PHIL JIMENEZ Jumps from Fairy Tales to Scary Tales

 

If there’s a comic artist who’s drawn it all, it’d have to be New York artist Phil Jimenez. After an auspicious debut fill-in for his idol George Perez on DC’s War of the Gods event series, Jimenez went to draw a variety of Teen Titans and Wonder Woman related projects before doing his first (and so far only) creator-owned series with Otherworld. After that, Jimenez jumped to Marvel to be part of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men and later kick-off the “thrice-monthly” Amazing Spider-Man era. After doing X-Men with Warren Ellis, Jimenez came back to DC to draw Legion of Super-Heroes and he recently finished drawing the debut arc of Fables spin-off series Fairest with Bill Willingham. Jimenez’s next appearance on comic book shelves will be in a short for DC/Vertigo’s Ghosts anthology.

With all the work going on, 2012 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for the California-born, New York-based illustrator. As he surveys where in comics he’d like to go next, the artist also looks outside comics for places to carry out his artistic vision and Newsarama spoke with him about that and more.

Newsarama: Let’s start with an easy one, Phil. What are you working on today? 

 

Phil Jimenez: I’ve just wrapped up my first arc of Fairest this summer and now I'm working on Ghosts, an anthology from Vertigo. I'll be headed back to Fairest at some point, and hoping to spread my wings creatively into a few other arenas, too.

Nrama As you said, you recently ended the first arc of Fairest with the sixth issue. Working in Bill Willingham’s Fables-verse is new to you, but you seemed to dive in headfirst and do these six issues. Now that you’re on the other side of it, what was it like working with this classic characters and telling new stories with them?

Jimenez: Oh, it was wonderful. I understand quite instinctively the "princess" characters at play here, and I really excel when playing with the mythological, the fantastical. Bill's scripts totally played to my strengths, and he allowed me to showcase my love for such characters by really focusing on the Snow Queen, who I've loved as a character for years. 

 

Nrama: You’ve worked with a number of top writers, including several who were former artists like Grant Morrison and Bill Willingham. Using Fairest as an example, can you feel that kind of thinking when you’re reading the script – feeling that the writer wrote it with some insight on the logistics of turning it into a comic?

Jimenez: Hm. I love working with writers who *teach* me things about comics and writing in general; they give me a new way of looking at a character, scene, or plot point; they make me reevaluate the way I would tell a story, and the boundaries I'm willing to push. I love that.

Nrama: Any stand-outs for you in collaborators who pushed you?

Jimenez: Morrison and Warren Ellis were particularly good at expanding my horizons while playing to my artistic strengths; they really set the bar quite high. Bill Willingham brought out a different kind of storytelling approach for me, and I definitely feel like I learned several new ways to tackle time and pace and character development over six issues. That's always fun! 

 

Nrama: You mentioned that while your first arc of Fairest is over, you have plans to return to that series down the road. Is that true?

Jimenez: Oh, yes. I'll be inking Stephen Sedowski on a Fairest arc -- I'm so excited to be working with him! -- and I'm trying to figure out scheduling of my next art. My editors, Shelly Bond and Gregory Lockard, have made such a home for me there; I truly hope I can stay in some capacity for years to come!

Nrama: In the past you’ve stressed that while you’ve written comics from time to time, you consider yourself an artist first. It’s been a number of years since you’ve last had a published writing credit. Is there perhaps something in the works coming up?

Jimenez: I've always said that the only reason I write things is because writers aren't scripting anything for me I want to draw. That hasn't been a problem for a while, but now I think I've stumbled onto a story I might need to write and draw myself. I'm very excited about it, because it would be different from anything I've done in the past. Got some hammering out to do, though, before it becomes "official." 

 

Nrama: A side of you people don’t know much about is the movie work you’ve done, most famously doing the Spider-man sketches in the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man movie. Have you had the opportunity to do any other movie work recently?

Jimenez: I've done design work for other films, but nothing in the past couple of years, I'm afraid. I'm targeting TV these days.

Nrama: I read an interview where you talked about how last year you were working on some creator-owned work outside of comics. Can you fill us in on what you’re working on in that regard?

Jimenez: Not yet.

Nrama: Understood, but I have to ask about Otherworld. Looking back on that now, it seems like one of those great books that fell through the cracks. I know you had to leave that series half-done, but have you had any substantial talks about reconvening work on that series at some point?

Jimenez: Always. I've been trying to get that project off the ground in a particular form, and, as anything worth fighting for, it's been taking a long time. But I finally feel like I'm closer than ever before, and I'm going to pursue the opportunity to finish that project in multiple mediums pretty vigorously over the next few months!

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