Artist Jason Lenox was interviewed by CBI publisher John Michael Helmer. Jason talked about his career in comics and his future projects…
JMH: Where were you born and raised?
JASON: I was born in Crawfordsville, IN and raised from 1979 on in Lancaster, PA when my dad got a job at Armstrong World Industries in the R&D department. I’ve lived in State College, PA since 1999.
JMH: Tell CBI about yourself…
JASON: I am a clean cut, tattoo free non-stereotypical metal head that loves to cause trouble when I get bored… and I love to draw and illustrate. I work for a construction company as a production manager during the day. My Wonderful wife Crystal and I are new parents to our 7 week old baby boy, Blaine, which keeps us busy 24/7 as well. So between all of that, I make the time to draw and listen to metal music, read comics, and watch Japanese Animation, and occasionally get to a Heavy Metal concert!
JMH: How long have you been drawing comics?
JASON: 3rd grade doodling in classes and on tablets is my earliest comic memory- I made little 4 page newspaper style comics for laughs then. The next step was when I made an 8 page sequential in 1992 called CAPTAIN ANARCHY, that is on my website, and then I tabled comics for a long time until around 2010. For my birthday in 2010, my wife Crystal was kind enough to remind me that I had been talking about making a comic for years and bought me a load of supplies and I had a studio space built in my basement that year with her help. This got me over the edge of indecision I was suffering from so I decided to do it for real this time. So I beat the streets (and internet) in 2011 and got a writer- David Paul, Colorist- Dani Kaulakis, Cartographer- Joseph Freistuhler, and a pinup artist- Damon Haigh, and put it all together with a goal in mind- to make a comic book and get it published. So for the last year (2011-2012) we made the best damn comic book we could make- and Jaru Printing in State College has done a great job on printing a professional quality book for us! Right now it’s self-published, but I’m sending it out to some larger comic companies to see what kind of attention it can get.
JMH: How did you break into the industry drawing comic books?
JASON: I didn’t break in yet, so I self-published with my team using Kickstarter to fund the whole thing, it’s a difficult club to get into so I didn’t want to wait forever! Seriously, the best way everyone says to get into comics is to make your own books! I also have some anthology work coming out with Gray Haven publishing’s THE GATHERING later this year, and a pinup for Russell Nohelty’s TPB from Viper Publishing- ICHABOD JONES:MONSTER HUNTER.
JMH: Do you have any formal art training?
JASON: I went to private classes with a professional illustrator, Elaine Renna, weekly from Kindergarten through 12th grade and went to the PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNORS SCHOOL FOR THE ARTS on a scholarship in 1992 for talented youth- besides that, self-taught after 1993.
JMH: Who are your artistic influences?
JASON: Alain Voss, Juan Giminez, Heronymous Bosch, Albrecht Durer, Frank Quitely, Jim Lee, H.R. Giger, Derek Riggs. All personal art heroes.
JMH: How do you focus when drawing?
JASON: I like to listen to Metal Music at high volume- thrash metal mostly- Pantera, Slayer, Black Label Society, Motorhead, Soulfly, Testament, Judas Priest, Marilyn Manson, Type O Negative- that sort of thing, I get lost in it and it helps me channel into the page.
JMH: What types of technology do you use to draw?
JASON: Almost none- I use Blue Line art boards, and KOH-I-NOR india ink pens on a drafting table I had custom made. I think that when we get away from touching the media, we lose touch with our art. For Example: I love Derek Riggs works pre-computer (from Iron Maiden), and his “all computer” later work is just a huge step down in my opinion. From reading his excellent book RUN FOR COVER I think when he stopped using physical media it went downhill. I don’t want to get away from my low tech roots. The Colorist I work with, Dani Kaulakis, uses photoshop on a pad to color my work, but I don’t get involved in it.
JMH: What was the first comic book you ever read?
JASON: EPIC Comics (Marvel Imprint) Groo the Wanderer #2- great read to this day. Sergio Aragones is a genius.
JMH: Do you read any of the new comic books that are being published today? If so, which ones?
JASON: Dynamite’s New Flash Gordon: ZEITGEIST Series, IDW’s Transformers Comics, Neonomicon from Avatar, High School of the Dead from Yen Press, Viz’s Battle Angel Alita: Last Order and Dorohedoro, Conan from Dark Horse and finally Heavy Metal Magazine.
JMH: Print vs. Digital. Your thoughts…
JASON: I think digital is not for the serious collector, and I personally don’t care for it, I still love the feel of paper in my hand and a book on a shelf. Digital can be easily erased or corrupted, and there is the issue of post publication censorship that I don’t care for. South Park was forced to take down all of the Muhammad episodes of South Park, even from season 5 which was years ago (2001) retroactively due to people complaining about the content. I don’t like that kind of retroactive censoring, which becomes possible with digital works, as opposed to hard copies.
JMH: What sources do you use for a cover image?
JASON: My imagination.
JMH: What other mediums or genres have you drawn for?
JASON: Movie promotional poster (ZERO CHARISMA), RPG’s, Roller Derby Posters, website logo www.bonethefish.com , comic pinups, tee shirt artwork…
JMH: What project are you currently working on at now?
JASON: A tabletop role playing game module for TPK games http://www.tpkgames.com/
JMH: What future projects do you have in the works?
JASON: I am wrapping up the project for TPK games, then I have some posters to make, and then back to the drawing board With my Incredible Writer-David Paul, Wicked Pinup Artist Damon Haigh, Death Defying Cartographer and Pinup Artist- Joseph Freistuhler and Color Goddess- Dani Kaulakis for the eventual next chapter… UGLI STUDIOS PRESENTS #2….
JMH: Do you have any words for aspiring artists?
JASON: Practice, Practice, Practice, be original, learn from your peers, and remember, negative feedback can be the best feedback, don’t seek out a bunch of yes men, challenge yourself to take criticism and grow from it.
JMH: How can fans and publishers get a hold of you?
JASON: On my website www.jasonlenox.com and email by firstname.lastname@example.org are the best ways to find me! And if you like what you have read and the artwork in this interview, please take a chance and buy a copy of my book from my online store! http://www.jasonlenox.com/online-store/
JMH: Jason, CBI appreciates your time. All the best.
JASON: Thanks John and everyone at CBI!! I want to send shout outs to my printer, JARU http://www.jaruinc.com/ , who made it possible to have a great print comic at a competitive price from a local firm: SAS Multi Media Studios http://sasmultimediastudio.com/ –for creating my awesome Kickstarter Campaign video with great production values in a timely manner, and finally my incredible wife, Crystal, and super son, Blaine, for supporting me during the hours and hours it took to make this comic a reality- I couldn’t do it without them… Thanks!!
About the interviewer –