10 Questions for Hal Jones

Hal Jones is the creator of the web-comic Beyond Human (see it here). His other work includes Tales of Terror #10 (Eclipse Comics), Alternate Heroes #1 (Prelude Graphics), Jungle Comics featuring Sheena: Queen of the Jungle (Blackthorne Comics). He lives in Alabama.

Question 1: When did you first decide that you wanted to create your own comics for a living?

When I was ten years old.

Question 2: Who has had the biggest influence on you outside the comics industry, and how did they affect your life?

My mother. She made me who I am, but next to her, my father. They both had profound influence in my life socially as well as psychologically. I know it seems a little obvious, but that’s really the answer.

Question 3: Who has had the biggest influence on your comics career, and how has that person changed your work?

My wife, Kelly, by allowing me space and time to dedicating to my art. Frank Frazetta. Exposure to his work opened a whole new world of comics and influences. Almost equally, I would say Neal Adams. At one time I tried to own everything he ever did.

Question 4: What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?

I play and write music, relax around the house and chill out. I live in the hills in the middle of the woods, so it’s like living in a retreat.

Question 5: Describe your typical work routine.

Typically it’s “work as you can”, basically meaning that whether I’m home, or whether I’m at my job as a security guard/graphic artist for a women’s transitional facility, The Lovelady Center, I’m continually looking for an opportunity to get some work, or networking, or vendor business, or something related to my bringing Beyond Human out into the open for people to see, I do.

Question 6: What writing, drawing, or other tools do you use?

I produce 90% of my page work at home. The story has been written for years, and exists in an edited form, so I’m following that loosely, but reinterpreting the story as I go. I use 5.5 x 8.5 roughs for my breakdowns which are then scanned, lettered and printed out in cyan. I then pencil and ink the pages and rescan for future publication and for publication on the web. I pencil with HBs or #2s and .5 mechanical pencil. I ink with a combination of Pentel Permanent ink Permaroller Golds for basic line work with a #2 Series 7 Winsor & Newton brush for blacks and refinement. When working “the old fashioned way” I would redraw the roughs at 11 X 17 in an 10 X 15 image area in blue pencil and then refine pencils, letter and ink over those.

Question 7: What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction?

Usually the writing. Because it’s easiest for me. Making artwork is hard business and you really have to work you’re way through it to get it right. Writing, on the other hand, expresses creativity directly with words, which we speak everyday. And it’s like a trip to a fantasy world where you’re watching all these things you are recording unfold. At least that is how it is for me.

Question 8: What has been the most rewarding project in your professional career – in or out of comics – and why?

I think my ongoing work at The Lovelady Center is actually the most rewarding thing I’ve done in my life in terms of feeling good about doing it. The work of that place is incredible and life-changing for hundreds of women at a time.

Question 9: We’ve all met very talented newcomers who are trying to get their first professional projects. What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard given to a promising new creator?

Have copies ready to give to an editor. I once missed a real opportunity because I didn’t have copies of something with me for Dick Giordano. He was practically promising myself and my inker, William Traxtle, that he would show our stuff around once he got back to New York, and we weren’t ready.

Question 10: Time to get philosophical: What’s the most important “big idea” that you’ve learned in life – in or out of comics – and why is it important?

That Jesus Christ is Lord and God of all, that it is His essence flowing through this world by His Spirit that wrought what good we see, and the truth that He is not unmindful of the wicked and all they do. He isn’t unmindful of Satan’s oppression over mankind. He’s returning soon and I think we should be mindful of that.

On a more practical level, I can say that seeing Christ and his followers in typical post modern entertainment is generally not as accurate as they have been depicted in the past, and yet I see more hunger for things spiritual in this generation over any I have before. Seeing more of that in a natural sense, more Christianity juxtaposed against the reality of the world as well as worlds of fiction, would be good.