Back in the Saddle Again: David Michael Beck on Jonah Hex
David Michael Beck on Jonah Hex
Written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, with art by David Michael Beck, issue #40 is part one of the two-part “Sawbones: A Grindhouse Western."
We spoke with Beck about the issue, which introduces Doctor Zimmerman, a doctor who hungers for knowledge, but has this unfortunate little thing with torture…
Newsarama: David, this is your third foray into the world of Jonah Hex. What keeps you coming back to the character?
David Michael Beck: My first attempt at sequential work was a 6 page story for Wicked West (with Vokes, Tinnell and Livingston), that led to doing sequential art for Jonah Hex #11 and #24. My efforts were very well received at DC by with Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray. Later, I was asked to do the “Sawbones” 2 part story by Jimmy and I accepted. I’ve had a great love for Western genre art books and movies since childhood. The opportunity to work with two of the industry’s finest writers again made my decision all the easier. Jimmy, Justin and I have a great professional chemistry and friendship.
DMB: I would equate Hex to a horror Western, and this is a story of torture, murder and revenge.
NRAMA: How do you normally approach drawing a comic book, do you go for the flashy pages first or do you work in chronological order?
NRAMA: There’s a sense of surrealism to your work and yet it is subtle as if looking at a world that is slightly skewed. Is this a technique you apply to Hex based on the script or is it how you see his world?
NRAMA: What’s your process like during the creation of a comic?
DMB: My first consideration is to grasp the overall emotional tone of the story taking notes as I read through it. I then proceed as previously described. I did not send layouts of the pages to the editor or writers…I simply went to finished art.
DMB: Every genre seems to have it’s cycle,…I think western themes were due to come back in popularity when DC decided to revisit this character. Jonah Hex is a heroic tragic figure… brave, tough, hard fighting, direct, and in your face. People love characters of this sort. Jimmy and Justin were a perfect fit to write for this title - they both love the genre. When the book first launched in its “stand alone story” format only one artist was executing the sequential work. Afterwards, there would be a host of invited artists to contribute. The consistent strong storytelling laced with an array of strong visual approaches found acceptance with fans. The Hex fans are as passionate as any I’ve seen, and I’m very proud to have been a part of this title run.
DMB: I’m in my 33rd year as a professional illustrator. I’ve worked in the commercial, editorial, institutional, entertainment, and publishing markets. Currently, I’m also working my way into illustrating for young adult readers and children’s picture books. I study a wide range of art, artists, and techniques.
NRAMA: Do you have a dream project in comics?
DMB: Yes. My favorite all time comic character is Batman, closely followed by Thor, Conan, and Tarzan. I think a project book would be a great challenge. I would also love to have a long running monthly painted cover gig for a prominent title.