Jonathan Case really established himself on the comics scene last year with the release of both his long-awaited graphic novel, Dear Creature, and his stark, disturbing work on The Green River Killer with Jeff Jensen. With an illustrative style that hearkens to the golden age of adventure cartooning, his work is beautifully anachronistic and, as such, stands in sharp relief to many of his contemporaries. Not surprisingly, Case has been snapped-up for various new projects, one of which he was able to give us the low-down on:
I hear that you’re going to be working on a book with John Arcudi. Can you tell us a little about the project, and what your involvement is as a creator?
The book is bringing back a character that he introduced in the 1980s for Dark Horse Presents. It’s called The Creep. So, we’re bringing The Creep back in Dark Horse Presents in April, which is out on April 16th, and we’ll do three installments in that title. It’s a story that’s set in the 80s in New York — Manhattan — so it’s kind of a modern noir, as much about the time and place as it is about the characters, in a sense. The lead character in the book is a private detective who has acromegaly. You know, that condition where your bones get a kind of gigantism? Like Rondo Hatton had. So, he’s working this case for an ex-flame, a college flame, who doesn’t know he has this condition because it develops in your twenties. So, he’s working from afar. Her teenage son has committed suicide, and it’s a double-suicide with his best friend… depressing stuff! It’s challenging material at times — dark subject matter, but it’s handled well. It’s in the vein of one of the darker Coen Brothers movies, and John’s written it well with a lot of compassion for the characters. It’s about survival guilt and this guy’s own process in dealing with this woman. There’s a lot of good momentum behind it and I’m doing full-colour on it, so I have complete art duties on the entire book. I’m really enjoying that — even though it’s a stretch for me, creatively, but I’m really enjoying working in colour, and really enjoying working with John, too.
Yeah, definitely! And I really focus on character expressiveness and the acting of it. But there is a lot of Toth in there. Since the guy is kind of monstrous in his appearance, I’ve tried to put my own sense of love into the character so that he’s not just ugly, but that we can relate to him on a visual level. I tried not to go too far in the distortion of his features, but enough that you can tell he’s got issues.
I’m doing more with the mood in the colour than I am with the stark black and white, as far as the noir angle goes. That’s been an interesting challenge for me. It’s just that I tend to like having a broad range of options, so that I can go in with the heavy blacks if I want, or if I want to pull back do something more delicate, I can do that too. I’m really trying to explore the whole range, artistically.
How are you creating the colours? Are you working digitally?
Yes, it’s a digitally-coloured book. One thing that’s interesting is that there are a lot of fantasy sequences in it, and that’s going to be in a different style than you’d normally expect from me. It eschews traditional inks, so it’s just a brittle pencil line with a wash underneath to give it a dreamlike quality. So, that’s been fun to be able to do a broad variety of aesthetics on the project.
So, once the three installments in Dark Horse Presents have been published, are you going to go on to do a series, or a mini-series?
Yes. I don’t know how much I’m able to talk about that, but there’s definitely more to come!