"Haunted Mansion #1" first look
Credit: Marvel Comics
Credit: Marvel Comics

The House of Ideas and The Haunted Mansion -- how come no one thought of it sooner?

Beginning March 9, writer Josh Williamson and artist Jorge Coelho pay a visit to Walt Disney's iconic haunted house as part of Marvel's Disney Kingdoms line. Coelho comes to this title after a skyrocketing trajectory from being an apprentice to Sean Murphy to work on BOOM's John Flood and Sleepy Hollow. Coelho's nuanced and panoramic style is an easy fit with The Haunted Mansion, and something he calls "right up his alley."

Newsarama talked to Coelho about his work on that upcoming series, as well as what led him and his art to this point.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Nrama: Jorge, what are you working on today?

Jorge Coelho: Actually I've just finished The Haunted Mansion #1, and starting #2 as we speak.

Nrama: We’ve been talking about doing an interview for some time, and just as I asked you about this Marvel announced you were drawing The Haunted Mansion. But before that you drew BOOM!’s John Flood and was one of the participants in Sean Murphy’s apprenticeship. Let’s start with the last thing first -- how do you think that experience helped you?

Coelho: A lot. Sean

A lot, Sean and his wife, Colleen, organized one pretty comprehensive and flawless program, from technical aspects like tick marks for drawing perspective in comic book pages (revolutionary for me) to script reading and character development. It was a chance to refresh and have focused education about comic book making - all lean, hands on, no fat. Would recommend Sean Murphy's Apprenticeship (“SMAP” for the crew) to any serious aspiring artist. Personally we had a great time, and I made some friends for life.

From left to right: Sean Murphy, Jorge Coelho, Clay McCormack, Corin Howell, Stephen Green, Tana Ford.
From left to right: Sean Murphy, Jorge Coelho, Clay McCormack, Corin Howell, Stephen Green, Tana Ford.
Credit: Katana Collins.

Nrama: You had done work prior to the apprenticeship here and there; how do you think that changed your work?

Coelho: It gave me more tools and knowledge to play with them, right now I'm more confident with linework and textures, also I'm applying some new rules that I didn't know about like conserving the characters’ visual order while changing cameras; it's tricky but makes a lot of sense in storytelling, because, clarity. We can break the rules but we should know we're doing it and why we're doing it. 

Credit: Marvel Comics

Nrama: You recently finished a string of work with Polarity, Sleepy Hollow and the aforementioned John Flood. I see your style changing strongly over that short period of time. What do you attribute that to?

Coelho: Looking back it does look like that, but it's the result of three years of full time work, not counting the trying-to-break-in-stage. I think it's the natural result of the whole experience. Also, maybe it shows through that I don't have it all together, that I'm still learning.

Nrama: What’s a typical day like for you when you’re working?

Coelho: Waking up, bath, breakfast at the coffee shop, home studio, lunch, The Lisbon Studio once or twice a week, home studio by night and repeat. All this constantly thinking, sometimes even dreaming about story/comics and how one's going about it - a lot like the distracted scientist cliché…

Nrama: As I mentioned, you’re working on a new The Haunted Mansion series. What made you want to do this project?

Coelho: It's pretty much right up my alley. Before John Flood I worked on Sleepy Hollow, and that had exactly this kind of vibe, gothic, noir, horror with a grain of humor. I love drawing shadows, monsters and suspense. All this plus the chance to work on a five-issue series from scratch made it an irresistible proposition.

Nrama: You’re in Portugal, but have you had an opportunity to visit one of the Haunted Mansions at a Disney park worldwide?

Credit: Marvel Comics

Coelho: Unfortunately no, wanderlust got to me a bit later on. When Disneyland Paris opened, I remember craving a visit, it's never too late though.

Nrama: Since we’re talking Marvel, I learned that as a child you intensely wanted to be Spider-Man. Now that you’re receiving checks from Marvel with a Spider-Man on the stamp, is drawing Spider-Man still something you want to do?

Coelho: Yes. It’s not my main goal, but who could say “no” to Spider-Man, Batman, or Wolverine? Even if just for the small fleeting joy of it. At a minimum, it's a giant milestone at best one could be good at it! Which I doubt unless it's something noir or gothic like Spidey against Morbius… which was my very first comic book, by the way.

Nrama: In addition to comics, I also know that you play bass guitar. Do you feel like there’s any overlap between being a bass player and being an artist?

Coelho: For sure, drawing always came easy. I never stopped drawing since before writing and counting, but music became an emergency in my late teens – I just had to do it. There were great 90's bands and dear musician friends; the whole zeitgeist drew me in - after learning from friends and practice found that you just substitute one sense for another.

Credit: BOOM! Studios

Audition instead of vision, if it sounds bad, it's bad. You have a sketch, you erase, edit, give it dynamic and ink (record), share it with the team and they add colors, lyrics… repeat… album! Formal education is always best, but creativity wise I feel both share so much.

Slappin' the bass (sorry, had to do it) at that time was important in the sense that it made play onstage and that helped me out of my shyness, didn't change me in a fundamental way, but made me more open and confident.

Nrama: Last question -- big goals time, Jorge. What do you want to do in comic books?

Coelho: First and foremost to tell the best stories I can. I think we're all (comics people) bounded to the wonder that is story, the tale. To spend some quality time with the most readers possible is in itself a great luxury.

If that somehow shows through the pages, I'm sure opportunities (like this one) will arise.

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