Jason Metcalf | Zenescope Cover Artist
Zenescope Entertainment: As a difficult industry to break into, what advice would you give younger artists trying to get into the comics industry?
Jason Metcalf: Geez, where do I start – I could and probably should write a book on this. There are so many nuances and if-then’s buried in this question. So I’ll start with the ground floor, level 1. FOCUS! Don’t try to spread yourself too thin by trying to learn penciling, inking and coloring – choose one and go for it. But try all of them. You don’t know if you don’t try. Do what brings you pleasure. If you like it, you’ll stick with it. A good sign is you like it, and you are not satisfied with it, and you keep seeing growth in it. For me, it’s penciling, with a close 2nd to inking. I have a love/hate relationship with inking, but a love/love relationship with penciling. SHOW your work to pros, artists, writers and editors either online or in person at conventions. Editors and anyone actively hiring in comics are going to want to see how you handle their characters, and most likely in a page to page story format. There are plenty of resources online – do your own digging. It’s all there for you.
[Robyn Hood #5 – Cover B by Jason, colors by Victor Bartlett]
ZE: Some of my favorite Zenescope covers of yours include Robyn Hood #5 and Aliens vs. Zombies #5, but my top favorite work of yours are the pieces on Van Helsing. What has been your favorite Zenescope series to do covers for, and why do you think your style fits that series?
JM: Those are some great covers! But, hands down for me is my run on Van Helsing vs. Frankenstein. I was thrilled to be able to bring some of my own design sensitivities to the brooding cyber-steampunk undead hulkness that is my very own Frankenstein Monster, Zenescope style! And, I leaned hard into a lot of linework and composition. Really though, almost every cover I’ve done with Leisel has been a pleasure and there are some favorites across the board. I should mention the Hellchild cover with her and Hades in the graveyard. Love that one so much it’s on my convention banner! I have a richly textured line art style with sensitivities toward black/white contrast and I feel like that is why my style fits that series.
*We’re having a sale on Jason’s run of covers on Van Helsing vs. Frankenstein. Click here to shop!*
ZE: What outside of comics influences your work?
JM: This is an awesome question. I am an artist and I data-visual-mine from all sorts of sources. God’s nature and design is number one. I notice things when I look at creation: pattern, form, distance, texture, etc. Creation has it in spades – we are merely replicating it, bending it. I am humbled to be able to do so. As far as art that has come and gone, I’ve delved into studies of Rembrant, DaVinci, Michael Angelo, Ancient Egyptian and Roman art, sculpture and architecture, Rockwell, Parish, Ansel Adams, Baroque style, Mucha, Gothic Architecture, all the Star Wars sketchbooks – i’m talking the 70’s and 80’s publications, Frazetta, Hildebrants, Elmore, Lockwood, Reynolds and more. All that has to do with interpretation of nature, how to replicate it. As far as ‘what’ to replicate, I lean on The Bible, Dungeons and Dragons, Lord of the Rings, so many high fantasy films to open my mind to ideas. Those are my influences.
[Van Helsing vs. Frankenstein #2 – Cover A by Jason, colors by Ula Mos]
ZE: What are your top 3 albums of all-time?
JM: Whoa! Switching gears. U2 – War, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – B.R.M.C, and Grant Lee Buffalo – Fuzzy. A close 4th is R.E.M. – Green. This was by far the hardest question of the interview and generated a lot of inspired debate in our household, to be certain!
ZE: If you could work on any series in comics today, what would it be and why?
JM: My own. Because I own it, cradle to the grave. Licks to whicks, it’s my calls, my shots, my dialogue. But if you are asking about working on other entities’ properties? Batman. Hellboy or Hawkman. Conan too. Maybe Thor. Warlands. D&D. Sonja. I love high fantasy. Give me some clear good vs. evil with some monsters and heroes thrown in, I’m there. But be clear – no muddying up the morals. I hate that.
ZE: Who are your main influences for your cover artwork?
JM: Frank Frazetta, Bernie Wrightson, Jim Lee, Marc Silvestri, Larry Elmore, Michael Turner, David Finch, Art Adams, Rob Liefeld, John Buscema, Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, Mike Grell, Larry Elmore, Wayne Reynolds, Hal Foster. Basically, those guys. And, whoever created light and darkness. That guy.
ZE: What’s your favorite stop on your convention tours?
JM: New York. Although, it looks like I may be shafted this year as I somehow did not make the cut by ReedPop. But I love NYCC.
ZE: What inspires you to continue to be a freelance artist in the comic industry?
JM: I love the smell of freedom in the morning, when I don’t know what sorts of opportunity the new wind will be carrying my way that day. It’s so open, not bogged down in obligation. I am able to look each potential in the eye and clearly flesh it out before I choose to commit my energy and name to it and strike a deal that makes sense to me and helps a new venture gain some ground. I love helping out the small guys. I feel that is a portion of my purpose – to help other creators make milestones and reach some potential goals. Any indie’s who would like some cover work done, please reach out – I see you. This one is huge to me. I hope it gets published.
ZE: Any crazy fan interaction stories?
JM: Yes. There are boundaries in convention sketch requests, people. Some things are offensive.
ZE: What is your favorite movie of all-time?
JM: It’s gotta be Star Wars, right? Man, just one? Jaws, The Right Stuff, LOTR, Guardians of the Galaxy. You guys are harsh with your questions.
ZE: Last one, if you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?
JM: On top of it. Or away from it, in paradise.