MR. JONES and ME.
BY JD LOMBARDI
DC Comics’ superstar artist isn’t like most of us who are here on the internet. You won’t find him blogging away about his life and you won’t find him on myspace. The only forum he has been seen posting on with anything resembling regularity is his own, which is located on PaperFilms. The best place to find J.G. Jones though, is on the shelves. Whether he is creating gorgeous covers for Wonder Woman or 52 or currently doing full art chores on Grant Morrison’s latest mega-crossover epic Final Crisis, one thing is sure; the man’s word commands mass attention. He doesn’t need to seek anymore via the internet.
Usually I’ll drop my friends an email when I haven’t seen or heard from them for a while. Since J.G. is mostly persona non grata from his fans as well, I thought I’d switch it up. Instead of seeing what my pal was doing privately, I thought I’d just interview him so that his fans could find out what the reclusive artist is up to as well. Here is what transpired:
J.D. Lombardi: Admittedly, I’ve never read your and Mark Millar’s “Wanted” mini-series (don’t kill me), but I just saw the movie trailer and well…that movie looks pretty damned good. How did you feel that first time you watched it?
J.G. Jones: The first time I saw the WANTED trailer, it made me want to kill something; and seeing as you never read the book…It was actually a thrill to see the trailer. I first saw it online, and then when I went to see American Gangster, there it was on the big screen, larger than life. What a kick! The opening scene where Fox find Wesley in the store is lifted straight out of the comic, so that was really fun to see on the screen.
J.D.: I swear I’m going to read it; really wanted to, but I since I don’t buy trades, I’m hunting down the individual issues at the moment. Gotta support your friends, right? But I saw it with a buddy before American Gangster too. When I told him that it was based on a comic book, he was stunned. For the life of me, I can’t believe that so many people think comics equal superheroes….didja like American Gangster?
J.G.: I did like American Gangster. It had a nice, slow burn throughout the whole picture. Ridley Scott is a master of the filmmaker’s craft, and he proves that you don’t need fifty car chases and multiple explosions and gun battles to make a good crime movie. I liked the way it was photographed, as well…nice looking film.
J.D.: Did Universal come to you at all for input? Maybe consult you for movie poster advice?
J.G.: Come on, seriously. Universal paid for the rights to do whatever they wanted (sorry) with the story. They didn’t need me to tell Timur how to direct a film. I’m sure that they found a real artist to do the movie poster. I’m just a comic book artist, after all.
J.D.: Buzz on the internet for the film naturally shoots both ways. People seem to be really pumped to go see the movie, regardless of how it was adapted to the big screen while others rant and rave how it supposedly isn’t anything like the initial concept. As a co-creator of the series, do you think the screenwriters did a good job adapting the book?
J.G.: From what I’ve seen, it is a lot like the original concept. The bones are all there, although the costumes and junk have been given the heave-ho. I think that was a good decision, given that Universal, who plunked down a major budget for this film, was going for a hard ‘R’ rating. The kid and teen crowd are already shut out, so they need an older audience to make their money back.
The first couple of scripts that I saw drifted far from the source material, but at some point, Timur decided to bring it back to the core story, leaving out all of the comic book in-jokes, of course.
J.D.: I’ll bet you didn’t know that you’re now a searchable entity on the Internet Movie Database. Can you believe that currently, your “Star-meter” on the site has risen a whopping 585% from the previous week that I searched you? Soon you’ll be too good for us.
J.G. That’s because I received my Fraternity pin and now I can do whatever I want with impunity.
J.D..: What really impressed me about “Wanted” becoming a film was the relative speed that it all came to fruition. This went from a book with the last issue hitting stands in 2005 to a feature film starring Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman in 2008. Unofficially speaking, that has gotta be the fastest comic-to-film adaptation in history. Was there a particular driving force behind all this that made it come together so quick?
J.G.: Pretty good, eh? Top Cow and Kickstart really pushed this thing through, and Universal picked it up almost immediately. I was not surprised that the rights sold, but I was stunned that it actually made it to film so quickly.
J.D.: Will you be hanging out with Angelina Jolie at any upcoming comic cons? Maybe escorting her to the big Hollywood premiere?
J.G.: Not if Brad Pitt is as ripped as he was in Fight Club. And remember that crazy eye he had in Twelve Monkeys? I ain’t going anywhere near that guy’s wife. Forget it.
J.D.: On the print-side of things, will there be a new trade or hardcover collection of the series to coincide with the release of the film? More importantly, will you be contributing any new cover art if there is?
J.G.: Yeah, Top Cow is putting out a new edition of WANTED in time for the film. They needed to at least do another printing of the first edition, since it all sold out. I won’t be adding anything new to the book because Top Cow did not give me enough notice that they needed a new cover. I’m grinding away on my DC project, Final Crisis, and I would have needed more that the week and a half notice I was given to slot another piece into my schedule. Unfortunate. I think that there will be some new material in this edition, though. Mark and I both did new interviews for inclusion, for whatever that’s worth.
J.D.: Has Mark ever tossed out the idea to you of doing a comic sequel?
J.G.: Hah, Mark tossed out the idea every time Top Cow asked him to do one. He had no intention of doing a follow up or sequel or prequel or anything like that. He had this one concise story to tell and then just let it stand or fall on its own.
J.D.: You’ve mentioned doing this little mini-series over at DC Comics that is being promoted for release in May 2008 with writer Grant Morrison. How are things progressing on the Final Crisis?
J.G.: I hope that it really is the Final Crisis. The story is great and I’m thrilled to be working with Grant again. I can’t believe what just happened on the page I just finished. Holy Crow!
J.D.: Yeah, like you’re going to tell me. Tease! How many characters were on the page? That won’t really give anything away, right?
J.G.: You gotta be able to tease if you wanna be a playa.’ I would say, ‘several.’
J.D.: Can we expect to see anymore teaser/promo images from you in the near future?
J.G.: I’m doing a Final Crisis cover for Wizard Magazine at this very moment.
J.D.: Is this series the whole of your output for the foreseeable future?
J.G.: Oh God yes! These issues are all oversized. I’ve never drawn more than six issues of twenty-two pages of anything in my entire career. It’s intimidating enough without adding more output. I’m putting everything I have into these pages. It’s exhausting.
J.D.: When all is said and done on Final Crisis, who will have drawn more characters in a single series; you or George Perez?
J.G.: Oh, George wins hands down. George always wins.
J.D.: Your work at DC has been pretty prolific. You did 52 consecutive covers for a year-long weekly series and then followed that up by doing what, an 8-issue series featuring nearly every character in the DC Universe. What in the world do you do to follow this up?
J.G.: I’m going to take two weeks off, lol! I have the next few years mapped out. I’m writing a graphic novel that I want to begin drawing when Final Crisis is done. In fact, I’ve been sitting on a number of story ideas for years that I’ve been too busy to work on. I’d like to begin a series of my own books after this.
J.D.: Does this mean you may not re-up with DC when your current deal is up?
J.G.: I’ll have to see how things go, but the current plan is to publish my own stories with my own characters. I’m sure I will continue to do mainstream work as well.
J.D.: All-Star Batgirl. Is that one still going to happen?
J.G.: Could be, but I won’t be drawing it.
J.D.: You’ve worked at Marvel and DC as well as having worked at a decent number of smaller studios across the industry. Even with what you’ve just said in reference to working on your own projects in the near future…is there one character out there that you’d still really like to get your hands on?
J.G.: I was always a Spider-man junkie, and I love The Thing and the rest of the FF. Wolverine is a kick to draw, too. I would like to write and draw a book with all those characters in it; oh and maybe throw in the Silver Surfer and Galactus, just fort the hell of it.
I’d like to thank Mary for posting this here in her blog, as I didn’t quite have a home for it. While I love interviewing friends and others, it just isn’t something I’ve got time or desire to do full-time here on the web anymore. Now that this “chat” with J.G. has finished, I’ll humbly go back into my own self-imposed exile and get back to focusing upon my fiction writing, which looks like I shall have a book or few out soon myself. Thanks gang and see you on the comic shelves!
~Till Next Time Kittlings!