Check out Charles’ interview with Llexi Leon by clicking here.
Charles Webb: What attracted you to Eternal Descent?
Jason Metcalf: Wings — I’ve got a thing for wings. [Laughs] They were part of it. A lot of things really, from the story to the imagery. I liked the classic angel vs. demons struggle and the girl caught between, a spin on the knight, the dragon and the maiden template. I also liked the setting, described to me as “Gotham meets Blade Runner” — I think there’s still some opportunity to steampunk it out a bit more, but this gave me an opportunity to flex some architectural muscle a bit. And, this story lent itself to heavy use of black.
Beyond that, Eternal Descent as an overall multi-media project is brilliant and I knew that getting involved would only help getting more exposure for myself as well. Seeing my artwork on guitars and amp stacks is pretty cool. Hopefully this cross-pollination will attract more fans to the comic industry.
JM: I read Llexi’s descriptions and the reference materials he provided very carefully. There were already some first generation character designs available as well and I used those as reference. For Sirian, my thought was sort of Thor meets Legolas for the look. I also kept him very stoic — if he’s subtly smirking here and there, he must be ecstatic. His costume was already pretty much nailed before I got a hold of him. I think I may have added his boots though. Lyra was a little less fleshed out and she had more of an anime look to her in previous renditions. I went in and detailed out her costume a bit more, put some lacing on her bodice, some buckles on her boots, added some studded leather strapping around her right arm, a couple studded leather criss-crossed belts around her waist and gave her a spiked leather collar and a set of cross-shaped earrings to finish it off. For me, to help contain character continuity, I like to anchor them to real-world people, an actor or actress or model, so I asked Llexi if he were doing a movie of this project, who would he cast as the lead characters. With some names dropped, their looks started to crystallize.
CW: Could you explain the collaborative process with Llexi on this book?
JM: Llexi is a natural art director I think. His communication style is so clear and descriptive, it’s been very easy to pick up on what he’s looking for and work through some quick mocks to nail the image. He’s also always quick to provide photo references for props, settings, characters, etc. On the pages, we’ve pretty much been working from plot scripts, some dialogued, some not, but as far as what I’ve needed to flesh the page out — the setting, the character actions, props, etc. — it’s all been easy to follow.
And I think Llexi picked up on the fact that I’m flexible and want to service the page as best I can, so we’ve always had a good conversation page by page to nail the shot. We’ve also done several promotional images, which at times were a bit more technical, but again our step by step approach resulted in some great images for the client. I will never forget that the stock head on an ESP guitar is set at a 14-degree angle, by the way.
CW: You have some real-world metal acts appearing in the book. Did you ever get any notes along the “make me look more badass” lines from any of the musicians?
JM: Ha! Well, yes, in fact I did! Not directly from the band member, but through Llexi in having known and interviewed them. One of the things I did was watch music videos online of each of the bands to get a feel for their demeanor, and I watched some online interviews as well. It didn’t take long to separate the bulls from the rushes, so I had a pretty good idea of who to portray in what way. But if anything did fall a little flat in the layout stages, Llexi and I always worked to bump it up to the appropriate level. In the end, I think all egos were given their due, and appetite for “badassness” was sated.
CW: What kind of influences did you bring to this project? I feel like I picked up some Jim Lee and Marc Silvestri from the preview pages.
JM: Yeah, Lee and Silvestri have been influences. So are a host of others, going back to Buscema, Garcia Lopez and more recently Finch, Reis, and Barrows. Hopefully there’s a bit of “me” in there too. This project has served as sort of a transitional vehicle for my art style and approach however. I’ve done a lot more photo reference than I had done previously, and in the past month or so have been actively pursuing an evolution of style. I’ve received some strong editorial suggestion to that end and hope to arrive at something that fans will love, critics will respect, and companies will hire.
JM: Technically only about a year. Although I’ve been attending comic conventions for about 10 years or so as an artist in the Artist Alley. Just a year and a half ago, I left my decade-long career as a Construction Manager in the commercial construction industry to focus on comics and illustration full-time. “Breaking in” for me has been a long road with many twists and turns, but I’ve been patient and perseverant and am a believer that the right things happen for the right reasons.
CW: What are some other books you’ve worked on?
JM: My first “gig” was doing ink assist work with Joe Weems for Top Cow over some Dave Finch Darkness pencils and some Benitez Magdelina stuff. My first published pencil work was Wrath of the Titans #4 for Bluewater Productions. It was a pro-bono, no pay project, but I thought I just needed to get something out there to get the ball rolling. There have been several projects over the last few years which never really got off the ground for various reasons. I’m thankful something finally stuck to the wall.
CW: What’s next for you after Eternal Descent?
JM: I would love to be able to tell you I’m the next penciller on JSA or the All Star Squadron, but right now I really don’t know what’s next. Somewhere down the road, I do have my own high fantasy project I would like to bring to light which I have been laboring over for several years now. Until then, I’ll keep attending shows across the country, doing commission work, and delivering as many more kicking pages of Eternal Descent as the Lord wills me to!