And now for something completely different: Writer interviews artist on a project they’re collaborating on. In this case it’s Jimmy Palmiotti talking to his underrated artist Juan Santacruz, the penciller on their upcoming Painkiller Jane: Price of Freedom limited series from Marvel’s Icon imprint. Why? Because even though they have a vested interest in each other’s work, they also understand the collaborative process intimately. And the creative process is something we’re really interested in here. So take a read and take it away, Jimmy:
I was turned on years ago to Juan Santacruz’s work through his agent David Macho and have been working on and off with him for the past 13 years. The first book we did together was The Resistance for Wildstorm, and after that The Twilight Experiment and assorted other jobs. Recently we worked on a story for my Kickstarter Sex and Violence and now we are working on Painkiller Jane.
I always felt his storytelling was simply amazing and the variety of characters and attention to detail always blew me away. I threw a couple of questions his way and although Spanish is his native language, you can easily understand the passion he has for his work.
Jimmy: Tell us a bit about yourself. Where you live, what you have worked on and what is the dream job.
Juan: I live in Cerdanyola del Valles, a small town near Barcelona, or at least that’s what I see when I look out the window. That’s also where I draw. Over the years I’ve worked for Marvel, drawing almost all their characters, for Wildstorm, Kickstart Productions, and I’ve also illustrated graphic novels for the French market. I like to read every comic book I can get my hands on, as well as movies.
I play some sports but not much. I’m a comic artist, first and foremost. I also teach storytelling and drawing at the prestigious Joso Comic School of art in Barcelona.
There’re many comics and characters I’d still like to draw that I haven’t. Batman, Superman, Judge Dredd, my own character, Nuclear Man. But if I have to choose one in particular, it would be Conan. I’ve always loved sword and sorcery, loincloths, beautiful women, monsters. … Everything I like to draw, really.
How is drawing Painkiller Jane different than other books you have drawn?
Well, PKJ reads like an action movie, with shooting, blood, violence, some nipples … and until now I had drawn mostly superhéroes and sci-fi stories. The closest to PKJ was working on Book Smart for Kickstart Comics, written by you with Justin Gray, but Painkiller Jane is different in the sense that it is more down to earth, more “real” in the story’s tone, and the framework surrounding the character.
Yes, she has a healing factor, but that’s it. She’s a real person, she bleeds, she gets hit, and man, she’s hit a lot …
What do you like about the character of Jane?
I like that she’s pure fire, she’s a very visceral character, and she goes all balls out and is unstoppable. If she has a goal, she’s relentless, and she’s very sttuborn. She’s a very strong character, and she’s also really hot!
You pencil and ink your own work, how much time on average does it take you to do a page?
When penciling a page, around 8-9 hours and if I go to inks, around 7-8 hours, depending on the page. Add time for layouts, and research, I’d say around 18 hours per page.
What tools do you use for drawing?
I use a mechanical pencil with an 0.5 HB lead. That one is medium, not too hard or soft.
Would you like to color your own work one day and what do you think of the job Paul Mounts is doing on the book?
I think that with Paul Mounts coloring, he’s so good I don’t need to do it myself. He’s doing an amazing job. He enhances my art with his color pallete, and the final result is much better because of it.
I’ve painted some covers and ilustrations and I enjoyed it, but I don’t see myself coloring interiors. I take too long and many times I don’t like the final result. Maybe a short 6-8 page story as a tryout, but it’s not a goal for me right now. I feel more comfortable with pencils and inks.
What comics do you read and are you a paper or digital fan?
Right now I follow some books. Avengers, X-Men, Fury, Fatale, Urasawa’s manga Billy Bat, and sometimes some French albums or graphic novels I get, a bit of everything.
I’m more used to reading on paper, sitting in a sofa, open the comic-book, smell its pages and enjoy the fact of turning every page. I don’t dislike digital, but the form is smaller than a comic-book, and it’s not the same for me. I guess that in the long run it’ll become the norm, but meanwhile let’s enjoy getting paper out of trees so we can get our comics.
And last, why do you think people should give Painkiller Jane a try?
Well, I think I’ve already mentioned this, but it’s a little bit of everything! It’s like a Tarantino movie with a very headstrong lead character. There’s plenty of shooting, blood, violence, butts, chases, tits, knife fights, tits. … I guess I’m repeating myself, but, it’s a FUN book and you’ll have a good time reading it.
For more on Painkiller Jane: Price of Freedom #1 due out next month, check out Palmiotti and co.’s PaperFilms.