It takes a lot to win a contest like Top Cow’s Pilot Season, but Jeremy Haun and Jason Hurley’s The Beauty proved they were more than just a pretty face when they won earlier this year. [Click here to read the entire issue for free!] With almost a million votes counted by the publisher, The Beauty beat out seven other comic candidates to be the series fans voted they’d they’d most like to see as a full-length limited series. That one-shot posited a world where beauty is contagious; in fact, it’s an S.T.D. with no known side effects and quickly and willingly spreads through modern society. But when two detectives find out a deadly secret about the disease, they’re fighting an uphill battle to stop it from changing the world for the worse.
During the contest Haun and Hurley gave Newsarama a behind-the-scenes look at the making of The Beauty, and now as they’re firmly entrenched in the winner’s circle we talk to them about winning and what comes next.
Newsarama: Jason, Jeremy, can you tell us how each of you found out how you won, and what you did to celebrate?
Jason Hurley: I was actually watching the results, right up until the end. Winning meant a lot to me, and I couldn't tear myself away. As soon as it ended, I celebrated by going to bed. It was two in the morning here in the Midwest, and I was pretty well spent.Jeremy Haun: I work late. I was up, working on The Darkness at 2am our time, when we won. Hurley was sitting on the couch in the studio monitoring the progress and would occasionally let me know how close the race was. When the voting ended Hurley and I had a gentlemanly high five, he went to bed and I got right back to drawing pages. In spite of my business as usual antics, I was really excited about winning Pilot Season.
Nrama: What was it like as a creator to see your creation vie against eight others for a chance to win the contest? Jeremy, you’ve done creator-owned books before but nothing like this.
Haun: It's a whole different experience. Like you said, I've worked on a lot of books over the years. Most of the time you put a creator owned book out there and you see where it goes. With Pilot Season, It was do or die, you had to come out with a bang if you wanted to win. I think we did that. There were a lot of strong, very different contenders, this year. I know and love the work of the guys that I was competing against. To be honest, I didn't quite know how things were going to turn out. I appreciate the faith that readers had in our book, to give it all of their support.
Hurley: The competition was intense. Putting your baby out there to be judged in such a public manner is always tough, and I've got nothing but respect for all of the other creators that did just that. Every book this year was a high quality read, and there were several that I would have liked to see continued.Nrama: What was the most nerve-racking part of this contest for you two?
Hurley: What wasn't nerve racking!?! The contest was nothing if not stressful. Confidence can only get you so far, if the fans hadn't come out and support the book like they did... You know what? I'd rather not think about it.
Haun: I'd have to say every morning waking up and checking where we were in voting. Some days it was a big triumph other days I'd be biting my nails, just sure we weren't going to be moving on to the next round. After the first round, it was just something that I had to let go. If we won, we'd continue a book we were proud of, if not, we'd congratulate the winner and move on to the next thing.
Nrama: What’s the next step for you to in taking The Beauty to the next level?
Haun: We're currently writing the remainder of the series. Given the nature of Pilot Season, we knew where The Beauty was going, but we had to stop ourselves from moving too far past the outline phase after the first issue. I can't wait to get started on the art for the remainder of the series. I'll be jumping feet first into that soon. We're definitely shooting to start getting the rest of the series out before the end of the year.Hurley: We're working off of an outline we've had in our heads since before we even wrote the first issue, so the next step should go pretty smoothly. Neither of us can wait to get the rest of this book off the ground, it's going to be a ton of fun.
Nrama: You sound like you had some idea of where things would go if The Beauty won Pilot Season. Jeremy mentioned how you had to stop yourselves from “moving too far” with that initial issue. Can you talk about that idea?
Hurley: We've talked quite a bit about where the series will go from here. I think you have to enter a contest like Pilot Season believing that you're going to come out on top. If you don't know where the story goes after that cliff hanger, the audience will know. You can't just write yourself into a corner and hope everything turns out all right.
Haun: It's kind of funny, when Matt Hawkins and Filip Sablik mentioned that they'd like us to do The Beauty as one of their Pilot Season titles for 2011, I wasn't really sure how to even pull it off in one issue. When we first started talking about The Beauty, I knew it was a pretty big idea. Something that was definitely going to need a solid mini-series, but could even go beyond that. Condensing it down into one issue that had a distinct beginning, middle, and end, managed to set up this pretty big idea, AND left the reader wanting more really took some doing. After we set all of that up in the first issue we're getting to delve into the initial story I wanted to tell. It's grown in some ways. But that's definitely a good thing.
Nrama: And you really nailed it with the cliffhanger in Pilot Season: The Beauty. Can you tell us at all where it goes next?Haun: Ha, well we kind of left readers with a bit of a cliffhanger at the end of our first issue, didn't we? Obviously things are getting really bad for pretty much everyone. Nearly three quarters of the population has this crazy disease that makes you more beautiful...and now we know that everyone with it is going to die horribly. With the rest of the series we're going to have to do something about that lovely ticking time bomb. Along the way I'm excited to take a look at the world we've built. I'm interested in looking at how an STD that makes you beautiful would effect everything from media, to politics, to religion. We definitely know where the story is going to end. I'm just not sure it's going to be quite where anyone really expects.
Hurley: Like Jeremy said, we've already planned a definite end. While we head to that end though, new characters and special interests are introduced that really mess with Foster and Vaughn's world views. Also, we get to develop a lot of the supporting cast that we just didn't have space for in that Pilot Season issue. I'm really excited to see how people react to some the twists and turns we've set up.Nrama: Before we go, I wanted to ask one last thing: Jeremy, you’re going to be developing this while also working as the main artist for Top Cow’s The Darkness. How are you going to balance doing both?
Haun: It's not going to be easy. Luckily I love my job. I'm absolutely devoted to both The Darkness and The Beauty. They're both books I'm proud to be a part of. The Darkness is a legacy book. I'm honored to be following in a tradition of such amazing artists. Add to that getting to work with David Hine. I'm a happy camper. The Beauty is my baby. I can't turn over art chores to anyone else, plain and simple. After drawing the first issue, I just feel like it would be lame to hand the book off to someone else. There are PLENTY of talented artists out there that I'd love to work with, just not on this book. It's mine. I would be disappointed if I loved the first issue of this creator-owned book and then someone else was drawing the rest of the series. It happens from time to time, sure. I understand that. But if all it takes is me working a little harder, I'm more than happy to do it.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!