Thursday, September 20, 2012

Jon Clark

Jon Clark discovered a love for all things horror after watching the head-melting scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark. After that, he began religiously viewing the exploits of all ’80s horror movies (especially SPFX artist Tom Savini’s). In between drawing and making monsters he’d drop a blood capsule in his mouth just to freak out his parents. Currently he resides in Los Angeles with his wife and son. He hasn’t introduced them to the blood-capsule trick—yet.

What inspired your very creepy story “Void”? (It’s not autobiographical, is it? If it is, you shouldn’t admit to it.)

I honestly don’t know where the idea came from. I guess it’s just that whole what rejection and anger feels like thing. Incidentally I’m pretty sure I came up with it idea while sitting with a bunch of people waiting to be called for jury duty in downtown LA. I remember being very secretive about drawing tiny little mockup sketches of a girl with roaches all over her, and hoping no one was looking over my shoulder…  

As you stated in your bio, you love horror. Is the very creepy “Void” your first published horror story?

It is! And hopefully, hopefully not the last! I’m working on the illustrations for a story that’s coming out next year, and there’s a big, full-on graphic novel that I’ve started doing the first 20 pages of, which, if all works out, I don’t think people will ever look at stuffed animals the same way again... 

What are some of your favorite horror stories? (And they don’t have to be limited to comic books.)

You’ve just opened up a can of worms there, that’s like the question you dream about answering, but where to begin? An old EC Vault of Horror comic story “Partnership Dissolved” is probably one of my all time favorites. I love Graham Ingel’s style. No one can get ghoulish facial contortions the way he could. Junji Ito is my current favorite, Uzumaki, especially the second volume, “Jack in the Box” and “Mosquitos” are just unparalleled in a sort of how-freakin’-crazy is that, but-wait-a-second-that’s-just-messed-up-man way. As for movies: There’s Jaws, Halloween (the original), and, even though it’s a bit hoaky at times, re-watch Halloween III and really stop and think about the true concept of what’s going on there… it’s really disturbing. Don’t get me started, cause I can go on and on about this stuff. I discovered H.P. Lovecraft in college and to my shock realized the story I was reading took place right down the street from where I was living in Providence. I’m originally from Maryland so of course Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” is pretty much perfect. As is “Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar”. I’ve read horror stories from the Goosebumps series to Algernon Blackwood and MR James and everything in between…and I could go on all day.

Explain to Hellbound readers your creative process. Was the story written independently and before the art or did both develop together?

Yes, the genesis of “Void” actually came from my desire to make the story into a film. I had set things in motion and was meeting with a cinematographer friend of mine; we’d sit down, and I’d say, “Well, it should look like this, almost black and white. The whites are blown out hot, the blacks are way, way black. I don’t want it to have any cuts, just almost superimposed images upon itself going from one image to the next in certain areas of the frame. Can we do that? And within all the transitions, can we have these squiggly blurred-out-of-focus but moving things (that we discover are the roaches later), can we do that too?” I think he was starting to get it, but we both decided I should really plan this thing out and just do all the storyboards as an added way for us to communicate. And as I did them, I started thinking, “I’m going to do this as a comic — this would make a really cool short horror comic!” The art kind of sprang from all those percolating ideas.

What did you find most challenging about your very creepy story “Void”?

I think letting go of the frames. It started with page 2, I actually had frames in the beginning, but they were like half-frame-things which looked really awkward. Then I just said, forget it (although I believed I used another word that begins with “f”). And dropped them all out, and had a kind of epiphany moment. I started seeing connections within all the drawings, and it went back to my original idea with the film, no cuts.  And I liked that, it changed up the thought process. But would it work consistently? Would a reader be able to coherently follow the narrative? That became the question.

Artistically, was there anything you were hoping to achieve?

I just wanted to get into the characters’ heads and hopefully portray the right mood and the feel and have it all ring true.

Are you happy with the results?

Yes, I am very happy with the results. I really am. I think it’s pretty solid all around. I’m sure I could fiddle with it endlessly, but if I put it away and look at it after a week or so, I can see it a bit fresh and then I find myself saying, “Hey, this part’s pretty solid,” or, “I really got the mood right for that moment.” And that’s a big win for me.   

Finally, what do you think with frighten your wife and son more, the blood-capsule trick or your very creepy story “Void”?

The blood capsule for sure. My wife is VERY WELL versed in my disturbed thoughts, writings, drawings and sculptures. It’s old hat for her. The same goes for my son.

Thank you, Jon.

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