In this installment I get to talk to the Co-Creators of “The Beauty” from Image Comics. After winning the 2011 Top Cow Pilot Season, with Jeremy Haun on art and co-writing with Jason Hurley, The Beauty went on to become an Image ongoing series premiering in 2015.
“My mind to [their] mind(s); My thoughts to [their] thoughts“
Pagemaster: Thank you both so much for taking the time out to talk to me!
Jeremy: Happy to do it, man. Thanks for the interest in the book.
Jason: Glad to be here.
Pagemaster: To start, I was hoping you guys could fill us in a little on how this project came to be.
Jeremy: We started work on The Beauty when I was working for Top Cow drawing The Darkness .
I’d been intending to get back to more creator owned work and writing for a while. I was out in LA visiting the Top Cow offices and talking ideas with Filip Sablik who was Publisher at the time. He kept pushing me to do more– in the best sort of way. I came home with the concept for The Beauty and pitched it to Hurley.
Jason: We were at a convention in St. Louis, and on the drive home, we started talking about projects we were working on. Jeremy brought up the concept for The Beauty, so we talked about that for a while. “A while” turned out to be the entire 4 hour trip home.
Jason: It was one of those perfect experiences where you start talking about something and before you know it, four hours have passed and you’ve created a world.
Jeremy: By the time we were back in Joplin, we realized that we had worked out several characters, and an overarching plot. We pretty much had to work together on the series at that point.
Pagemaster: I imagine at the onset ideas must have been just pouring out as you guys formed The Beauty universe. Have you guys had any trouble keeping those creative juices flowing, keeping that excitement?
Jeremy: Not at all. In fact, we’ve had the opposite problem. We knew what the second arc was going to be before the first issue was solicited.
Jason: We actually keep coming up with new and different situations that could be deeply affected by The Beauty, and we’re having trouble figuring out witch ones to use next.
Pagemaster: Well as a fan, that’s really exciting! Though it raises a couple questions, first: How do you decide which “arc” to tackle next?
Jason: We have a dart board. It’s a very sophisticated system.
Jeremy: We had to put together a broader five arc plan while we were finishing up the first arc. Darts may or may not have been involved.
Pagemaster: *Laughs* That’s too great. My second question in that vein: To my knowledge, the Beauty epidemic is a two year long affair and that each of your arcs plans to focus on a different period in that time-span. So, with a five arc plan; do you worry about what to do if the fans, and Image, want more? Is running out of “time” to cover a plausible concern?
Jason: Well, the five arcs is kind of a loose thing. We know what the last arc is, and we have a plan of what goes between here and there. However, that last arc can kind of slide into the future as much as it needs to.
Jeremy: Well, there’s always room for more. The five arcs give us a nice stopping point, but we definitely have an arc or three that we’d love to add in there.
Pagemaster: So it sounds like fans don’t have anything to worry about, fantastic! Now, The Pilot Season to the 2015 launch is quite a stretch of time. We know you had plans then, when you won the Pilot Season, but how much have your creative direction and/or plot elements changed since then?
Jeremy: Not really at all. Doing the book as a Pilot Season story set things going in a pretty specific direction. Once we we were on that path, things didn’t change much at all.
Jason: It’s really just allowed us to expand what we were already going to do.
Pagemaster: So rather than change, your focus simply grew. Very cool.
Jeremy: Yeah. Definitely.And to be honest, we didn’t know what the reception to the book was going to be. We had more stories we wanted to tell, but we also had to prepare ourselves for only getting to do the one arc.
Pagemaster: I see, that makes sense. What has the reception been like on your end? I know I love the series, but I’m sure you guys hear that all the time, yea?
Jason: It’s been surprisingly good. Like Jeremy said, we were fully prepared to only ever get to do one arc of the story, luckily though, our expectations were blown away.
Jeremy: We knew that we were telling a story that we were proud of. Getting that overwhelmingly positive response back was just amazing. I’m pretty sure Hurley did the whole Sally Field at the Oscars thing.
Jason: I was pretty over the moon, yeah.
Pagemaster: *Laughs* that’s great, I can only imagine how that must have felt. On the art side of things; The book looks and “feels” amazing. What would you say you done, or tried to do, that best delivers that target atmosphere?
Jeremy: Yeah. I really think so. I had a look I was going for and I feel like we hit it. We owe a lot of that look to our colorist, John Rauch. Early on, we discussed how we wanted the color palette to work and how we wanted to give the Beauties a very specific glow to differentiate them from “normal” folks. John absolutely killed on it and got a much deserved Eisner nomination for the color on the book.
Pagemaster: Oh I agree wholeheartedly! The coloring is phenomenal. I really enjoy how almost generically beautiful most of the infected are, but there’s such a wide range of believable character design beyond the infected.
How challenging is it to portray such a diverse range of people along-side “beauties”? Do you try to “hide” who’s infected at all, and if so how do you go about doing it?
Jeremy: There’s not a lot of hiding The Beauty. The real trick is figuring out how to show a range of looks and body types. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to draw “normal people” in ways that wouldn’t indicate them as Beauties. I didn’t want to just go for the shortcut of drawing everyone without The Beauty as overweight or something. Again, luckily I had Rauch helping differentiate there.
We do have a couple of interesting things planned in upcoming arcs that examine how attractiveness is perceived in a world where looking “hot” is catching.
Pagemaster: I can’t wait to see what you have planned! I’ve been really impressed, even with my relative artistic ignorance, with your designs
Jeremy: Thanks, man!
Pagemaster: Speaking of your plans for future arcs, I’m curious if/how you try to challenge yourselves creatively as you work on the series?
Jason: I don’t know that we intentionally challenge ourselves, but we do seem to have a knack for writing ourselves into corners.
Jeremy: And that’s kind of fun. I like the process of writing something, terrifying ourselves and then having to figure the way out.
Jason: Honestly, most of the challenge comes from the fact that we’re currently working on four different issues, with several artists, over two story arcs. It almost all comes down to plate spinning.
Jeremy: Yeah. Exactly. We’re working hard to build several stories at once that all interconnect over the larger storyline. We’ve got characters from different arcs popping up at different places over the timeline. It’s a bit insane, but it’s definitely entertaining.
Pagemaster: That does sound both incredibly daunting and exciting all at the same time. I think my head might would explode!
Jeremy: You probably don’t want that to happen.
Pagemaster: But, You’ve definitely got me hyped up for the next arc for sure!
Alright, my last “official” question: For new readers; How would you pitch “The Beauty” in your own words to convince readers to either pick up the first trade, or hop on for the next arc?
Jeremy: It’s about an STD that makes you beautiful.
Jason: And the trade of the first six issues is only $9.99
Honestly, that STD line seems to hook more people than anything. It’s definitely our attention grabber at the con table.
Pagemaster: Short and sweet, I love it! It is, after all, the line that got my attention too!
To wrap things up, It’s ComicPlug tradition to offer up our “podium” and for interviewee’s to “Plug” anything they want readers to know! So, Beauty related, unrelated, any upcoming work, whatever you want to say.
Jason: The Beauty #7 comes out May 18th. It’s a one off issue that’s a great jumping on point, and also leads into our next story arc.
Jeremy: We’ll also be at a couple conventions coming up– Planet Comicon in Kansas City (May 20-22) and Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC (June 17-19). If you’re in the area for either of those come by and say hi.
Jason: You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and any other social network I may have accidentally joined as jasonahurley.
Jeremy: And you can find me on Twitter and Instagram under @jerhaun and on Facebook under my full name Jeremy Haun.
Pagemaster: It’s been a pleasure guys, thank you again for letting me have this chat!