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J.H. Williams: Taking Paths Between Worlds - Part 3

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Part 3 - Dirt Under the Nails

Broken Frontier: Desolation Jones seems to be much darker, more sordid, than your previous work. Was there ever a question of how you would deal with the underbelly of the Los Angeles porn industry?

J.H. Williams: No, not really. I wanted to do this project for those very reasons. I wanted to do something the exact opposite of Promethea. You can only spend so long out among the stars before you want to come back down to earth. I'm really enjoying the dirt under nails sort of feel to Jones.

BF: What kind of research did you do?

JHW: I've actually done very little research except for trying to find the unpopular stuff about the city’s [Los Angeles] look. So far I haven't needed to research too much because the story has a lot about the people in it, which I feel I'm pretty decent at.

BF: Warren Ellis has said that Desolation Jones was inspired by his reactions to Los Angeles as an Englishman. What experiences have you had in the City of Angels and how do they impact your work on Jones?

JHW: My very limited experiences with LA have just shown me that it is definitely someplace that I wouldn't want to live. The place has this sort dreary sense of uneasiness to it. And the air quality alone is horrendous. Not that I wouldn't mind experiencing some of what LA has to offer with entertainment and nightlife.

BF: After working with Mick Gray for many years, why did to work on Desolation Jones without an inker?

JHW: Actually I had done a good portion of the inkwork on the tail end of Promethea and all of the ink work for my parts of Wildgirl (color too) and Seven Soldiers as well, before moving onto Desolation Jones. This is mainly to try some things with my drawing that I previously couldn't. Drawing techniques that can't be penciled and then expect an inker to translate them. It's like expecting them to read your mind. Also I need to learn more about my own art and grow and push myself to different places, to be more organic and transformational. The best way to do that is to start doing the full art chores myself.

BF: You've worked with Jose Villarrubia quite a bit. How did you first come to work together?

JHW: I have been a fan of Jose's work for a very long time. So I was thrilled to find out that he was coming onto Promethea for that bit photographic sequence in issue 7. It was at that time that we actually got to meet for the first time. We worked closely together on the transitional parts of that sequence and quickly became good friends. Jose very much sees things in a similar way as I do from a creative view. So I try to work with him a lot because he truly understands where I'm coming from. Besides he is one of the absolute best and I would be crazy not to work him.

 

BF: How do the two of you work together to create the art for Jones?

JHW: After I have done the main art, such as inks and occasionally grey-tones or painting, I provide him with very detailed color notes, suggestions, and additional notes on photocopies of the art. He then takes that and does his best to meet that vision I'm giving to him as a reference point. We then go over the pages via online to make changes to anything that isn't quite working before turning them into Wildstorm. It is a very synergistic thing. We are both aware of what the other wishes to do and we try to appeal to those sensibilities when designing the overall look. Jose very much wants to give me what I'm asking for because he knows that I would do those things myself if I actually had time to do them on top of drawing as well. And I try to gear my ideas towards things he would find interesting to do. We also are very up front with each other about how well something is working or not working. Our communication and sharing of sensibilities blend perfectly to create what I hope to be a unique visual presentation when compared to other books.

BF: Describe some aspects of your work that you feel your fans may have missed.

JHW: Hmmm...I'm not sure how to answer this one. I'm not sure if anyone has actually missed anything. I try to put a lot of subliminal sorts of emotional texture in my work or things that have meaning to what they are reading by the way the drawing is done stylistically. But I have no idea if anyone is really missing that stuff. I think that a lot of people are getting that judging from comments I've heard or read. One thing that readers may think about my work is that I use heavy photo reference for my characters. But that is actually not the case. Very rarely do I use photo reference. I tend to remember things I see. When I do use reference it is for something I have not seen or drawn before and that is about it really. And in most cases once I've drawn something a couple of times I will be pretty set and won't need that reference anymore. I hope that answers that question adequately.

BF: Do you have any interesting upcoming projects that we may not have noticed?

JHW: The only thing that is really going on for me right now besides Desolation Jones is that I am still slated for the final bookend of Seven Soldiers. That will be keeping me hopping for awhile.

Oh I almost forgot, I do have four covers coming out for an independent mini series called The Roach and a pin-up for another independent series called Robotika. All of which were done back in the middle of 2004 but are just now coming out. I've done all of the drawing and color work for those.

BF: Thanks so much for your time!

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