Back in the Saddle: Paul Gulacy Returns to Jonah Hex
Exclusive: Jonah Hex #43 Preview
As the film version of the Western anti-hero gets underway in front of the cameras, Jonah Hex #43 sees Hex called in to resolve a hostage situation…in his own fashion.
We spoke with Gulacy about “The Hyde House Massacre.”
Preview of Jonah Hex #43 here
Newsarama: Paul, if I’m not mistaken, you last illustrated issue #12 of Jonah Hex. How does it feel not only coming back to the book, but also the fact that it is still being published in today’s market?
Paul Gulacy: Not really knowing the numbers on the book, I assumed that there was always a built-in audience for a Western… particularly Jonah Hex, which is quite offbeat. Word got out that the stories and art was consistently top notch. I think it's a nice needed change of pace from the status quo.
NRAMA: There’s something special about a Paul Gulacy drawn Jonah Hex story, the cinematic storytelling shows a true love of the genre. Am I right? Are you a fan of the genre?
PG: Totally. Everybody loves a good Western…Shakespeare on hoses. I grew up watching cowboy shows - Rawhide, Gunsmoke, Bonanza. My family gathered around the set. The first thing I ever drew was a cowboy. When I was six years old, I had this over size plastic cowboy and his horse that I played with endlessly. One morning I had them set up on the breakfast table and I asked my mom if she could hand me a pencil and a sheet of notebook paper. At that point, I simply began drawing the outline of these figures and that's how I began to learn to draw. In my teens back in Ohio, my best friend's family raised horses and we rode almost every day in the summer. My wife and I love to watch bull riding on TV. We love when the bull gets over.
NRAMA: From an artistic position, do you find a single-issue story refreshing or is it more challenging?
PG: The challenge is trying to get the editor to stretch it into a three-parter or more. Well, with the limited amount of pages, you want to notch it up a little. Luckily, both Hex stories written by Justin and Jimmy had great storylines that fit perfectly with the page count. I would think that it's more pressure on the writers to make these stories fly within the perimeter of twenty-two pages. That’s gotta be tough with those kinds of limitations.
NRAMA: How is it working from Jimmy and Justin’s script? Do they leave room for interpretation or is everything fairly rigid in terms of panel description or layout?
PG: The first time I worked with these guys together was on a punisher job and that script was airtight. Everything was mapped out page-to-page, panel-to-panel. It’s the same with Hex.
NRAMA: Can you tell us a little bit about the story?
PG: No. You need to go buy it. Hex wreaks havoc trying to rescue a man and his daughter from bad guys holding them prisoners in a big hotel. That’s the TV Guide description.
NRAMA: As we noted in the preview, most of this issue is silent and lets the illustration tell the story...can you tell us , is this harder to do, or do you find this kind of storytelling refreshing?
PG: It’s not harder, you just have to keep in mind that without leaving room for dialogue balloons you're going to be drawing more into the panels. In this case I loved the story, so, I didn’t mind the extra work. I just came off this high-tech story over at Marvel, so, this was perfect change of pace. I need to mix it up now and then.
NRAMA: I noticed that your work on this title, it seems to me, is much more raw and classic than the superhero titles you have been doing...is it because of the subject matter or is your style constantly changing?
PG: The style is the same but the subject matter is different. My rendering style is totally the same. People and horses instead of walls of computer banks. So yeah…if it comes off raw and classic it's because of the subject matter as you mentioned not a conscience attempt to draw it differently because it's set in the Western past.
The colors on the issue are really wonderful, were you involved in the process?
Yeah, everybody got his or her noses in there. I’ve worked with Rob before and he remains very flexible to making adjustments. He’s a trooper and always does a fine job. At the end of the day, everybody was on the same page with the colors. We were all pleased. These days the colorists nearly make or break a book. You want to try to get the best if you can.
NRAMA: What is it you like about Jonah Hex as a character?
PG: I'll tell you, if I want to let off pent-up steam, instead of kicking the cat, just draw an issue of Hex blasting the shit out everything that moves.[laughter] That'll cool you out. Really good cheap therapy.
Seriously, there are a lot of layers to this character and I think it's all up to your interpretation. To me, he comes off as this kind of psychotic self-centered Robin Hood with guns who he settles his way many times at the expense of others. He came out of a war whose side lost and then nearly got killed by Indians so, he's got the baggage from the get-go. He goes into a constant survivor mode to take care of himself, take care of business and move on. For me, there is no particular reason why I like him. He’s a hero, he's pathetic. He’s a little bit of all of us I think.
NRAMA: On a personal note and as a fan of your work I’d like to see you do more Hex stories, particularly something featuring Tallulah Black. Any chance of that happening in the future?
PG: Talk to Jimmy and Justin. Count me in. I’m there for ya, man.
NRAMA: Have you given any though about Josh Brolin portraying Jonah Hex on the big screen and if so do you think he’s right for the part?
PG: Yeah, I think he'll be great. a very diverse actor on top of his game right now. I’m sure we'll see something really wild coming out of Hollywood with this. It’ll be nuts. They’ll take it to the extreme.
NRAMA: And last, where would someone go to see your art, and especially for me, purchase your art?