Announcer earlier this year at Emerald City Comic Con, SACRED CREATURES is the first creator-owned foray from acclaimed comic artists Klaus Janson (The Dark Knight Returns, Daredevil) and Pablo Raimondi (X-Factor, Book of Doom), and promises to deliver a sprawling ensemble drama packed with twists, turns and a dash of the supernatural.
Naturally we wanted to find out more about the series before it goes on sale this July, so were incredibly grateful when both Klaus and Pablo were able to take a little time out of their busy schedules to sit down and have a chat with us about what to expect.
BIG COMIC PAGE: Thanks so much for your time. Now, for our readers who may not be aware, could you give us the quick “elevator pitch” for Sacred Creatures?
KLAUS JANSON: Sacred Creatures is about a race of beings that have been with mankind from the very beginning who have been manipulating people and events from behind the scenes to further their own agenda. We join them in Issue 1 as they are about to unleash their latest and greatest ploy to advance their goals. I could tell you more but I want to hold back a bit as there are obviously reveals in the series that I don’t want to spoil. But the story is very large in scope, with a lot of interesting characters and we worked hard to make it unpredictable and surprising.
BCP: How did the collaboration between the pair of you come about, and where did the idea behind the story evolve from?
KJ: Since both Pablo and I are working artists in the comic biz, we would, whenever we got together, talk about whatever comics we were reading. We are both very much interested in the mechanics of storytelling and would come up with cool scenes that we would want to write and draw. Sacred was a way of putting those idle bits of conversation to good use. At some point we just said, “Hey, we should do a comic”. So we kicked around a few ideas, Sacred being one of the ones that Pablo suggested, and that was the one that we focused on the most and eventually it just took over our lives – lol.
BCP: You’ve both carved out extremely successful careers working on established properties such as Batman, X-Factor, etc. What prompted the switch into the realm of creator-owned comics at this stage in your careers?
KJ: Well for me it was a bunch of things. I’m very happy working on mainstream comics for Marvel and DC and can’t really see myself giving that up. Throughout my career in mainstream I’ve always tried to push myself to do more. So I’ve been able to stretch my abilities by inking, penciling, coloring, a bit of writing, teaching and so on. Having the chance to do a creator owned project falls into the category of “something new” for me.
Not only has the experience been very illuminating for me – it’s a very different animal than working for mainstream – but also I’m hoping to push myself and do some art that is a little different than I might do drawing, say, Batman or Daredevil. And then there’s the collaborative nature of working with Pablo, who lives in the same city as I do. It’s great fun to get together and hammer out the story as opposed to doing it over the phone or email. You should hear some of the screaming matches-ha!
BCP: You’re both best known for your work on the artistic side of comics – how did you find the transition into the world of writing on this series?
KJ: Writing and drawing have at least one thing in common: both are exercises in solving problems. We sit and talk and often box ourselves into a narrative cul de sac and then do our best to get out of it. Pablo goes home and writes up the script and then we both do some editing and tweaking and eventually we have a script. I’m simplifying it quite a bit because we go back and forth a lot but that’s essentially our process. There are a lot of times when we think we have something good and a few hours later one of us will call with a great sense of panic because one of us remembers a reason why what we just spent hours on, doesn’t work. But it’s all part of the fun.
BCP: What was it about Image Comics that you thought would be a perfect fit for Sacred Creatures?
KJ: Image is producing some terrific comics, has a very high standard of quality for their product and that, combined with the ownership deal makes publishing Sacred Creatures at Image a no-brainer. We very much believe in this project and never seriously considered giving up any percentage of it to anyone for anything. It’s a pleasure to be in the company of so many talented creators
BCP: Pablo, tell us a little bit about Josh, our leading man. What’s his story?
PABLO RAIMONDI: Josh is a pretty laid back guy, mid-twenties, living with his girlfriend, Julia, in NYC. They’re about to have a child, and when we meet him his only concern is trying to figure out a way to provide some level of security to the family he has started. Finding your footing at that stage in your life can be difficult, particularly living in a place like NYC, and having a baby on the way adds an entire level of pressure.
Unfortunately for him, just when he thinks he has things under control, a group of people he has never met before (the ‘Sacred Creatures’ that the title of the book refers to) end up taking his life apart in order to manipulate him into doing something unthinkable, and as a result his entire life ends up completely unraveling.
BCP: Now, given the twists and turns in this first issue alone, too much advance information is definitely going to diminish the impact of the book, but without spoiling anything, can you give our readers a brief idea of what to expect from the series as it progresses?
PR: Most of our first arc take place during the one night when what Josh is manipulated into doing comes to a head… and let me tell you, it’s one hell of a night. A LOT happens in a short period of time and there’s quite a bit of story to cover. By the time the night is done the world our characters inhabit is irrevocably changed.
LI realize we are being cryptic about who the people manipulating Josh actually are = When we started writing the story we never set out for that to be a secret, but we also decided not to reveal any information to the readers which our main character Josh didn’t know himself. Instead, as Josh finds out what it is that’s happening around him, so will the readers. Josh learns the identity of who the Sacred Creatures are in the second issue, once that comes out we’ll be able to talk about them in a more direct way. And let me say that hints to their identity are plain to see in our first issue, so we fully expect people to put two and two together and figure it out.
After that, on the third issue Josh will be dealing with the immediate fallout to his actions, and by the time we get to issues four and five all hell breaks loose and the situation gets much worse. In the last issue we switch focus from Josh to the main antagonist and explore some of his perspective.
BCP: The first issue is all you, Pablo, but am I right in thinking that the pair of you are going to alternate on art duties as the story unfolds?
PR: Yes – I’m illustrating the contemporary threads of the story, while Klaus is doing the artwork for the flashback scenes revealing the history of the characters. As Klaus mentioned before, our characters have been around for quite a long time – their backstory is something that we spent a lot of time developing, and watching it unfold is one of the most fascinating parts of the book. It informs and gives background to the actions of our characters in the present. It also creates a very interesting dynamic for the book aesthetically, as we’ll be cutting back and forth between Klaus’s artwork and my own, which is a lot of fun. All first three issues take place entirely in present time, but once we get to our fourth issue the story will be going back and forth between present and past.
BCP: The first issue also features a massive 66 pages of story. Is the page count going to be the same for the subsequent issues, and what prompted you guys to go for the ‘oversized’ approach?
PR: God, no – If every issue was 66 pages it would take us ten years to finish the project! Lol. No, only the first issue is 66 pages long, but it’s true that every issue is oversized. The second issue is 37 pages, the third one 34, the fourth one 46… When we started scripting the book, we decided that instead of forcing our story to fit a 24-page format, we would let the story itself dictate the page count. This is something that would be impossible to do in mainstream books, but fortunately for a creator-owned book the rules are different.
Issue 1, for example, was originally intended to be only 33 pages. But once we reached the moment we initially thought was going to be the end of the book we realized that we were only telling half of the journey that Josh embarks on that night, and to us it didn’t feel like enough – we wanted to tell the entire story leading up to the fateful night when his life comes apart, and then move forward from there. So we extended the issue to 66 pages, which allowed us to cover all of the ground we felt we needed to cover.
We then carried that same approach with the rest of the arc, and made sure that every issue has a satisfying beginning, middle and end. By the time we’re done with our first six issue arc, the page count will probably be higher than what it would be for ten or eleven regular-sized issues of most series. The downside to this approach is, of course, that it’s impossible to keep up on a monthly basis, which is why we’re taking breaks in-between arcs to catch up and get ahead.
BCP: And finally, if you could say one thing to someone who was on the fence about picking Sacred Creatures up to convince them to give it a try, what would it be?
PR: We like to describe the book as The Sopranos meets Game of Thrones, with a bit of Stephen King thrown into the mix. Plus – Klaus Janson’s artwork! If you are a fan of any of those things, you should definitely give the book a try. Now, if none of those things move you… then, I dunno… try it anyway. Maybe it’ll surprise you.
The super-sized SACRED CREATURES #1 goes on sale in print and digital on the 5th of July. Keep your eyes glued to the Big Comic Page for an advance review of the first issue closer to the release date.