"Rebirth" has reinvigorated many characters and titles in the eyes of readers, but it's also brought some new artists to those readers as well.
Jorge Jimenez has been working in comic books since 2010, but it's his work on Superman that has earned him his biggest audience yet. Coming to the book after drawing Earth 2 Society in the final months of "New 52," the Spanish artist told Newsarama that drawing Superman was "realizing a childhood dream."
Speaking of childhood however, Jimenez was tasked by DC to design the "Rebirth"-era Superboy, Jonathan Kent, in preparation for his new Super Sons title that partners him with Damian Wayne. Jimenez is re-teaming with his Superman co-writer Peter Tomasi on this title, which is scheduled to debut in February as part of "Rebirth"'s second wave.
Jimenez spoke with Newsarama about his work on Superman, how he's transitioning from that into Super Sons, the approach he took to designing a new Superboy, and how he got into comic books in the first place.
Newsarama: Jorge, first off - what are you working on today?
Jorge Jimenez: Actually I´m happily finishing off “Rebirth”’s first Superman Annual.
Nrama: You’re working on Superman while also doing Super Sons, which launches in February. What’s it feel like to be this ingrained with Superman and his family?
Jimenez: When I was four or five I saw Superman: The Movie, and I remember the thrill of hearing the theme tune start to play, knowing that Superman would come at any moment to save the day. I was totally sync with the character.
Many people, when they think of Superman, they think of his flying or of his super strength. The truth is what I´ve always like about the character is his integrity; always doing the right thing, and above all, no matter the situation, always thinking that there´s a solution. Superman has always been a symbol of hope. So for me, as it has been for many of my colleagues, is a way of realizing a childhood dream. I´ve worked hard, just as my colleagues have as well, but I´ve been lucky that everything´s gone step-by-step towards where I am now.
To top that off, DC´s given me the opportunity to design Jonathan. This is incredible, and today I can say that I´m in the best moment of my professional life.
Nrama: And Jonathan Kent is one half of Super Sons as the new Superboy. Can you say how much work you’ve done on Super Sons so far?
Jimenez: I shouldn´t give any details about Super Sons right now, but as you know the writer is Peter Tomasi, who I have to say, is someone I´m in perfect sync with. I think we understand each other completely and he loves having input and talking through each aspect. He´s one of the reasons I´m very happy right now and am producing my best work so far.
Nrama: But people have seen you draw Jonathan before, in Superman – and you also designed his Superboy costume. Can you talk about that?
Jimenez: Yes, of course, I remember feeling an enormous responsibility landing on my shoulders, designing Superman´s son, the new Superboy, the new “Rebirth” Superboy… it was like, “Oh my god! I have to do something cool!”
I started trying out some of the more classic designs as a mini homage to the classic Superman, but the guys at DC wanted to experiment with something more casual, as those are the designs that have been working better recently.
We are also looking at an incomplete "Superboy;" he´s not super yet, so it´s reasonable to say that if he´s only half super, that he should have clothing that´s half super, [Laughs]
So we started to play around with clothing that I see as popular right now with teenagers. For example, tight ripped jeans, at least in Spain, are very popular right now and I think they give a lot of mobility to the character when I draw him on the page. I´ve also used a popular shoe design. I must mention that I like putting effort into what I wear personally, so this way I was able to add a bit of myself to the character.
The short length of the cape gives it a younger look, and the zipped hoodie… I did that thinking they might make a real version for people to wear. [Laughs]
Nrama: I wouldn’t laugh too much. DC might just do that.
I also think that this aesthetic could make a connection with the younger readers.
Maybe it doesn’t make sense, but I tried my best and I hope people like it.
Nrama: You've been working in the industry since 2010, but I feel as if you didn't make a real name foryourself until working on Earth 2. Did you feel a change in your work then, or did you push for your work to change then?
Jimenez: I think the comic that really turned things in the right direction was before Earth 2, Smallville Season 11. I remember, as an artist staring out, that I went with the style asked of me and I wouldn´t dare try to make my style stand out. I felt that I wasn´t ready yet, but after positive feedback on the “Haunted” story I decided to try it out and I talked with the writer, Bryan Q Miller, and the editor Kristy Quinn to request to change the style away from the actors in the series, because they looked very cold on the page. I wanted to add something, I wanted to give them something of me and add my identity. They supported the idea even though it was risky, as many readers could have missed the actors’ faces. Even though it was risky, it worked out quite well; that was in the “Olympus” storyline, where I re-designed Wonder Woman.
Also thanks to the results, DC started trying me out on the main line “New 52” Superboy, where I gave Superboy a new hairstyle. It was at that moment that my great chance, Earth 2, arrived, first as a collaborator on Earth 2: World´s End and later on Earth 2 Society. I had a really good time here, as I also was able to re-design some characters for the series. And it was then I signed by exclusive contract with DC… what more could I ask for?
Nrama: Who would you say your inspirations are? Do you have any mentors/teachers in comic books?
Jimenez: I could give you an enormous list of artists because I love studying people´s works, but there are a few I hold in high regard, mainly Akira Toriyama or Masashi Kishimoto due to my manga roots. And as for the American style, Greg Capullo, Jim Lee, Stuart Immonen, Oliver Coipel, and Frank Quitely.
I also have to talk about the importance of working with my office colleagues. Drawing comic books can be a very solitary job, but oddly enough in my hometown of Granada, there are a lot of comic artists; so we decided, when I was just starting, to join together and work in the same studio, each one with their own style.
Nrama: And who are your studio-mates?
Jimenez: Javier Aranda, Adrián Fernandez and my follow DC'er, who´s working on Nightwing, Javier Fernandez.
I´ve learnt a lot from each of them. I´ve listened to what they have to say and it has been an essential part of improving as a draftsman.
Nrama: So how then did you break into comic books, initially?
Jimenez: I initially didn´t know what I wanted to do; the only thing that was clear was that I wanted to draw. So I did all that I could to improve until I felt that the pages I drew looked professional.
From that moment I started to go to all the cons in my country, showing my work and meeting as many professionals as possible, making contacts whenever I could, until one day I met my first agent, Eduardo Alpuente. He discovered me and it all started from there. I´ll also be grateful to him for that. Once you get in however, it´s hard to stay in - there´s a lot of work to do and you have to hype yourself up for each project, never tire, never stop learning, and always keep dreaming. That, in my opinion is what experience has taught me: working hard for your dreams, anything´s possible, in any part of life.
Nrama: So you came in around 2010, bouncing around IDW, DC, and Marvel, but in 2014 with Earth 2 Society you signed an exclusive contract. What's it like having an exclusive, and knowing what you're doing long-term?
Jimenez: As I said before, I´m where I want to be, in the happiest moment of my professional career.
Nrama: Like I said, your art style as evolved a lot since you started in 2010 - are there things you're working on now to get better at, that people can look for in upcoming work?
Jimenez: You can always get better and each new issue is a new challenge. I´m now working on loosening my strokes. I think looking for spontaneous stokes is the key to keeping it dynamic - obviously without going too far. The drawing has to be balanced, but if the scene has fast-paced action, for example, I think there´s nothing like drawing it “quickly” and loosely; the reader will unconsciously see the energy or at least that´s what I think.
Nrama: What are your big goals with comic books? Where do you want to be professionally in five years?
Jimenez: It´s funny, they always asked me that question and my answer was always the same, draw Superman someday, with a great team.
Today I´m drawing the first “Rebirth” annual and its Superman. I´ve worked on the regular series with some of the best writers (Patrick Gleason and Peter Tomasi), I´ve got the colorist I´ve always wanted: Alejandro Sanchez.
The team of editors with Eddie Berganza make me feel at home and right now I´d like to thank my representative Pepe Caldelas and my follow workmates at his agency, and all the DC bosses that have trusted me.
Where do I see myself in five years? No idea. I´m sure I´ll be working hard, just like right now. I only want to enjoy the moment and show everyone that I´m going to put all my heart into the new Super Sons series!