I was born and raised in Ypsilanti, MI. My cousin Erin was the first person (that I recall) to introduce me to comics. And ever since I’ve been obsessed with trying to make it, in comics. Drawing has always been the one thing I enjoyed above all else. It’s also the only thing I could do well. I’ve been drawing since I could pick up a pen. And thankfully I had really understanding and encouraging parents.
When did you first know you wanted to be an artist?
I think it was when I understood that one could be an “artist” instead of fireman, police man, etc. as a job. So something around first grade.
What is your favorite thing/comic/superhero/genre to draw?
You have been working on a few different projects including the famous Cursed Pirate Girl, can you tell me a little about it, as well as your other projects. How you got the idea and so forth?
Outside of CPG I’ve really only done the Legends of the Guard story for David Petersen’s Mouse Guard anthology. What I came up with for that was actually the second idea I thought of. The first one was much longer and too intricate. Since it takes me so long to finish stuff I wanted to do something a little simpler and overall more mythic. I thought about what it really means to be a Guardsmouse, a mouse’s mouse. Then I thought what if other animals had mouse protectors. Then I input my love for fighting games and voila!
CPG stems from my love of fairy tales and coming up with absurd characters.
Who is your biggest influence?
I’d say my two biggest artistic influences are Albrecht Durer and Gustave Dore. That world of illustration holds a lot of magic for me. Their pieces are rendered with such a level of discipline that the worlds they show us just seem so real. I stare into them wondering what lies in those shadows or what stands just around the corner of that decaying column?
Being the writer and artist on CPG what are you most proud of, your artwork or your writing and which do you think is more difficult? (Click here to read my review of CPG winner of Manik Creations Best Graphic Novel of 2015.)
I’ve always considered myself an artist over a writer. I do enjoy writing the dialog and I try to put in as many little funny bits as I can. However the drawing is the really fun part and is the most difficult. One of the things I try to incorporate into CPG is that the art isn’t just a vehicle for the story. I try to make each page it’s own unique piece that requires more than the cursory read through.
What piece of work, either writing or art piece, are you most proud of and why?
There are lots of pieces to different pages, prints, projects that I can individually point out as things I’m proud of. Whether it is the hatch marks on an antennae or a subtle shadow under a boot, these pieces are the rungs of a ladder, and they help my climb to become a better artist. Even with the most polished and finished page or piece there are always bits I frown at. So far I am not completely satisfied with anything I’ve done. It’s the old saying of how you are your worst critic.
You have one of the most unique art styles I have seen in the graphic novel world, how did you develop this style?
I think developing my own “artistic voice” took a turn for the labor intensive and time consuming when I came across a book at the art store I worked at. The book is Illustrations And Ornamentation From The Fairy Queene published by Dover. It collects all the illustrations Walter Crane did for The Fairy Queene first published in 1894. It alongside a couple of Arthur Rackham collections also published by Dover opened my eyes to a world of illustration that I became obsessed with. I found something I loved to look at and loved to draw even more. I started absorbing Rackham, Nielsen, Clarke, Crane, Dore, Hogarth, Durer, Ford, Booth, Coll, pretty much anyone in that etching/pen & ink kind of vein.
As an aspiring comic writer, I am very inspired by your success, and am blow away by your talent. You are one of the few creators that I have seen get picked up by a publishing company (Archaia Comics) who published Cursed Pirate Girl. Can you talk a little about the submittal process and how it all worked out or any advice to those out there trying to make it?
Getting my book published was a very simple and complicated thing. I self published issue one of CPG through Comixpress.com. I had them print 200 copies at $1.50 an issue and took them to a Wizard World Chicago. There is an artist named Douglas Klauba who had a table across from me at that show. He came over said he liked what I had to offer and bought a book. He showed that book to a friend of his -Tom. Tom came up to me at the following Wizard World Chicago and said he’d like to publish CPG. Tom’s company Olympian Publishing published the first 3 chapters (issues) followed by a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a soft cover trade of said chapters. Then after discussing the book’s future we decided to look at a bigger company to take over the series. I knew some people over at Archaia and asked them if they would like to publish a hardcover of volume 1 and then take over publishing the rest. They said yes. So maybe it’s a little more simple then complicated but it’s taken a long time to get to where it is. Primarily because it takes so long for me to do it. I’d say as far as any advice I can offer up, there’s one thing. I didn’t come up with it, it was some advice I heard when I was in a low period. I had just had a particularly harsh critique at a portfolio review at SDCC and I needed to recoup a bit. I wandered into a line for Hall H, I didn’t have a clue as to what panel was next. I sat down and Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez came out to talk about their new project Grindhouse. Needless to say I was frickin amazed and psyched and flabbergasted. But at the end amongst the questions from fans one fan asked advice on how to get into the biz. Robert had a pretty comprehensive answer and then Quentin chimed in with the advice that sparked this trip down memory lane. He said “or, you can make something really fucking good!” and went on to say that if you did that people will notice and you will get hired. Make something REALLY FUCKING GOOD! Has become a personal mantra.
When I first wrote out the story of this little orphan scrapper I wrote it as a 6 chapter story. Tom thought it’d be good to break up the story into two parts since it takes so long for me to finish. The hardcover that Archaia/BOOM! published (the blue book) contains the first 3 chapters. This new flimsy (the red book) is chapter 4. Eventually, chapters 5 and 6 will come out as individual issues and not too far after will come the hardcover of volume two which will collect 4,5 and 6. And that’s it. I have other story arcs in mind, but I don’t know if the comic medium will be the right fit for them.
What does the future hold for Jemery Bastian, do you have any new projects you are working on?
There is a project I’ve been asked to do, it’s very top secret and I don’t even know if they will still be interested in me for it by the time it takes me to finish CPG but it would be really impressive. Sorry I can’t say any more about it. Other than that I’d really like to do a gallery show. I follow a lot of amazing artists online and they look like they’re having so much fun working on gallery shows. To design single pieces that stand alone is really appealing. Don’t get me wrong, I love comics … but, the panel by panel translation of a story can get a little tedious at times. 🙂 I have a different story that I think would be a great story book type of thing, here’s my 4 word pitch- Megaman meets Hieronymus Bosch.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I’d just like to end with a very big thank you to all my fans! Thank you for your extreme patience and understanding! I have prints available on jeremybastian.bigcartel.com and you can follow me on Instagram at @Jeremy_Bastian and Twitter at @JeremyBastian and you can frustrate yourself with my very unupdated blog artofjeremybastian.com.