Thursday, August 18, 2011

J.K. Woodward

Born in the Northeast United States, J.K. wasted little time in becoming the kid your mother warned you about. A strong rebellious streak combined with an intense work ethic meant that he gave 110% to being his own person AND a pain in the ass! This personality mix made a rote life as a drone in a cubicle an impossible career choice and left him with one of two choices:

Become an artist.
Become a rock star.

Since his only talent for music was a decent taste in it he made the obvious choice and became an artist who dressed like a rock star. He also moved to L.A.

Those were dark, fruitful years, years where the young J.K. would experiment with style and develop techniques that he uses to this very day. Eventually the City of Angels lost its appeal and seeking a change in life, climate and creative energy he followed the example set by David Bowie, one of J.K.'s heroes, and moved to Germany. Despite the presence of (or more likely because of) strong German beer, J.K.  self-published a comic comprised of his expressionistic paintings titled Flesh Angels. He followed it with a comedy comic series titled These Things Happen - comprised of random funny stories, a talk show host who doesn't talk off the clock, and emus.

After that it was off to Desert Hot Springs, California,  a town which has the dubious honor of most abandoned washing machines in the western hemisphere. Here J.K. collaborated with A. David Lewis on the indie comic Mortal Coils and Michael Colbert on the Digital Webbing Presents series Crazy Mary. The publishing house IDW noticed his work on Crazy Mary and offered him a gig doing a CSI:NY limited series which he followed in short order with a standout story in BOOM! Studios' Zombie Tales series. When Peter David was re-launching his creator owned series Fallen Angel at IDW, James (J.K.) was a natural choice for Peter's dark world of magic, violence and redemption.

J.K.'s painted work would soon catch the attention of Marvel editor Mike Marts. Marts quickly chose the young artist to illustrate X-men Origins:The Beast which was released September 2008.

J.K. recently relocated from Long Beach, CA to Long Island City in Queens, NY where he still illustrates Peter David's Fallen Angel as a reoccurring miniseries for IDW as well as various other works for both IDW and BOOM! Studios.

As a quick aside I should say a special thanks to Michael Colbert who wrote the original biography. I simply paraphrased.

Now, Mr. Saavik, you go right on quoting regulations.

6 Questions with J.K. Woodward:

1. What are your favorite and your least favorite sounds?
  "Favourite sound: A woman's breathy moan in my ear.
Least favourite sound: the gurgle sound a tap makes when the keg has run dry"

2. What turns you on creatively, spiritually, emotionally?
  "I'd have to say freedom, definition and control.
Creatively, I do my best when not encumbered by a conflicting vision of what it should look like. I love to collaborate, but in a way that works to each persons strengths, but that doesn't happen by 1 person trying to affect the way you envision things. As a professional, I will make changes in my work if needed and maintain a positive attitude about it, but generally I feel my first instincts are the best and I just would prefer to go in that direction.

Spiritually? I would like that one defined. Everyone throws that word around and no one's really told me what that means. Generally I hear people refer to themselves as spiritual as apposed to religious. ie."I don't subscribe to any particular religion, I'm just spiritual". When I ask what that means, they all tell me different beliefs they have.There is very little commonality between them other than they all believe in life after death, though no one can tell me why. That can't be what spiritual means. Anyway, I stopped asking because it seems to mean something different to everyone, making the meaning personal but also meaningless when talked about. If it is at all possible, I want "spiritual" defined, because I'm not sure I've ever felt, craved or did anything "spiritually".

Emotionally, I want control. We live in a society that seems to want to emote all over each other. YUK! I've worked all my life to keep control over my emotional reactions. Note the word "reaction". I'm not suggesting anyone can control their emotions, really, but we don't have to react to every single one.
I'm kind of a Hank Hill when it comes to that stuff."

3. What decision in your career are you most grateful for?
  "Probably illustrating a script that I read at comic con from some guy I barely met. The script was called Crazy Mary and it was brilliant, but what I liked more than anything is the writer's understanding of the medium he was writing for and his instinct for composition and design. He was a very visual writer in that he understood what would work on the page and what wouldn't. I really wanted to draw this script. At first I was unsure because it was 12 pages and to paint that would take appr. 240 hours or 6 whole work weeks without pay. But I sacrificed my free time and the book looked great. We self published and the art caught the attention of IDW and eventually Peter David and that's how I ended up working on Fallen Angel."

4. What is the closest you have ever come to giving up your craft?
  "I almost became a teacher once. I enrolled, I was going to get my degree while still working in comics and then quit the whole thing. Then I realized that wasn't what I wanted as much as what my fiance and possibly her mother wanted. This was almost 4 years ago, we never got married and I still draw comics, but I was close to quitting. If you work in this industry, work will always come first. It has to if you want to make your deadlines. So if you work in comics, make sure your significant other understands that at the beginning or you may end up going to college to become a teacher. That's what I learned from that."

5. What is the most fun you have ever had?
  "This one's hard. There are so many, but probably this assemblage/painting/sculpture/photography project I was working on with with a German Record Producer back in 2000. I had just moved to Frankfurt and we had embarked on a very ambitious project to be used as an album cover and was later displayed at the record labels personal gallery. We worked a little over 36 hours straight, focused on the work but laughing, chain smoking and drinking wine the whole time. I'm surprised we survived it, but it was probably not just the funnest, but most rewarding experience to date."

6. Assuming heaven exists, what would you like to hear God (or Allah or Yahweh or Odin. Generally the Supreme Being of your choice.) say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

  "It's about time you showed up. This lager isn't gonna drink itself. Get your ass in there and after-live it up!"

Could not have said it better myself! Thanks J.K. for taking the time to do this and for giving us some brilliant answers. If you'd like to know more about J.K. Woodward simply surf over to where there is another fantastic interview with the man and while you're at it check out his website

And that's all for today! Thanks for reading and stay tuned because next time I'll be speaking with author, screen writer, script monkey and general roustabout Shawna Benson.


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