Jason poses in front of his prize-winning character design from the Steampunk Sketch Jam.
In this edition of 5 QUESTIONS I pick the brain of one of my favorite local cartoonists: Jason Thompson. Jason’s line work, contrast and level of detail are awe-inspiring. He’s also a hell of a fun guy to draw with all afternoon.
1. How did you get into doing comics?
I read comics ever since I was a kid. I read “Peanuts” and “Bloom County” with my mom, but I didn’t really get deeply into them until college. First, there was a friend of mine in college, Dan Nitzani, who got me into American indy comics and “good superhero comics” like Scott McCloud, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, etc. Second, that was when I started getting into anime and manga — Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, Maison Ikkoku, etc.
I told you his line work was awe-inspiring.
At the same time I also learned about the small press and self-publishing (this was before webcomics), so I got the bizarre idea that I could actually make my own comics and get them out there where people could see them. I self-published an early version of The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath and some other comics, like The Stiff, and then I ended up working at the manga publisher Viz for 10 years. Later I wrote the graphic novel series King of RPGs, which is in sort of a manga style, drawn by the awesome Victor Hao. I’m into a lot of very different types of comics and my work is a mix of these influences.
2. You had a successful Kickstarter for The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath, what did you learn from the experience and what advice do you have for others?
Kickstarter is incredible! It’s one of the greatest things to come out of social media in the last few years. It’s enabled me to get in touch with fans and potential fans around the world that I never could have met otherwise. My wife Jay shot and edited the Kickstarter video and I think a strong video is really important. Also, create lots of interesting rewards. And lastly, I just shamelessly emailed everyone I know and spread the word.
Wraparound cover art from The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath.
3. What is it about the work of HP Lovecraft that you find so inspiring?
I had always seen his name mentioned in science fiction and horror books ever since I was a kid and it had a sort of mysterious allure to it. When I eventually read his fiction I got into the cosmic nihilism in his work, the idea that the universe is controlled by alien gods, the “insignificance of humanity” thing. Plus, he came up with great monsters. I have a special fondness for The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, though, because of its unusual power of imagination/power of memory theme.
4. Other than your own work, what are your favorite Lovecraft adaptations (comics, games, movies, etc)?
I love the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game, which ties together two of my biggest interests, Lovecraft and gaming. Lately I’ve been listening to a bunch of Lovecraftian roleplaying podcasts at the British fan site yog-sothoth.com.
A beautiful page of architectural renderings from “The Doom that Came to Sarnath.”
5. We’d love to hear about your future projects, what else are you working on?
I’m working on a tabletop card game, a novel, and a new graphic novel. And I’m currently doing a new weekly adaptation of the Lovecraft story “The Doom That Came to Sarnath” at my website, www.mockman.com. Please check it out!
Jason will be participating in this Sunday’s Sketch Jam, come on by and see his artwork at HP Lovecraft’s 122nd Birthday Party at 6:30 pm! We will have a dramatic reading from the Call of Cthulhu, a birthday cake ceremony and tons of great art.
You can also win great prizes generously donated by Artful Dodger Tattoo (gift certificates), Benito’s Chicago Eatery (a free pizza), Arcane Comics (graphic novels) and pick up some swag from Yelp! Pop Chips are providing the snacks and Artist and Craftsman will reward the winning artists with new supplies!
This breathtaking map is a fitting companion piece to the Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath graphic novel.