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Interviews Editor, Andrew Irvin, welcomes Jason Howard to the Yeti Cave today. He's followed up his Image Comics series Big Girls with a leading illustrator role on The Lab Press release, Essentials, written by Luke Arnold and Chris "Doc" Wyatt, on Kickstarter through May 16th.


CBY: Welcome, Jason! So Luke mentioned this project arose out of the COVID pandemic - when did he and Chris “Doc” Wyatt bring you into the fold, and how much of the story was fully formed when you first learned about the project? 

JH: Luke and Doc had it all pretty much worked out, I think. We had a call where they pitched it and we discussed some of the possibilities of a great concept like this one. But the characters and main thrust of the story were all there when I came aboard.

CBY: That must've made it easy to run with once you started, I imagine. I absolutely adore the central premise of Essentials, and am wary of revealing too much because the pacing is SO good. Having worked with other luminaries of the contemporary comic industry such as Warren Ellis on Trees and Robert Kirkman on The Astounding Wolf-Man, what do you look for when picking the next story to which you align your time and talent?

JH: One of the fun aspects of working in comics is getting a chance to work with other creative people. I had previously worked with Doc on the Super Dinosaur animated series. He reached out to me about Essentials, and as we discussed it seemed like a project that would both be fun and give me a chance to work with Doc again. 

CBY: So you’re the primary interior artist, and I don’t want to spoil the ride this book provides for the reader, but you’re depicting the story as told from the perspective of the protagonist. When did that decision come into play? Were you brought on for the specific purpose of bringing a certain perspective to the page, or was there a mix-and-match process amongst the artists with Luke and Doc?

JH: Early on we discussed me being involved with different parts of the stories' POV. But it eventually seemed that focusing on Harris and his perspective and journey was the best fit. I wasn't involved with any of the other artist decisions but was excited to see their pages as the team would share them with me!

CBY: Being part of the revelatory process when working on part of a whole project is certainly a nice sensation, realizing how the final outcome exceeds the sum of its parts. On working within bigger collaborative narrative worlds, you’ve contributed your work to issues of Batman, Spider-Man, Invincible, and dozens of other books from the big two and various indie publishers over the years. Can you tell us about The Lab Press and how the experience of creating Essentials stood apart from other projects? 

JH: It was great! They are a professional team who have a cool story and work with top talent. What's not to love!?

CBY: I expected nothing less than effusive praise, based upon what Luke had said about the process thus far. Without giving away too much, this story departs from reality in some rather pronounced ways. When you’re not bound to realism, what sort of imagery did you get to lend to the page that added a personal touch beyond what the script required? Are there any Easter eggs readers should keep an eye out for when they pick up a copy?

JH: My main focus is finding what the story needs and trying to convey that visually to the reader. There is a sequence with the character Buttons who is having an internal struggle, and showing her decision in that struggle felt like a key moment in the story to me.  I had a lot of fun breaking from the reality of the story and finding a visual way to show that.

CBY: There are a bunch of awesome artists on this title, including; Vince Locke, Glenn Fabry, Andrea Mutti, M.K. Perker, Dani, colors from Brad Simpson, Wesley Wong, and Dee Cunniffe, with lettering by Andworld, design by Emma Price, and covers from you, Glenn Fabry, Jordie Bellaire, and the inimitable Bill Sienkiewicz. With a variety of styles joined by a cohesive narrative (as opposed to an anthology series of separate stories), what sort of coordination was necessary to create a cohesive look across the book? Did everyone communicate around certain core choices (color theory/palette, line weight, etc.) or was it less directed and more individually determined?

JH: Thats a great question! But I’m going to punt it to the great editorial team at The Lab who coordinated all the art teams.  They really allowed me to keep a focus on my pages and really build out the reality that Harris and Buttons story takes place in.

CBY: Hopefully I have the opportunity to ask some of those folks in coming interviews, but it sounds like they had a lot of trust in the creators, and I think it paid off. I know you customarily work on art across the industry, but do you have any stories you’ve been writing that we can expect in the near future? If you could tell one story entirely of your own creation, what would you prioritize for forthcoming publication?

JH: I have several stories that I am writing. I find it very fulfilling to write and draw my own stories, but it is time consuming and involves a lot of time on the non-creative aspects. So I will continue to work as an artist with partners on the writing side for some projects, while writing for myself for others. Prior to Essentials I wrote and drew a book called Big Girls from Image Comics, check it out!

CBY: Fantastic - I've thrown a link up in the intro for our readers. After discussing individual pursuits, noting I’ve mentioned your professional collaborations and the calibre of talent you’ve been producing work with - who else would you be keen to work with that you might not have had a chance to create something with? What’s on your wishlist after the various experiences you’ve had working with characters, creators, and publishers across the industry landscape?

JH: Haha! Lots of people and characters!  Too many to name. I think I have partially formed stories with pretty much every writer I’ve previously worked with that would be fun to do one day. 

CBY: Hopefully we get to see more of them come to fruition in the coming years. I always close out with an opportunity for creators to shout-out the comics and other creative work that’s catching their attention unrelated to the title under discussion. To that end, what should all our readers check out once they’ve given Essentials their support?

JH: My most recent work is over at Jonathan Hickman's That's a great place to start!

CBY: Jason, thanks for stopping by the Yeti Cave today! If you’ve got any portfolio, publication, or social media links you’d like our readers to check out, please feel free to share them here.

JH: Instagram is @jasonhowardart

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