PopCultHQ is kicking off 2018 in a new way. Each month, we’ll be selecting Comic Book Creators of the Month and interview them for a spotlight article. For April 2018’s Writer of the Month, we chose Jason Martin.
Writer. Artist. Publisher. Action Lab: Danger Zone‘s Jason Martin has worn many hats throughout his career in the comic book industry. We at PopCultHQ selected Jason as our Writer of the Month for his exciting work in his VAMPBLADE series, which just kicked off its third season, and the Zombie Tramp Universe mash-up DANGER DOLL SQUAD, which has also just released a new volume with GALACTIC GLADIATORS. Both titles (issue #1 of each were released in April 2018) feature incredibly well-written storylines, while continuing to flesh out the characters and grow the shared universe at Action Lab. Both titles are a must-have and a must-read!
Take a look at Jason Martin’s bio, courtesy of his website:
Based in Beaverton, Oregon, comic book creator Jason Martin has worked in and around the comic book industry for over 10 years. Working both behind the scenes as a publisher, and as a creative in every aspect of comics.
Specializing in offbeat pop culture inspired fare, Jason first created and published his own comic book series, Super Real, and then published works for other creators under his own Super Real Graphics imprint. Jason currently works with Action Lab Entertainment and manages their mature readers comic book line, Action Lab: Danger Zone. Recent works of his own include the ongoing monthly series Vampblade, as well as PRINCE-S STARthief, and Night of the 80s Undead, and he also currently co-writes the popular Zombie Tramp ongoing series and Danger Doll Squad mini-series.
Jason has also worked as a freelance artist and has done work for clients such as Adult Swim, Upper Deck, and Topps.
When at home with his wife and chihuahua, they spend countless hours watching TV and movies, and Jason loves drawing those latest pop culture inspirations, often creating fan art for many of them to share online.
We had the privilege in chatting with the amazingly talented creator about his career in the comic book industry, his famous creation Vampblade and her longevity, his general advice to creators, and how things have changed in the industry over the last 15 years.
PopCultHQ Spotlight Interview
Writer of the Month – April 2018:
PopCultHQ: How did comic books influence your childhood? What was the defining moment in your life that you knew, from then on, that you wanted to write comic books for a living?
Jason Martin: Comics were huge for me! It all starts with Star Wars, I was about 6 years old when that came out and rocked my world. Me and all my friends were obsessed… collecting the trading cards, buying the school supplies, playing with the figures night and day, and then one fateful afternoon there was a poly-bagged set of issues 1-3 of the Marvel Comics adaptation at the local Gresham Fred Meyers department store (in the toy section). I took those home and poured over them night and day, wearing them thin by tracing and drawing the Storm Troopers and Darth Vader. It was nirvana!
From there I started finding and reading other Marvel licensed/sci-fi comics like Micronauts, Rom Spaceknight, and Battlestar Galactica. Which eventually led to their superhero stuff, with Fantastic Four (l loved Herbie the robot from the cartoons), Layton and Michelinie’s Iron Man, The Hulk (also a TV show), and then later the Uncanny X-Men (my first issue was just after the Death of Phoenix)… which rocked my world.
And around then was the birth of the direct market and comic shops and I would live for that and the indie boom of the early 80’s. A solid 6 plus year run of living for comics which led to me doing my first comic series starting in 1983 (at age 12)!
PopCultHQ: You’ve been writing for over a decade, from 2005’s SUPER REAL to this month’s release of DANGER DOLL SQUAD: GALACTIC GLADIATORS and VAMPBLADE’s third season. How has your writing style changed since you released SUPER REAL?
Jason Martin: Well, as I mentioned I started writing my own comics as a pre-teen, but then when I turned 16 and got a car and a social life, I pretty much stopped reading comics and then eventually stopped drawing after high school. Fast forward a decade or so and I’d regretted not pursuing my artistic side, and fell back into comics starting back in 1994 – I was at the beach with my girlfriend and knew the local little store used to have comics, so I grabbed a Joe Madureira Astonishing X-Men and it lit the fuse again big time! So I started drawing and sketching again (and reading comics like a fiend again too), and then cooking up new ideas for a comic concept, which eventually became Super Real.
So yeah, this year’s San Diego Comic Con will actually be my 15-year anniversary of starting out in comics. It was the first show I ever did, and debuted an ash-can preview of Super Real in 2003. I then eventually self-published that (doing everything on the book creatively), which led to me publishing books for some other creators, and then that led me to Action Lab.
Since then we published my creator-owned series Night of the 80’s Undead with artist Bill McKay, and it was around this time that I started primarily writing (in addition to working on the business side of things). So when we launched Zombie Tramp from Dan Mendoza as an ongoing monthly in 2014, I started out co-writing that because Dan was still working a full time day job. The book was quite popular and a big seller for us, so when we started talking about potentially launching a concept to compliment it, we discussed the many concepts I had and picked Vampblade as it was a good fit for that (with some retooling to make it more in the horror genre somewhat).
PopCultHQ: What changes have you, personally, seen transpire over the years with the industry?
Jason Martin: Well, like I mentioned, I’ve been around, so quite a bit. I will say, obviously, we’re currently seeing a boom in creator-owned content, and then of course an explosion in variety too. Which is all great. Though, when I started out in the early 2000’s with so much less of that, it was perhaps easier to get noticed. Now it’s just tougher to get seen with such an embarrassment of riches in terms of content. Plus, when I started, it was really at the dawn of comics going mainstream, and they were still kind of forgotten and misunderstood by the general public. So that has radically changed in that time too. It’s a totally different landscape today overall.
PopCultHQ: Vampblade, a character first debuting in Super Real Special Volume 1: Super Real vs The Comic Book Industry back in 2007, is now heading to her third volume at Action Lab’s Danger Zone imprint. To what do you attribute the success and longevity of the character?
Jason Martin: Well, it’s a lot of things really. First, it’s set within the same shared universe as Zombie Tramp, and you can’t discount the exposure that brings. And then of course I’ve also had the good fortune to work with some truly amazing and talented creators. I mean, artists that I would go nuts for as a fan. I’m a huge fan of stylized artwork, and that’s part of the house style we have, and part of what’s different about our in-house universe of books. So much of what’s out there embraces an older, safer aesthetic stylewise, that it really helps our books stand out. And then, to be able to have artists like Winston Young, Marco Maccagni, Celor, and now Marcelo Costa on our roster and bring these books to life? That’s huge!
It doesn’t matter how good the script, concepts, characters, ideas are, this is comics, a visual medium, so you have to have talented artists to bring it to life. And I’m very fortunate in that regard!
PopCultHQ: What do you enjoy most about attending and appearing at conventions? How do fans of your work respond when meeting you in person?
Jason Martin: Conventions are great. As creators we spend so much time on our own… at home, alone, building these worlds and stories. So going out to the shows not only allows us to connect with other like-minded creators, but we also get to connect directly with the fans, and there’s nothing better than that!
And then fans, in terms of connecting to a writer, as someone who’s an artist too and does art and has had fan interaction from that, it’s a bit different. More low key. People connect to art more viscerally, on more of a gut level, so they get more excited over that. It’s just that you find the really openly excited fans are fewer and further between for the writing.
PopCultHQ: What is the most challenging aspect for you when it comes to writing a miniseries? What is the most challenging aspect for you when it comes to writing an ongoing series?
Jason Martin: For a mini-series it’s fitting everything you want to do within the story arc. Otherwise they’re the same, as everything is written in similarly lengthed arcs, but in an ongoing series you have the luxury of working in any ideas you can’t fit in the first arc down the road.
For an ongoing series, once you get going, it’s really keeping the scripts ready on time month in and month out. As an artist/creative type you tend to want to follow your muse, but when you have X amount of books due a month, you have to resist that and stay focused.
PopCultHQ: What has been the most important and/or valuable piece of advice you’ve received as a writer in the comic book industry?
Jason Martin: Well, I don’t know that I’ve really received any advice like that, but there are a couple things come to mind here as general good advice…
1) This is the comic book industry, and we as creators can get really attached to concepts that we create, but the reality of the market is, chances are the majority of things will simply not find a sustainable audience. So you have to be willing and able to work on many different ideas and not tied too much to any one thing. And,
2) As a comic creator you meet so many aspiring creators, and I always like to tell them, the beauty of comic books is that literally anyone who has the desire and passion can do them. And that’s especially true even more so today with digital, comic con proliferation, and crowdfunding. Get out there, start out on the path, see where it takes you!
PopCultHQ: On top of VAMPBLADE and DANGER DOLL SQUAD V.2, what’s on tap in 2018 for Jason Martin? Any conventions and signing appearances lined up?
Jason Martin: Yeah, 2018 started really big for me with season 3 of Vampblade and the Danger Doll Squad: Galactic Gladiators mini, but I do have some new personal projects in the works for Kickstarter. I did a book there a little while back, PRINCE-S STARthief, and I have a couple more lined up this year (soon!).
And then yes, I like to get out to about 10 shows a year give or take. Mostly in my West Coast/Pacific NW region, but then also a couple outside that too each year. I’m at San Diego Comic Con every year – this July will be my 15th anniversary exhibiting there! And I have Rose City Comic Con this September. But I plan to line up some more shows…
PopCultHQ: If you had the power or ability to make one change in the comic book community or industry, what would it be?
Jason Martin: Find a way to get them in front of more people. With the movies becoming bigger and bigger, and things like The Walking Dead and other comics on TV, we still need to bring more eyeballs to the medium. For as huge as comics have become in other media, they haven’t followed suit in terms of distribution/sales.
PopCultHQ: Which other writers are you reading right now? If given the opportunity, is there a writer currently producing comic books that you’d like to work with (in any capacity)?
Jason Martin: Well, to be honest, I’m more of an art guy. To me, comics are first and foremost a visual medium. So I’m drawn to works that excite me artistically. That said, there are writers that I do love. I’m a big fan of Mark Millar and Grant Morrison, I’ll read most anything they do. I really like what Jason Aaron has done with his Marvel titles, and always enjoy Brian K Vaughan and Rick Remender too.
And I really enjoy working with other writers, and collaborating with artists and creators, so I’m always up for more of that!
Special thanks to Jason for making time to speak with PopCultHQ.
To find out more about our April Writer of the Month,
be sure to follow Jason Martin online!
Writer/Colorist – Jason Martin