Sunday, June 13, 2010

Saturninan Salutations: Klaus Janson

I was pretty rough on Klaus Janson's ink work over José Luis García-López's pencils for a JLA: Classified story arc a few months back, but I have a great deal of respect for his embellishments over artists like Gil Kane and Frank Miller during the Bronze Age of Comics. I thought it might be a treat to feature a short biography of the man in his own words, from November 1984's Jemm, Son of Saturn #3...

"I was born in Germany in 1952. Five years later, my parents and I emigrated to America and settled in Connecticut. During the first few weeks of my neighborhood explorations, I discovered a small store that sold comic books. It was through comics that I learned the English language (although it took a while before I realized that sound effects were not part of conversational English). I fell in love with comics then. I would spend hours reading them. Almost immediately, I started cutting panels and figures apart, repeating them into my own stories. (And very quickly after that, I started drawing comics, which, I think, was a good idea as far as my comic collection was concerned.)

"When I was sixteen, I wanted to see where and how comics were really made. I took the train to New York, and went to DC, assuming I could just wander in. Although tours had been discontinued, Jack Miller, one of the DC editors, took me around. I met many of my childhood heroes, including Dick Giordano. We discovered we lived in bordering towns and developed a small friendship. Eventually, I apprenticed with Dick, filling in blacks, erasing pages, inking backgrounds, and doing all those things apprentices do.

"After two summers of dragging my portfolio around, I finally landed a job at Marvel Comics, where I learned a great deal working with people like Gil Kane, Walt Simonson, Gene Colan, and Frank Miller.

"Earlier this year, when DC offered me the opportunity to ink Gene Colan's pencils for the JEMM, SON OF SATURN series, I was most eager to accept the job. It will be a pleasure to work with Gene again."

Colan was still doing great work at this time on his own with books shot directly from his colored pencils like Nathanial Dusk. On more mainstream work, Colan benefited mightily from a strong inker, and Janson worked magnificently in that respect. Janson was a master of zip-tones and dramatic lighting, tightening up areas where Colan might otherwise be a tad soft or vague. Janson lent the art on Jemm a gritty clarity that grounded the more sentimental and fantastic elements in grim reality, as suited the material. I couldn't imagine a better partnership on this series that Colan and Janson.

No comments: