Saturday, 9 July 2011

Meet the Crew - Cover Artist, Drew Johnson

I met Drew Johnson at Koffee 'n' Komics, a monthly get together for a gang of LA based comic creators. It's a place to hang out, sketch, drink coffee and chat. He is a great artists and a good friend, and so I was thrilled when, upon approaching him about doing The Hero Code covers, he jumped on board.

The Hero Code cover illustrator, Drew Edward Johnson started drawing comic books in 1996 with Dark Horse Comics'/Lucasfilm's STAR WARS X-WING: ROGUE SQUADRON.
His work has since been published by DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Top Cow, DDP and Wildstorm.

Drew is probably best known for his work on DC Comics' WONDER WOMAN #195-210, #211, and #214. Other ongoing series work has included DC Comics' SUPERGIRL, and Wildstorm's THE AUTHORITY.

Over the course of his career, Johnson has been a member of Macon, GA's Jolly Roger Studio, Macon, GA's Studio Phoenix, which he co-founded with Ray Snyder and Dan Jolley, and Portland, OR's Mercury Studio, which is now known as Periscope Studio.

These days, Drew lives in Burbank, CA with his wife, Animator/Director Karen Carnegie Johnson, their daughter Cole, and a really dumb cat named Lucy.

1. What is your process for working?

A: For covers, I usually work up three cover sketches with different ideas based on provided story information from the book I'm working on. I think Jamie and I agreed on my first idea, and we didn't bother with coming up with other ideas this time. I could be wrong, but that's how I remember it....Also on this cover, Jamie let me come up with the character design for Myth, which was quite a lot of fun.

I did that design piece first, then started illustrating the cover. I worked out the character poses on Poser 7 so I could see how the figures would layer above and behind one another. If I'm having a hard time visualizing a shot, sometimes it helps to be able to generate the poses on the computer and move the camera around 'em to see how it's going to look in the end.

Based on those figure poses I created the final figures and fleshed 'em out and clothed 'em from there. I really enjoyed drawing these three characters, and especially loved Dan Smith's design for the Black Wraith.

2. How long have you been creating?

A: My first effort at comics creation was a college newspaper strip that I wrote and drew every week called , Perry Keet. It was a funny animal story in which the protagonist, a parakeet, of course, made his way through a world that I had largely ripped off from the works of Dashiel Hammet. It was kind of like Blacksad, but without the good art, the good story or the over all quality.

Perry Keet came out through the Lane Community College newspaper, The Torch, back around 1993 or so.

Later, I got serious about getting into pencilling comics professionally and got my first work around 1996, and have been working regularly since then.

3. Who or what are your biggest influences?

I learned most of my figure technique from the instruction books of Andrew Loomis, and fell in love with his work and that of many of the other illustrators of the early to mid-20th century, especially Norman Rockwell and Gil Elvgren.

The work of Adam Hughes made me want to learn to draw women well, and studying his work taught me a lot. The other top artists on my influence chart would be Dave Stevens, Mark Shultz, Frank Cho, and Brian Stelfreeze.

My wife Karen must be included on this list as well. She's an animator, and has shown me many great art books that I hadn't previously been aware of, including Disney's Illusion of Life, which had a big effect on me. Watching her and other animators work really got me to loosen up my figure work. Karen's a hell of an artist, and I've learned a lot from and because of her.

4. What else are you currently working on?

Covers for The Hero Code, and my four issue creator-owned series, Midnight Society: The Black Lake, which I wrote and am currently drawing. I'm hoping to have it on the shelves at some point in the next year or so.

Stay tuned to my blog at, or my deviant art gallery at for announcements.

5. Finally, If you were a superhero, what would your power be?

I would love to be able to fly, but do I actually have to be a super hero? Couldn't I just be That Guy Who Flies All The Time, But Doesn't Really Help Anybody? I just can't help but think that I'd really get caught up in the whole flying thing.

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