This week we have a special premium member to feature: painter extraordinaire JOE JUSKO!! He was very gracious to speak with CAF about his career, art collection, and current projects!
1. You broke into the industry at a very early age when few people were painting in comics. What led you to doing painted illustration rather than pen and ink?
I had wanted to be the next John Buscema ever since I discovered his work at the age of eight! He was, still is, and always will be my favorite comics artist. I originally learned to draw by copying and studying his work as a kid. I still have so much of his influence in my work, though more so in my pencils than my painted work. Speaking of painting; that became my focus the summer I graduated from New York City's High School of Art & Design when I came to the realization that I would probably never be fast enough to produce a monthly book. I also wanted control over the finished work and painting definitely offered that. The Frazetta books that Ballantine published in the mid 70s also help guide that decision. I was lucky that I broke in when there were very few people painting in comics, and thanks to Heavy Metal magazine, every company was now looking for painters. Even though I had no formal painting instruction and even less professional experience I was able to secure work on a regular basis and "learn while I earned" so to speak. Timing is everything as I'm sure if I broke in today knowing as little as I knew then I would never get work considering the caliber of talent is so much higher today.
2. What artists do you look to for inspiration?
Big John Buscema is still a constant inspiration, especially where figures in action are concerned. Frazetta has always been an influence, but more for power and attitude than technique. Trying to draw or paint like Frank is a futile effort that just results in bad imitation as his style is so uniquely his. I learned a lot from Bob Larkin early on, also, and Warren legends Sanjulian and Enric still amaze me. Most of my inspiration today comes from outside the comics field, though. I'm a big fan of 1960s paperback art as well as many wildlife artists, especially John Seerey Lester and the late Simon Combes.
3. What are you favorite subjects to paint?
I'm a figurative artist, so I could never see myself painting florals or even landscapes. Even the most beautiful landscape looks incomplete to me with a figure in it. Figures add life, in my opinion. I'm also a big cat nut, as most people know by now and look for any opportunity to paint one. It's the frustrated wildlife artist in me!
4. Which piece in your gallery is your favorite?
A lot of art that I loved has changed hands in the past couple of years due to an eviscerating divorce but there are certain pieces that will never leave. A favorite is definitely Tim Bradstreet's GANGLAND #1 cover. I love the execution of it (no pun intended) as well as the over the top subject matter. It's so Tim! We have it hanging in the guest bathroom where it gets the most bizarre reactions from people, something that tickles Tim to no end.
5. What are you working on right now?
I'm currently painting covers for Dynamite, including twelve John Carter of Mars pieces and various Vampirella covers. I'm also working on covers for a Wolverine/Hercules miniseries as well as catching up on a bunch of commissions. I may also be illustrating the first two Tarzan novels for his 100th anniversary.
6. According to your website you’ve got several convention appearances coming up in 2010, including this weekend's Baltimore Comic Con, do you have any exclusive prints or art books that fans should look out for?
Desperado Publishing recently released The Art of Joe Jusko, a 30 year retrospective that covers everything from my earliest high school and professional work through my most current covers and commissions. Odd feeling seeing so much of your work in one place like that! It's available as a regular or limited signed and numbered bookplate edition. There is also a sketchbook due out from Eva Ink Publishing sometime this fall, also available as a regular or sketch edition.
View JOE JUSKO's Gallery