Jeremy Haun has left a graphite mark across the comic book industry with gigs at almost every comic book company. He partook in Marvel’s “Civil War” with the “Iron Man” one-shot. He hunted down serial killers with Cassie Hack at Devil’s Due. He stalked the “Streets of Gotham” at DC Comics. He even sang a “Battle Hymn” for Image Comics. However, after wandering the comic landscape for years, Haun decided to put his pencil to work exclusively for one company: Top Cow Entertainment.
The artist already has a library of Top Cow work on his resume, having illustrated the six-issue miniseries “Berserker,” created by “Heroes” star Milo Ventimiglia and written by Rick Loverd, and the Pilot Season title “Alibi” with Joshua Hale Fialkov. In an announcement exclusive to CBR News, Haun revealed that he made Top Cow his permanent home by signing a contract with the company, and that along with planning a few creator-owned projects, he will be taking over ongoing art duties on “The Darkness” beginning with issue #96.
Haun spoke with CBR News about his new exclusive status, what he looks forward to in taking over “The Darkness” and why being different makes him fit right in with the rest of the Top Cow talent.
CBR News: Jeremy, how exactly did this deal come about and why did you end up signing with Top Cow specifically?
Jeremy Haun: I worked on both “Alibi” and “Berserker” for Top Cow, and doing those, I formed a good relationship with these guys. They really treated me well. I finished up with “Berserker” a year ago and I was interested in doing more stuff with Top Cow, but I got really busy with my DC schedule. I was doing a lot of stuff for the Bat Office. It was one of those things that every time that we wanted to work together — Top Cow and myself — I was working on something else at the same time. [Top Cow Publisher] Filip [Sablik] had mentioned the possibility of me coming on and doing an extended stay, and I really wasn’t sure if that was something I wanted to do. Exclusives can really tie you down and be kind of limiting. But when we were in New York for New York Comic-Con, we had dinner a couple times and had a lot of conversations about what Top Cow wanted as a company and what I wanted to do as a creator. It was interesting because those things really meshed. I have done the miniseries and fill-in issues, and I loved the chance to work on Batman and those characters, but something I always wanted to do was build toward a real, extended presence on a book. A chance to come on to Top Cow and do that was too much to pass up.
Before signing on to “Alibi” and “Berserker,” were you familiar with Top Cow and their stable of characters, like the Darkness, Witchblade and Cyberforce?
Like everybody else in the ’90s, I read every book that came out of Image during that time. I knew about Witchblade and the Darkness and Cyberforce and all that. I read all of them for quite a while. As time goes by, books get cut and things like that. I hadn’t read “The Darkness” in a little while, but then my buddy Phil Hester came on and I got a chance to check it back out. I was blown away by what Phil was bringing to the book. And of course, everybody read “Wanted.” So, there are several of the Top Cow titles that I was definitely familiar with.
There are two sides to Top Cow — their inter-Universe titles and their creator-owned, self-contained projects. Which aspect are you most looking forward to?
I am looking forward to the opportunity of taking advantage of both things. [Laughs] That’s actually a huge part of why I wanted to do this. I’ve written a few things myself. I worked on “The Leading Man” with B. Clay Moore for Oni Press. That was a concept I initially came up with and Clay and I worked on it together. I wrote “Narcoleptic Sunday” for Oni Press. So, I’ve done my share of creator-owned stuff and a little bit of writing myself. It’s something I’ve always wanted to get back to, but one of the things you consistently run into is, if you’re living the life of a freelance artist and you’re working 10, 12 hours a day, seven days a week, there’s not a lot of time for those things. Doing this with Top Cow and being interested in the content that I want to do, it’s a good opportunity for me to take advantage of the creator-owned stuff through them. At the same time, I get to draw their regular big titles, which is awesome.
So, what is the big title you’re working on?
I’m going to be the regular artist on “The Darkness” starting with issue #96, and I’m going to work on it for a long, long time. I think that it’s such a cool concept and a cool character to work with. Definitely, working with Phil [Hester] is a big plus. I read “The Coffin” and all the other great stuff that Phil wrote years ago and have been a huge fan of his. He’s also a mid-Western guy, so I’ve known him since I started in the business. The opportunity to work with him is a huge thing. Beyond that, I think the Darkness is a cool character. What Phil brought to it really gives it a lot of possibilities. There are characters that, as a creator, you can see yourself working on for an issue or two, but this is a character that I can see myself working on for years. The nice thing about Top Cow is that Top Cow consists of Filip and Matt Hawkins and Marc Silvestri. They are the guys you have to sell things to. It’s not like you have to sell things to an entire company. If they like it, you get to run with it. I’m really excited about the opportunity to get to collaborate on a book like “The Darkness” for the extended future.
As an artist, there must be a lot of appeal to the Darkness because of the nature of his powers. Between the tendrils and minions, there seems to be so much you can do with it.
I think that’s it. Being able to visualize the variety of things you can do with the character is awesome. I love the idea that he’s effectively on one level wearing armor, but it’s completely bio-organic. It’s made out of the Darkness, so you can mess with a lot of things. It can bulk up. It can slim down. If he needs wings, it can have wings. It’s a great, malleable, visual character. One of the things I’ve been trying to work on with my art is becoming a stronger illustrator. I’ve taken and done a lot of work where I needed to get it done fast and I needed to get it done based on a deadline. The way that we’re setting this up, I’ve got the time to really stretch myself visually, and this is the perfect character to do it on.
Looking at the other side of the equation, do you have ideas already bubbling in your brain for creator-owned stuff you’d like to tackle?
While I haven’t had the chance to write a book for the past couple of years, I still write. I still come up with concepts. I’m actually bringing a list of 15 different concepts to a meeting. There’ll be a lot of whittling down, but I think I’m going to come out with two of those that are going to be something we’re definitely going to work on. The exciting thing about Top Cow is that there’s opportunity to work on their characters, there’s opportunity to do a good, solid miniseries and then there’s also the Pilot Season stuff, which is an opportunity to throw fun ideas out there in a done-in-one format with, hopefully, more down the road. I’ve got ideas that fit all of those.
Top Cow has always been known as a company that prides itself on amazing artists. What do you think about your style fits into the Top Cow world? What about your approach to drawing makes you a fit for Top Cow?
When you hear about people talking about Top Cow, you hear them talking about Silvestri and artists that exude the feel of his work. I don’t fit that. I’m a huge fan of Silvestri’s body of work, especially the issues of “X-Men” that he did. There’s a good 20, 25 issues that are some of the most brilliant stuff I’ve ever seen. I love his stuff, but I’m not really artistically influenced by it. I think that’s actually one thing that they were excited about — somebody that had something a little bit different. I’m going to come in and do things my way. I will say, though, that working with Top Cow, I have an opportunity to tell big, crazy, over-the-top stories. I get to do the nice ultra-violence that you see in a lot of their books and I get to do these huge visuals. I like that. I’m sure I’m going to be influenced by the body of work to some extent, but I’m still going to tell things my way, and I think they appreciate that.