Comic artist Christopher Jones talks about his craft, Batman, Young Justice and more

Christopher Jones at his booth in Comic-ConPhoto taken by Casey Watts

Jax Anger

Editor in Chief

Few artists get to draw the iconic gold standard of comic book characters, but Christopher Jones has worked for Marvel, DC and elsewhere over the course of his career inking Batman, Robin, The Joker, and many more including the new comic called "Parallel Man."

Jones began his craft at a young age, and after a stint at the Chicago Art Institute he dropped out due to financial problems and worked his way into the industry.

“No one has ever, as I've been pursuing art-related jobs, asked where I went to school. Your product as an artist is so tangible, that they really just want to see you work, and maybe know what your work history is.”

Jones said that he does not try to dissuade people or tell them not to go to art school, but that there is little difference in the school you choose to go to. He believes that the artist’s product is their best representation of their talent.

“It’s more the practical training and experience you get, and how useful that is to you to then move forward from there into then getting work.”

Jones said that although he’s self-taught he has been teaching himself to draw most of his life and that it’s always a learning process.

“You don’t just fall out of bed one day and know how to do stuff. You basically have to scrape together all of the knowledge and practice and training that you would have gotten through school, on your own.”

During his panel discussion, Jones told the audience about some of the problems he's had working on different comics.

While working on the "Young Justice" series,  Jones told about an issue that arose while trying to ink the scenes of the character Queen Bee as she killed the mother of one of the other characters, Beast Boy.

The Scene in question called for Queen Bee to use her mind control powers on Beast Boy’s mother. Queen Bee’s power is mind control, but it only works if she can kiss her intended victim.

The scene was drawn with Queen Bee not quite, but almost locking lips with Beast Boy’s mom, which passed the initial rounds of screening and approval, but at the last minute, censors decided the subject matter was too controversial for the intended audience of the comic. The “Young Justice” series carries a comic book rating of “all-ages.”

“Most American entertainment errs on the side of caution, to the extreme, when it comes to anything intended for younger audiences, They’re so nervous of somebody somewhere complaining about something.”

Although frustrating, Jones does empathize with the decisions of the comic book editors.

“It’s totally their right, it’s their characters, their [copy] rights and their risk. It’s just particularly aggravating when you’re having to play by the ‘all-ages’ rules when nobody working on it thought it should be all-ages”

Jones stated that he loves drawing new characters from both Marvel and DC comics.

” ...when I get to work on a new character that I hadn't worked on previously, I totally geek out over it and if that ever stops being the case, I should probably find a different job.”

Jones said that he never tires of drawing characters, even if they aren't his own creation. “There’s obviously a great satisfaction that comes from creating your own thing, putting it out there and hopefully having people respond to it. But, of course its massively satisfying when you get to draw a character that you grew up loving.”

Jones went on to state that Batman was his inspiration and that thus far, Batman is his favorite character to draw as well.

“I've gotten to draw a significant amount of that character [Batman], and knowing that the work I do is a gateway into that fandom for another generation of readers, in the way that someone else’s work was for me is extremely gratifying.”

Jones said that his ability to change stylistically has helped when he has to switch between different comic series. “Batman 66” was based off of the original “Batman” television series. The artwork and character work varied greatly between the “Young Justice” series and “Batman 66.” Jones said that in the case of animation properties, you’re trying to match the designs of the show, which made the “Young Justice,” and “Batman 66,” series so challenging.

Jones said that the character of Blue Beetle from “Young Justice” was one of the hardest characters he’s had to draw because of all the “fiddly details.” He said he constantly referred to the model sheets to see how his armor connected and fit together.

Jones said for those looking to break into the industry the best advice he could give them would be to not continually draw sample pages of known characters.

“Don’t just draw sample pages and hope that DC or Marvel will hire you. If your long-term goal is for DC or Marvel to hire you…start doing your own thing and then if ever they're interested in having you draw their characters you can do a page then.”

Jones recommended that if you’re going to draw sample pages to “just draw your own thing,” because at the end of it you will have a finished product.

“If you draw 20 [sample] pages you’ve got a book, and you can take that book, you can publish it online for free, you can self-publish, you can try to submit it, to make a deal with a publisher, you can do something with it- you have a product.”

Jones can be found online at christopherjonesart.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

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