Art of The Shepherd: An Interview with Jaime Martínez
My first exposure to the artwork of Jaime Martínez was in my role of submissions editor for Caliber Comics back in September of 2017.
My publisher, Eric Reichert, sent me a book entitled Cursed Land to review. The graphic novel, a haunted house-type, horror story written by the Finnish author Hannu Kesola, was illustrated by this amazing Spaniard, Jaime Martínez.
Jaime’s art was chilling, truly unsettling. I felt it was a perfect match for a ghost story like Cursed Land. I ended up recommending that Caliber pick up the book (which it did: http://www.calibercomics.com/cursed-land.html)!
Even though I went on to edit other books and, of course, work on The Shepherd series—at the time Roberto and I were working on The Path of Souls/ The Path of Dogs—Jaime’s work left a lasting impression. Eventually, in the Fall of 2018, I commissioned Jaime to do the piece we are discussing in this interview.
ROBERTO: When did you first get interested in art, and how did you come to know that art would be your chosen profession?
JAIME: I´ve always drawn—since I was a little kid. I don´t remember the beginning. Some years ago, some friends encouraged me to send sample pages to publishers in the USA. Since then, I have never been without work in comics.
ROBERTO: The first thing that strikes me about your painting of The Shepherd and Legio is your use of vibrant colors! This is a very unique approach considering the characters are ghosts. Can you walk us through your thought process in using such an impressive array of colors so successfully?
JAIME: In those days, I was fascinated by the use of vibrant colors in my work. And what a better way to apply it than to the characters of The Shepherd and Legio who come from a spiritual world? However, what I´m saying is only a rationalization of a feeling or inspiration at the time of working on that project.
ROBERTO: There is a clear religious component in your work with the depiction of the resurrected Christ at the top of the painting. Was this merely a reflection of the cemetery setting or is there a deeper significance for you?
JAIME: Well, I think you got me—Ha ha! I am not a Catholic, but I have a deep affinity with the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and I wanted to include him in this illustration. Anyway, it is not anything religious but rather something spiritual and intimate.
ROBERTO: This was the first time you ever did a drawing/ painting of The Shepherd and Legio. Can you describe your overall strategy in composing this piece?
JAIME: For this illustration, my idea was to capture some of the epic composition that Alex Ross achieves with his compositions. I wanted to do something with a heavy weight of emotions—and both the composition and the color are like that—so that the reader receives a strong impact when seeing it.
ROBERTO: Now that you have worked, illustrating the world of The Shepherd (in both The Valentine and now The Tether) what might you do differently with the characters?
JAIME: Well, now I know the characters much more, especially so with Legio! I think I would change only two things: First of all, I would make Legio much bigger, savage and black. I think he is imposing much more with his black fur and black eyes. I really enjoy drawing Legio like this. And second, I would lower the vibrant colors a bit. I think it could have been better with more muted colors. However, I do not like to look back at the past, and fortunately, I have many pages to reflect these characters as I see them right now. You will have to be attentive to the future of The Shepherd.
With many artists, the completion of a commission might spell the end of the collaboration. However, this is hardly the case with Jaime.
In May 2019, Jaime agreed to join Team Shepherd as the artist on the third story of our series, The Shepherd: The Valentine.
In July 2020, The Valentine was completed (and will hopefully be published by Scout Comics through their Black Caravan horror imprint in 2021). However, Based on our excellent working relationship, Roberto and I were certain that we wanted to continue telling Shepherd stories with Jaime. So, we sent him the script for The Shepherd: The Tether to see if he was interested. Jaime responded positively and began work in late July 2020. NOTE: The image below is the FIRST image from The Tether to be shown to the public.
Beyond our work as writers and artist, Jaime and I have worked together as editor and artist through our collaboration with Juan Torres of Amigo Comics (Málaga, Spain). Juan and Jaime have worked together on an astounding horror title called, Roman Ritual, a story that focuses on a Roman Catholic priest who works as an exorcist. Between Juan’s amazing storytelling and Jaime penchant for depicting horror stories, this is one graphic novel that no lover of the horror genre should miss!
I was brought on to edit Roman Ritual, Volume 2. I can assure you that it is a worthy successor.
All in all, I can say that working with Jaime has been a truly joyful collaboration. Without doubt, I consider him a true friend. I cannot wait to see what we will produce together!