There's a reason why the chairs at CrossGen have wheels on them, and the art staff is proving it with a spate of new shifts and hires that will see new faces on old titles, old faces on new titles and one good guy who is just plain giving it a rest for a little while. The end result will see some changes on the art teams for SOJOURN and SCION, as well as additions to the ranks of our full-time relief squad.
The changes are:* As of issue # 13, the new art team for SOJOURN will consist of regular penciler Greg Land and new inker Jay Leisten and former SCIONcolorist Justin Ponsor.
* SOJOURN inker Drew Geraci will be taking on the role of full-time relief inker.
* For SCION, the new team will be regular penciler Jim Cheung, regular inker Don Hillsman II, and new colorist Jason Keith.
* And finally, SOJOURN colorist Caesar Rodriguez, who has been with CrossGen since Day One and has colored a monthly book just about every month of CrossGen's existence (from the first issues of SCION to the regular run of SOJOURN), will be taking a well-earned leave of absence to tend to some family matters on the West Coast.
First, CrossGen has hired inker Jay Leisten. Leisten will begin inking Greg Land's pencils on SOJOURN starting with #13, and current SOJOURN inker Drew Geraci will be taking a break from his long-standing partnership with Greg Land to become a full-time relief inker for CrossGen. He is currently inking the relief issues penciled by June Brigman for SOJOURN and MERIDIAN.
"I've been working with Greg for a long time, both here and at DC," said Geraci. "It's been a productive relationship for us both, and for me, it's just time for a change of pace. A lot of artists in the freelance world stay fresh by switching projects, and the great thing about CrossGen is that I can change teams without changing loyalties. And judging by what I've seen of Jay Leisten's inks so far, Greg's in really good hands."
Taking over the inking chores of SOJOURN is Jay Leisten. Leisten came to CrossGen from Top Cow where he served as an in-house inker working on projects like 'Midnight Nation', 'Felon', 'Tomb Raider Journeys', and 'Fathom'.Previous to that he worked on 'Mutant X' for Marvel. Leisten is a long-time friend of Greg Land, meeting him while Greg was working on 'Nightwing' for DC.After all that time, Leisten now gets the chance to ink Land.
"In my mind, Greg is one of the best pencilers in the industry, but he's also one of my best friends, so for me, this is a dream gig," noted Leisten. "Working at CrossGen is definitely less hectic than freelancing, and I like being able to work so closely with the whole art team. There is definitely a strong team dynamic here."
Justin Ponsor moves over to take the coloring reigns of SOJOURN. Current Colorist Caesar Rodriquez is taking an extended leave of absence to head back to his home in California to address some family issues that have arisen in his absence. Rodriguez will remain in California and should return to CrossGen in the future. Ponsor's move over to CrossGen's best-selling title allows newcomer Jason Keith an opportunity to color one of CrossGen's more successful titles.
"I would have to say I have slightly mixed emotions about the change," said Ponsor. "I'm excited because, having been a freelancer, I was accustomed to working over different artists on a monthly basis and changing projects frequently, and those changes would always juice me up a bit. It constantly forced me to re-examine what I was doing, and that's a great journey for an artist. I think that working with Greg and Jay on SOJOURN is going to havethe same effect on me. I'm sad because I will miss working with Jimmy and Don on SCION, as I feel my work with them represents some of the best I've ever done. Hopefully, working on SOJOURN, I can continue to improve over what I've accomplished at CrossGen so far."
The youngest and newest member of the CrossGen staff, Jason Keith comes to CrossGen from Hi-Fi Colour and Design where he served as art director for the past three months and colorist for the past nine months. While at Hi-Fi, Keith worked on titles for Marvel ('New X-Men', 'Uncanny X-Men', 'Doom Returns'), Image ('G.I. Joe', 'Micronauts', 'Violent Messiahs'), and Chaos! Comics ('Lady Death'), as well as for toy company Mattel on the Transformers and He-Man lines, including coloring a He-Man comic book to be packaged exclusively for Target.
"I got hired so quickly, I really didn't have time to get too excited about it," said Keith. "Bart [Sears] just told me on the phone about a week ago that I would be coloring SCION, and that was my favorite book, so that got me jazzed. Other than that, I basically had enough time to sign the agreement, pack my stuff and get out here. The ironic part of all this is that the coloring samples I sent to Hi-Fi that got me my first professional coloring job in comics were pages from SCION. Now here I am taking it on formyself."
Rounding out the latest hires is inker Roland Paris. Paris has been hired to work as a relief inker, currently working over the pencils of Al Rio on MYSTIC and Lee Moder on SCION. Paris' past credits include Purgatori: The Hunted for Chaos!, a cover and several pin-ups for Image and pre-Ultraverse work for Malibu.
"After freelancing and bouncing around doing different day jobs in art and graphic design, it's nice to be in a studio atmosphere where I can work with people on a regular basis and sponge a little bit off of all the experience from the people who work here," said Paris.
CrossGen Publisher and CEO Mark Alessi wanted to be sure all CrossGen's fans understood that the creative moves were made for the benefit of those involved.
"When we first launched CrossGen, creative changes were seen as a negative,"Alessi commented. "Now I believe we are passed that stage. The most important thing to this company is its employees and their happiness. When one of our people requests a change or needs to handle family issues, we try to accommodate them as best we can. CrossGen is like a family; a continuously growing family, but one nonetheless. Because of this, I want to let Caesar and his family know that we wish them the best and we will all miss them. We hope to have him back as soon as possible."