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SPACE 2013: Joel Jackson

Written by J.M. Hunter on Thursday, April 11 2013 and posted in Features

SPACE 2013: Joel Jackson

SPACE 2013 is this weekend, and the Indy Hunter spoke to Joel Jackson to discuss his presence at the event!

Goals set, Make and Mash…

Last year’s interview for SPACE, the crew from  2-Headed Monster Comics was just revving up the engine for more production of goods. We talked about year 2011 being not as busy with you building a family and what not, but 2012-13 seems to have picked up!

Well, It hasn’t become any less busy, but we’re figuring it out. The rest of 2012 saw the debut of our first Monster Tract, a spoof on Chick Tracts, and James and I did a short for Nix Comics Quarterly #5 which was very fun. 2013 is going to be a completely different monster though.

At S.P.A.C.E we will be debuting the Next Year’s Girl collection by Katie Valeska and Radio Free Gahanna #3 from James Moore and myself. Throughout the rest of the year we are planning on finishing RFG through issue #7, Katie and James will have the first issue of The Rotten Ones done, one or two new Monster Tracts will be released and we will be putting out an anthology paying tribute to Johnny Cash. 2013 Marks the 10th year of his death and we want to do something really special to honor him and his music. All proceeds from that book will go to Cash’s charity of choice, SOS Children’s Villages. Seems like a ton of work, but I think we can pull it off.

Did you ever meet your goal of working on more than one book as the artist?

Yeah, I think that between RFG, NIX and the Monster Tract I did. I just want to increase production. Consistency is important and always having something new for people to buy and enjoy whenever they see us.

How did last years show go for y’all?

S.P.A.C.E. is always great for us. It is our home base as far as shows are concerned. Mid Ohio Con just isn’t anything we are interested in since the “Big W” decided to ruin it. Yeah I said it. We all agree.

What can people expect to see at this year’s show?

New books. The Next Years Girl collection is just beautiful and RFG #3 is something I am really proud of. The back matter in RFG #3 has a nice surprise that I think everyone is gonna’ dig. Oh, and we will have Monster Tracts available for just $1 (they came out in October last year so not many S.P.A.C.E. goers have probably been able to grab one.), they are great for all ages, aren’t hate filled like their evil doppelgangers by Mr. Chick and teach a good lesson at the same time! We will also be more than happy to do commissions.

DIY and Other Influences...

You mentioned taking a lot of photos esp. for your locations/settings and backgrounds. You literally go method for production when it comes to Radio Free Gahanna and shoot on location for your sequentials. That’s dedication!

Can you walk us through step by step your process once you shoot a pic to the finished frame in your sequentials?

So, just to clarify, I shoot specific locations in Gahanna to make sure that it feels authentic. Interiors and random exterior shots will vary as to whether I take reference shots or not.

When I get the script from James, I do thumbnails to break down the story, figure out composition, poses etc. Then I figure out what specific locations are crucial to get the right mood and feeling. For example, I am currently working on RFG #4 and there is a sequence were I have to draw a Gahanna High School. I will be going there and shooting around the area. I like to shoot from the angle I feel is right for the scene and shoot coverage as well. It is nice to have all of that available to you if you are drawing a random scene, and you want to put a light pole in the background, you can go back into your photo library and actually see what a light pole in Gahanna looks like.

After I take the photos I go back to the page and just look at the pictures when I draw. I know that in mainstream comics today (and probably from the start, not to mention in the entire art world) people are avid photo tracers. This is a huge NO NO if it is someone else’s picture, but some people think that it is okay to do if you took the picture. I have problems with both, so I don’t do either. Would my backgrounds look better if I did? Probably, but they wouldn’t be mine.

I like to use the reference to help ground my cartoony characters in a believable world. In a book like RFG, I think it is important for the reader to be able to feel like they could be there with, or even in place of the characters. Books like Coco Fiasco are such a flight of fantasy that I can just go crazy and draw from my weird ass mind. RFG deserves the attention to authentic detail that I try to put into it.

That was a mouth full, but hopefully it made sense. Ha ha ha!

No! It totally did and I tend to agree with you about the photo reference. I shoot a lot as well and don’t see how I’d capture the same atsmosphere or at least keep it consistent with the rest of the artwork if I was just tracing.

Takes the breakthrough aspect out of it for me as well.

Anyways Back to Joel…

I know a lot of my art friends who’ve also gone digital would geek out about your Modbook. Let’s get DIY on this MoFo’ walk us through the Mod process.

For those that don’t know what we’re talking about, (Joel mentioned it in brief on last years interview link), explain what that is and how it helps your creative/production process please?

OK, so there is this company called Axiotron ( and they came up with the Modbook. It is basically a Macbook or a Mackbook Pro that has the screen and keyboard removed and replaced with a screen that is just like a Cintiq ( I now draw directly on my computer. I ordered mine through There they allow you to customize everything. I even chose to use a refurbished case which allowed me more cash to put into RAM, memory, etc.

As for software, I use the whole Adobe Creative Suite (, but mainly I use Manga Studio to draw. If you want to draw comics digitally you need Manga Studio ( You can use Photoshop or Sketchbook Pro ( but Manga Studio is made for comics. The way that brushes respond for inking, there are hundreds of zip-a-tone brushes, a panel tool, and it has a function where you can have the entire book open at once with out it slowing down. That is just scratching the surface. I love it.

I just picked up 4.0 EX for cheap on amazon….and the Manga Studio for Dummies….(shrugs). Was it expensive to make? 

Just about as much as a Cintiq. So yes. But very much worth it.

What are your artistic influences? Comics, fine-art, otherwise? What are some that people may not off hand associate with you?

Wow, that is always a tough one. I will name some, but I draw influence from so many places I will most definitely be leaving some out. As for what might not be associated with my style, I think that others might be able to pinpoint that better than I can. So here it goes (in mostly no particular order.).

Comics: Jack Kirby, Jeff Smith, Akira Toriyama, Jim Mahfood, Sam Kieth, Chris Bachalo, Jamie Hewlett, Humberto Ramos, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, Mike Weringo, Skottie Young, Mike Allred, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Jim Rugg, Paul Pope, Darwin Cooke, Frank Quitely, Tony Moore, Ed Mc Guinness, Geoff Darrow, Jamie Mc Kelvie and Kieron Gillen, Brandon Graham, James Stokoe… The list goes on.

Fine Art: I’m kind of at a disadvantage here. I slept through most of Art History. I know, I know, I know! I like fine art but I just don’t know names. I am a huge fan of pop surrealism / low brow art as well. It is an amazing blend of illustration and fine art. So interesting. We are really lucky to have the gallery Rivet in Columbus that focuses on that sub genre (

Animation: I’m a huge animation fan. I still love all of the 80s cartoons that I grew up with. Filmation’s stuff, especially He-Man, Transformers is huge for me, Thundercats, Ninja Turtles, Looney Tunes, some Disney stuff, Hanna Barbara action cartoons (Johnny Quest, The Herculoids, Space Ghost, etc…), Genndy Tartakovsky cartoons, anything Derek J Wyatt works on, Sean “Cheeks” Galloway (Character design and comics too), Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon, Voltron, other giant robot anime…again too much to talk about.

Other: TOYS! I collect Transformers, Masters of the Universe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Thunder cats, Voltron, any Giant Robot toys, any Kaiju Monster toys, and Designer Vinyl. I collect a lot of toys. I will do commissions for toys! The better the toys the better the art! I’m serious, don’t think I’m not! Exclamation point!!!

Music, movies, TV: Don’t even get me started. My lists are annoying people already, I can tell. Haha! There is a bunch, but I think you can gage my tastes by now.

(Know them? I share them! It's like you're in my brain!)

Do you enjoy working in any mediums outside of comics? If so can you elaborate?

I usually do at least one group show a year at the Breakneck Gallery in Lakewood, OH. Cinematic Redux is a movie poster show that my friend CHOD puts on every year. It is really fun to do my version of a poster for a movie that I love. Doing the gallery shows allows me to vary my styles and focus on a single piece for a longer amount of time. I get to experiment with different media and work a lot larger too.

I used to do a bunch of mural work as well. Working on such a giant scale is a ton of work but extremely fulfilling. So many people get to see your art without having to spend a dime. Kinda’ fun!

I used to do a bunch of sculpting, but I haven’t been able to do much of that in quite some time.

What do they offer you that maybe comics don’t?

Scale, exposure, less commitment. Comics are such a long and arduous process, where with other art forms it is often a one and done image (unless it is a series of paintings). You have less of a chance to hit a lull or get board with what you are doing.

Expanded-Headed Monstering….

You mentioned last year that you see 2-Headed Monster Comics becoming more than just a brand, with the addition of Katie Valeska Wright were you hinting at possibly more creators, more expansion? If so, what’s on your radar and how do you see that going from idealized to actuality?

I think we are going to try out some new people on some Monster Tracts, we are going to give the website a major overhaul, with the overhaul will come digital comics and a podcast called 2 Headed Monster Comics Party, The Rotten Ones, The Rotten Ones, The Rotten Ones, The Cash Anthology, we have Radio Free Gahanna #1 at Comixology right now for review (if it gets accepted the entire 2HMC line will be on there) and who knows what else! I would actually like to hear what people might like to see from 2 Headed Monster.

(You can do so by posting questions to Joel and company in the comments section below on here, facebook, twitter, or the forum. Please do, feedback is such an important part of the game!)

Monsters! You and James were cooking up a witches brew weren’t you? What’s the latest on that project?

That will be our next project once Radio Free Gahanna is done. All I can say is that it is totally different from anything we have done yet. It is much darker, more violent, very complex, definitely for adults and sooooooooo not all ages. We are excited to change gears.

Domesticated Beardness…

You’ve recently customized a SPACE (pun intended), for your whole crew. 2-Headed Monster Comics now has a base of operations. Walk us through that. Everyone that’s ever tried to create something from nothing knows that having a dedicated space is essential.

I have always had my own space to work, but I wanted to try and work in the grand tradition of the Mighty Marvel Bullpen. The Monsterpen as I jokingly call it is rough right now but getting better. We have places to draw, use computers, we have a mock convention space to store and perfect our convention set up. Katie and James have been meeting up and working at coffee shops, I have a hard time getting out there so I figured why not come to me. It seems to be working out great. There is no better way to be productive than when someone is there watching you.

There’s a difference from creating on your dining room table, or sketching on a drawing board in the living room in front of the t.v. to getting serious with shit. Trying to produce, make something real, tangible and trying to push through the next threshold. Would you agree?

I’ll work anywhere I have to, but having your own happy little space really does help.

Are you going to steal Katies copics?

I might lose a hand if I try. Just kidding, I’m sure if I ask nice she will let me use them.

I have actually got her going all-digital now! She still digs the markers, but I think she holds her computer a bit dearer now –a-days. You’ll have to double check with her.

(I did check, she’d be willing to share, and she is digging the digital, you can read about it in her own interview here…)

Being that this space is in your home, will readers get to see your Wife back in action with you? … creating comics I mean? What was it like working in the old days on comics with your second half?

She is the one who created the extra special content in the back matter of Radio Free Gahanna #3 (available at S.P.A.C.E.). As for the past, we really only have collaborated on one book. We co-wrote the comic book that we gave out as our wedding favor. It was the story of how we met and was the first time 2 Headed Monster Comics was used as the company name. Before that, I was Crap in a Hat Comics and I made much worse books. Hahaha.

We have been kicking around the idea of doing a book about having our daughter Tilly and the process of having a home birth. It would be entertaining and informative, great to read if you are going through that for the first time. If I had a comic to read about that when we were going through that, I would have read that in a second as opposed to all of the prose books I never touched. Could be good.

The most important question of this interview Joel Jackson. Your beard? Does it give you special powers?

I think we ALL know the answer to that question… *wink*

Act 3…

Post-SPACE what’s next for you guys?

More shows, some we know, and some we don’t. But the big one is SPX! We are super psyched for that. It will be our first time there and hopefully not our last.

Lastly, where can everyone find your work Joel Jackson?

Thanks again!

No, thank you sir!




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About the Author - J.M. Hunter

J.M. Hunter is best expressed as an artist who enjoys working in many mediums. One of them is writing. In the guise of InDiY Hunter, J.M. Hunter’s focus is as an independent comics creator who interviews other Independent artists/creators and showcases their personal ideologies and stories. The “hits” and “almost-got’ems” of the creative collective that do their craft not because it’ll make them rich but because they love what they do, even when they don’t is a special kind of magic. This is the reward that keeps on giving and J.M. Hunter likes it. HE LIKES IT!


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