Georges Jeanty has been bestowed the honor of getting to draw everyone's favorite vampire slayer, Buffy Summers, for writer Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer "Season Eight" monthly series from Dark Horse. The Comic Book Guide sat down with Jeanty to find out when he developed such a love for comics, how he finally broke into the industry, and more about the person behind the page.
QUESTION: Georges, let’s start with your background? How did you get into the comics industry?
I was always a fan of comics, of art really, from the earliest of ages. I just loved art. I grew up in Florida so Mickey Mouse was constantly In my field of vision as a young child. I loved the fantasy of art. I have always had an active imagination and I think that's what has always fueled my passion for art. So naturally I emulated what I saw. I drew. Everything. I was a kid starting out on a strange and wonderful journey that started at the tip of my crayon. As I got older, I just kept on drawing, and the appeal of comics just seemed obvious. I went through high school and college drawing here and there, but not getting serious about it until my mid 20s. I started out in the 'Independents' and worked my way up from there. All in all it took about 6 years to get steady work as a comic artist.
QUESTION: Have you always been a comics reader? Was there a particular book that drew you into the world of comics?
No particular book, but, yes, always a reader. I read whatever was good. I was primarily a Marvel man, but I ventured happily to DC with Berni Wrightson on Swamp Thing, and then later with Wolfman and Perez on Teen Titans. I read all the 'classic' comics. I was a big fan of the European books I could get my hands on. Jamie Hewlett, Eniki Bilal and Milo Manara are just a few of the treasures I found waiting for me in the comics from across the pond. I just really loved art and how people drew. Still do. I just picked up Franklin Booth and Robert McGinnis books that just blow me away when I look through them!
QUESTION: Can you point to any of those characters or stories that you read when you were a kid that really moved you, either as a reader or as an artist?
Oh, yeah. I came across possibly the biggest influence on my artistic life by boredom. In high school I used to get my comics at the local 7-11 or this one Tobacco store on Miami Beach where I was living. This was one of those authentic tobacco stores that sold various things in addition to smoking products. They had a huge magazine section that covered one side of the store, and, next to it, there was this spinning rack of "Hey Kids! Comics!" This place was on my way home from school so I'd stop in often to see what had come out. As anyone who has a similar story would tell you, these places were woefully unkept so you never really knew when new comics were in because the racks had previous issues of any given title all shuffled together.
After a while I had bought up all of the comics I was interested in like Fantastic Four and Marvel Two-in-one. I kept looking thought the racks on various days and always came across these Daredevil comics. I was never a DD fan but I found the cover of 183 intriguing. It was the Punisher apparently shooting Daredevil with a rifle. After a while I just picked it up because there was nothing else to read… and it changed my life. I must have reread that book a dozen times. I went back to the tobacco store because I knew they had various back issues and bought them all. I know Frank Miller didn't invent this style of storytelling, but I had never seen it before. I was inspired to say the least. If there was ever an influence that made me want to do comics, that was it. That and all the girl groupies you get to meet (not true).
QUESTION: You were originally planning to pursue a career in acting… what caused you to switch career paths?
It was simple. I thought I was a better artist than actor. And add to that how hard it is to break into the acting failed, discouraged and frightened me a little. I read that only 10% of all actors are working actors. Didn't much like those odds. I had visions of getting off the bus In Los Angeles and being forced to sleep In the street because I had no where else to go. Like I said, overactive imagination.
QUESTION: How many years were you in the industry before something happened?
My career is famous with almost making it! I had quite a few times where I landed a gig and thought, all right, this is it, just to have nothing happen after the gig was up. I worked briefly for Techno Comics, Defiant, Caliber Comics and the like all the while thinking I was on my way. For about 6 years I lived like this, having 3 or so jobs but ready to leave anyone of them when this comic thing hit. It was a humbling time. Worse it was at the start of the Image explosion and my stuff was nothing like Image so I thought my chances of ever getting work were slim!
QUESTION: Which book have you enjoyed working on the most so far?
This is a loaded question with a seemingly cop out answer, I think the stuff I'm working on right now is my favorite -- if only because I strive to be a better artist with every new project. I really have been pouring my heart and soul in the Buffy stuff so it’s a fair statement to say this Is my best work to date.
I'm very proud of the work I did on The American Way with John Ridley. I've been getting some very good gigs of late and I'm grateful.
So how did you land the gig of drawing the Buffy Season Eight series? You were working on The American Way. Are you multi-tasking multiple books at once? Was Buffy something you were looking for?
I finished The American Way and then jumped on to Buffy. There was no waiting, I finished one and jumped on the other. Buffy was nothing I was looking for and everything I could have wanted. I would have never known about it had the editor Scott Allie not contacted me about the project. I will be forever grateful to him!
QUESTION: Your promos and sketches show your amazing ability to capture the likenesses of Buffy and the core Scooby gang. Have you found it difficult to maintain the likenesses of the characters as you are drawing the series?
Well thanks. I do try and I think it's the likenesses that have taken me that much longer to finish an issue. I really sweat over them, but Joss Whedon told me something that really set me on the right path. He said he didn't want the characters to look like photographs and have that stiffness. He said I don't want you to draw Sarah Michelle Gellar, I want you to draw Buffy. Which just clicked with me. I still struggle, but not as much.
QUESTION: Which character's likeness have you found the most difficult to capture?
I find Dawn to be the hardest to draw just because Michelle is so incredibly beautiful! When you draw a likness you want to bring out something about them that is singular, and Michelle is just a natural beauty which makes it hard to bring out something in particular.
QUESTION: Have you changed your technique at all in how you’re handling this book versus other books in the past?
I'm amazed at guys who can change their looks! I really am. I struggle just to draw the way I do. It never occurs to me to change it. So people like Ryan Sook and Jason Pearson amaze me! I'm drawing this book the best way I know how, that's as honest a statement as I can say. If my stuff looks different it's because I think I'm maturing as an artist.
QUESTION: I know you can't divulge much about the upcoming series, but can you tease a little? What's coming up?
Well, as you can see, the 2nd Issue is out and Willow is in the mix. Is there any question that her and Amy wont get into it? I will say there is one big surprise that will really floor some people at the end of Issue 3. After this arc there is a stand-alone story that Joss wrote. I won’t be drawing that one but I will be back on the next four issue arc that centers around Faith. That will be written by comic writer Brian K. Vaughn. I'm really excited about drawing Faith. I really like her as a character! Other than that I can't say much more only because I don't really know more. I know where it's all going to end but I don't know what the journey is going to be like. And If Dark Horse and Joss Whedon have their way, there will be a steady stream of Buffy for the next few years. So any rabid Buffy fan who was yelling for more Buffy after the show ended can rejoice. She's gonna be around for a while.
QUESTION: The preview pages from TV Guide show Buffy working alongside with Scythe-Activated Slayers that were not on the TV show. Does Joss give you specific instructions on how he wants the Slayers to look or are you given artistic freedom in how you render them?
Those three slayers [two of them in the picture on the right] you saw will be main characters throughout the book. Joss was fairly detailed in what he wanted, but the great thing about Joss is that he doesn't tell you what he wants directly, he uses pop reference to get across what he's after. If you're like minded It's the best way to communicate to someone what you want, like saying I want this city to be futuristic and run down at the same time kinda like in Blade Runner.
There will be several Slayers that we'll be introduced to as this season progresses and just like real people suddenly gifted with incredible powers, not all the Slayers are going to be good Slayers.
QUESTION: Will any of the Scythe-Activated Slayers from the TV show appear in the comic (i.e. Kennedy, Vi, Rona) or are they all new characters?
I haven't drawn any of the TV slayers yet but I do think they make appearances here and there. This whole thing is still being written and I think Joss has made the pool big enough so that at some point whoever's writing a story will come across old friends as well as new.
QUESTION: Does Season Eight occur simultaneously with Angel Season Five? Joss hinted in multiple interviews that Angel and Spike would be showing up at some point, are they still at Wolfram & Hart when the comic begins?
Yes, this Is Season 8 so all the events are cannon. In the inside front of the book you'll notice it says the events of this book take place a few months after the end of season 7. You can put the Angel stuff where you like, but I think for continuity's sake the last season of Angel probably happened in the months between Buffy 7 and this Buffy 8.
Angel and Spike are contractually published by IDW comics, so it makes the idea of Angel and Spike appearing in the Buffy comic unlikely… but not impossible.
QUESTION: What other projects do you have coming up?
For good or bad, and If you like my work then good and If you don't, well… I have no other plans right now other than Buffy. This is my gig. Dark Horse and Joss seem to be happy with what I'm putting out so I mean to stick around a while.
QUESTION: Will you also be the artist on the upcoming arcs, which are being written by Brian K. Vaughn, Brad Meltzer and Jeph Loeb?
Yes. Yes, and yes.
QUESTION: Willow's dress [picture on left] from 'The Long Way Home' arc looks familiar...
Willow's Dress is a homage to the Singing episode. Joss had mentioned to me when I asked him how he likes me to dress Buffy that he saw her dressed in just about anything from Anthropologie. It's a store with cool women's fashions. I look throughout their catalog and just pick out what I think would be appropriate for the scene. It's a lot of fun... I just hope Anthropologie doesn't catch on and want their cut.
QUESTION: Anything else you’d like to leave the readers with?
Just that this gig started out as a job. One I was interested in but didn't have a passion for. After watching all the Buffy episodes on DVD and a good chunk of the Angel episodes, I have to say I'm a fan! I love the Buffyverse. Take heart guys that this book is being drawn by someone who really enjoys these characters and knows enough now to stay true to them. When I read a script I get the image in my head as to how a character is going to react to any given dialog and drawing it that way. I'm having a great time on this book and everyone involved is loads of fun to work with. And yes, Joss Whedon is as cool as you think!
Visit Georges Jeanty's personal website, The Kaba Lounge.com, for all the latest!
Book Guide to Buffy
of the Slayers