As an artist I have many favorite artists and many that have influenced me. I think when my brother first introduced me to comic books, it was the art that appealed to me most. Jason Pearson is one of my favorite artists.
The Artist's Artist
The term "artist's artist" is a term that refers to a faction of artists that are not only fan favorites, but held in high regard by their peers and fellow masters of their craft. Jason Pearson is an artist's artist.
Evolution of an Artist
Jason Pearson hit the comics scene in the '90s working on The Legion of Super Heroes for DC Comics under Keith Giffen, whom Pearson considers a mentor.
Jason was one of those artists that wasn't quite polished when he started and evolved very quickly. With an animation influence taking over and an insane attention to detail (especially in city surroundings, in my opinion), people definitely began to take notice of this hot, new artist. It was exciting to watch him grow, push the boundaries, and continue to experiment and evolve his style as time went on. Many artists mature and remain stagnant in their style for the duration of their careers. Perhaps that is part of why Jason's style is so compelling; it's always exciting to see which way he's going to take you. Jason would move on to draw The X-Men, Savage Dragon, Gen13, and a host of covers, pin-ups, and short story contributions. He did a lengthy and memorable run as cover artist for Batman, Robin, Marvel's "Merc with a mouth," Deadpool, and, most recently, covers for DC's New 52 version of Suicide Squad.
Paper or Plastic?
Although Jason has worked on some of the most successful and recognizable comic book characters in the world, his masterpiece is the creator-owned Body Bags that has come out sporadically as mini-series and one-shots over the past couple of decades. The story is about a hired assassin with a happy face mask called "Clownface" and his rambunctious, estranged, teenage daughter "Panda" who wants to join the family business in order to have some bonding time with her absentee father. After a lot of resistance and reluctance, Mack (Clownface) caves, and he and Panda become partners in crime. What a strange twist on "Bring your daughter to work day."
"Being an artist can be the happiest and saddest existence in life. We are neither the heroes nor villains that we draw, but the observant bystanders who decide the history of what befalls. Is there some glory to that?"
The term "tortured artist" is easily bandied about and usually attributed to "fine" artists of yesteryear. Jason Pearson has been fairly open about his status as a modern-day tortured comic book artist. A few years ago he went through a bit of a conscious of crisis and almost walked away from the industry. Jason doubted his ability and has been known to burn old art that he wasn't happy with. As one of my favorite artists, I was aghast that he would destroy anything, as he is Michelangelo in my mind. But, as an artist myself, I can certainly relate. I cringe when I look at anything I have drawn and want to puke my brains out.
That's the part no one talks about. Everyone assumes you must be happy as a clam just because you can draw a pretty picture. Even if someone is wearing a pointed hat or star panties, an artist still drew them - a living, breathing artist, most likely, with all of the proper demons in tow. Kudos to Jason for bringing the issue to light.
Luckily, Jason has put some of those demons to rest, didn't quit comics, and is working hard on the next installment of Body Bags. With the tag line "Vicious," Jason promises a darker, somewhat disturbing installment of his magnum opus.
Q and A
Hard at work on his next series, Jason took some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions.
Michael Fitzgerald Troy: What drew you to comics? When did you start drawing?
Jason Pearson: I was four years old. My dad had bought me my first comic book. Believe it or not, I thought I could draw better than the artist, so I tried. 39 years later, I'm still trying.
MFT: What has been your favorite project?
JP: Body Bags.
MFT: Who is your favorite character outside of your own creations?
MFT: Any advice to wannabe artists out there?
JP: Wannabe artists? Don't quit your day job. The comics industry is tougher than you think.
MFT: What tools do you use?
JP: Whatever gets the image out of my head and onto paper.
MFT: What is your artistic process? Do you listen to music?
JP: Music, TV, and movies. I need background noise while I work.
MFT: You have mentioned "Vicious" is a dark story. Is there anything you can tell us about the premise?
JP: It'll make the first Body Bags mini-series look like a Hallmark card.
MFT: Why Body Bags?
JP: It's an amalgamation of all the things I grew up with. When I work on it, it brings out the best and worst in me.
MFT: Have all of the gun issues of recent years affected the way you write?
JP: Gun issues have affected America for over two years. Everybody who is an American has been affected. It's how you choose to deal with it it that makes the difference. I just write and draw about what's out there.
MFT: Any idea when fans can expect the next Body Bags?
JP: When I'm done with it. Sometime next year are the plans.
Thanks to Jason Pearson for a great interview. Check out Body Bags: Vicious when it hits the shelves sometime next year.