STUDIO TOURS: Jonathan Hickman

Wed, February 13th, 2008 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
CBR News Team, Editor

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CBR readers are by now familiar with the visionary work of writer-artist-designer Jonathan Hickman. His lavishly illustrated, damning indictment of the U.S. media and government, "The Nightly News," earned CBR staffers' top marks in 2007, and Hickman continues to explore controversial territory with "Pax Romana," a science fiction epic that sees the Vatican sending an army into ancient Rome to destroy the past and change the future of the beleaguered church. The Image Comics miniseries is illustrated in Hickman's now unmistakable, graphic design-heavy style, and we're very pleased to present to you this inside look into the artist's studios, where Jonathan Hickman creates that startlingly original comic book artwork.

Story continues below

By Jonathan Hickman

Okay, so, welcome to my home office. It's a converted bedroom and it needs a paint job. And dusting. Badly.

My work desk.

1. It's amazing how quickly these systems become outdated. This is a duo-core G5 – only Macs for me.

2. This is a Nostromo Speedpad. It's one of those videogame control thingees. You can program keyboard shortcuts and combinations for Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. A fantastic timesaver.

3. Speaking of outdated: Wacom Intuos. If I were truly loved I'd have a Cintiq.

4. Need more D VD space. They're supposed to fit in the two sets of storage drawers, but I reached overflow a while ago.

5. Excuse me; does this TV effectively hide my thunder? Huzzah!

The other side of the room.

6. Light box covered in books; a sure sign of an outdated piece of equipment.

7. Flat files for storing art. Too heavy.

8. Storage stuff that's okay for children to play with. X-Acto knives and such….

9. Storage stuff that's not okay for children to play with. Syringes, cocaine, etc.

10. One of those portable DVD players.

11. Here and above… comics.

12. Here and below… design books.

My art desk.

13. Color palette / mixing samples. I'm actually quite bad at mixing color, so I have to keep this handy.

14. This is pretty cool. You can buy quarts of acrylic white and black paint from Lowe's that are great for splats and sprays.

15. Paint. Ink. Tools. Big mess.

16 & 17. Markers and Pens.

What I'm loving.

18 & 20. Two of the better "comic" art books out last year, "PulpHope" and "Process Recess Two." Much thanks to Chris Pitzer and AdHouse Books.

19. We don't use the number 19 in this house. There are reasons. I won't discuss them.

I've got a three-year-old running around and, at times, it makes it impossible to get stuff done at home - so I rented an office, and off to said office we go.

21. Driving to the office. In the spirit of full disclosure, the car here is one of those semi-SUVs (this one is a Toyota Highlander… there can be only one!) that gets a decent gas mileage but retains a hint of cock. I'm hoping to one day go full-mast so that I can devastate the ecosystem with the kind of lan I desire. (Send reactionary, over-the-top, hate email to: jonathan@pronea.com. Subject line: Don't you care about your grandchildren?)

22. My office is located in the largest and most connected law firm in our sleepy little town of 30,000. My best friend works here and his father happens to own the joint, so I stopped caring about minor brushes with the law a long time ago.

Funny story: I got a speeding ticket last year that I forgot about until a day before I had to either pay the fine or appear before a judge. Since there was no way I was stepping foot inside the courthouse, I FedExed a money order in and then, in passing, mentioned to my friend-lawyer what I had done. A couple of days later I received a package containing my returned money order and a letter of apology from the city. Not bad at all.

23. Irony continually lost on my friend-lawyer-Marxist. The Vanguard of the proletariat doesn't drive a Mercedes, dude.

24. Tabloid scanner 9800XL.

25. I write on a MacBook.

26. Hark! A color proof of "Pax Romana" #2, in stores March 5 – sorry for the delay. In fact, here's my updated publishing schedule:

March: "Pax Romana" #2, "Transhuman" #1 (both Image)
April: "Pax Romana" #3, "Transhuman" #2 (both Image)
May: "Pax Romana" #4, "Transhuman" #3 (both Image)
June: "Transhuman" #4, "A Red Mass for Mars" #1 (both IMAGE)
July: "A Red Mass for Mars" #2 (Image), "The Core" #1 (Top Cow)
August: "A Red Mass for Mars" #3, "Plus!" #1 (both Image)
September: "A Red Mass for Mars" #4 (Image)

27. I use this system for scanning/pre-press.

28. My kid and Sergio Toppi.

Okay, this is cool.

29. Reference photos and libraries are a pain. Recently, I stopped taking pictures and started shooting video. This is one of those burn-to-DVD handy-cams. (Note: It's perfectly fine to take a video camera to the mall or some other public function to get random face, group and crowd shots. However, do not shoot video of kids at school or at the park. Very dangerous. You look like a perv and angry moms will kick your ass.)

30. Disposable media for video recorder.

31. This is an older G4 that I had retired but drug out when I had the idea of attaching it to an…

32. …overhead video projector. Anything you can pull up on your computer screen, you can essentially light board. (Note: fantastic tool for 3D/environmental programs).

Against the wall.

33. Whiteboard. I actually have two. There's one to the left that I use for fleshing out stories, and on the one you can see I keep my schedule. Did I mention my updated publishing schedule?

March: "Pax Romana" #2, "Transhuman" #1 (both Image)
April: "Pax Romana" #3, "Transhuman" #2 (both Image)
May: "Pax Romana" #4, "Transhuman" #3 (both Image)
June: "Transhuman" #4, "A Red Mass for Mars" #1 (both IMAGE)
July: "A Red Mass for Mars" #2 (Image), "The Core" #1 (Top Cow)
August: "A Red Mass for Mars" #3, "Plus!" #1 (both Image)
September: "A Red Mass for Mars" #4 (Image)

34. Filing cabinet. Paper, ink, records, archived material and research.

35. I keep all my writing-centric stuff on this bookshelf.

36. A stage light for reference shots.

37. A color copier that I use basically as a laser printer. The big plus here is that it has a CMYK emulator. Thank goodness for companies going out of business and having to sell assets on the cheap. Free market win!

Okay, that's it. Back to work!

Thanks very much, Jonathan!

Now discuss this story in CBR's Image Comics forum.

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