Tristan T-Rex Jones to Illustrate Tom Waltz’s Upcoming Silent Hill Comic!
I had the amazing opportunity to speak with Tristan (T-Rex) Jones, the illustrator for the upcoming Silent Hill graphic novel written by Tom Waltz (Sinners Reward, Past Life, Downpour). Jones specializes in a mix of Sci-fi Horror packed with beautifully raw and emotional illustrations. After discussing his career as an artists, his role as an illustrator and his thoughts on Silent Hill, I feel he is definitely the right man for the job! Click the Read More link below to view my interview with Tristan!
Silent Haven: Hey Tristan, Tell me a little bit about yourself. How long have you been an artist, what is your preferred form of medium when you create illustrations, and what got you involved in illustrating comics at IDW?
TJ: Hey Mike! I’ve only been working as a professional artist for the past 2 or so years… I think. I’ve been drawing forever, but I kinda stopped when I started studying. I did film and television so in a way I was still playing with imagery, but this time I was more focused on the composition of shots and what looked good in motion and the like, and obviously storyboarding was a big part of that. Comics are pretty much just that — storyboarding. You pick which image serves the story best and go with that, and all the same composition rules apply (usually). BUT I didn’t really get into art and comics from that. I did film and television to focus on storytelling, and suddenly I found myself writing a lot. In my third year of study, I landed a job writing for Mirage Studios, who created and owned the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which kept me busy for about six or seven years (I wrote some short Turtles comics for Titan Publishing in the UK while I was with Mirage too), then Peter Laird sold the property to Nickelodeon and I was pretty much out on my arse, so I started drawing again hoping I’d be able to put together some creator owned projects and keep a foot in the door of the comics scene… I work largely with pen and paper, and then I’ll scan it in and clean it up digitally, but if things are tight or there are certain effects I’m trying to achieve, I’ll do things completely digitally, but this is going to be a mix. I do love my fine tip pens!
Anyway, I got asked by Chris Ryall if I wanted to work on Ghostbusters back when they were doing the mini-series thing, but that didn’t work out, then Tom Waltz saw what I was doing with my art online and asked me if I wanted to do something Ghostbusters related which, again, didn’t exactly work out the way we’d hoped but resulted in me doing fun little extras for the now-ongoing series. I kinda had this penchant for drawing horrible things, or cute things in horrible ways, etc. From that I wrote the Lovecraft/TMNT crossover which did pretty well, and continued doing covers and stuff for Ghostbusters, but I got a bit stir crazy and wanted to move on to other things and Tom eventually asked me if I wanted to work on Silent Hill with him. It’s been a few months since then, but here we are.
Silent Haven: Will this be your first time working directly with Tom Waltz on a project or were your TMNT and Ghostbusters comics the same comics that Tom wrote for?
TJ: This’ll be the first time I work directly WITH him. I wrote the Turtles Infestation story which was sort of to the side of what he was doing on the main book, and I worked under him on Ghostbusters.
Silent Haven: What did you think of Sinners Reward and Past Life? Did you like the style that Menton3 did for the illustrations in Past Life?
TJ: I quite liked both stories. I liked that Past Life especially read as just a great horror story on its own without necessarily having to know anything about Silent Hill, and yeah, I REALLY love Menton’s art. He actually did covers for the TMNT story I wrote last year, and when I found out about that I flipped out — so excited!
Silent Haven: How might your illustrations be different or similar to those in Past Life?
Well, outside of the obvious visual differences I think both Menton and I have pretty different ways of presenting a story. At the end of the day, a lot of it comes down to whatever Tom decides to script. I’ve got a pretty strong feeling that this’ll be a very different story to Past Life in a lot of different ways, so I’m sure it’ll require a very different presentation.
Silent Haven: Most people seem to stick to their profession, but you are also a gamer! I noticed you have played Downpour and Homecoming on Xbox 360! Have you played the earlier games and would you consider yourself a Silent Hill fan?
TJ: Yeah, I play games. I actually gave my Xbox to my little brother not long ago when I decided it was time to get serious about the comics work and I made the decision to move to the USA from Australia. That’s still to happen, but yeah, I gave him that. I did keep the PS3 though, which I have all the Silent Hill games I can get for. I even fucked around with the settings so I could get the American version of Silent Hill 1 from the PSN Store because ours is censored here, so yeah, I’d say I’m a fan. Tom knows it too. I’ve been badgering him to let me write or draw one of these since Ghostbusters. I imported Downpour and Homecoming because both got censored here. Homecoming was actually banned outright for the drill sequence, believe it or not. Our classification system’s since improved, but back then you had to import and potentially risk fines and having the stuff confiscated if customs ever caught it.
Anyway, I’ve been a pretty avid gamer since the NES, but I’m a bit more picky about what I play these days. I’ve got a WiiU, 3DS and a PS3 and I get what I can for my Mac when something jumps out.
Silent Haven: Looking at your past illustrations it is obvious you have a knack for Sci-Fi and you have stated to also love Horror, which also shows, but how do you feel about Psychological Horror? This is something that, as I am sure you know, is a key element in the world of Silent Hill.
TJ: I love psychological horror. I’m actually working on a creator owned book with an artist named Chris DiBari which is very cerebral. I had this thing happen where I found out my apartment had previously been a meeting place for a coven of witches, and then found out that most of the building’s tenants were part of that… coven… I guess is what you’d call it. Anyway, that kinda set my imagination on fire, and I LOVE things like Rosemary’s Baby and The Tenant; Jacob’s Ladder… even the Exorcist III is a great little bit of psych-horror. There’s a lot going on in Cronenberg’s stuff and even Alien beyond the viscera, too.
Silent Haven: Creatures are something pretty important in the Silent Hill universe and looking at your “Monsters and Men” illustrations I see you are no stranger to drawing these types of characters and are not afraid to be creative. I specifically noticed your “Vertical Eye Mouth Thing” concept and thought it resembled a Silent Hill creature called the Lurker. Do you take inspiration from Silent Hill when drawing your creatures and will you be creating new creatures for this new Silent Hill comic?
TJ: I do a bit, but I’ve been playing with physiology to create things that are horrible since well before I knew about Silent Hill. There’s definitely SOME influence in there, but most of it comes from being exposed to things like Giger when I was really young. I’ve generally found that people are really put off by recognisable features presented in grotesque ways, particularly when they’re things people tend self-conscious about — genitalia, fingers, eyes, teeth, etc. I think that thing was actually a scribble I did for the big bad in our original Ghostbusters comic run. Tom and Dan kind of had me designing all sorts of horrible things to make their ghosts and demons creepier.
I kinda hope I will be creating new things. I have an idea I really want to talk Tom into using, or at least let me write on my own at some point, which was originally going to be a second page reveal to the demo page I did. I was a TINY bit disappointed by the humanoid monsters in Downpour, so I’m would assume that there are things in Anne’s psyche that are different to Murphy’s (which we saw in the game) and I hope I get to create — or at least HELP create — some of those.
Silent Haven: The illustrations in what you call your “first fully creator owned comic” entitled “Exodus” really brings a lot of raw emotion to its pages with its black and white color palette accented with reds. Is this the type of style and emotion you plan to bring to this upcoming Silent Hill comic or will there be a little more color on your palette?
TJ: Yeah, I’m kind of a black and white guy. It kinda stems out of what Paul Harmon was doing on the TMNT comics we did together. He has this amazing mastery of black, white and grey and I think it’s pretty safe to say that a lot of that has rubbed off on my own work, but a lot of my favourite artists do their best work in black and white and a lot of the comics I grew up on and still read are black and white or use very minimal amounts of colour, and I kinda dig the way the red can be used (as you said) to accent things, so there’ll definitely be a lot of that coming into play (otherwise it wouldn’t be “my” work, I guess), but Downpour has a very particular palette, so I’ll be incorporating that into things. I kinda hope we get to do some of the dark, rusty stuff that was more prevalent in the previous games though…
Silent Haven: Tom Waltz released a couple of your illustrations on his Twitter a few months back of Anne Cunningham and what looked to be Murphy in a gas mask from Silent Hill: Downpour; as well as more recently, some test illustrations you were asked to submit to Konami of what looks like Anne cocking a gun and another of a nurse pushing what looks like Anne’s father, Frank Coleridge, in a wheelchair, in the rain. Can you tell us a little bit about these test sequentials? Is this a hint at what his comic will be about? A story related to Silent Hill: Downpour?
TJ: I honestly know about as much as you guys right now. I’m fairly certain Tom has some idea as to what is going to happen — he did help write the game after all — but I’m in the lurch. We’ve only spoken about it a few times since last year when it was teased and I’ve been busy with things like Exodus, Sebastian Hawks (something I’m writing), and doing covers for other companies… he’d be the guy to speak to I guess!
This here’s a page of test sequentials I was asked to submit for the upcoming Silent Hill comic at IDW. Tom Waltz is writing, and this page and some previously shown pin-ups got me the art job. Looking forward to it.
*NOTE: this isn’t actually from the book, but something I put together myself.
That nurse was kind of my attempt at finding a way to work the famous nurses into the Downpour world, and highlight Frank’s dependency on others after the “incident”. Those sequentials were essentially an exercise in tension building. It’s how I’d present things. Some people are more in your face with the illustrations and want to show you monsters and stuff, but I think horror comics are kind of more about building an atmosphere and generating a sense of things and THEN — MAYBE — hitting them with some kind of creepy or horrible imagery, so, like I said, that’s just how I’d do things. Konami must’ve dug it… I hope!
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