Greg Horn shows "J.U.D.G.E." To Online Jury

He's got his entire Image Comics miniseries in the can, and the solicitation through Previews is underway. So Greg Horn, creator of this spring's "J.U.D.G.E." has had a little time on his hands recently.

So he's been roaming the Internet, showing off his new series and trying to build enthusiasm for the new project by a virtual unknown. And, he says, it's been going well.

"The reaction has been overwhelming as just about everyone I've talked to says they'll pick up a copy and every news agency I've talked to has been totally behind the project," Horn told the Comic Wire on Wednesday. "I'm getting e-mails from people I haven't heard from in awhile."

And there have been more than a few fans who've responded enthusiastically to the lead character in the series, who's modeled after Horn's own girlfriend.

"Yeah, she's a cutey. But very down to earth. I think she has been taken aback by all the attention her character portrayal has received. She's a bit shy."

Horn's equally enthusiastic about his comic, which has been a long time coming.

"'J.U.D.G.E.' is a concept I've been cooking up for about five years now. I wanted to tell a tale that is epic and unique. The story behind 'J.U.D.G.E.' concerns an immense historical back story which will delve into many inconceivable events of the past, coming full circle by the last chapters.

"'J.U.D.G.E.' has apocalyptic implications, but not in the way you have experienced before. This epic is going to end in a manner that will shock even the most battle-worn comic readers. It's going to be great! The other story will revolve around the lead character, Victoria Grace, who is about as atypical as heroines come. She is an extremely complex character with a full range of emotions and a bizarre skew on life that you have never encountered before. I can't tell you any more without giving the climax of the first chapter away, but I believe you'll find her very interesting.

"Artistically, I have always wanted to do an airbrushed comic book, but knew it could not be done because of the time consuming process involved. When Jim Hudnall helped me pick out my first computer, the idea really started to gain some momentum. With a computer there is no paint to mix, no masks to cut, and no tedious needle cleaning. Your time is cut in half."

Even with the powerful computers available in 1999, when most fans hear that an artist is using a computer in the artistic process for anything other than coloring or lettering, they get wary. They ain't seen nothin' yet, according to Horn.

"'J.U.D.G.E. is totally different from previous computer aided books because it is still mostly hand-painted (like a normal painted book). I use the capabilities of the computer mainly for speed, color correction, compositioning, and comparison. I use 3-D only on backgrounds and all my renders are painted over so they won't look like everybody else's computer generated 'art.'

"The computer rendered books I have seen in the past were done with 3-D modelers and … the human figures usually looked stiff and awkward. There are two other drawbacks to 3-D, the first being facial expressions which tend to be placid and never extreme. I guess you could keep the heroes in masks all the time. The second and most destructive drawback is the fact that every 3-D artist's output looks exactly the same because the computer renders the final 'art' (not the artist). I think 3-D books will do well until the novelty wears off. But, sooner or later, technology will overcome the drawbacks mentioned above - maybe sooner than we think. Then 3-D comics will be huge and maybe even mainstream!"

As you might expect, Horn doesn't have the typical comic artist background, having "worked in the past as a muralist on low-riders, boats, and airplanes. I've done some tattoo work also."

But the rise in computer art does prompt the question of whether someday, anyone with the right computer software might be able to produce a comic that looks like "J.U.D.G.E."

"No, there is a lot of artistic skill involved. Anyone who could turn out work like this would have to be a pretty accomplished airbrush artist and would certainly have developed their own style. The computer doesn't make this particular art style any easier, just faster and way more efficient. The process is also extremely time-consuming. The artist will have to take a risk in a volatile marketplace that may not reward him. Since the book is painted, many retailers may assume that the artist is going to be late. This is why I took the extra risk of finishing all three books before solicitation.

"I DO believe that there will be a lot of people who are not necessarily artists attempting 3-D books which requires no painting skill what-so-ever. They will have to be a good model maker and mathematician, however. Nothing good is ever easy."

Considering that all three issues of the first "J.U.D.G.E." miniseries are already finished and in the can, what's Horn doing now?

"I'll be taking a small break for marketing purposes and I will start on the next chapter as soon as possible. … When I started 'J.U.D.G.E.', I didn't know anything about computers or marketing! Now I know exactly what needs to be done … It's all in my head."

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