Joëlle Jones, with writer Cullen Bunn, launched the second series in their Helheim series titled Brides of Helheim on Wednesday, October 1st. In the past Jones has contributed art to Madame Frankenstein, the long-running series Fables and Eisner-nominated series Madame Xanadu. Jones is also widely known for work on fan favourite projects Token (as part of the Minx imprint), and Zack Whedon’s Doctor Horrible comic book adaptation.
Following the publication of Brides of Helheim #1 Portland-based Jones was kind enough to sit down with Major Spoilers to talk the continuing Helheim saga, new characters, process and working with Cullen Bunn.
Major Spoilers: Brides of Helheim #1 just launched – the second chapter in the Helheim saga – what is it like revisiting these characters and this world again?
Joëlle Jones: I am really happy to be jumping in on this story again, I had a lot of fun with the first story arc and I am really enjoying drawing these characters again!
MS: Can fans of the Helheim series look forward to some sort of peace for Rikard? Is that even in the cards?
JJ: Honestly? I have no idea, but who would want to read about a retired viking warrior sitting on his porch remembering the good old days anyway? On the other hand the book can’t go on forever so I expect he’ll get some sort of peace in the end one way or another.
MS: What is working with Cullen Bunn like? Are you able to make direct contributions to the script? How much flexibility do you have with the art and design of Brides of Helheim?
JJ: Working with Cullen has been great! I am really excited to get each new script and he gives me complete freedom to design the characters however I wish. But I don’t think I would have been inspired at all had it not been for his weird creature promptings like maybe he has claw hands, or tentacles?
MS: Is your process approaching non-Helheim scripts (say, Adventures of Superman), any different?
JJ: My process is only different in the way that I go into each genre a different way. I like to wrap my head around the subject before I begin drawing it. So for like Adventures of Superman I decided I would marathon watch all of the old Fleischer Superman cartoons from the 1940’s to get me in the mood. I may have done that even if I hadn’t gotten the job but sometimes things just work out in your favor.
When I started Helheim I went back and reread old issues of Conan and Heavy Metal, I started listening to Swedish death metal. I don’t think things like this are required but I find it fun and helpful.
MS: Sigrid was introduced in Brides of Helheim #1 – are we going to get to see more of her in the upcoming series?
JJ: So far yes! Sigrid is really growing on me so even if Cullen wanted to get rid of her he’d probably get an angry email from me.
MS: Who is your favourite character to draw in the world of Helheim?
MS: Do you have time to read comics in between your own work? If so, what are you reading?
JJ: I don’t have loads of time but I think it is important to see whats going on and I’ll never stop loving and reading comics. Right now I’ve been on a kick of going back and reading important comics that I missed as well as reading books coming out. So, on my iPad I have Locke and Key and League of Extraordinary Gentleman and the pile I get from my local shop that has Revival, East West, I love American Vampire and Jupiter’s Legacy and I try to keep up with X-Men but I’m not as good about it as I used to be. Anyway I have a stack to get through that I am way behind on.
MS: Being a woman consuming and working in comics do you ever feel belittled or have you had largely positive experiences as a creative?
JJ: I’ve had a mixed experience working in comics but I’m pretty sure regardless of gender, everyone who works in comics would say the same thing. Sometimes I find it difficult to not be hyper aware of the fact that I am a woman. People always bring it up and point it out. Making me feel “other”. At conventions I get asked if my boyfriend will be returning to sign books, or if I did the art “all by myself”. I never used to be sensitive about these things but it has come up a lot lately. I don’t think my gender has anything at all to do with what I do for a living and I just wish it would stop coming up.
MS: I’ve read that Helheim is supposed to be told in three series – how long do you see the series going on for?
JJ: Three series, I can’t wait to see what direction Cullen is going to take the story in the next one!
MS: Any spoilers or hints you can leave us with for Brides of Helheim or other secret projects you are working on?
JJ: No spoilers, but I’ve got a few projects that I have been working on and I can’t wait to show everybody!