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Jeromy Cox Interview

Jeromy Cox Interview

An interview with Jeromy Cox, colorist for Promethea conducted in late June 2003.

Jeromy Cox has been coloring Promethea since November 1999. I began the interview with the following general questions.

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you start in comics. How many prizes have you won for your coloring work. What are your major influences. Apart from Promethea and your work for Alan Moore which are the comics you are most proud to have helped produce

I started in comics in 1992 professionally by self publishing my own black and white romantic horror fantasy comic entitled Zombie Love. I was happily working in animation and video games at the time, but comics have always been an important part of my life... so I decided to self publish. This lead to meeting a ton of people in the comic industry.... (living in San Diego doesn't hurt your comic career any)... I eventually crossed paths with Homage Studios... I ended up doing part time coloring work for Wildstorm, outside of my regular video game job... the comics kept pulling at me and I eventually quit the regular job and joined up with Wildstorm and Image... I colored many comics... too many to recount... long story short... I ended up snagging Leave It To Chance... which lead to my first Eisner nod... which lead me to Mage... which eventually lead me back to Wildstorm and Promethea...
I've been nominated for four Eisners (Leave It To Chance/Mage/Promethea)... I haven't won yet.. but maybe this year will be the charm... I've also been nominated for a Harvey award this year...

Q: You’ve been coloring Promethea from Issue #4 onwards. Who choose you to be the colorist and what is your opinion of the color done for the first 3 issues by Digital Chameleon and Wildstorm FX?

It's actually sort of funny... I think Scott Dunbier asked if I was looking for any work and I said sure. I looked at what they had to offer and it was narrowed down to two titles.... I think it was Top Ten and Promethea... I hadn't read Promethea yet and my only notion about the book was what a lot of people were saying at the time... "Oh, that's Alan's take on Wonder Woman" Linda Lee pulled out some of the art boards and I was just blown away.. I instantly grabbed the pages and poured over them. Visions of what I could do with it raced through my brain. I was coloring it within the week. I used the first three issues as reference.. but I've always told J.H. how I'd love to re-color those first thee issues as a sorta directors cut.. I really liked Wendy Fouts (Wildstorm) colors, they just printed a little too dark for my tastes.... the Chameleon pages were too harsh for J.H.'s forms.. they worked on some of the backgrounds... but Promethea needed to be smoother and more rendered.. same goes for her magic...

Q: Each of the Kabbalah road trips Issues (#13-23) is predominantly colored in the color of the particular sephiroth it represents. This is especially true for the red in Life on Mars, the green in Love and the Law, Gold, blue in Fatherland, mostly grey for Et in Arcadia Ego and the pure white with gold in The Serpent and the Dove. How challening was it to make a comic interesting when you were working with a reduced palette. For example Life on Mars gets the effect across very well but it is a bit hard on the eye and would probably be easier to read if seen in just b&w. I find the red a bit too oppressive but I assume that was part of the overall effect Alan was trying to achieve. Colors are obviously tied in with emotion and red to me denotes anger and blood. Do you think specific emotions have a strong tie with specific colors. Blue for calm, Purple and mauve for strange otherworldly effects, etc?

That was exactly the purpose of the colors on those issues. J.H. and I talk about this stuff for a long time so using the Mars issue as an example... we decided on the flat red with just a hint of rendering. We would both feel nervous and ask each other.. "Do you think it's too harsh?" "Nah, that's giving you that feeling." Rendering would have made you feel relaxed, like you could trust in the fact that a face was rendered like a face. Instead.. you're left with your imagination and just red. J.H. and I often talk about wether people are going to hate an issue and how we are intending to make them either feel safe or not so safe with an issue. The color themes for the books goes hand in hand with that and it serves the story at the same time. Working with a reduced palette is actually preferred and easier for me. Photoshop touts that you have 16 million colors to choose from. Well, I'm not interested in the nearly 16 million bad colors. I'm interested in say the eight good ones.

Q: What are your favorite images from Promethea so far?

That's a difficult question... I like so much of it...I like some stuff in issue nine... the Tarot/anagram issue was incredibly fun. You can see all of our ideas swimming through those pages.... I really felt all of the artists involved on that issue were hitting on all cylinders. There are other issues I like for technical merits.. but I don't know if I can pick favorite images.... oh wait... actually... my favorite images are the ones they make us take out... those crack me up... some people are just so offended by a little nudity... hah...

Q: Which images were the hardest to color? Which ones best achieve the effect you wanted to produce as you saw it in your minds’ eye?

I think the entire run meets about fifty percent of what I'd like to do. I'd love to spend a whole hell of a lot more time on the pages.. but that's the interesting thing about sequential/periodical artwork... what you get with your limitations is the art. You have this set amount of time to finish an entire 24 pages... so many bad colorists spend all of their time on key pages... I budget a bit like this.. but I try to look at the entire issue and make sure everything is balanced. I don't want the reader to be jarred out of the comic by pages that don't look as good as the previous pages.. so making them all have a constant magical feel is probably the hardest element to coloring.

Q: Both Alan and JH Williams have spoken in interviews about becoming ill whilst working on The Daath Issue #20 The Stars are But Thistles. Did you have a similar experience yourself and have you had any interesting feedback from readers about this particular issue?

That was just an interesting issue to work on. A lot of people feel uncomfortable when reading that issue.... so it doesn't surprise me that perhaps Alan or J.H. felt similar in creating it.

Q: JHW said about Issue 23 splash pages of Promethea and the others flying back down from Kether
the cosmic dive down the tree of life was a tricky thing to pull off. Most of the fx were done through digital means by Jeromy [Cox]. I just asked him to go crazy with the space back drop. So all of that strange cosmic stuff is things he thought to put in there. They don't have any particular meaning to the story but they might mean something to Jeromy. Where and why he culled these particular images in the space backdrop you will have ask him some time.
Could I ask you where you got the images X-Ray of a woman sitting down and some sort of historical? Map. Do they have any special significance for you. Have you snuck in some other images into Promethea pages that weren’t specified by Alan or JH. Are any of them signficant or important to you?

Most likely if I have snuck something in.. it's because it feels right at the time.. I like the concept of collage and found art.... I imagine if I could get my bodily fluids into the computer.. I'd use them in my artwork.. oh.. now that just sounded wrong.. heh heh... As far as sneaking images in... sneaking sounds rather surreptitious. I just go with what feels right.

Q: How much of your coloring is done digitally and how much do you rely on computers to produce the incredible effects you manage to achieve. Do you prefer to use computers or do you still occassionally enjoy hands on painting(?) or coloring individual pages?

I'd say 98 percent of my work is digital.. but a number of my brushes were real at one point and scanned in. I also have elements that I'll make traditionally and then scan them in. I like to blur the line of what's real and what's painted... but I also respect the computer coloring as it's own art form. Most of these images will never be viewed in their initial form.... i.e. what I look at on screen is completely different from the printed page... but then again.. that's sort of the beauty of a collaborative process like comic book creation. Comic books have many fathers or mothers.. and they evolve as they go... the fact that part of my process is digital actually makes it interesting for me. When I paint traditionally... it's a completely different mind set, but I respect the process of digital art just as much as I don't make a distinction between acrylics and chalk.

Q: Is there a specific scheme in the colors used in Issue #26? Orange, yellow blue, green and red appear in an almost no more than 4 colors allowed per panel appearance for most of the issue, Green seems to be associated with Tom Strong, Orange with Sophie as Joey, Blue with her boyfriends flat, the Portrait of America’s Best reminds me a bit of Watchmen but mostly the issue seems to be overwhelmed by orange/yellow type color especially in the mysterious glass photographs. Only finally in the last page do we get a true proper colored page.

I think everything is intentional, even the unintentional. J.H. and I talk about everything. Sometimes he'll describe what he wants to do with an issue artistically and he'll talk for hours (well, not hours) about what he has planned.... and I'll be fascinated by it all.. but he'll end it with.. "What do you think?" and I'm usually surprised he even has to ask. But he likes that feedback and that's sort of how the process works. Same with this particular issue. He comes up with ideas for what he wants for the colors.. some more specific.. but then again.. I'll surprise him with something and he'll keep talking about it once the issue has come out... with this issue.. for me.. it was all about the mundane and trying to escape one life and being pulled back in. Her life was devoid of detail and interest in terms of one reality.. by the end of the book, reality and texture has returned. This issue was also about passage of time for me. In that Sophie's life has moved on.. each panel moves on.. and in one of the stranger twists of reality meets art... with respect to J.H.. he had some difficult times between this issue and the last and as the issue was getting to me.. my grandmother passed away. Strange for me, because she was an art teacher and she taught me most everything I know about art and every time I look at art or draw myself.. I think of her. So to be working on an issue about time passing and lives being completely different... let's just say this issue was incredibly stronger for me and perhaps J.H. to an even greater detail than I imagine most people could even imagine. Ahh.. now I'm getting all touchy feely... let's talk about explosions and super heroes fighting...

Q: Did you color the Jose Villarubia photographic images in Issue #7 or did he? Great job whoever did it.

That's Jose.. and yes... Jose is an incredible artist.. and an even more incredible person.

Q: Are there any questions about your work on Promethea that no one has ever asked you but that you would like to have been asked because you can provide an interesting/informative answer?

Hrmmmm... not really... I really do appreciate the interest... a number of books I've colored over the years are easily forgotten by the readers and by myself... so to hear the special interest on Promethea is rewarding... I don't know how many mornings I've been working the entire night and wondered why I just don't hack the rest of it out.. and then I realize it's because I enjoy and care so much about this story... might seem silly.. but it's good to know people are enjoying it as much as I am...

Thank you for your time and we all look forward to seeing Promethea conclude over the last 6 issues.

Before and After images from Promethea Issue 13 pgs 8-9 illustrating how much Jeromy's colors add to JH Williams illustrations.