Klaus Janson – Legendary Creator stops by for a chat!
Today we are honored to have the legendary Klaus Janson on to talk about his career!
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Interview scheduled by Jeffery Haas
Theme music by Ardus and Damn The Cow
Announcer: Nathaniel Perry
Klaus Jansen – INTERVIEW
Jeff: [00:00:00] Hello listeners to sport our country today on the show we have the legend Kloss, Janssen. How’s it going, sir?
Klaus Jansen: Very good. Thanks. Thanks Jeff. Thanks for asking. It’s a great
Jeff: pleasure to have you on the program. I
Klaus Jansen: appreciate that. Thank you.
Jeff: So a question I asked to a lot of my guests as a good first question is I always want to know what got you into the combo industry.
Did you remember the earliest con books that you’ve read?
Klaus Jansen: Well of course, I think any, anybody who’s been doing this for a while remembers, you know, their first comic books and the first comic books that I read where the Superman stuff, that DC was publishing back. And the, if you can believe this in the late fifties, early sixties you know, I came to this country when I was five years old, so I didn’t know how to speak English.
I didn’t know how to read or write and discovering comics was the way that I was able to figure out the language. Oh, wow. So basically I learned how to, how to speak and how to [00:01:00] read and how to write by reading comics. And I think that That left a a very profound, an indelible mark on me in terms of the power of words and pictures you know, together, but mostly about how important visuals are in their ability to communicate.
Jeff: Now, you, you moved here from Germany, is that correct?
Klaus Jansen: That’s right. That’s right, dude.
Jeff: Prior to moving here, were there any common books in Germany that you recall having read?
Klaus Jansen: You know, I don’t think there were any comic books in Germany at all at that time. The, for some reason, Germany really had a very historically has had a very poor publishing record in terms of comic books.
But I never read any comic books before I got here. So that was, there were two things that I discovered when I got here that I really loved comic books was one of them and [00:02:00] orange soda was the other.
Jeff: Yeah. I, I,
Klaus Jansen: I honestly, Jeff, I could not believe orange soda. I mean, it was the, like the most delicious thing I’d ever tasted.
Jeff: Well, that’s how we get people to join or come to our country. We’re like we have our own soda.
Klaus Jansen: Yeah, that’s right.
Jeff: See that it was our, it was our goal the entire time to get you into our country, to work in our comic books for us
Klaus Jansen: to sign. If I had known I would’ve moved earlier
Jeff: well, and I really think it’s cool that you did that. It helped you learn the language by reading comic books, because I think there’s sometimes there’s or for a long time, there was a taboo in having kind of books in the school system.
And I think we’re just beginning to realize how important they are to students learning, to read.
Klaus Jansen: Well, I, I don’t [00:03:00] think there’s any doubt about that, Jeff. I think that that’s a, you hit it right on the head and, and, you know, thankfully I think there are a lot of organizations and a lot of publishing houses that are publishing comic books geared specifically toward, you know, grade school or middle school in hopes that it would get the kids.
I’m more interested in.
Jeff: And, and I, and I think that’s wonderful. I’m actually I’m a high school English teacher and several times I’ve introduced common books to the curriculum for my students and they, they eat it up. I mean, it, it, it’s amazing how quickly they connect with the visuals and the mythology of comic books.
Klaus Jansen: Well, number one, good for you that you’re a high school teacher and my hat is off to you. I don’t know if you know, but I, I teach a an art class at the school of visual arts for college kids and you know, anybody who can stand in front of a class and Try to impart knowledge you know, [00:04:00] you have my undying respect
Jeff: and I have, and you have mine as well, because as I was looking at your, your history and I saw that you did teach for college.
The first thing I was wondering is at that level, what do you think is the biggest obstacles for the novice overcome at that level?
Klaus Jansen: That’s a, that’s a really good question. I one of the things that you know, there are a couple of takeaways I’ve been teaching for a while now. And, and there are a couple of takeaways that I can absolutely confirm.
One of them is that education is good. So, you know, going to school. I had you know, as an example I had I ran into an associate, not really a friend, but somebody that I see regularly, a business kind of relationship. And he asked me, you know, what could I tell his niece?
Who’s 19 about starting on art career. And of course, it’s [00:05:00] always, you know, my niece draws really well and she can draw faces and, and, and, and, and she knows how to use a pencil. And, and I, I tell them, you know, go to school take some summer classes because it’s not about, you know, being able to draw a face.
It’s about understanding the rules and theory of, of, of storytelling and communication and composition and color palettes and balance and harmony and all this stuff. You know, parents are very, or can be very supportive in terms of loving their children and thinking, you know, they are the best artist ever, but without education.
The road ahead is a minefield and the odds are definitely against you. So education is number one and [00:06:00] that education is really good. And the other takeaway that, that, that I’ve learned through very hard experience is that your talent and your ability to draw and your ability to produce work that is, you know, admirable is basically useless unless you have the personality and the drive to succeed.
So a lot of your success, if not, all of it is dependent. Upon your own psychological and emotional makeup. And I’ve seen students come into class that were absolutely brilliant draw ERs, but because of whatever reason, they didn’t have the ambition or they didn’t have the sticktuitiveness or the, or you know, or a thick skin, they couldn’t take criticism.
They failed. And the [00:07:00] ones that have like a a modest ability to draw or a modest approach to, to their talent, but have the ambition and the drive and the ability to see it through no matter what they succeed all the time in the same way that the other half fails all the time. I can put money on it.
And if I had, I would have been a millionaire by now,
Jeff: I really do find that, especially, I mean, even with my students who, some of them do want to be artists that they seem to be under the misconception, that it just kind of happens. That’s assess just comes to you. And I, and I find that troubling to be honest with you.
Klaus Jansen: Well, I, I agree with you, Jeff. I totally agree with you. And I think I don’t know how long you’ve been teaching. How long have you been teaching? About six years. Okay. I’ve been teaching. I got a couple of years on you. I’ve been teaching 30 years. [00:08:00] So I’ve seen the generations. You know, what you’re talking about is a generational profile and I’ve seen the generations change during those 30 years.
This generation in particular, the 18 year olds, the 19 year olds right now do seem to be rather passive. That is disturbing to me too. So I think part of my job is to try to get them to be a little bit more proactive and realize that their fate and their success is in their hands and no one else’s.
Jeff: And I think that’s fantastic. And also something that’s I think about often with artists is that there are those who obviously draw and often do it fantastically well. And, but there’s a lot who don’t understand the story that is storytelling aspect to arts. And I wonder if they’re you think they’re spending [00:09:00] enough time pursuing writing and stories that can help them become better storytellers as artists.
Klaus Jansen: Well, I, I think that’s true and, and no matter, you know, the interesting thing about, you know, contemporary times, so living in 2021, right. Help is everywhere. And you can go on YouTube. You can take summer classes. You, you know, there’s, there’s so much available to young artists that want to succeed, that your personality and your, and your emotional makeup becomes even more important.
Competition is fierce you know, tougher than it’s ever been. But I think that there’s really no excuse for people who want to succeed or want to learn how to draw the, the, the, the mistake that young artists make, or my friend, you know, who has the niece who can draw faces, right? [00:10:00] Is they don’t understand that the theory of storytelling or the, the, the rules of storytelling are so much more important than your ability to draw.
Because the rules of storytelling give you access to the ability to reach another person. In other words, you cannot communicate, you cannot communicate By chaos. There has to be a system. There has to be a methodology, some sort of a structure that allows you to communicate to the reader and this applies to film or applies to TV or any type of visual communication method.
And these rules and these theories about storytelling are, can be difficult [00:11:00] for a underdeveloped mind or, or, you know, and hence education. Mm.
Jeff: And you would say that’s the primary difference? Cause I know there are some artists prefer professional artists and well-known artists who tend to tell them.
How self-taught they are. Do you think what you just mentioned is what is lacking in the self-taught artist versus the academically trained artists?
Klaus Jansen: Well, I think that, you know, self-taught artists can, can be accomplished and, and IX and can be knowledgeable and, and you know, I I’ll use the word good, although, you know, good as like a moral concept, but certainly they.
Achieve a level where they know what they’re doing. But there’s no, it, those self-taught artists are usually successful because of their drive and their ambition and that psychological and emotional makeup that we were talking about. I never went to [00:12:00] school. For instance, I never went to art school, so I’m basically self-taught, but I’m ferociously ambitious and ferociously hungry and curious.
Even at this late age or stage of my life I find myself, I’m always gravitating toward trying to do something new and something different. And I think one of the reasons, you know, and I’m babbling a little bit, but one of the reasons why I’ve lasted for as long as I have, which is almost 50 years now is because of my refusal to.
Ignore what’s happening, you know, in, in, in the medium. And what’s an, and my refusal to to stay still you know, my, my desire to continue to develop is very, very strong.
Jeff: Hmm. Well, and I, as I was reading a little bit about your background, you were actually the assistant to, let me get the guy’s name, Raul gum, Dick Giordano.
Is that correct? [00:13:00] Pronouncing and
Klaus Jansen: pronouncing it. That’s right. Dick you’re down. I was his assistant for about about a year.
Jeff: Yeah. So what did he teach you about the creation of comic books?
Klaus Jansen: Well, first of all, Dick was you know, I met Dick. I took a I I don’t know what you want to call it.
I, I went to DC comics when I was like 17 or 18. On the, on the mistaken premise that they were giving tours on Friday afternoons. And so I showed up Friday afternoon and you know, I, the receptionist asked me, well, what are you here for? And I said you know, I’m here for the tour. And she said, well, they don’t give, we don’t give tours anymore.
And I, I didn’t realize that the tours had been suspended for whatever reason. And. No, I was, I was just crestfallen. I think, you know, I mean the receptionist could see, you know, water building in my eyes, you know, and she said, oh, you know, let, let [00:14:00] me, let me see what I can do. So she, she called in and Jack Miller, who was an editor there at the time who was editing dead man, which I was reading came in came to the to the lobby, to the waiting room and, and took me around.
And I met Neil Adams. I met Carmen Infantino. I met Len Wayne and Marv Wolfman. They were hanging out in the cafeteria. And I met Dick Cuno and Dick Dick recognized my name from all the letters that I had been sending to Charlton comics. And it turned out that he lived in the town, bordering mine in Connecticut.
And we struck up a casual, kind of a friendship and he invited me over to his house to show him my work. And at, at a certain point he decided, and I remember that point. Exactly. When he looked, he looked at a page that I had drawn and he said, this is a good page. And he [00:15:00] said to me, and I remember this moment, you know exactly where we were.
And and of course, cause it was such a pivotal moment. And he said, if you can do one good page, you can do another. And if you can do another, you can do another. And I thought, you know, I still look back on that. And I think what a wonderful thing to say, you know, what. Why is supportive thing to say, it’s exactly what I needed to hear, you know, just to keep going.
And at a certain point, he invited me to be useful and a vitamin to do some backgrounds. And, you know, I learned, I think my style of inking in at least in terms of, you know, that part of my career. Cause I think I also have a penciling career and coloring career on a writing career, but the, in terms of inking, my style is basically Dick Giordano and Tom [00:16:00] Palmer and a little bit of Wally wood.
And you know, a little bit of Steve did go but basically Tom and Dick and, and so I learned about. Line weights from Dick Giordano. I learned about volume and how line weights effect affect form and depth. And I also learned you know, besides the I learned simplicity, which was a very hard thing to learn.
I’m still trying to get a handle on that. And I also learned, you know, the other half of being an artist, which is business. And one of the things that I learned from him was be on time, be reliable, don’t miss your deadlines. That’s a really important part of shaping a career. So he was a credibly supportive and useful and useful.
That sounds so terrible, but I learned so much from him and he still is a. Kind of a [00:17:00] north star for me in a lot of different ways. You know, I learned how to be kind to a younger artists the way he was. And of course, when he became editor in chief at at DC comics, it was my incredible pleasure to be able to see him in the hallway and talk to him and, you know, hang with him.
He was just an enormous, there were, there are three, there are three people or that, that in the industry, as long as I’ve been in the industry that are universally loved Dick Giordano was one of them. No one has anything bad to say about that. He’s just you know, he’s just a just wasn’t incredible person.
Jeff: And I mean, your career is best described as legendary. You’ve had an amazing career. You’re in the Joe, Sinat a hall of fame inkwell hall of fame. As you know, and you’re phenomenal, penciler phenomenal [00:18:00] anchor when and what I always wondered because I’m not much of an artist. I’m more of a writer than an artist.
When I talked to artists about how they conceptualize or approach the a blank page would start working on the page as an anchor. What are you thinking about when you approach a new page to work?
Klaus Jansen: You know, I try to look at the and, and, and Jeff, you know, let me say, and I think you can appreciate this, you know, talking about inking is like talking about, you know, what the color blue looks like.
It’s really hard to grasp and. You know, there was that whole, that old tracer, you know, brouhaha a couple of years back from you know, from what’s his name, his movie.
Jeff: I can’t remember the name of the movie, but I remember the
Klaus Jansen: comment, right? Yeah. But what I try to do is you know, I look at the, I look at the pencils, I studied them.
I try to figure out what I can contribute. In other words, in another way of [00:19:00] saying it is what, what is missing? You know, how, how can I help the pencils? Some of pencils you don’t need a lot. They don’t need any help. Some pencils need more help than others. I think one of the remarkable things about comics that that particular problem highlights is in order to be a good comic book artist, whether you’re an anchor or a penciler you have to think quick on your feet and you have to be able to be adaptable.
You have to be able to say in in different styles if at all possible, you know, if, if you can manage that you know, not every script is going to be the same. You’re not going to approach it the same way when you when you start to pencil, you know, you always look at what are the problems, what are the issues here where I can contribute Yeah.
[00:20:00] And so I look at at the pages, I try to figure out how best to approach it. And usually it comes down to oftentimes the ability to overcome the limitations of the medium which is primarily the inability to show depth. And so oftentimes we can start with that and the ability to show, you know, foreground middle ground background in a clear and concise way to create the illusion of depth, because there is no depth on a piece of paper.
And also volume and form the ability to show one muscle as it, as it descends behind another muscle or you know, clothing. How, how, how do you show lighting, you [00:21:00] know, where’s your light source, you know, how do you create all those things that we take for granted? When we open our eyes and look out into the world, you know, showing a drawing on a piece of paper, it’s not the same as seeing it,
Jeff: you are inking for an artist.
Is it more of a conversation or is it more like a relay race where It’s basically handed over to you and then they’re the artists, the penciler is part of it is done. Or does that conversation where you’re talking to the penciler and discussing how you want to work? It,
Klaus Jansen: it depends, you know, really on the penciler.
I think there are some pencils that, that I’ve worked with, you know, for a long time, like John Romita, Jr, or Frank Miller where the dialogue and Frank will say this also where the dialogue really takes place on paper. And there isn’t any need. And also with John, you know, John and I have worked together a lot.
[00:22:00] And so there isn’t any real need to get on the phone, you know, at that point or, or you know, have a conversation about what, what what we’re going to do. Some counselors need that and, you know, I’m, I’m happy to do that. You know, talk about what’s on their mind, talk about what they’re trying to accomplish.
I think the professor rational penciler usually has some sort of agenda and something that they’re trying to achieve that is worthy of discussion or recognition and, and, and some help, you know, so that, it’s important that, you know, if I could say it’s important that there’s a unified vision.
And if we can get the writer and the penciler and the inker and the colorist on the same page, so to speak pun intended that makes [00:23:00] for a better product or a better book, if you’re, you know, one of the reasons why I started coloring back, back in the day, Was because I would do a lot of lighting effects, you know, a lot of split lighting on faces or shadows or, or you know, fancy kind of stuff.
That, that I was into at that time. And the colorist would go, go against that or didn’t understand lighting or didn’t understand how to use the lighting. So what I was doing was con was being contradicted by the color and that’s bad. Yeah. I would imagine. Yeah, that’s just not going to work. And if you look you know, the evidence is, is, is there in the Daredevil run?
If you look at the daredevils that I colored and compare them to the private. Books that came out that I didn’t color, [00:24:00] there’s a market difference. Even people who don’t understand coloring or palette or, you know, all the things that are attached to coloring, I think can be the, the difference is clear.
You know, it it’s right there on the page. And so I would urge anyone who was interested in evidence, you know, about the unified vision theory take a look at the daredevils, you know, the best daredevils that, that Frank and I did were the ones that Frank and I did together. And, and no one else.
Jeff: I mean, those that Daredevil common books are extremely iconic.
I mean, they’re beautiful common books. They’ve written beautifully. They look beautiful. How, how did that partnership actually start with you?
Klaus Jansen: How did that, what
Jeff: Jeff start the partnership between you and because you guys worked together for quite a while, quite a while has been, it was an amazingly productive partnership,
Klaus Jansen: right?
Well, we met you know, I was doing [00:25:00] Daredevil before Frank came on the book. My, my job was to be the continuity guy because back then people were concerned about continuity and they wanted, or consistency might be a better word. They wanted, you know, Matt Murdock to look like Matt Murdock, every issue, and a Daredevil at that time was a really low selling book.
And they had a lot of rotating and slurs Jean Colin and Bob brown and Carmen and Fantino and Gil Kane. I’m sure I’m forgetting a whole bunch of other artists. And my job literally was to make sure that the characters look the same so that the readers. Can identify them. And that’s part of storytelling, obviously clarity.
And when Frank came on it was kind of, I thought my job was pretty much the same, you know, I didn’t know that Frank was gonna last for three years. You know, I thought maybe, okay. You know, [00:26:00] three issues like everybody else. But then we started to I think we really started to click and started to.
Realized that in a lot of ways we were thinking about the same thing we had the same ideas or the same. We both loved film war. We loved graphic black and white composition. And we, you know, I, I I was hanging with Frank last weekend we, we had a Memorial day barbecue and yeah, it’s so we w we dragged him out and, and, and, and I, I don’t think Frank ever told me this, but he, he said, cause we were talking about if, if you aren’t doing what you’re doing now, what would you be doing?
And Frank told me that when he was a kid. He took one of those aptitude tests that were so prevalent back then. I don’t think they do that anymore. [00:27:00] But his the suggestion that the test revealed for his career path was architect. And I thought that’s really interesting because he’s so into spatial relationships, he’s all about positive space, negative space comp composing.
And so, you know, in a lot of ways I feel the same way. I love architecture. I love drawing buildings. I love the New York city. Skyscape I love Gotham. I love drawing Gotham. So in, in a lot of different ways, we seem to have the same interests and. I think that the two of us formed a, our third entity that was better than both of us individually and that that’s a rarity.
That’s not something that happens all the time. And I think we both [00:28:00] appreciate that even now. So yeah.
Jeff: And I mean, th that like to runoff Daredevil, and obviously later with Frank Miller as well, the dark Knight returns, those two stories and, and run for Daredevil were, are so iconic, so impactful to so many people and they were so influential.
At the time you were doing them, did they feel that way to you? Or is it only in retrospect? You’re like, oh, you know what? They really were, as, you know, as big and special as they now feel to
Klaus Jansen: you know? I think that you know, at the time, especially Daredevil, I’ll say this about Daredevil, you know, it was a monthly book and there were, we, we just kind of, sort of threw everything we knew.
Against the wall and and, and to see if it would work or to see if, yeah, to see if it would work really. And some of the issues, it just didn’t [00:29:00] work. You know, I mean, I can point to a handful or a couple that, that you know, we’re not, not as good as the others for instance, but I don’t think any, anyone could have predicted either with Daredevil or, or dark night that they would maintain interest 35 years later or 40 years later.
That’s a, that’s a very hard thing to. Kind of predict and, and I’ll, I know DC certainly didn’t understand that with dark night because dark night was unique at the time. It was and I learned this a, a while ago, which I still you know, I’m amazed at dark night was the first comic book that ever went to a second printing.
Oh, wow. I didn’t know that. Yeah. I didn’t know that either. And, and you realize, oh [00:30:00] yeah. You know, it really was a something very, very unique and something that no one was prepared for. Right. I mean, whoever thought that a comic book would go back to a second printing, let alone the last 35 years. So it was not a predictable, but I will tell you that The one thing that we very much, I think, or at least I was very much aware of was trying to push the envelope, especially on Daredevil and having fun.
You know, it was a very fast moving series of books, you know, is a monthly book, especially after it went monthly. So it was a, you know, it was like a a roller coaster I really was. And it was great. Fun. Great, great, great fun.
Jeff: Well, I mean the dark night, one of the thing that made the dark night returned so famous is that [00:31:00] it represented such a Titanic shift in how people viewed Batman and in very real sense, Superman as well.
What did you think when you first saw those pages? Were you. I’m concerned about how the different view of banner, what do you think is yourself? That’s the Batman you always kind of wanted to see what was your first reaction to seeing it or to a script anyway?
Klaus Jansen: Yeah, I think that it was, I was pretty impressed with the, with the character w well, you know, I’ll finish my thought.
I was really impressed with the characterization of the of Batman and Superman. I loved the fact that it was just different. And the idea of, you know, an old Batman coming out of retirement which, you know, 35 years later that’s sort of been done to death. No, but at the time it was really a unique and new concept and I, I think I was just [00:32:00] really in awe and, and deeply appreciative of what Frank was doing.
And then I, I think I was so, so involved or so focused. I think that’s the word I was so focused on the pencils. I’m just trying to do a good job and, and weigh in different approaches. And I think the whole first issue was for me an experimentation in terms of, you know, what tools I was going to use or how I was going to approach the inking.
I think the first 20 pages I did almost all in brush. And then the last half I did in pen or a combination of pen and brush or nib by pen, I mean a nib. So I was an X, which is usually my process, by the way, you know, I try different things. I try to see what I can how best to serve the pencils.
And that’s really the [00:33:00] job of the inker, serving the pencils making the pencils as good as you possibly can.
Jeff: So for our listeners who like myself who are not artists are very, or maybe not very art savvy, what. I thoughts are when, when you’re changing, you said from brush to the nib and so forth, what is the thought process to that change?
And why would you move to these, to the other instruments? For those of us who don’t understand art very well?
Klaus Jansen: Well, sometimes it’s just a completely practical for instance, a practical concern might be you can’t quite get the, like a small figure a small figure or a small head. But certainly a small figure, you know, background figures or a down shot where the figures are small or a crowd shop it’s I think it’s, it’s better to use a pen.
Nib because there’s a little bit more control and you can define the outline of the figures and you can get the detail of their faces. I think [00:34:00] more accurately with the pen. And this is, you know, small figures, just from a practical point of view and a brush, you know, a brush is much more versatile and I can get a, a a whole range of different types of lines with a brush.
You know, thick line thin line lines with a hook at the end lines that are dead lines that have some vibrancy to it. And then there’s also backgrounds, you know, I don’t do straight lines, you know, buildings with a brush. I will do them with a pen because the pen is much more of a, you have more control over a pen, a nib, and you have the ability to use a ruler much more effectively than a brush.
So those are some practical considerations, but also you know, a lot of consideration has to be given to The [00:35:00] type of feathering you want to do. Are you going, you know, usually if it’s a small figure in the background, you don’t need a lot of volume. You don’t need a lot of variety in terms of line weight, you know, you want to have that stuff recede into the background.
So there’s a whole host of you know, and I’m, and I’m, I’m doing an inadequate job, I think, of, of describing it, but there’s a whole array of reasons why sometimes, you know, sometimes I’ll take a pen and because it’s, it’s the end of a long day and I’m tired. And so, you know, a pen and I’ll tell myself, well, you know, it’s, I’ve still got another hour or an hour and a half to work and I’m really beat.
Let’s do some background. You know, let’s do some straight lines. And, and and so, you know, you pick up the nib and you use it you know, at that occasion. So there’s lots of different reasons, but I appreciate your question, Jeff. I really do. It’s. Yeah, it’s a, [00:36:00] it’s a hard thing to describe. But I’m trying my best so, well, I greatly appreciate it.
Jeff: I always like hearing, talking to someone like yourself, it’s basically a masterclass in learning the art of comic books. And I was, I’m always fascinated by it, but she goes personally, I don’t have a great wealth of knowledge on art because I’m not an artist. So hearing it. Spoken to something by someone like yourself is I think extremely important.
I think it’s good for listeners as well, who may want to go into art?
Klaus Jansen: Well, I, and I agree with you, Jeff and I, and you know, this, this allows, this gives me a second to, to, to say something that, that, that I, I tell my students, or I tell anybody that you know, is willing to listen to me. Doing producing a comic book is a very complicated and difficult complex undertaking and producing a comic book.
That’s good is almost impossible. [00:37:00] It’s there’s so many things that go into it. And there are so many things as a result of that, that can go wrong, that, you know, for a comic book, like the Watchmen or a dark light, you know, to last as long as it has is really nothing short of a small miracle. It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s a difficult thing to do.
And hence if I, if I could use the word hence, but you know, the difficulty within that difficulty lies, enjoyment and challenge and, and success sometimes failure, but it’s, it’s, it’s that challenge that keeps, I think me going and I’m sure a lot of other artists going,
Jeff: I would think so. I mean, if, if it was easy, I doubt it.
Enjoyment from doing it well,
Klaus Jansen: yes, that’s right. And, and honestly, if it were easy, everybody would be doing it. [00:38:00] Yeah,
Jeff: exactly. There, there, there would be no point of having the podcast cause everyone would be in an artist. Yeah.
Klaus Jansen: I think we may be getting to that point, by the way,
Jeff: maybe. I mean, there’s obviously the digital artists as well, maybe more helpful to some people.
But I will say no matter how things changed, I still suck as an artist, but personally
Klaus Jansen: that’s perfectly fine.
Jeff: So one thing I always wonder about, especially in reading the dark Knight returns and your, your other comics as well, but you start to get returns on an example, when you’re inking Batman, you’re Incan, Robin drinking Superman, does your approach to inking change with the character.
Klaus Jansen: Yes. You know, there was a point in in dark night when Batman was in the in the mud pit when I tried to ink Batman differently than the mutant leader. And you know, I’m sure that nobody would notice that. But you know, I, I gave it a shot. I probably used a [00:39:00] different tool on Batman that I used on the mutant leader.
But you know, the interesting thing about storytelling, whether it’s visual storytelling or writing, or laying out a page or composing or inking or coloring or any of that stuff, storytelling is best absorbed by not noticing it. If you notice. And it calls attention to itself. That’s not good storytelling.
So good storytelling is something that, you know, you wouldn’t necessarily notice on a conscious level. Did my attempt to ink Batman and the mutant leader in in, by using different tools or in a different style. Did that work? Who knows? But I think, you know, on a, on a subconscious level, it probably had some effect So I think that’s an important thing to [00:40:00] to emphasize, you know, if you, if you see the moving parts and you see the storytelling that’s not necessarily efficient or economical, but efficient storytelling, you know, it’s, you don’t want to draw attention to anything other than the story.
That’s, that’s your job. Your job is to tell the story and anything that gets in the way of that or pulls the reader out is probably something that you’d have to reconsider. Now. Having said that I love detail. I love backgrounds. I love. You know, special effects. I like Zippitone, I love crosshatching.
I love line work. So I know that about myself and I know that, you know, I have to moderate that and not overdo it, but I also believe in that the artist should produce work [00:41:00] that gives the reader something to look at, you know, something to fall into. And, and some of the comics I read as a kid you know, my mouth would just hang open at the amount of detail or the amount of the effect that, you know, this, this certain panel was able to achieve or lighting or something, you know, but I’m not talking as a civilian, you know, I’m talking as an artist.
So I, I noticed these things, but I do think. No, we should give the reader something to admire something, something that pleases them, something that gives them.
Jeff: And there’s so many images in the dark Knight returns. I mean, I, when I talk to you, I keep using the the word iconic, but so much of your work is iconic.
And the images from that, the document returns are so iconic and are so ingrained. I think in the memories [00:42:00] of the fans who have read it, and it’s kind of sticks with you. I wouldn’t have seen an infant in particular that really stuck with me. There’s a scene where an issue to have dark Knight returns of a Batman is holding a body wrapped in the American flag.
Do you know what you meant? I’m talking about by any chance? Sure, of course. Yeah. Yeah. And it was, I mean, that image it’s just like burns in my memory as being such a strong image. Not only because it’s Batman holding the fight the way he’s holding it, but you have the guns still smoking, you know, hanging out.
Do you remember. How you approach that page because it led to me that just was an amazing image.
Klaus Jansen: I don’t think I approached it any differently. I mean, I, I know that on the splash pages, you know, that, that page and you know, the early pages with Batman and Carrie Kelly leaping into the sky, what got them in the bed, you know, on the below the, that kind of stuff.
I really paid extra attention to obviously, you know, [00:43:00] it’s a splash page and, and covers are important, you know, and that falls into the category of, you know, trying to give the readers something to look at and give them a pause, you know, make them slow down, make them make them Treasured that moment and give them a pause before the story continues.
And that’s about, you know, storytelling that’s about manipulating the audience. And I give Frank you know, all the credit in the world, you know, that, that, that, that image that you described, what the flag and the gun you know, that’s Frank and, and he has the ability to produce images that are simple and direct and incredibly effective.
And that’s, that’s an example of one. And
Jeff: like I said, I think as our listeners all want to thank you for how amazing of a product you produce with Daredevil and dark Knight returns, they were, I mean, and a [00:44:00] lot of, a lot of your other work. And one thing I read recently, cause I, I follow you on on Twitter is you’re actually have a new volume of another project.
Your work on co sacred creatures. Is that correct? Yeah.
Klaus Jansen: Yes, that’s right. Yeah. Set. Good creatures is a project that my collaborator and I published on Monday. We produced the first volume a couple of years ago. At image and we’re hard at work on producing the second volume. Now we’re about halfway through it’s been a real labor of love.
I think that being involved in a project from the very beginning is very different than, you know, hopping on doing, you know, a run on Spiderman or the Avengers or, or whatever. And I’ve learned a lot, I’ve learned a tremendous amount. But yeah, we’re working on the second volume of sacred creatures and there is, there’s, you know, there’s more news attached to the project.
But you know, I don’t want to jinx it or, or [00:45:00] reveal anything at this point, but it’s, it’s been a very interesting. Experience and we certainly hope to take it further. I’m also working on a, a, a creator on book with another writer. Again, I can’t, I can’t mention it, but or mentioned the writer, but because not everything has not all the T’s and I’s have been dotted and crossed, but I think the future is probably you know, create our own books and a less mainstream product and more personal.
Jeff: When, when it is time for you to announce those things, I do hope at some point you come back on the show to discuss those as well. Would that be possible?
Klaus Jansen: Hopefully, oh, Jeff. I’d love to. I think of course, you know, any, any, any, any opportunity to promote you know, sacred creatures or anything else I’d be happy to it.
You’ve been you’ve been very kind and a good interviewer. I appreciate
Jeff: that. Oh, thank you so much. If you don’t mind. I do want to ask a couple of questions [00:46:00] about sacred creature before, before you go. Sure. Of course. Yeah. So, well, I guess one question I think at some listeners would be wondering about so there is a gap between the first volume and the second.
So why, like, why was, was there that gap?
Klaus Jansen: Well, the simply from a, you know, practical point of view Because the book doesn’t make any money. You know, there’s no art dealers, there’s no money up front. All the money is on the backend and both Pablo and I have you know, bills.
Jeff: No, that’s a no, that’s a totally fair as someone who does my, I do my own.
I’m a writer for my third spot in econ books. And I will tell you, I agree with you a hundred percent. The bills are not easy to overcome when you’re trying to do a project. Yeah. They, they,
Klaus Jansen: you know, that, that the funny thing about bills is they just don’t stop. They just keep on, you know, they keep on coming in.
I know Bob, I know Pablo has, you know, his, his bills that you know, whatever, whatever he’s got to deal with. And I certainly have mine. And so, you [00:47:00] know, just from a practical point of view and also honestly, if, you know, in my case If a D C offers you a run on action comics with John Romita, Jr. The tendency is to say, yeah, I want to work with John.
I’m not going to pass that up. Or recently I did a an eight pager for the DC pride issue. That’s coming up next week that I’ve penciled in ink. So, you know, I’m like the king of eight pages. You, you asked me to do eight pages, man. I love eight pages. You know, it begins, it has a middle and it has an end and I can do it in a relatively short amount of time.
So you get, you get you get distracted. But yeah, we’re, I think both of us, you know, I can’t speak for Pablo, but I would say that I think both of us would love to have the book out as quickly as possible. Of course,
Jeff: I hope so. Like I said, the first volume was phenomenally done. Can for listeners who are not familiar [00:48:00] with sacred creatures, do you mind giving a short
Klaus Jansen: pitch?
Sure. Yeah, I’d love to. Thanks, Jeff. The sacred creatures refers to basically the seven deadly sins and their opposing virtues. So, it’s the seven deadly sins made flesh and the fact that they’ve been on earth for millennia. And have affected and prodded and shaped lives throughout history.
So Pablo’s doing the contemporary story which involves a a young man named Josh and his wife and his his child. And I’m doing the flashbacks, which gives the backstory of how this, how the sacred creatures, how the seven deadly sins. Formed into the story that takes place in the contemporary story.
And I find that, that format a really compelling, I think, you know, I mentioned I’m working on another project, another creator on project with [00:49:00] with a writer that I can’t mention, but we’re, we’re also doing flashbacks and you know, contemporary story. And I want to do the flashbacks in black and white and do the contemporary story in color.
I just liked that, you know, that vibe, that kind of hopefully, you know, it looks a little different, it gives the book a different feel to it. Yeah. I think when Pablo and I came up with the idea of, you know, doing different timelines With, you know, different artists being, he and I I was sold on that, you know, just, just by that.
Jeff: So when, when you were deciding how you would divvy up the contemporary versus the the past of the flashbacks, how did you decide that it was going to be you who handled the flashbacks versus Pablo doing the flashbacks?
Klaus Jansen: I had a busier schedule and so the flashbacks are shorter and I was completely practical from that point of view.
Jeff: the [00:50:00] equal eight pages. Now,
Klaus Jansen: if only Jeff,
Jeff: well, one thing I loved about how you handle the past season, and it seemed like your style was perfect for it. There’s such a, a primal feel and rawness to those ancient, the, the, the flashbacks are ancient time scenes, that it was very amazing. And I kind of. Your art to seem perfect for those moments.
Klaus Jansen: I, I, I think that’s very kind and generous of you, Jeff.
I really appreciate that. I think, you know, what, what, you’re, what you know, the other reason why I wanted to do the flashbacks besides the fact that it was shorter, you know, was that it was not a time period or a. Yeah. It was not something that I’m generally associated with you know, ancient Rome or Greece or, or, or, you know, an island in the south Pacific.
So, you know, 2000 years ago I’m generally [00:51:00] associated with, you know, buildings and Gotham and New York and, and, and that kind of a film noir kind of stuff. And doing sacred creatures where the storyline, where my storyline takes place in the past is a challenge. It’s a challenge for me. It it’s, it’s not something that I’m incredibly.
Comfortable with in the sense that I can just slip right into it. You know, I need to do a lot of reference. I need to do a lot of research. I need to design the characters, which hopefully I’m getting better. So there’s a lot of you know, a lot of different reasons for it making any one decision as I’m sure.
Jeff: And, and I, and I, and I think the contrast between your art and Pablo’s, I think is perfect for the story and what I think, and they feel like they convey such a different feel to each time, period.
Klaus Jansen: Well, thank you. I really appreciate that. I, and Jeff, I appreciate the [00:52:00] fact that you read it. I appreciate the fact that you picked it up and I appreciate you letting me talk about it.
It’s a very kind of you I very much appreciate it. And that was, you know, that was what Pablo and I were trying to do. So I’m glad that you got it, you know, and that sense that we’re trying to individually rate the two storylines by using I think very different styles. I think Pablo’s work and my own is not similar.
You know, there’s some overlap, I guess, in terms of thinking, but his is mostly digital for instance, I think it’s all digital and mine is still mostly traditional.
Jeff: So when I’m taker creatures volume two is ready to come out and the new creator owned project, please come back to the show. I would really enjoy talking to you about both.
It was a, it was a great pleasure talking to you, sir.
Klaus Jansen: Well, Jeff, I really appreciate it. And the feeling is mutual. I had a great time. Am I I very much appreciate your attention [00:53:00] and, and, and your your kindness, your generosity. Thanks,
Jeff: Jeff. It was my honor. And have a fantastic night, sir. Yes, I will be back
Klaus Jansen: indeed.