While some of us may be delighted by the biggest and the most popular in the world of comics, we all realize that for every popular book, writer or artist there has to be a beginning. While there are many ways to success with each story finding its own route, there is one attribute that can be found in each one: talent. Up & Coming is a regular feature at Newsarama that seeks out the next generation of comic creators and profiles them today.
Artist Jason Reeves is a busy man. Although he’s not a well-known name in comics, he’s got several projects underway including two graphic novels, several comics and a full-plate as a freelance illustrator. The California-based artist is eager to make his name in comics by showing off his art game. Take a seat and see what he’s got.
Newsarama: Jason, you do artwork for a living right now, right?
Jason Reeves: Yes, I'm a freelance illustrator, which is just a fancy way of saying I draw things for a living. I wear a lot of hats basically, I've done concept design, trading cards, product/toy design, Miniature Design, etc. But my first love is comics! The plan is that eventually one of those hats will pay enough to for me to wear it exclusively, and Hopefully that hat will have a spider-man logo or something on it
NRAMA: Do you have any upcoming comic work planned?
REEVES: Let's see...I've contributed to the issue #2 of Five Color Comics by Erik Warfield and Paul Grimshaw (they run my favorite comicshop in California, House of Secrets). I'm told that will see the light of day this winter. Also, I'm working on a comic called Murrilicious with a company called Inception Strategies. A communications company based in South Australia, that develops social comics with positive messages for young people. Next, I'm doing the art on a comic called Dreadlocks: the Deceased Ones by Andre Batts and UrbanStyle Comics. And if that wasn't enough, working on my two creator owned graphic novels One Nation and Cubbs. Somewhere in between I'll get some sleep too [laughs]
NRAMA: Can you tell us more about those two graphic novels?
REEVES: One Nation is the story of Paragon, a Superman type, who's just realized that even though he's been fighting crime since the 90's the only thing he's protected is the status quo. Enter the Ten, a growing multiculturalists’ organization made up of other super humans (think a socially conscious JLA), who enlighten Paragon to social imbalance in the world while beginning to inspire the public conscious with their heroic and philanthropic deeds. Paragon joins the Ten as they proclaim their effort to bring freedom and justice back to a society fraught with cruelty and corruption. However, their ever-growing positive influence causes unseen global factions to conspire against them, resulting in the unleashing of a power that may surpass even Paragon's...project: "Blue Midnight".
The other graphic novel is called Cubbs. Born and raised in the city of New Orleans, inspired by all things superhero, it was always Cubbs’ aspiration to combat injustice in his hometown. Possessing a talent for deductive reasoning and a vast knowledge of kung-fu movies, he did for a short time. However, his crime-fighting career was cut short by Hurricane Katrina. Forced out by the disaster he used his F.E.M.A assistance money to travel the world in an effort to study with the great martial arts masters and hone his crime-fighting skill. His learning abroad lead him to develop his own unconventional style of martial art he refers to as “mixing”. Just like hip-hop DJ’s “mix” songs from different records to create a specific sound, Cubbs amalgamates hip-hop, martial arts, anime, and comic book superhero sensibilities to create his specific style. Sadly, his training was never completed due to F.E.M.A refusing his request for “rental assistance” in Outer Mongolia. The “Legion of Assassins” was not pleased. Delinquent rent payments are frowned upon in their order. Promptly an eviction notice was dispensed…by shirukin. Now, as his beloved city’s reconstruction is threatened by crooked politicians and a growing super-criminal element, he returns home. With his best friend Capricorn (a half-human/ half-demon spawn) in tow, he’s back to claim his destiny as New Orleans’ greatest protector!
NRAMA: Wow, you’ve got a lot going on. Do you have a dream project you'd like to work on?
REEVES: I have three:
1.) An illustrator friend of mine, Rashad Doucet recently published his graphic novel called My Dog Is A Superhero and has had a fair amount of success at it. That has inspired me to finish and have One Nation and Cubbs published. So, y'know I gotta keep up with the Jones'...or the Doucets as it were.
2.) Concept/character design for a big superhero movie production like Geoff Darrow and Steve Skroce did on the Matrix Trilogy.
3.) Any large scale cinematic superhero team book with Mark Millar, my favorite comic writer.
NRAMA: Mark Millar – are you listening?
While you wait for a call back, let’s talk more about how you became an artist. Did you go to school for it?
REEVES: In my junior and senior year of high school I attended the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts(NOCCA). Other than that no formal art training but, I've had a couple of mentors over the years who taught me illustration and let me tag along on some of their actual projects. That taught me the business first hand, like an apprenticeship. Being able to see what a professional illustrator does in his day to day work life has been the most valuable thing for my career as one.
NRAMA: You mentioned mentors – tell us about them.
REEVES: They are two extremely talented artists, John Milton and Lee Moyer. I know John from when I lived in New Orleans and he's the best I've ever seen at rendering a comic page. Dynamic but refined storytelling and no one is better at drawing a fight scene. He taught me how to make my pages move so you feel every action, every punch and every kick. Lee is out of Portland and he's a renaissance artist. The guys more versatile than a swiss army knife. He's the most efficient artist I know, and his paintings are the absolute best. He taught me Photoshop and the "ins and outs" of the business. How to amass clientele, how to promote myself, and how to make the best use of my time/schedule, I learned all from Lee. I am forever indebted to these two guys.
NRAMA: Honed in school and with mentors’ help… before we go, tell us why you started to do art in the first place?
REEVES: I've been drawing since I was about 3yrs old, like a lot of children. But what made me choose it as a career was Amazing Spider-man #341 and Robin #1. Those were the first two comic books I ever purchased with my own money. I was 10yrs old, I saw the artwork in those two books and decided that drawing, specifically comics, is what I wanted to do with my life. So thank you Erik Larsen and Tom Lyle for the inspiration.