This is my interview with Arts Department Editor Jason Miller who works for Shock Horror Magazine. So let’s talk art shall we.
Chris: Jason, please tell my readers a little about yourself, where you’re from?
Jason: Well hello, a little about me… I’m from a little town just outside northwest London, called Watford. I was brought up on a steady diet of comic books, films and rock music. From as early as I can remember, when asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I always responded with the answer “a comic artist”. I had an early introduction into horror movies, which came from my grandfather, who used to use ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ to try and get me to bed, when I stayed at my grandparent’s house. It didn’t work, I just fell in love with the genre. So as time went on I started to mix my two loves more and more. So along with Shock Horror I also work as a freelance artist, mainly working on horror related stuff. In my spare time my favourite things to do include spending time with my fiancé, my son and best mates, drinking beer, watching grown men wrestle about in spandex, and listening to dirty metal and music from the deep south.
Chris: Who came up with the ideas for your terrific page layouts?
Jason: As a rule I design the layouts for the magazine. If something comes to me that is really out there, I always run it by Dean (the editor) before I proceed. I think myself and Dean have quite a similar vision for the mag so I like to think he trusts me with his baby lol! I always wait for the articles to come in and then I will use a mix of my knowledge of the film/ band/ artist etc and also the information gained from the article to design my layout.
Chris: As an artist, who gives you inspiration?
Jason: Wow, you may have just opened a can of worms right there hahaha! Surprisingly a lot of the artists that influence me and I love, my work doesn’t actually resemble what they are doing, except the fact we both work in the horror realm. First off, would be Tony Moore, obviously he was the original artist on the ‘Walking Dead’, he also has the amazing ‘Fear Agent’ which, if you haven’t read, everyone should check it out, you know what, if you see Tony Moore’s name on a comic or trade, just buy it, because you won’t be disappointed by the art. Secondly I’d say David Hartman, he is the artist responsible for a lot of Rob Zombies stuff, he also did the art on the ‘American Witch’ video for Mr. Zombie. David has a lot of really amazing pieces, I just love his style, use of colour and his eye for gore and guts! An artist I have just really started to get into is Greg Capullo, he worked on ‘Haunt’ and the lastest DC52 ‘Batman’ his work is sublime. Another artist is Gary Pullin, his horror artwork is brilliant. You can just tell he loves the genre, every piece of his you would love on your wall. For the rest I’ll just list as we will be here all night otherwise hahaha… Jacen Burrows, artist on ‘Crossed’, Jeff Zornow, he does a lot of the Fright Rags t-shirts and also is the artist on the ‘Demons’ comic, Corlen Kruger, twisted pin up artist, I love his retro style. Okay now I really just will list hahaha: Brett Parson, Franchesco, Leinil Yu, Jim Lee, Tim Seeley, Martin Abel, Bryan Baugh, Adam Hughes and Dan Mendoza, plus a whole heap of people I’ve probably forgotten lol! You did ask lol!
Chris: Tell me how did you get the job at Shock Horror Magazine?
Jason: I came on board early on, when Dean was forming the idea of making Shock. Dean was working at another horror mag, I shall not name, I had sent him some samples of my layout work and artwork relating to that mag, which I guess he liked, as when he started looking to make Shock into a reality he approached me about coming on board as the creative editor. Which I jumped at, had we been in the same room, I’d have probably torn his arm off! Dean and I spoke at length about how we wanted Shock to look and our concept behind it. We always wanted it to be a horror culture magazine rather than your run of the mill horror film mag.
Chris: What was your favorite horror movie as a child?
Jason: My favourite horror movie as a child, was probably ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’. That was the one that popped my cherry so to speak, so I have to say that. It was the first horror movie that grabbed me and awoken me to what was out there.
Chris: Where do we see Jason if there is a Zombie Apocalypse?
Jason: Protecting my family, lets face it, I’m a massive zombie geek, who better to protect them. Also I would probably fighting the urge to go look for people that have wronged me in life, so if they have been turned I can chop their heads off hahaha!
Chris: Do you look to fellow artists like Gary Pullin of Rue Morgue fame for any inspiration into your designs and layouts of your magazine or do you prefer to do your own thing?
Jason: I think it would be a pretty evident lie if I said I didn’t look to Gary for inspiration once upon a time. His work on Rue Morgue was amazing! But that is as far as it goes. I really do, do my own thing. I always said to Dean, I wanted to keep the magazine organic and keep producing fresh looks for each article we did, I would hate to just do a standard three text column layout, pasting the odd picture in, how boring. I take it as a massive compliment to even have my name mentioned in the same setting as someone like Gary, it shows me that we are really doing something people like. It’s also testament to what I am attempting with Shock, in regards to layout, when people like yourself take interest enough in my work to discuss it with me.
Chris: I asked Dean this and i'll ask you, what are your thoughts on the current state of horror in Hollywood?
Jason: I think Hollywood level horror is pretty shocking right now. We are just getting slapped with remake after remake and the worst part is that now they have finished with the big franchises, they are now tackling the lesser known films, such as ‘Fright Night’, what next ‘Punk Rock Zombies’?!?! There is so much potential with horror at the moment, so many fantastic directors are appearing, such as Ti West, Adam Green, Michael Dougherty, James Wan and of course Rob Zombie (to name a few), why not give them a huge budget for an original project, rather than releasing another rubbish rom com with 50 different actors in based loosely around a seasonal event. I wouldn’t even mind the big four franchises getting some fresh films out, but enough remakes, enough origin stories, how many times can they re-launch a series. The worst part is, horror doesn’t even need a huge budget, it just needs to be fresh and challenging for it to work. That’s really where Hollywood gets it wrong, they want instant returns in this financial mess we are all in, new horror released around Halloween time will always give you a return, no question. They just got to let these guys off the leash. For good horror you have to wade through indy film after indy film to find a few decent ones, there are a few decent ones out there believe me! I do think Hollywood could learn a lot from the French and Spanish at the moment, but rather than making poor reproductions of their films, look to them for what can be achieved on a low budget! Rant over hahaha!
Chris: Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
Jason: Wow 10 years… I’d like to say alive, a few pounds lighter and still to be retaining my hair hahaha! Seriously tho, hopefully still working on Shock Horror, surely by then we would have taken over the horror world. I wouldn’t mind a few horror comics with my name attached to be out there as well. Other than that, I’m quite a simple man, I’d like to be (finally) married, have a couple more kids that I can mold into mini versions of me and just to still be providing for my family.
Chris: Finally thank you for this interview Jason, and if you have any plugs or websites to talk about please do so now sir.
Jason: No thank you for wanting to interview me. It’s been fun! Well I’ll obviously push shockhorrormagazine.com and also my own art site which is truetilldeath.net
On my personal art site you can contact me for commissions etc. Also I am appearing in a zombie book coming out this year. Its huge! Literally, it has over 150 artists involved, with a lot of big names thrown in there. Its entitled ‘The Zombook’ and you can pre-order it from amazon.co.uk now!
Once again thank you for interview and thank you to everyone for reading Shock Horror!