Drawing On the Pain: Moder Talks "Painkiller Jane"

Mon, February 20th, 2006 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Dave Richards, Staff Writer

Cover to "Painkiller Jane" #1 By Lee Moder

In Part one of our two-part feature on Dynamite Entertainment's new ongoing "Painkiller Jane" series, CBR News spoke with the book's co-plotter and scripter, "Jane" co-creator Jimmy Palmiotti. Today, in part two, we speak with the man who will be bringing the carnage and crimes to life, "Painkiller Jane" artist Lee Moder.

Moder's friend, comic scribe Ron Marz, was responsible for hooking him up with Dynamite. "We were talking about how I was looking to get back into comics and he suggested that I contact Dynamite," Moder told CBR News. "Pretty soon, I was doing a series of samples tailored to a number of books they were getting ready to start and 'Jane' was one of them. I got Jimmy Palmiotti's blessing to handle the art chores and here we are. It was a fairly direct path from introductions to finding a title to work on."

Collaborating with Palmiotti has been a fun and somewhat liberating experience for Moder. "Mostly, we just e-mail back-and-forth, especially when I have stupid questions on tiny details," Moder explained. "It's a sweet deal, because he's the answer man and the only guy I really need to impress with the artwork. Instead of my stuff going to a committee, Jimmy just has to say, 'that's right' or 'that's wrong.'

"With the heavy workload that the both of us have had, we just don't get the time to really sit down and jawbone all the little things like we would like to," Moder continued. "Soon, though, Jimmy's coming to my neck of the woods for the Pittsburgh Comicon and we should really be able to talk about a lot of things. I'm really looking forward to that."

For Moder, talking with Palmiotti has been a big help in illustrating "Painkiller Jane," a book with different requirements than the previous titles he's worked on. "I'm just adapting to the demands of the book," Moder said. "Heavier lines, lotsa shadows. I prefer to keep the production of artwork pretty simple-- pencil and illo boards. I'm not big on a lot of bells and whistles when it comes to the illustration or design. I prefer old-school techniques. I'm an E-C Comics kind of guy. Nobody did better than those guys.

"I didn't consciously come into this with a particular style in mind. The book is its own creature, with its own demands. I just try to adapt myself to the requirements of the material. It's a darker book. Very raw at times. I think that it has influenced my art the same way it would influence (original series artists) Amanda Conner or Rick Leonardi. I think that the book brings out a hearty sense of malice with us."

For Moder, who previously worked on books like "Legion of Super-Heroes" and "Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E." among others, getting a chance to illustrate a darker, more mature themed book is the most rewarding aspect of drawing "Painkiller Jane." "This is the first time I've been on a book that's set in a real world environment and it's the first time I've been on a book that's this heavy on a more grown-up theme," Moder explained. "It's just a kick to pull off this type of stuff."

Drawing a crime book set in a real world environment, such as "Painkiller Jane," entails depicting lots and lots of guns. "I've never been on a book that had so much realistic weaponry. Thank the bargain racks at Barnes & Noble," Moder said. "If you're looking for any visual reference on just about anything; you're gonna find a big, fat, photo-stuffed book there for about $10."

In addition to rendering realistic firearms, Moder also wants to make sure the Big Apple setting of "Painkiller Jane" looks and feels real. "Jimmy really impressed on me the idea that New York City is as much of a character in the book as any flesh and blood figure," Moder stated "So, I'm really trying to bust my hump capturing all aspects of the look of the city. Not just the landmarks we all know, but the neighborhoods and the look of the streets and the people and the little bits of detail you see in the city all the time. If you ground the action in a surrounding that you absolutely believe in, it doesn't matter how outlandish that action is. It just helps to sell the overall experience."

Moder drew upon a number of artistic influences to bring the setting, weaponry and action to life in "Painkiller Jane." "I've already mentioned my love for E-C Comics stuff, specifically the work of the Fleegle Gang," Moder stated. "You just can't go wrong when you're taking your cues from guys like Williamson, Krenkel, Wood, Orlando and Frazetta. The movies I look like run the gamut from Luc Besson and John Woo's Hong Kong cop flicks to action films from the '70s like the Dirty Harry flicks. Everything else comes from reference books to a number of websites dedicated to NYC architecture.

"If you dig the things that I mentioned above, you should really check out 'Painkiller Jane.' Everybody involved is pouring their hearts and talents into making Jane a unique book on the racks. It's a down and dirty action thriller that I'm having a blast working on and it's something that you don't see all that often. But, we'll make it worth your while, cousin. So sit down, strap in, and don't make any big movements-- they tend to spook Jane."

You can discuss this article, as well as our interview with Palmiotti, here on CBR's Indie comics board.

 
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