Joëlle Jones has shown off her great ability as an artist in the romance story 12 Reasons Why I Love Her, the private eye graphic novel You Have Killed Me and continuation of Janet Evanovich's "Barnaby" series, Troublemaker. But it was the dense, supernatural tale, Helheim, where we saw Jones' talent explode on the dark and savage Viking world.
In 2015, her Eisner-Award nominated comic Lady Killer garnered Jones critical acclaim and her first creator-owned story which she drew and wrote (with the guidance of editor Jamie S. Rich on the first and then all by herself on the sequel). It told the story of Josie Schuller, a perfect 1960s homemaker who moonlights as a ruthless killer-for-hire. Jones caught fire, landing gigs at Marvel and DC titles such as Mockingbird, Fables, and Madame Xanadu, then later on higher profile stories like Superman: American Alien and Supergirl: Being Super.
With Batman #33, she provided art on the first of many issues of Tom King's 100-issue Batman saga, becoming the first woman to draw covers and interiors on consecutive Batman issues. She designed Catwoman's exquisite wedding dress used in the landmark 50th issue, and these days Jones is writing and drawing the newly launched Catwoman series and providing cover art for Hex Wives.
On the heels of Catwoman #6 out this Wednesday, SYFY WIRE has exclusive preview pages and spoke with the talented artist/writer about her first Catwoman story coming to a close.
What were the things you wanted to establish early with this first arc?
It was really important for me to get her out of Gotham and give her some time away from Gotham in a new city to explore her without the other looming characters around her, at least in the beginning. After this first arc, I can settle into Villa Hermosa and bring in some more characters, but establishing her the way I did gives her more ownership.
You've given Catwoman this interesting Storage Wars facade, I hope you enjoy drawing storage facilities because there's a lot of them.
I thought I did, but after drawing them for awhile I'm starting to not like it [Laughs]. I just liked the idea that she collects things and I like the juxtaposition of this super glamorous woman walking out in designer clothes, always looking fabulous but her home is this pile of stuff that she's accrued and has to live amongst. It speaks to her duality in nature as well. It's never fun to draw just a perfect penthouse suite. I like something with more character.
You introduced a lot of characters in this arc, starting with Raina Creel who appears like this Ellen Barkin-type beauty on the surface, but acts like the creepiest mom ever.
I've had so much fun playing with Raina and it was really important to me, that instead of using a villain that has come before, to use someone who was tailor-made to be a Catwoman villain, and that would be someone with a similar upbringing but through her choices went a completely different path.
There are similarities between the two women. A lot of villains that are women are usually smoking hot but turn out to be a little bit good. I wanted someone who was just rotten to the core, who can fight on the mental playing field, but physically can't go up against Catwoman. I do think she's likable a little bit.
How did you come to the final look of Raina's underneath her "mask"?
I wanted her bald, and for her to have plastic surgery. I started from there and thought, why don't I take her nose off? What if she's missing teeth? I kept amping it up and kept going [laughs].
The Ed Brubaker, Darwyn Cooke and Cameron Stewart Catwoman run is particular strong because of the attention to the supporting cast. You've created a similar emphasis, with Selina's relationship with her sister Maggie, and friends Carlos and Linda.
A lot of times, Catwoman put in this morally gray, Robin Hood-esque type of characters. She's robbing from the rich and takes care of the downtrodden. That's what's really lovable about her, but like a cat, she can have really sharp claws. So I find it really interesting about her that she's like that. The supporting cast is usually my favorite stuff to do in any book that I've done. I'm super-excited about the next arc because I have some awesome characters in mind and some really cool villains. Other characters are great for sounding boards for your hero, so you can get more of their internal thoughts and feelings. If the side characters have big personalities, well then you know, it gives you more to read in a situation with your favorite hero.
Is Carlos becoming Selina's Q and have these fun gadgets for her to play with?
Yeah, I want to play with that a little bit, but I want him to be kind of terrible at it with really bad gadgets that get better over time. I want lots of hits and misses. Carlos and Linda are like the people in prison, like Red in The Shawshank Redemption. If you need something, they can procure it–for a fee. I think it's a fun give-and-take relationship to have.
There's some really intense moments in this first run, some really violent moments. Where did you find the line was in figuring out the tone and limits you could take
I am drawn to more dark, eerie, creepy and violent stories. By nature, I'm a pretty dark person. I did have a lot of questions at first, like how much blood am I allowed to show? How much detail can I go into on the gore? There's been a few times when I've put too much blood and was asked to pull it back a bit. I just keep writing, waiting for them to say no. So, yeah, I only know the line when I cross it.
You've worked with colorist Laura Allred before but talk about your collaboration with her on Catwoman.
I think she's a genius. We did Lady Killer together and she has such a good sensibilities about vintage colors. I really loved a flatter look to the art and it was very specific when I did Lady Killer that I wanted it to look more vintage and not glossy at all. I fell in love with every choice she made. So when Catwoman came up, she was my first choice. I just adore working with her and I don't tell her anything with the color palette. I just tell her whether it's night or day and let her go.
Is the Narssistrine a story you're going to revisit?
Yeah, it was something I just wanted to lay the tracks down for the story that's coming up. It will involve Raina, the drug, the makers of the drug and I wanted to flesh out the world a bit more. I think a big potential money maker like that drug could bring in a lot of problems.
Is Selina sticking with this new crowd or are we going to see her interact with some familiar faces?
In the beginning, I really wanted to have Selina by herself with new characters. I'm really excited about the second story because now I want to bring in some Gothamites, and other DC characters and let me play with these toys in my new city, as well out of the city. I think I can say it now but I'm bringing in the Penguin and oh my gosh, he really fun to write and I can't wait to draw him.
In 1993, the first Catwoman solo series launched with one of the unsung women in comics, Jo Duffy writing. What has writing and drawing Catwoman been like for you as you define her for a new generation?
It was really daunting at first. I felt like I was struggling to figure out what I want to say about Catwoman. She's one of my favorite characters of all time, and I think there's a lot of people around me, that weren't avid comic book readers, and had never picked up a Catwoman book before. I really wanted to pay tribute to fans who have loved her for decades, but put her in this new setting and a new costume for potential new readers that could jump in and start to enjoy the story. It was a tough line to straddle, but hopefully I pulled it off.
Catwoman #6 concludes Joëlle Jones' first arc on the series, titled "Copycats," and hits comic shops and digital on December 19. Check out our exclusive preview below in the gallery.