'Sinful' Talk With Klaus Janson About Sacred Creatures

The is Comic Creators Speak, where I feature guest essays by or interviews with comic creators that I admire - BC

This Wednesday, the first trade paperback of Pablo Raimondi and Klaus Janson's creator-owned Image Comics series, Sacred Creatures, is due out.

I talked to Klaus about the series. Pablo supplied some awesome sample artwork from the series, that I've peppered into the article.

BC: For those readers who haven’t picked up the individual issues, why don’t you tell us what Sacred Creatures is about?

Klaus Janson: Sacred Creatures is about the Seven Deadly Sins. They belong to a race of super-human beings called the Nephilim, who have been around since the beginning of time, manipulating mankind behind the scenes. The Sins have been kept in check by Naviel, an angel in human form who’s been left on Earth to monitor them. The story begins when the Sins successfully manipulate Josh Miller, a college grad kid who’s about to become a father, into murdering Naviel. That’s when all hell breaks lose.

The trade paperback is a big book- the page count clocks in at 336 pages.

KJ: Yeah. Even though the first arc was only 6 issues, all of those issues were oversized, with a couple of them going as high as 64-66 pages. That makes for a hefty book, double the size of regular trade paperbacks these days. It truly feels like reading a small novel, and it’s an impressive book!

Was it always the plan that you would draw the past sequences in the book?

KJ: No. We had considered hiring another artist, but, honestly, I became a little possessive of the characters and ideas and kind of insisted that I draw the back story. Another perk of the creator owned comic!

How long do you have Sacred Creatures planned out?

KJ: We have enough material for 4 or 5 trades, and we’re well into the second volume already.

You're a big advocate for "storytelling" in comics and you specifically talk in the comic about how you appreciate that about Pablo's work. Could you speak a bit about the importance and/or responsibility of the artist as a "storyteller”?

KJ: I think what Pablo is doing is amazing. Storytelling involves having standards by which one can judge whether or not the storyteller is successful. There are actual real criteria involved in evaluating comic book art: is the information communicated clearly, does the reader know where the characters are in relation to the environment and the other characters, is the environment established, does information flow from one panel to the next, etc. It's a longer conversation then we have space for but we have to remember that storytellers are reporters and obligated to show who, what, where, and when on every page at all times. The way we choose to do it separates those that succeed and those that fail and certainly Pablo is very successful with his work.

This is your first creator-owned book, isn’t it?

KJ: It is. I was intrigued by the opportunity to play in a sandbox where we had no boundaries other than our own standards. I think it's tough to produce a comic that can stand the test of time. So many moving parts and so much can go wrong! But I have to say I'm extremely proud of both the series and the trade.

Your first work for Marvel was lettered by Tom Orzechowski, who lettered this comic, as well. That's 45 years ago. Do you ever take a moment to reflect on how cool it is not only still be working in comics after 45 years, but to still be working with some of the same guys that you started with all those decades ago?

KJ: Yes, I deeply appreciate the people that I've worked with over that time. I had a blast revisiting my working relationship with Frank Miller on DK3 as well as starting a new working relationship with Andy Kubert and Brian Azzarello.. The New Challengers just came out with Andy on pencils so I feel I made another friend for life. I'm currently inking Nightwing over a super new guy, Chris Mooneyham, and hope that will last awhile. Working on Sacred Creatures with Pablo is another one of those working relationships that I hope will last a life time, So yes, it's great to work with people you know but just as good to make art with new people!

Finally, also going to the past, you broke into comics as one of the late, great Dick Giordano's assistants. What's the best lesson you ever learned from him?

KJ: Dick was an extremely talented, supportive and generous individual. I learned so much from him and too much to recount here. He taught me much about art but more about how to be a responsible and giving human being.

Sacred Creatures Vol. 1, ‘A Mixture of Madness’, is published by Image Comics, and it comes out May 23rd.

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