Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Interview: Jordie Bellaire

This interview took place over a week ago. I wanted to post this so much sooner because I had an absolute blast talking to Jordie and we continued to chat even after the interview was over. She's a genuinely fun person to talk to. However, because we talked for so long it made transcribing the interview a very slow process. I think it was worth it though, and I hope you enjoy our twelve minutes of chat below.

If you don't know Jordie Bellaire, chances are you probably do. She's the colourist on some of the best comics this year like Mara, The Manhattan Projects and Half Past Danger (all of which I previously complimented on this site) and a ton more. I got to speak to her during D.I.C.E. 2013 last month.


Aaron: I was going to say "welcome to Dublin" but that's dumb because you live here!

Jordie: Yeah, I've lived here now for about three years with Declan Shalvey.

A: How do you find Dublin in comparison to America?

J: Well I'm from Florida where they actually get the sun. There you go, that's the main thing you need to know! And from the South where there is cornbread, and fixin's, and pancakes, and waffles, and food. I'm really hungry right now.

A: Do they have Bojangles down as far as Florida? I know Georgia has it.

J: Bojangles... that's the chicken place yeah? I don't think it's a Florida thing but I do know about them.

A: That place is like crack... There were a few questions I wanted to ask you. One of the things I've been really impressed by in The Manhattan Projects is the split personality colour thing you do with the red and blue sides of Oppenheimer. How did that come about?

J: Red and blue was all Jonathan Hickman's idea. John Hickman is a genius. He's like an art director as well as a writer. The red and blue thing is mainly just his way of cross-creating some of the symbolism  of split personalites, evil/good, and in the new one science/imagination which is pretty cool. The thing is when I first signed on to the book there was someone who had done the colours previous to me and they weren't quite as intense as the way I do them. They had much more of a spectrum. Like they used browns more, you know, because sometimes reds can look like brown. But I told John when I signed on "no, I'm not doing it that way" and he was like "I think your way might be a little bright" and I was "no, it will look even better, it will be more exotic and it will look fetching". I think people have really reacted to it because it's bright red and bright blue, what's not to like?

A: It's almost Kubrickian, in a sense.

J: I love Kubrick. I'm so glad you said that because I think about Kubrick all the time when I colour so that's awesome. Thank you.

Pencils by Nick Pitarra, Colour by Jordie Bellaire

A: I feel like Hickman is probably unusual in that sense because he has a background in design and he would be very conscious of that sort of stuff. I'm assuming he probably gives more of that kind of direction than most.

J: It's not even that he gives me direction but from the very beginning he did a bit of that kind of stuff like with the red and blue guy because, of course, it's his story so sometimes I don't know what kind of symbolism there is going to be or what his genius brain has planned for down the line. But I would say that happens with a lot of writers, like Brian Wood is also really good. I worked with him on The Massive. He's really good at giving you reference and what kind of tone he wants. Right now I'm working on his "Northlanders arc" in The Massive and that dude loves Vikings. So I actually was like "I'm a little stuck on ships can you please send me some reference?" and he sent me to this website which has thousands of images of Viking stuff. It's not necessarily over-cumbersome directing but it's definitely "this is it, I know everything". So I think a lot of writers are actually good for that.

A: I feel like, with a lot of creators being very vocal online now, that people are starting to get a little more of an idea about how important colouring is in comic books. Whereas before I think people might have thought that it's part of the artist's side of work and that they're the same thing. Is there anyone in particular who you think has helped with that and been the most vocal about coloring?

J: Declan Shalvey has been really good, he's my boyfriend of course but I think he has always been really good not just for me personally. And I don't want to pat myself on the back but I just don't– am I allowed to curse? I don't take shit, I really don't.
I don't know if you know but there was a Con last year who I'm not going to name, they changed their mind later, but they did not want me at all. I was really annoyed but I said: "OK, fine". I thought that I'd ask if I could get even just a "pro" badge if I can't get in on the guest thing and they said: "no badge". When you're denied a pro badge when you've just gotten 6 books from dudes with really– I was not happy. So I kinda went to bed angry and then I found out it happened to another colourist friend of mine at the same show. That's when I jumped up. You can do it to me but not my peers, that's not fair. And so, I don't know, I kinda don't take shit.
One day on Twitter I found this hash-tag #ColoristAppreciationDay where everybody changed their tune. That was a really good day. I know it's been happening slowly but I think that was the day artists were actually showing comparisons between black and white line-art versus colour. People were finally like "oh, a colourist did all that? I didn't realize".

A: "I get it now"

J: Yeah. A lot of times people aren't even - you know Bettie Breitweiser? She does Winter Soldier - a lot of that is her own rain texture. A lot of people think that's already in there and sometimes it is but sometimes it isn't. Just to instantly assume that the artist does everything is really quite unfair. I think a lot of it changed that day honestly which is great.

Pencils by Butch Guice, Colour by Bettie Breitweiser

A: I think places like DeviantArt and Tumblr have also been a lot of help in the process too.

J: Oh yeah.

A: If you had to pick only one social media network though, which one would it be?

J: ...Twitter. I was going to say Tumblr but my Tumblr is, I'm not ashamed to say, is a lot of just naked ladies and comics. Tasteful naked ladies. But I'm really into weird things, like Rooney Mara. And there are only so many Rooney Mara and comic images. I definitely like Twitter because it's more connected with the people I'm really missing now from home so when somebody tweets something and talking about whatever, Twitter is the best.

A: It seems like there is a great community between comic book creators on Twitter as well. Sometimes I will look at my feed and it's just Brian Bendis and Jonathan Hickman making fun of each other along with Matt Fraction and everybody else. It's crazy.

J: Yup, yup. I love that, Twitter will bring that out. You get to see everyone not really classy. Everyone kind of dumbs down on Twitter... "Not really classy" is what I just said, yeah.

A: Haha, it's fine.

J: But I love Twitter, it's a really good place for people, fans, to speak to a creator and break that boundary. For people who don't really get a chance to talk to those sort of people and maybe should. It's so good that people get to talk to each other and not hold judgements.

A: Speaking of no judgements, I'm now going to start a dumb questionnaire...

J: With your serial killer scribblings.

A: I know! This is how bad my hand-writing is, it's like chicken scratchings. OK. So what is your favourite cheese?

J: Gouda.

A: Is it gou–  no, I'm not going to make that bad joke.

J: Oh come on, you said you're a comedian.

A: I know... Who is the best twerker in comics?

J: Kieron Gillen.

A: I realise that not many people are going to be able to answer this but do you have a favorite sports team?

J: Miami Dolphins.

A: Really?

J: My dad likes them so I'm just saying what he wants me to say. Cut this part out so he just gets the good part. He'll go "YES!".

A: "That's my girl". OK, next one, Fuck / Marry / Kill - Trades / Digital / Single Issues.

J: I've never actually played this game with inanimate objects.

A: That's what makes it interesting.

J: I love trades. I'd fuck the shit out of digital stuff, I could burn digital issues at this point.

A: Really? OK.

J: I've bought comics since High School and right now in my house they are stacking up. Do you know what sucks about being a comic artist? You get comps. I'm done with single issues. I'm giving them away for free right now.

A: Hey, guys, look up Jordie on Twitter and you can get some free issues. Next question: Ryan Gosling?

"Hey girl, I really like your colours"
J: Yes. All the time yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yesyesyesyesyes. Who says no?

A: You know what? You'd be surprised. I have a friend who suggested once that Ryan gets all the parts for people with Down Syndrome. That's kinda mean.

J: I've liked Ryan Gosling for a long time though so I'm not really bothered by this hate.

A: Have you gone back and watched The Notebook recently?

J: No, I hate The Notebook actually. I used to work in a video store and I don't dig that Ryan Gosling. He has been in some bad videos.

A: I feel like he has kind of grown into himself in the last couple years.

J: Oh yeah, I feel like he has become an actor proper. It's like with Josh Hartnett, they tried to turn him into a heart-throb too and he came out and said he's not going to do it and only started taking weird roles. I feel like Ryan Gosling took the same approach.

A: Yeah, although I'm sure Josh probably wishes it was the 90s still. What was the last movie you saw in the cinema?

J: Insidious 2

A: ... Why?

J: I really liked Insidious, I don't care what anyone says. I'm a really big horror fan. I watched Insidious without any hype and was really pleasantly surprised that it wasn't awful. I thought "cool" it has some good effects and things, except for the last act which was awful. So I took some friends who were in town to see Insidious 2 and I think by the end of the film I was like "what have I put them through? This is shit". What I couldn't understand was that everyone in the audience was screaming, hollering, and at the end they even cheered. There was this stupid girl behind me who wouldn't stop talking the entire– I'm sorry, I'm ranting. Insidious 2 was an awful experience and I hadn't taken a day off in 3 weeks, it's not how I wanted to spend it.

A: That's actually the reason why I asked that question because I recognize that you've probably got very little down time.

J: Well before that the last time I took some time off I watched some movies at home. I watched The Awakening which was also a piece of shit horror movie and I watched Mama which was not a piece of shit, I liked that movie.

A: I haven't seen it so I'll have to check that one out. Who would win in a fist fight between Frank Miller and Alan Moore?

J: Do I care?

A: That's a legitimate answer. If you could play any comic character in a movie, who would you play?

J: Mary-Jane. Or, because Mary-Jane doesn't have any powers, I would really like to be The Phoenix Jean Grey because she's the best. Can you see how I kind of have her inner rage?

A: I've been reading Battle of the Atom and I'm very impressed that they've gone so many issues with two Jean Greys and none of them have died yet.

J: I know. I do love Jean Grey, I really do, but my heart is still with the original.

A: You're in the minority of Jean Grey fans I feel.

J: Really? What?

A: Yeah, there are a lot of haters for Jean Grey because people don't seem to notice what she does apart from die.

J: Whatever. She's only a bad-ass but I'm not getting into it. She's an amazing female leader, but whatever.

Pencils by Kris Anka, Colour by Jordie Bellaire

A: And my last question is one I think you'll enjoy, what are all the comics that you're involved in out there that we should buy?

J: Well there is Nowhere Men which is actually coming out now this October, Mara which is just finishing up, there is The Massive, The Rocketeer, Captain Marvel. Actually I'm not colouring that anymore but I am doing the annual. And I have the All New X-Men Special which also features Superior Spider-Man, they're all coming out in October.

A: Well considering all this work I really appreciate you taking the time out from all that to talk to me today...

J: But that's wasn't all of them, I'm not done!

A: Oh, I'm sorry.

J: I can't remember them all now though, so you're fine, I'm sorry. Oh no, wait, one more! Three with Kieron Gillen and Ryan Kelly, it's really good, it's the opposite story of 300.

A: Yes, I have seen a preview of that. It looks good.

J: It's really tonal and great. Everyone should get it, especially if they're a history buff.

A: So, not so much homoeroticism?

J: I don't know. Unless you want it. I can't make promises like that. It may come in to play.

A: Well, thank you very much for joining me today.

J: You're very welcome.