Jan Velazquez is the artist behind “Heartbreaker,” a mysterious introductory comic written by Erica Schultz, which appeared in the fourth Oneshi Press Quarterly Anthology. We chatted with Jan about his art-making music, his inspirations, his comics shopping habit, and more.
Tell us a bit about yourself, Jan! How did you become a comic book artist?
Been into comics since 1989. Started with Spider-Man cartoons on TV. Then found my local comic shop and didn’t stop going till…1994? People were telling me I needed to grow up and I fell for it. I stopped reading them. It never felt right. Around 2000, I started again. Really, really aggressively. Got everything I could get my hands on. Old stuff, current stuff, comic history stuff. Everything.
Then many years later, [in] 2008, I was working a 9-to-5 job and met someone that wanted to write for comics. At that point I was still drawing here and there. So we did a test to see if we were serious about making comics. (Because making comics is hard work.) He sent me a page of writing, I penciled it in [a] day and got it back to him through email. We agreed to partner up.
I started reading everything I could on making comics traditionally and digitally, while we were starting the website Inkbot.net. The website grew. We got more writers and artists. Hardly anyone got paid anything. It grew more, we started to get work at other places, and eventually went our own ways. Some of the writers became teachers. The other artists are still out there working on stuff, I’m sure. But yeah, I basically taught myself how to pencil, ink, and color, along with many other skills you need to know for making art and comics.
How did you come to team up with Erica Schultz on “Heartbreaker”?
Me and Erica have known each other for a while by the time we talked about “Heartbreaker.” I think we met at a hospice drawing event. Selling comics, selling art, for charity. I think one day I did a drawing of Erica’s M3 character, Machiavella Maria Marcona, for fun. I sent it to her, we started talking. Boom! “Heartbreaker” is a real thing.
Who are your art heroes? Who inspires you?
When I was a kid, Jack Davis, Steranko, Todd McFarlane, Erik Larson, Jim Lee, J.G. Jones. Now…? Stuart Immonen. Ryan Ottley, Sean Murphy. Those are the ones that come to mind. I love the art styles.
What are some books, music, and movies that give you artistic energy?
Return of the Living Dead: Part One and the soundtrack. The Madworld soundtrack; it’s an old game. Mad Max: Fury Road annnnnd Thor: Ragnarok. Flash Gordan.
Who is your comic book hero/heroine? Villain? Morally ambiguous anti-hero?
I love Spider-Man. Kid heroes can be great role models for young people and they’re fun. The female would have to be Rin Asano from Blade of the Immortal; she’s a great and very complex kid character. Semi-kid, I guess. The villain is definitely Robot from Invincible, for sure. For the final part of your question… John Constantine. He is complicated.
Tell us about your creative process on “Heartbreaker.”
Same as any other comic: A little bit of research on the time and subject matter. I file it just in case I need to check some references. Then I do all my layouts in an afternoon. Maybe tighten them up before bed. Next day, I start the really tight pencils and pencil a page a day. When the pencils are to my and the writer’s satisfaction, then I ink a page a day. When all the inking is done, I color a page or two a day till I’m done, send it in for corrections if we need any. If none are needed then I’m done and it goes to the letterer.
What are some other projects you’re working on?
I’m working on becoming a better writer because I’m terrible. There is a project i’m working on but I can’t mention that just yet. Besides that, looking to work with others to hone my skills.
What’s important to you in a comic book as a reader? As an artist?
Technical skill. Say something that can be useful to people in their own life. Story and entertainment. Those are the things I look for in every story.
Who are some writers you’d love to collaborate with?
That’s a hard question…. all of them.
Where can readers find you online?
While you’re here, grab a copy of Oneshi Press Anthology #04, featuring “Heartbreaker” by Jan Velazquez, Erica Schultz, and Cardinal Rae!