealt with amicably on both sides and we moved forward.
Are there any resources/opportunities that you would recommend that relate specifically to Canadian comic book writers & independent publishers? I am curious about things like grant opportunities, industry publications, etc.
I wish I could be more helpful on this. My days of working independently were 15 or 20 years ago and are now likely obsolete. The world has changed a lot since I was self-publishing. Now we have crowd-funding and social media and all sorts of things I didn’t have back then. I know that the Canada Arts Council still gives out grants for graphic novels, so I recommend looking into that.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I’ll let you know if that ever happens ☺
But honestly I watch hockey, read a lot and play lots of board games with my family.
Was Colonel Weird inspired by your short story "There once lived a cosmonaut and a surgeon"?? I LOVED that short btw. It's crazy how a story so short could have such a powerful ending!
Do you have any future plans to release a short story collection similar to Ashtray? Small original shorts without any connection to each other?
That is a connection I never made. Interesting for sure. I’m not sure if Weird owes anything to that story or not. Certainly not consciously but maybe without me realizing it.
Not at the moment. All my stories tend to grow into longer format things these days.
I think you have a singular voice when it comes to writing and I find it really unique and refreshing. Do you think that helped with your approach to Moon Knight (which is my favourite run of the character) and what did you want to achieve from writing the character? Many thanks from a fan in the UK.
I loved writing Moon Knight. It was by far my best experience at Marvel. They were really hands off and let me do what I wanted. It almost felt like a creator-owned book in many ways.
I wanted to do two things: Pay homage to the original Moon Knight stories by Moench and Sienkiewicz and work all of that into a modern story about identity and mental health.
Doctor Star made me cry the most out of any comic book you've written (and I've cried a lot with just about all of your books, thanks for that by the way). My question is, has any of your own comic books made you cry & if so what made you cry the most?
I actually cried when I wrote the end of Dr. Star and the end of Sweet Tooth. But I often get emotional when writing very emotional scenes like that. I think those were the only two times I actually cried though.
When you started on Black Hammer did you think it would expand to the point it is right now (with all the spin offs and whatnot)? I'm loving the entire universe so it is awesome.
I had no idea it would grow to be what it is. I really only had the core farm story planned and the spin offs came about out of necessity to give Dean a little more time when he needed it. I wanted only Dean to draw the core farm story so I did a few one off issues with David Rubin that opened the door for all the spin offs. And then of course, the success of the books allowed me to do more and more.
How many of your ideas for stories end up living in your notebooks?
Not that many to be honest. Even the stuff I abandon usually ends up being cannibalized and used in other stories eventually.
Hey Jeff! When it comes to your upcoming projects, how do you schedule yourself w/ books you’re the writing/art team and books that you have many collaborations on as well as your TV work? For example, your Black Hammer book, Swamp Thing Black Label, Royal City, Essex County TV show?
Thanks for the stories
I received a number of questions here about how I schedule all my projects etc. It’s one of the most common questions I get. So, I think I will do a whole post about that soon, likely in December.
What's your favorite Lynch film, and why is it Inland Empire?
Probably Blue Velvet, Eraserhead or Mulholland Drive. Really hard to pick between them but they each, in my opinion, represent the best of every phase of his filmmaking career. Of course, for me, Twin Peaks is his greatest achievement, especially Season 3. Having said that, there is no Lynch film that isn’t amazing in my opinion. Yes…even Dune.
Okay, thanks everyone for the questions. I apologize if I didn’t get to yours this time around. As I mentioned above, and last week, if you asked me about how I schedule so many projects, about my drawing process, or my outlining, writing process I will be working on detailed posts about all these topics for early 2022 for paid subscribers.
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