Last week, CBR News brought you superstar artist Jae Lee's take on the February-launching, five-issue Dynamite Entertainment miniseries "Dead Irons," for which Lee supplies titillating cover artwork while also serving as the title's Art Director. Today we turn to illustrator Jason Shawn Alexander, the proverbial young gun of "Dead Irons" and a talent Jae Lee says is destined for comic book stardom.
"Dead Irons" follows the Irons siblings - four bounty hunters cursed by a variety of classic supernatural monster afflictions - who tear through the Old West, taking no prisoners in their quest for cold hard cash. But when one sibling, Silas, turns away from the path, his quest to stop Jesse (a gentleman vampire), Annie (a ghostly gal) and Colt (a wild west werewolf) turns bloody, and Jason Shawn Alexander wouldn't have it any other way, particularly in the case of the harrier Irons child.
"My favorite monster has always been a werewolf," explained the artist, who has most recent work is Dark Horse's "Abe Sapien: The Drowning" with Mike Mignola. "'The Howling,' 'American Werewolf in London,' etc. I love them. Since I was a kid, the transformation scenes always just excited me. I can see giving Colt a little more center stage whenever he's written into the story."
Crafting the scenes for Alexander and Lee to interpret stands longtime licensed comics scripter James Kuhoric, perhaps best known for his body of "Army of Darkness" work, but delivering his first original concept with "Dead Irons." Alexander says the writer's script holds more surprises for readers than merely the surface chills and thrills. "James has written these characters very well. The other siblings have this vibe to them that seems more wild and surface. Silas, even when he's introduced, you can tell has so much going on with him. This isn't a shallow horror book," Alexander remarked. "It has great elements where I get to really have fun, visually, but there are layers to these characters. This will be a greatly human book, as well as visually exciting. This story is written in a very mature light. It doesn't throw everything at you at once. I respect that. I love that kind of build in stories."
An avid horror aficionado whose personal Blood and Whisky blog is often adorned with photos of his terror-themed oil paintings, Alexander also professed his love of the American western and noted that his work on "Dead Irons" draws inspiration from across the breadth of that genre. "'Appaloosa' was amazing, but 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly' has been playing over and over for me," Alexander said. "All horror influences me. It's the perfect medium for any comics artist. It's a storytelling method that focuses on every shot. Timing and mood are present during every second. That's comics, plain and simple. All that being said, if I could ever create a comic that makes me feel the same way I feel when I watch 'Jacob's Ladder' I'll die happy."
Playing an equally strong role in Alexander's work on "Dead Irons" is Jae Lee, whose art direction involved crafting character designs for the family of monsters, although Lee's aesthetic outlook in general may carry the strongest impact. "I'm a fan of Jae's work," Alexander explained. "His last 'Hellshock' series was one of my favorite books. You could see some true genuine feelings and thoughts coming out in that story. I gravitate to anything that seems genuine, and his work really stood out to me. As he put it, he and I share a lot of the same aesthetics. He's an artist and he trusts my work. So basically he says go nuts. I think we both just like seeing how this thing is coming along."
From early panels Alexander has previewed online, "Dead Irons" is coming along with a violent, messy visual style equal to the drastic drama inherent in the story. Alexander's results are born from a wide variety of techniques and approaches that are culled from his work as a painter while remaining firmly planted in the traditional comic creator's toolbox.
"Primarily, I'm penciling and inking the book, though I work on larger water color stock paper," the artist said of his creative process. "If there is anything more I do that is representative of my personal work is that I still shoot models for my panels to keep things more genuine and interesting for me. Life drawing is key. It helps keep characters more human and unique. I also work with quills, ink, acrylic, white out, charcoal, and razor blades. Anything that helps get the right effect across.
"For coloring, I do a more modern form of the older blue-line method. I print out my pages on water color paper and hand-color them in acrylic paint and scan them, again, to place the line art on top."
But for all the gloom and doom that sweep into the pages of "Dead Irons," Alexander promised entertainment was priority one for the creative team, from the western stalking weirdoes that make up the Irons family to the little people who get caught in the crossfire. "As far as I can tell, right now, humans play the same role as the towns themselves," he said. "They exist, they help give the right atmosphere, and really, they both just get butchered. Again. This is a fun story."
"Dead Irons" #1 goes on sale in February from Dynamite Entertainment.