Welcome to Self-Published Spotlight, a regular interview column where I will be highlighting self-published comics and the creators and small print publishers who make them.
My first exposure to Jason Beirens amazing linework was Deep Forest. I met Jason through the Cartoonist Kayfabe Ringside Seats fan group, and was right away enamored with his intricate line work and energetic pages and panels. His drawings just feel like they were created with pens and pencils that never stop moving. Jason is in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign for his latest project, THE WONDERFUL GROTESQUE, a continuation of the world and story started in Deep Forest. Jason and I sat down and chatted over a few days all about his past, present and future in comics and creating. Check out the chat below and make sure you go and support the campaign for THE WONDERFUL GROTESQUE, you will not be disappointed.
Monkeys Fighting Robots: Alright, so my first question, what’s your comic book origin? How did you get into comics?
Jason Beirens: My older brother is 11 years older than me, he joined the army when I was 9 came back when I was 13, and brought about 4 short boxes of comics back with him. X-men, daredevil, Conan, etc. mostly Marvel, some DC, and a few indies. I devoured them, I was a comic strip kid before that, been drawing since before I can remember, but that was when everything shifted from Garfield to Wolverine.
MFR: I find it interesting how comic strips still figured into our generation. I’m 44 and comic strips were my first sequential art reads too. I don’t know if that’s true anymore. I don’t see strips being that prevalent in pop culture anymore.
JB: Comic strips are sadly a dying art, I guess a changing art, the webcomic was huge for a minute, but even that is going in a different direction.
MFR: So when did you decide you wanted to create your own comics? Was there a specific moment, book or creator that sparked it?
JB: I always wanted to and had lots of false starts, I mean a lot. I have always had a million ideas in my head, but life gets in the way of living. It’s just been the last few years that I’ve made time. the two creators that really made me want to create were Mike Allred and Rob Liefeld. Both are very energetic artists in very different ways.
MFR: I love Allred and Liefeld too. And I love that you find influence in such different creators, they are almost polar opposites in styles. What was it about Allred and Liefeld you found inspiring? What specifically did you take away from each of those creators?
JB: Liefeld it was the detail, all the little tick marks, it was the insane poses, the designs of the costumes and weapons. It was what every 13-year-old boy wants to see. Now with Allred, it was the clean line, the amazing designs, the stories and characters, the world of Madman with the robots, mad science and monsters it was incredible.
MFR: What was your first published work? And what made you say “Oh THIS is the one”?
JB: Grayhat. The collection should be in my doorstep soon too. The story told itself in a lot of ways. Especially towards the end. So it told me, it was the one. The characters did what they wanted, The bird witch was the main bad guy until she acted the way she acted, the big bad, was supposed to be silent and a lot weirder looking until it started talking and became more traditional looking. The last two issues so 58 pages were written, latex out, penciled and inked in a 40-hour work week. The job I had was closing up shop, it was phone tech support, so most of the calls were being diverted from my site, so I sat and worked on Grayhat, so the story and circumstance made it say, “this is the one”.
MFR: Wow. That’s awesome. Was the situation similar for your current Kickstarter campaign, The Wonderful Grotesque?
JB: Unfortunately not, I will stay up later, or take a few minutes from lunch at work, etc. stealing time essentially to work on this story. I can usually get a page done in an hour from start to finish. But fortunately, I am completely done with the Wonderful Grotesque. I am about half done with the follow up too.
MFR: How long do you want The Wonderful Grotesque to be?
JB: The whole story will be about 70 pages when all 3 are together. It’s a series of 3 one-shots that aren’t one-shots, so the first was Deep Forest, this one is The Wonderful Grotesque, and the last one is Tyrant Goliath. When collected it will be Incursion of the Ghastly Creatures. But Wonderful Grotesque is 22 pages of a robot and a vampire fighting Lovecraftian monsters. I’m calling them sluggoths.
MFR: When does the campaign end? And when does the campaign end?
JB: So the campaign ends on 7/17. As far as reaching me, it’s horribly out of date and I need to fix that, but you can hit the Birdstacking Bigcartel page. Honestly, the best way is to email me, at email@example.com and just let me know what you want.