The Magical Arts: an interview with J.H. Williams III, part3.

Last part of our exclusive interview and J3 tells us a little more about the magic of Promethea, and also his previous and future collaborations with Grant Morrison.

Wellington Srbek: Promethea gives us always those inventive and unusual page divisions. How much of that is yours and how much is Alan’s ideas? And what about #32 that we can read from the front cover, upside down or as two posters?

J.H. Williams III: The page design experiments we used were probably about 50% me and 50% Alan. As I said before we would have conversations about things before he would write the scripts. And those ideas would then get translated into the scripts. There were page design ideas that were purely his and there were page designs that were purely mine. And there were ones where it would be a combination of our ideas into something new. Issue 32 is an interesting artifact. The original concept for it was for the paintings that form the poster images to be in a pointalism style. That was what Alan was looking for. As it turned out that was not going to be very effective with the line art aspects that needed to be to incorporated with the painted images. And the pointalism idea lacked energy and vivid life. So I thought it best to make the paintings this strange mix of impressionism and pop art, my two favorite types of art. This immediately gave the pieces an energy and when combined with the line art created a psychedelic metaphysical explosion of thought and art. My goal was to create a visual experience not really seen before in comics or outside of comics either. I think, even though we had to do things differently than Alan had envisioned, the end result was something unique and powerful and therefore lived up to his notions of what it should be. And because of that energy the series' final comment was full of life and color and psychedelically cosmic in its own unique pop art way. I think the fusion of impressionism and pop art truly took things into unexplored territory. It was neither fully a comicbook and neither fully a fine art piece. It exists somewhere between. Perfectly suited for being the last comment based on everything the series had to say along the way. Another interesting thing is not only does it read in all the directions mentioned by you but also if you follow the little trails on the poster versions you will find connecting threads that move in all directions, not just right to left. One could easily get lost in it. It works very much in the way the human mind works, where random thoughts can occur based on a single word or phrase. Such as hearing a song may trigger a memory that somehow, through subtle ways, is connected to that song. Very fascinating. The work on those two images is very expressive, exhaustive and emotional. Definitely not for those who don't want to take their time with it. It requires deep concentration and work.

WS: Although we have demons performing group sex in an early issue, I’ve heard that DC Comics had censored some panels in Promethea #22. Is that true? What happened?

J3: Yes that is true. We had to face censorship in many other places throughout the series but issue 22 was the most significant. Pages 14 and 15 of that issue were originally a single image of gods having sex. It was very blatant and appropriate for the scene. But editorial thought it was too much and needed us to change it. But considering that was a fully painted portion of the story, and would be very time consuming and costly to have me paint something new that was more tame, we digitally broke up the image into individual panels obscuring the action dramatically. I feel it significantly hurt the clearness of the storytelling and so in the collected editions Alan and I insisted that the original version be used for those editions. So here in America the collected hardcover editions and softcover editions now have the art intact as it was meant to be. I hope that the Brazilian editions do as well and you are not forced to see a censored version since it was an inferior product.

WS: What can you say about working with Alan Moore? We will see a new collaboration in the near future? Personally, I hope so!

J3: Working with Alan was one the most creatively freeing experiences I have had and has allowed me to bring that perspective to all of my following works, which I'm hoping you will have the opportunity to see. I can now confidently bring something new and fresh to each project and I'm not certain I could say the same if I had not had the opportunity to work with Alan for such a lengthy time. I too hope for a future collaboration. It would be interesting to see what could be done since I have grown even more in the time since Promethea ended.

WS: Changing the subject, how it was to work with Grant Morrison on Seven Soldiers?

J3: Again working with Grant was a very freeing creative experience but for different reasons. Very challenging in alternate ways than from Alan but just as gratifying. I do feel Grant and I have a similar mindset. We see things in a similar fashion. In my opinion, the work I did on Seven Soldiers issue zero and issue one is just as compelling as my work on Promethea but with a different sensibility. I think the same could be said for my work with Warren Ellis on Desolation Jones.

WS: To finish, tell us about your present and future projects.

J3: Well, late last year I had 3 issues of Batman come out with Grant Morrison. I've done 19 painted multimedia covers for Crossing Midnight written by Mike Carey and art by Jim Fern with colors by José Villarrubia published by Vertigo. I'm currently working on a secret project for DC Comics which should start coming out at the end of the year. I'm also just about to finish a one issue story for Jonah Hex written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray. And sometime after the secret project for DC is done Grant and I should be starting our creator owned project that is yet to be named. I may also being doing some webcomics in the future as well.

WS: Thanks for the interview!

J3: Thank you Brazil. Please visit me at my website
WWW.JHWILLIAMS3.COM and say hello.

2 comentários:

chris @ CindyCenter.com Podcast disse...

Excellent interview.

As someone who interviews people on a weekly basis, I can appreciate your research and detailed questions.

I am interview J3 for an upcoming podcast. I am running a contest with Mike Carey to promote "Crossing Midnight".

My podcast is located at http://www.cindycenter.com


Wellington Srbek disse...

Thanks Chris,
I'm happy to know that you liked our interview. Right now I'm interviewing another great American comic book artist. I've just received the first answers and I can say that it will be something!