Kendal Calling: An Interview with Eisner Award-winning comic artist Jason

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There’s not long to go now until this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October (13th – 15th). The downthetubes “Kendal Calling” interviews continue with a chat with award-winning Norwegian comic creator Jason, making his first-ever visit to the UK for this weekend-long celebration of the comics form…

A Norwegian artist living in France, Jason is referred to as one of the medium’s finest storytellers. He has an unmistakable style and rarely attends comic art events, so this is a very special opportunity to discover Jason and his remarkable work.

Werewolves of Montpellier - CoverBorn in Norway in 1965, Jason started selling cartoons and short strips in his late teens, went to art school in Oslo and published his first comic book / graphic novel in 1995.

Lomma full av regn won the Sproing Award, awarded by Norsk Tegneserieforum, an organisation to promote interest and understanding for comics in Norway, for best Norwegian strip in 1995.

If You Steal - CoverSince then, Jason has created about 20 books, many available in English through Fantagraphics since 2010, including Werewolves of MontpellierIf You Steal, Lost Cat, the Eisner and Harvey Award-winning I Killed Adolf Hitler and, earlier this year, On the Camino.

His work has been published in about 12 languages and he’s won the Eisner Award three times, for the Best US Edition of International Material.

Jason moved around a bit, Paris and Brussels, but has lived in Montpellier, France, for the last nine years.

downthetubes: What are you working on, comics-wise, right now, and when will it be published?

Jason: I’m working on the next book. Right now it looks like it will be a collection of three stories. It should be out in the fall, next year, I hope.

downthetubes: Which comic project you’ve worked on are you most proud of and where can people see it or buy it?

Jason: That’s hard to say. I can go through most of my books and point out sequences I’m unhappy with, panels I could have redrawn. Werewolves of Montpellier could have been longer, we could have gotten to know the characters a bit more, but I’m quite happy with all the pages, all the sequences that are there. There’s nothing I want to change.

A page from Werewolves of Montpellier, by Jason,
A page from Werewolves of Montpellier, by Jason,
Art from Lost Cat by Jason
Art from Lost Cat by Jason

downthetubes: How do you plan your day as a creator? (Do you plan your day?)

Jason: No, no plans. At its best I will get up around six, start working at eight, work for three or four hours, take a break, and then work another three or four hours. Maybe work a bit in the evening as well. But a lot of times it doesn’t happen like this.

downthetubes: What’s the best thing about being a comics creator?

Jason: Freedom.

downthetubes: And the worst?

Jason: Financial uncertainty, I guess. I’m kind of established now, so I’m able to do this for a living. But there were some lean years where I wondered what the hell am I doing.

Venterpaa - Sample art by Jason

Venterpaa - Sample art by Jasondownthetubes: What most distracts you from getting your work done?

Jason: Youtube.

downthetubes: Do you think it’s easier or harder for young comic creators to get published today?

Jason: I don’t know. I’m guessing it’s about the same.

downthetubes: Have you ever been to the Lake District before and if so what did you think of it? If you haven’t, what are you expecting?

Jason: No, never been. This will in fact be my first time in the UK. I hear it’s a good place for hiking. I hope I will have the time to do some walking in nature.

Jason's take on "Arzach", one of many great artworks on his blog
Jason’s take on “Arzach”, one of many great artworks on his blog

downthetubes: Which one comic creator would you most like to meet, and why?

Jason: Living or dead? I’d say Moebius. My first time in Angouléme, on the last day, I saw him in one of the tents signing prints, and I got one signed. But it would have been nice to meet him as a fellow cartoonist and to shake his hand, and unfortunately, I never got the chance.

downthetubes: How do Festivals and other comics events help creators most, do you think?

Jason: It’s a chance to meet new readers, hopefully. You will meet people who already know your work, but maybe also pick up some new ones.

downthetubes: What one piece of advice do you offer people looking to work in the comics industry?

Jason: Don’t give up.

downthetubes: What’s your favourite comic right now and where can people get it?

Jason: The Corto Maltese albums by Hugo Pratt are being published in English now. I’d recommend those. Great drawings in black and white, great stories and characters.

I’m looking forward to Spy Seal by Rich Tommaso, from Image. I like his work.

downthetubes: Jason, thank you very much for your time. See you in October!

Book Your Festival Tickets Now!

• Book your tickets for this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival here. This year’s events programme includes live draws, masterclasses, interactive talks and a chance to get up close to the best comic creators in the world! 

Web: www.comicartfestival.com | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Podcast | View the Festival Programme on Issuu | Download the Programme (PDF)

JASON ONLINE

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a "freelance comics operative", currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY. John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor. He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY. Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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