Kenric had the pleasure to sit down and chat with the incredible artist J H Williams III (who John isn’t at all jealous at his level of art)!
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Here is your transcript. ~ Steve The Robot.
JH Williams III – Interview
[00:00:00] Kenric: Hey guys, welcome back. We’re just going to get right into it. You’ve already heard some, some ramblings from J H and myself.
And just so you guys know who we’re talking to, which I think you could probably figure it out if you paid attention, but J H Williams the third, thank you so much for joining us here in support of the country.
JH Williams III: Thanks for having me.
Kenric: Yeah. So we’re just talking about passion, how people got into things. And, you know, we had a guy on a, you might’ve heard of him.
He started image Eric Larson. And he just, and I asked him, when did you know? And he goes, I never knew that I wanted to be a comic book artist. I wanted to be in the comics. That’s all he ever wanted to do from, he goes from I’m a little kid. I used similar to that. Just that he goes, I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.
JH Williams III: Yup. Pretty much the same situation here. you know, I will always withdraw, you know, I don’t ever remember not drawing. and I remember, you know, reading comics a lot. Well as a kid, yeah, particularly a lot of marvels, Marvel comics and [00:01:00] stuff. I mostly grew up in the Bay area, so I had good access to comics and stuff, but what I never really thought about being a comic artist until.
I know as a kid, I was obsessed with these toys called micro knots.
Kenric: I remember them well.
JH Williams III: Yeah, I had them. Yeah. And, you know, going to the local seven 11 and having some money to spend on some comic books, you know, perusing the spinner rack when they used to have those, There was Mike or knots number one.
And I was so obsessed with his toys. I’m like, how can I not buy this comic book? I had no idea who was doing it. I just, you know, knew I loved the toys. So how can I, you know, like this comic book? so, I immediately read it after buying it and was so taken aback by the sophistication of the story, the artwork, I just kept captured [00:02:00] captivated me so much.
I couldn’t help, but pay attention to every little detail. And with when I read comics before, I always knew, you know, Stanley presents and I never gave it much thought after that. Well, the, you know, with this comic grabbing my attention so much, you know, I really paid attention to the credits box for the first time.
I was probably eight years old or so. And, That’s when he saw the names, you know, everyone involved from bill mallow to Michael Golden, to Al Milgrom. That’s cool. and I just became obsessed with that comic and had to get the whole series. And I told friends of mine, you know, I’m like, Hey, have you seen this comic book?
And they’re like, well, if you like that comic book, you gotta see this thing called uncanny. X-Men
Kenric: three 84.
JH Williams III: Yeah. Oh no. Before that.
Kenric: Okay, cool. Yeah.
JH Williams III: Yeah. This was like around the period of a, No Claremont, Cockrum and [00:03:00] burn.
Kenric: Yeah. Oh, what a time to jump in.
JH Williams III: Yeah. And so I discovered that comic book through these friends, and it was so equally captivating as the microdots comic, but in a very different way, of course.
But it really starts to cement in my mind. I’m like, Oh wow, look how distinct these guys are and what they’re doing visually. And the stories are so powerful that even as a young kid, I was like, well, I could draw. That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to be a comic book artist. And that was it. That was like you said, with Eric Larson.
And he was like, He kind of gave himself no other choice. And that’s how it was for me. I gave myself no other choice to the, you know, to the fears of my parents, at the time. And it just set out to be that, and. You know, in retrospect as a, you know, more thoughtful adult, it was pretty dumb to like sell all my sights on [00:04:00] this one thing.
Kenric: some ways that’s the only way you can do it.
JH Williams III: Yeah. maybe
if it had worked out, I’d be, I don’t know where I’d be. You know, have you like,
Kenric: have you ever talked to Jerry Ordway?
JH Williams III: no, I have exchanged tweets with him. Yeah. I don’t think I’ve ever met.
Kenric: He’s a good guy. You should listen. You should talk with him when you get a chance. He is so funny. He has this amazing story of him getting his first job at DC and him and his buddy tried and they got denied.
And then, so he basically, he doesn’t give up, but he basically acts, you know, just says, okay, I’m going to go and do something else. And he gets a job in a licensing firm drawing. Coloring books and the books would be like, wonder woman or Spiderman. They licensed products from all the other place. Right. So then he decides to go to a local con, it was a doctor who con Oh, wow.
And I want to say, [00:05:00] Paul Levitz. And I think, I want to say Kubrick was there and Kubrick was looking at Cooper, was looking at. Drawings for people and saying, this is what you need to work on. You know what I mean? Yes. I want to take it to the next level to talk to somebody at DC. Right. And he’s there for like four hours.
It’s like 90 degrees outside. The sun’s beating down he’s in this long line for four hours. You got to set up the whole thing. Right? Cause it’s like a long line for four hours. There’s. 80 or more people all dressed up like the classic doctor who from the sixties and seventies, the, the guy with the long over coat in the scarf.
I can’t remember which actor that was,
JH Williams III: Oh, I can’t think of it.
Kenric: Yeah. But you know who I’m talking about? He’s like, yeah, like up until the new doctor who he was the most popular doctor who, and so. By the time it gets up to the guy to look at his stuff, he’s tired, he’s done. Right. And Jerry hands, him a coloring book that he does for this company with [00:06:00] wonder woman, the stars are not on this show on the shorts there over the place.
And it’s a game for four year olds, you know, find the stars for wonder woman kind of thing. And he’s looking at it going, I don’t get this. Okay. What am I looking at? I don’t understand. You know, and he’s like, well, it’s a coloring book for kids and it’s like, yeah, I don’t understand. Paul Levitz walks up and goes, Jerry Ordway.
We’ve been looking for you. He’s like what? All the stuff that he does for the coding book would have to go. To DC to be approved for the licensing before it went back. Yeah. So they’ve been looking at her and they had worked for him to do, and he was like, I, it was the weirdest thing. And then he goes back home.
It goes back to his job. And then a week later, Paul is calling him at his job. Wow saying, Hey, we dah. He was like, how did you get this number? He goes, we called your mom. She gave it to us.
It’s just, it’s kind of funny. You get people just kind of, some people fall in and you know, you just have this level, he just kept going. He just kept trying. And I think that’s what you have to do.
[00:07:00] JH Williams III: Yeah. Yeah. It took me forever to break in, you know, just forever. Yeah. I would show my work to various, you know, talent and they’d be like, Oh, this is pretty good.
You should be working or whatever. And it wasn’t actually very good to be honest, but,
yeah. And you know, there was a lot of people, that were supportive.
Kenric: They saw what was there and what could be.
JH Williams III: Yeah, exactly. And, I kept trying and trying, And I kept going to conventions, talking to editors a lot.
I got the weirdest feedback and probably the worst advice ever you could ever give anybody, trying to get into this business, you know, over and over again, I’d be told, Oh, well, you know, can you know, we’re looking for, you know, guys that are like or so. And so whoever was hot at the time.
JH Williams III: You know, and then you would go back. Work on samples, trying to [00:08:00] figure out what made those guys
Kenric: you want to Todd, Nick Farlan we’ll hire Todd McFarlane then,
JH Williams III: right? It was that sort of situation. If you go, come back a year later and that’s not what they wanted anymore. Right. You know, it was just, you kept getting that over and over again.
And I finally was. I was close to just saying, fuck it. And just quitting. and my wife, you know, she was basically saying, look, just give it one more shot. Just draw the comics the way you want to draw them. Don’t listen to what these, you know, any of these people are telling you. Draw how you think you want to draw it.
and I started doing that and I ended up working a little bit with, a local writer in tribe. One thing with him and then did a little bit of work with, for Chuck Austin. and both [00:09:00] of those projects were very different from each other. I completed an issue of each, And the writer of the local one had gone to WonderCon in California.
And, he was there the day before me. And when I get there, he goes, Hey, you got to go talk to how we’re taking. I showed how we’re taking your work. He likes it. You gotta go talk to him. And I’m like, okay, cool,
JH Williams III: He showed. Him, the stuff that he and I had done together, but I had samples of the other project that I had done.
and so I managed to get in front of Howard and I asked him to, I said, my friend told me to come and show you my stuff. And he’s like, who’s your friend.
Kenric: a hundred people that way.
JH Williams III: Like, what are you talking about? You know, I’ve got some other samples that I’d like for you to see from the ones he showed you yesterday. And he’s like, all right. You [00:10:00] know, I’ll take a look at him. And he is, but you really don’t want to critique for me. And I’m like, no, I do.
And I was a huge heartache and fan slab. And he’s like, no, you really don’t. You really don’t want to, critique for me. I’m like, no, I really do. And because I was so insistent. he took his time and went through all the pages, more slowly and thoughtfully. And it was funny because, you know, he’s got the contemptuous reputation.
So, you know, as he’s going through, he’s like, Oh, this is pretty good. Oh, this is shit. That’s pretty good yet. What is this? And then there was some examples where I did some unorthodox things, which of course is what I, you know, kind of what I’m known for now. and he’s like, what is going on here? why did you do this?
this is unusual. And I had an answer. And that changed his opinion right there, because I wasn’t [00:11:00] arbitrary what I did. He
Kenric: didn’t say I’m going to look cool.
JH Williams III: Right? Exactly. And he’s like, huh? He’s like what? He’s like, why aren’t you working? And I’m like, he’s like, this is, I think George Perez was sitting next to him and he bumps George pres he’s Hey, look at this.
He’s like, this is, you know, some of the best amateur stuff I’ve seen in a long time. And he’s like, why aren’t you working on I’m like, I can’t get anyone to pay attention. Help me. He’s like, he goes, all right, this is what we’re going to do. It gets it from his seat, walks me over to the DC booth and starts shouting at the top of his lungs to give me a job.
Even if he has to write it for me.
JH Williams III: And that was, that changed everything. That’s crazy
JH Williams III: Right. Started getting business cards from DC people. Dennis Cowan was there and he gave me a card that was at the start of milestone. And even this [00:12:00] is how hard it was to break in back then. I can’t even imagine what it’s like now.
I don’t know how these guys are doing it now. Even back then getting the seal of approval from Howard taking, essentially it still took me 80 phone calls before someone called me back.
Kenric: Wow. That is nuts.
JH Williams III: Yeah. pretty wild. You know, it’s just, you know, basically badgered. I just badgered people. I was like, every time I left a message, I’m like, I’m the guy that you took my samples from the Howard shaken.
Talked about it.
JH Williams III: Call me back then you get a phone call until they actually, when they actually needed a fill in artist. For something they’re like, Hey, who’s that guy who won’t leave us alone.
You know, that was,
Kenric: I got like 80 voicemails from this guy. I’m like machine, what the heck?
JH Williams III: and that’s how I got my first. First [00:13:00] gig at DC.
Kenric: That is awesome. That is why is it always DC with the crazy gets?
JH Williams III: Okay.
Kenric: I know I’ve when we’ve talked to some people that do publishing and it’s always the same thing nowadays is don’t send me one character. Don’t show me a splash page. Give me a book. Show me a book, you know, that you can start and finish a story. That’s what they want to see.
JH Williams III: Yup. Yup. It’s keeping the crews that, yeah.
And even with that, they I’ve been told, I haven’t seen the process of how it’s done today, but I’ve heard from a lot of people from various sources that it’s sort of gotten to a point where you just can’t send samples on solicited. like before you see from, you know, when I was coming up, you could just send your stuff in.
You might not ever get [00:14:00] a response, but you could just, you know,
Kenric: well now they won’t even take it right.
JH Williams III: Yeah. That’s what I’ve heard. Yeah. They won’t
Kenric: even take it, especially if you like Marvel and you say you get Tom email and you send him a bunch of Spiderman stuff that you did, they won’t eat. They’ll just instantly trash it because if you send something in and then there’s an artist that is similar to your work, and then they use a pose or a sec, like four or five panels that happened to look similar to yours.
All of a sudden there’s a lawsuit. And then they won’t even take, they won’t even take the chance on it anymore.
JH Williams III: Or
Kenric: crazy. If you send a script in it’s the same thing, say you send a script in for Spiderman and you line up the stuff and it’s close enough to something that’s either going on or something they have planned.
Now they can’t use it because it could be construed as you know that they stole it. So they won’t even look at it. That’s why it’s better to do your own thing. [00:15:00] Show them your style, show them what you do, show what you have and all that kind of stuff and say, you know what I mean? And get them in front of that.
JH Williams III: Wow. Yeah, that’s nuts. It’s kind of depressing. Actually. I don’t know how some of these guys are doing it cause yeah. And the one, the independent market, you know, it’s not like that’s a cakewalk, so right.
Kenric: Tell me about it. Me and my buddy, Johnny, who’s the cost of the show. He unfortunately couldn’t make it tonight, but anyways, he, Just released an anthology called the ions anthology.
And man, it was tough. We, you know, we had to do a Kickstarter. I have a story in it. It was the first story ever done. That’s actually, you know that I wrote, cause I am not. I mean, I have a hard time doing stick figures, man. Nevermind. Anything else? So poorly drawn stick figures. I’m your guy,
JH Williams III: but a
Kenric: man, it was.
You know, it was a grind just to get this first book out and, you know, it’s been three years just to get to this point [00:16:00] and he just got the first thousand run from the printer.
JH Williams III: Wow.
Kenric: You know, it’s a grind. it’s tough.
JH Williams III: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And I, for me, you know, I’m grateful that Howard, Gave me the attention that he did, you know, I look back on the stuff I was doing, that he saw something in an unfortunate that he saw something and it, cause I wasn’t very good.
Kenric: You’re lucky because the only thing I ever heard about Howard is how much of a grumpy is. You know what I mean? So it’s like, yeah. That’s funny that he’s the guy that did that with you. I that’s a wonderful story. Are you kidding? that’s awesome. Hey right now you’re actually working on something
JH Williams III: with the
Kenric: image echo land, right?
JH Williams III: Yes. It’s called echo lands. and it’s the same team that was on that woman. so it’s me Hayden Blackmun, Dave Stewart and Todd Klein. That’s awesome. I’m in the middle of issue six, And, [00:17:00] you know, the plan is to hopefully launch it before the end of the year. But you know, it’s hard to know for sure with all the pandemics.
Kenric: Yes. Hopefully it starts to close down because the other countries are slowing down and we’re like ramping up, man. I was like, Oh, come on.
JH Williams III: Yeah. It ho you know, hopefully we can launch this year. It’s been a long. Process. So I started working on that, a while ago, after Sandman. I did a few things along the way, other things, you know?
Yeah. Like I did, you know, a project for Amazon that was 50 paintings for a Dracula thing that they wanted me for. So that took up some time, but I also lost a lot of time from, we ended up moving from California to Nevada. That was more, or was that a good move? Yes, I think so it was more arduous than moving to another state.
[00:18:00] It was more, intensive than I thought it would be. then after we got here, I got deathly ill, almost died twice.
Kenric: Oh my
JH Williams III: God. so I had actually ended up losing maybe eight months of time. from the,
Kenric: this is something you’re going to have to keep dealing with from time to time. Are you okay?
JH Williams III: I’m pretty much. Okay, good. Yeah, it was basically what happened is I ended up with appendicitis, just as we were settling in, had emergency surgery, was sent home and had to go back within a couple of days because I wasn’t getting. It was actually getting worse again and it turned out I was, become septic.
Kenric: Oh my God.
JH Williams III: Yeah. And that dude,
Kenric: I haven’t happened to my mom. She had a diverticulitis, they should have been dealing with her, basically her whole life. And finally it got so bad. I was like, I went for [00:19:00] the weekend for two days to spend the weekend with her. Cause she was sick and I ended up being there for six months.
Yeah, convalescing her, you know what I mean? Getting her back. And then she finally had to have surgery and the surgery that was supposed to be 20 minutes, ended up being six hours because she had gone septic. They’re able to clean it all out or like lucky. Cause she’s, she just turned 80. This was three years ago and or 2014.
Wow. It’s been six years coli normally, but yeah, super lucky to have her right
JH Williams III: now. Yeah. Yeah. It’s a scary thing. I couldn’t believe how much it took out of me. And, and then, so God,
Kenric: I’m glad that you get your good cause that’s scary, right?
JH Williams III: Yeah. And then we lost another year. because the Las Vegas shooting happened, Oh my God.
After that, and that
Kenric: you’re like, why did we move here? And a shooting? I mean,
JH Williams III: we had to, we ended up doing a, an, a benefit anthology called where he live. and that took a [00:20:00] surprisingly amount, a huge amount of time, a lot of, probably a year off of the project due to that alone. So, yeah, this thing has been a long time in the works.
And then, you know, as we’re getting things on track and I’m like, Oh cool. We’re starting is she’s sick of the artwork. Then the pandemic hits.
Kenric: It’s just ridiculous. It’s like the year throat, just throw this year away already. You know what I mean? It’s like, it’s so dumb.
JH Williams III: Yeah. So this thing will eventually come out.
JH Williams III: but image has been really great standing about everything. And they’re the ones that I ended up putting the anthology, the benefit anthology out and stuff.
So that’s nice.
Kenric: That’s nice.
JH Williams III: Yeah. Yeah.
Kenric: Yeah. I know for, I don’t know if you still are,
JH Williams III: but you were working with,
Kenric: I have their name right here. Cause I thought it was cool. Cause I went and looked at all their stuff. the limited edition suit designed for artful
[00:21:00] JH Williams III: gentlemen. Oh, right. Yeah. We did a little bit of work with them.
Kenric: Yeah. What was that like? I mean, cause that’s completely out of your norm,
JH Williams III: right? Yeah. I mean, it was pretty simple in a lot of ways. you know, they wanted some graphics that they could use, on the back of a vest. Yeah. And on the inside of. suit lining. so we did some of that. Some people bought them and I’ve seen some photos of people with some on yeah.
And stuff. that was pretty cool. Oh, yeah.
Kenric: Nice. Nice. Yeah. I always like tell myself I want to go get suits. You know what I mean? Like, there’s a part of me that goes, man. If I could wear a suit every day, I’d feel so good. And then, you know, then I put on my sweats and my tee shirt and then I think it is, cause I work like in the nineties I ran a store and I had to wear a suit and I just got, I just wore [00:22:00] out from it.
JH Williams III: yeah. Yeah. I it’s one of the things you. And sometimes I enjoy, putting on a suit, but I’ve worked so much from home. There just isn’t a lot occasion. Yeah. Here, living in Las Vegas. It’s not exactly. SU oriented weather most of the time.
Kenric: Right. Too hot.
JH Williams III: Yeah. Yeah. but yeah, it’s certainly, I would, I’d like to do that sort of thing again.
I thought about investing in a program to design fabrics.
Kenric: Oh, cool.
JH Williams III: Yeah. Like the patterns for fabrics or whatever. I always thought that’d be kind of cool. I just don’t know enough about the business,
Kenric: but when it comes to color and design, cause I heard you talk color means a lot to you, which can be different from a lot of pencils, even though they all say color means a lot because they feel like they have to, but you are really passionate about color line and the design as a [00:23:00] whole.
JH Williams III: Yeah, well, I kind of had to be so it, my early education for art stuff. I ended up taking, while I was in high school, two years of advertising art design, it was an off campus course and that I learned so much from that. And it had a huge impact on, I think, everything I’ve done. So the teacher, the, what he would do is sort of focus on wanting you to think about the idea itself.
What are you trying to do? What are you trying to say, regardless of how good you can draw or paint or whatever, what do you know, what is, what are you trying to convey? And there would be interesting projects like where we would have to, take a soda. Can. The soda can and illustrate three to four or five different ways.
And one of them was to abstract it, [00:24:00] to basically take the elements that are on it and take it apart. Right. Me an abstract. So he’s all about like the thinking behind the illustration itself. and. So, because that has affected what I do. I just kept thinking the more I did comics, the more I did comics, the way I wanted to draw comics, the more that sort of thinking came out
Kenric: more, that abstract thought was put on paper.
JH Williams III: Yeah. Or. What can this illustration do besides the expected thing. And when you start to get into design, if you don’t think about the color, if you’re producing design, that’s meant to be in color. If you don’t think about it. And you’re just doing the black and white stuff in handing it over to a colorist and go, okay, do whatever.
Okay. You’re going to have weird problems. So you kind of [00:25:00] have to think about the color ahead of time if you’re going to be focused on design, you know, it’s I just don’t see how you could do it, design stuff without taking that in consideration. Unless if you’re just going to do dude just black and white comics, right?
Kenric: Dude you when I’m just like looking all the stuff that you’ve done, I, you can’t even go through everything now because you’ve been super busy for quite a long time, but you’ve worked with some amazing people and you’ve worked with. I mean, Jimmy Palmy, ADI, who is one of my favorites, Neil Gaiman, who did one of the greatest runs in comic book history with the Sandman series.
And it’s still going, which is crazy. Yeah. And then of course, Alan
JH Williams III: Moore. Yeah. Yeah.
Kenric: You know, I mean, when you look back and you’re thinking, are you thinking of how the fuck did this happen? Cause that’s [00:26:00] what I’ve been going through my head.
JH Williams III: Yeah. It’s kind of interesting. I don’t know how I got on that trajectory.
I’m fortunate, you know, cause you know, the results of grant and Greg Rucka as well.
Kenric: Yeah. We had Greg gone. He was great.
JH Williams III: Oh yeah. Yeah. I enjoyed working with him a lot. Yeah, there’s a Doug match. I got to work with Doug mench a little bit early on. I just been really fortunate as far as like working with people like Alan and grant and Neil.
I know the way that I think what happened was when I was relatively early in my career. I was given the opportunity to create, with D Curtis Johnson, a character called chase. And the way that happened was kind of unusual. I was doing, you know, tidbits of stuff or a D DC and, We had to, they had [00:27:00] asked us to turn it up pitch for held Jordan.
I remember doing a, I think it was called underworld and leased. It was like some sort of one-shot involving not hell Jordan, Alan Scott, I’m sorry. Alan Scott Green lantern. And they were wanting to do something unusual with him and make him like this darker or more mystical character. And I did this one shot with.
Involving him. And for whatever reason, the editor at the time was saying, you know, you know, we’re kind of looking for pitches on spinning this off into his own title with this new. A direction. So me and Dan Curtis Johnson, who have we known each other forever and had always wanted to work in comics together, said, well, can we pitch for it?
And so we pitched this concept, they loved it. So it sounded like they were [00:28:00] going to go with it. and then for whatever reason, they said, well, we’re not going to do this with Alan Scott now, for whatever reason, Oh, really. Okay. But the other guy, well, you know, do you want to just pitch us something, you know, cold pitches tonight?
Yeah. And we’re like, Okay, well, what do you want to see in the editor? It’s so funny. The editor goes, he’s why I liked chicks with capes.
JH Williams III: we went brainstormed and we’re like chicks with capes. What we came up with, was it detective wearing a trench coat who is a member of this, you know, It’s a kind of spy agency, you know, that department of extra normal operations and that’s how we created it and got that off ground and chase.
We got to do some experimental things with, even though the series didn’t live very long. [00:29:00] and I ended up that got canceled. I needed to doing work with Howard shaken for a son of Superman. graphic novel, which was fun, and was doing little tidbits of things over at Marvel. and we get a, I get a phone call from Scott at, WildStorm saying, Hey, your name came up to, you know, for this Alan Moore project thing.
Called he says, I’ll be honest with you. You’re, you know, you’re not our first choice. but you were recommended to us from, Alex Ross. I’m like, okay. Wow.
Kenric: I didn’t even know.
JH Williams III: I had never met Alex at the time.
Kenric: He just knew you work.
JH Williams III: Yeah. And apparently Tom Klein was. pitching for me too. And so it was Scott dooby was like, Hey, what samples do you got?
Do you have some [00:30:00] samples? You can send me that I can forward to Allen. And so I sent him a huge stack of stuff, particularly the chase stuff. and in particular issue, 1 million of chase that’s back when they did that whole DC 1 million thing and DC. Yeah. And chase 1 million. Yeah. The series of chase, we did some experimental stuff, but the chase 1 million issue, we really tried to push for unusual layouts in that.
And so Scott doing beer, took that stuff, send it to Alan. And Alan was like, yeah, this is the guy. This is the guy. And I think it was partly because he saw the experimentation. You know what I mean? Yeah. I think he saw that experimentation and the, so I ended up getting the job and I’m like, you know, how do I not turn that down?
Kenric: how do you say no to Alan Moore?
JH Williams III: Right, exactly. and [00:31:00] because of that particular trajectory and what. Alan and I’s conversations led to, in terms of what promethium became Harbor. You know, I think Allen, all of course, it’s Alan Warren’s you loves to experiment. It’s what he does.
Right. But I was willing to jump off a cliff.
Kenric: That’s cool.
JH Williams III: I think he appreciated that. Yeah. So we both, we pushed each other significantly on that project and. Other creators saw that, you know, grant saw that deal saw that. And I think that sent me on this trajectory to work with people who, were hoping to try and do something unique, I guess you could say, you know?
and I, yeah, so I’m very fortunate, to have the career path that I’ve had. That’s awesome. yeah.
Kenric: And now it’s kind of come full circle because is, [00:32:00] do you consider, well, actually, before I even make that comment, do you consider Batwoman, the book that really set you on the trajectory to be where you’re at?
Or is there something before that really said, okay, I’m coming into my own and I know it on this book.
JH Williams III: Yeah. I’d say it was promethium really.
Kenric: that’s amazing.
JH Williams III: Yeah. Yeah. It was Promethian and right as PROMESA was wrapping up, I went and did seven soldiers, a victory with grant Morrison. Did those Batman issues with grant Morrison, a desolation Jones and all those things were, experimental, like promethium was, but in very distinctly different ways.
Yeah. And so I think that really could show some people, You know, I can be more than what just one project was. Right. And I would say bat woman, because that woman, you know, played around in the bat, Batman universe, [00:33:00] you know, has a more mainstream built in audience, right. Then promethium that reached people, reached a different audience than promethium.
Kenric: did some very unique stuff within Batwoman. Yeah. So I mean, you know, I don’t know. Do you, I mean, you probably don’t even have a comic that has the traditional boxes from left to, right. You know what I mean? You have that, but of course not all, you know, you always have unique stuff happening within your books and it’s cool because you’re like one of the few artists that you see.
Oh, J H Williams, the third did this one. I know that visually I’m going to be very entertained.
JH Williams III: Oh, cool.
Kenric: So that’s always nice. So. Yeah, it makes me want to go back and get all that for me to use again. You read them. I try not to. So when I was a kid, I was very much like buying, you know what I mean?
Putting them in bags and boards. And now I have all these books that I don’t go back to, but I don’t sell them [00:34:00] because in my mind, I always say, Oh, it’s gonna be worth money someday and dah. But then I never sell them, you know? And then when I go get them, yeah. And when I go get them signed, they’re like, do you want me to make it out to you?
And I’m like, Yes, I do want to meet up to me. I want my name with your signature. That’s a hundred percent what I want, because I’m never going to get
JH Williams III: rid of this.
Kenric: And so it’s, but for that those books I read when they came out, but it’s been a long time now.
JH Williams III: Yeah. I, you know, for me, I guess, you know, being able to show.
Doing comics, the way I could see them being promethium was the perfect vehicle for it. and having those conversations with Allen where I’m like, Hey, let’s try this or let’s try that. And he would be also, okay, let’s try this and try that then too. just led to a series where we’re willing to try anything.
To see if it just can work. Yeah. it wasn’t matter of doing it out of confidence. It was doing it out of [00:35:00] to see what was, if we could.
Kenric: Right. That’s what crazy things happen though.
JH Williams III: Right?
Kenric: Do it see what happens? Right.
JH Williams III: And then going and doing that Batman stuff after that, led to that one issue I did with Paul Dini on detective comics.
And what happened with that was kinda interesting. So. They wanted me to be the regular guy for the Paul Dini run, which was super cool. but it was sort of happening in the middle of the seven soldiers of victory stuff and the schedule and seven soldiers, a victory got so kind of weird and wonky that by the time I was done with that, there was no way for me to return to detective comics.
So I only did the one issue. But the plan was for me to return to that and continue to work with Paul. but there was no way he could, he had his own schedule at the time. Couldn’t was that gonna wait
[00:36:00] Kenric: 2010?
JH Williams III: Maybe.
Kenric: So when you won, you got the Eisner award on,
JH Williams III: Oh, I don’t. Remember,
Kenric: let me know the best honest answer ever. That’s perfect.
JH Williams III: so you know, it was like, Paul, was it wasn’t in a position to where he could write scripts far enough in advance for me to step back on to a detective. Right. So they ended up having me do. I ended up doing that Batman story with grant. and somewhere around that time, the editor was, Hey.
Yeah. You know, we want to keep you doing something, some other bad stuff. Yeah. They’re in there. Like, what do you think, Greg? Rebecca, do you like Greg? Rucka? I’m like, I love Greg record.
Kenric: That’s great stuff. Of course I loved
JH Williams III: it. Yeah. Yeah. And they were like, well, we want to do it. We’re [00:37:00] talking about doing this thing.
You know that woman and he’s. Yeah. It’s sort of a reinvention from the ground up and I’m like, Oh cool. So I get the opportunity to work in the Gotham world on a project that is basically, you’re getting the Cree, everything from the ground up rather than just jumping onto a note, a well known character.
So that super intrigued me a lot and I’m not. That led me to work with Greg on Batwoman and then he needed to leave. And, DC offered, offered me to stay on and I brought in hate and black men and we ended up, taking on the series for, I dunno, 24 issues or something like that. That’s awesome. Yeah.
But I think it was that mainstream audience where people were basically took the same, all the lessons I learned. On those previous projects and applied them to what we were doing with Batwoman. But now, you know, [00:38:00] with me and Hayden we’re in the driver’s seat, getting to tell the stories we wanted to tell, and that’s something I always, you know, wanting to get back to is being able to create my own stories.
You know what I mean? Yeah.
Kenric: Yeah. You can see yourself doing that. Writing. Drawing. Yeah. Penciling, inking, having everything ready, maybe have a colorist do their thing because yeah. You know, in the right letter, but you want to have you had many books that you’ve done that with? Cause I only primarily know you as penciler, you know what I mean?
JH Williams III: On chase. I was in the driver’s seat with Dan Johnson. We both developed the stories, but I worked with an anchor on that Mick gray. Who’s probably one of the best speakers around and I’m probably underrated as such too, I would say. Yeah. I slowly began to start to eat my own work primarily because I.
[00:39:00] Needed to, I felt like I needed to grow in different directions that, just being just a penciler wouldn’t allow me to do
Kenric: what. So, I mean, it can’t get boring, but at some point it’s got to get boring when you’re like, okay, I’m doing somebody else’s work when it comes to the storyline, which crosses in my mind, I could see causes you to be like, Okay.
That means I have to constrain myself on how I want to really present. You have a lot of freedom, but then that’s the same time. You’re still constricted because you’re not, but you can’t, you can only in the story so much to your will when it’s somebody else’s words. Right. So I must, I totally get it. I always think of, I always think of a.
The rock bands that are like Aerosmith. How many times have they’ve done walk this way in concert some time they have to be I’m so sick of this song. And I mean, they probably think, wow, it bought five of my houses, but at the same time, you know, it’s like, yeah, that’s [00:40:00] why I never blamed bands that are super.
You know, they have this hardcore fan base for this certain style of music that they played, but then they want to try their things because yeah. You know, so I could, I can completely understand what you’re saying when you’re like, I want to, you want to make yourself uncomfortable on trying the new things.
JH Williams III: exactly. And, you know, so I’d say what, you know, in terms of career trajectory, that woman. Did for me was to show people, you know, I can be more than just the artist, you know, I have invested interest in the story, the type of story itself. so that’s, you know, super exciting in terms of what we’re doing now is echo lands because it’s, Yeah, create our own concept developed by me and Hayden Blackman.
Kenric: I’m excited to see this.
JH Williams III: So, yeah, it’s and it’s been, it’s super challenged because it’s, as [00:41:00] much as you know, working on that woman was a lot of world building because you got to invent a lot of new things. This is even more so, because even with bad woman you’re dealing with yeah. Great. you know, with that one, when you’re still dealing with the recognizable iconography, that you can easily have your brain access, which is dolphin city, but that the bat universe, right.
It comes with certain expected tropes that are just at your fingertips.
Kenric: You’re building a city within a state that’s already built out.
JH Williams III: Right. You know what I mean? Yeah. And same with Sam. And when I did say man, it’s like, it was very similar. and relatively easy to get into for myself because, you’re I was dealing with iconography that somebody else already thought of.
So I just had to come in and do something new with it. Now, echo lands. What makes us so. A unique challenge is the fact that none of this exists anywhere else. so it’s complete world-building, [00:42:00] by Hayden and I, and, you know, presents its own unique challenges. and actually it was probably more time consuming because of it.
Kenric: is it recharging your artistic sensibilities
JH Williams III: in some ways? I don’t know if I guess I, you know, it’s more of a, it’s a different kind of challenge. So as an example, the comic is going to be landscapes. So it’s going to be white wider than it is tall. which presents a very unique, storytelling challenge, particularly because the thing I really got into in promethium was dealing with double page spreads.
So when we decided to do echo lands, you know, I had kept doing the double page spreads on every project after previa for the most part. just because I like, kind of was creates a design challenge, I guess. So when we decided to do ag lands, we’re [00:43:00] like, okay, well let’s do this landscape, but still do double page spreads.
So you’re dealing with very panoramic. Set
Kenric: up in my mind, I have a dude not doing like the one from the eighties, but the 1970s guy that wanted to create dune and he had these amazing landscapes and everything that he brought up.
JH Williams III: Yeah.
Kenric: So Ralph ski that’s, what’s his name?
JH Williams III: Yup. Yup. You work with Moebius on that stuff?
Kenric: Yeah. Movies. Oh my God. That guy was so good.
JH Williams III: Yeah. And so with, you know, echo lands, being, landscape format creates a, you know, at first, when I first started drawing the first issue, I was like, Oh, this be easy. It’s the same, it’s the same measurements. It’s just turned sideways. yeah. You know, extra long.
It’s not like I’m drawing bigger or smaller, but Oh man, was it a big, Challenge. I didn’t realize how well it would be [00:44:00] too for the storytelling, but the end result is super fascinating because I think as much as I’ve tried to focus on fluidity of graphics going across a page before echo lands, does it even probably tend more tenfold more?
Kenric: It just sounds ambitious. I’m so excited to see this thing now.
JH Williams III: We’ll see if it’s actually successful in my experiments.
Kenric: Yeah, that’s awesome though.
JH Williams III: I’d rather try it, you know, and, But there’s been some surprising things that even though it’s been harder to draw than I expected, not just from the world building aspect, but because I’ve decided to use this weird format, I’ve been really happy with how.
Being panoramic, like that creates this flow when you’re dealing with a double page spread how you can, it just feels like it hums along, I guess. Yeah. It’s interesting. That’s cool.
[00:45:00] Kenric: That’s really cool. I’m not blowing smoke either. I’m excited to see what comes out when finally, so people are listening, you know, make sure that you let your LCS do your local comic book shop.
No. That image is working on this book and you’re really interested in checking it out and hopefully the more people that bug diamond and bug image, the quicker they can get it out.
JH Williams III: It’s going to be more on me. I think
everyone was waiting for me.
Kenric: That’s funny. I’m just trying to make your life more difficult, Jay.
JH Williams III: Thank you so much for coming on.
Kenric: This has been awesome.
JH Williams III: Oh, thanks for having me.
Kenric: Yeah. I would love to, schedule you again, sometime because yeah, this was, we already over an hour in and it felt like we just started talking like 10 minutes ago.
JH Williams III: It goes quick.
Kenric: It does. It goes really quick. Well, it’s easy [00:46:00] when we just were just bullshitting, you know what I mean?
and talking, and I, what I always try to do is just have research. Have an understanding of your career and then just talk, you know, and then go through things. Because I don’t know, I feel like the yes or no questions are uncomfortable and doesn’t create any, you don’t get to know anything.
JH Williams III: Right.
Kenric: So what
JH Williams III: I was
Kenric: going to ask you something, because it doesn’t really matter because COVID. I was going to ask you what your next con was. And it’s like, no, there is no next con right now we probably have no thing going on right now, except for working on echo lands. And then you have anything else in the pipeline that you can’t talk about and you can say, Oh yeah, I have other things that are going on.
Or it’s just is echo lands a hundred percent everything.
JH Williams III: Yeah. There’s a couple other things that, I took on sort of some small tidbits of things. Cool. yeah. During the pandemic. Cause I kinda [00:47:00] was like, there was a couple interesting job offers that came my way and I was well times are kind of tough.
I probably shouldn’t say no to these things and they’d be cool anyway. Yeah. So yeah, there’s some things I can’t talk about them.
Kenric: Well, when you can, maybe you’ll come back on and we can go over all of them.
JH Williams III: Sure. Yeah. Sure. And then.
Kenric: So is echo lands, creator owned. Do you have plans for more creator owned after this?
JH Williams III: I hope so if this, it there’s so much, you know, relying on the success of this thing. I think, you know, my hopes as much as I like doing, you know, Corporate work and I have great love for, yeah. I have a great love for a lot of those characters, you know, I always, you know, like cool to do this or to do that or whatever.
Yeah. You know, but ultimately I think if I could create my career going forward, just focused on [00:48:00] things, create our own content. And have it pay for itself.
JH Williams III: Why should I do anything other than that? Yeah. You know, those are the stories that are w I want to tell. And I would like to be able to get to, you know, at least a quarter of them before I die.
Kenric: Yeah, man, we almost lost you the last year. We don’t need to do that again. Get that stuff
JH Williams III: done.
Kenric: Oh, that’s cool, man. Well, thank you so much at H and I hope we
JH Williams III: can talk soon. Yeah, let’s do it again.