Jason Fabok: Making God Happy One Comic at a Time
I’m here with artist and designer Jason Fabok, who has spent most of his career working for DC on titles like Batman, Detective Comics, Justice League (including the totally awesome Darkseid War run), The Button and a ton of others. Jay, I’d like to ask you a few questions.
Mr. Fabok: Sure.
Carl: I think your first work as a penciller was in May 2010 for Superman/Batman #70. Was that your first professional comic work ever?
Mr. Fabok: Yes, that was. I was terrified to draw that book. I had been working and doing some portfolio stuff before that book and I got that project and it really was just like being thrown into the deep end. It’s like, now you have to draw really fast, and you have a deadline, and I had never done anything like that before, and it was really tough. But I thought after I did that book, I thought I stunk so bad that they would never offer me another project.
Carl: Oh, wow.
Mr. Fabok: Yeah, Yeah. But you have to start somewhere, right?
Carl: How did you get to draw such a big title so early in your career?
Mr. Fabok: Well, I was learning from David Finch, who is a famous comic book artist (Note from Carl: Check out my interview with David Finch, too!), and at the time he was working with Marvel, and I sent my portfolio to him, and he lives in my hometown. So, I was able to go over to David’s house and learn one on one from him and, the way I explain it is: He put me through a comic book boot camp. After about 6 months he had switched over to DC, and he’s like, “You know what, let’s send your portfolio in and see if you get hired.” I did, and that was the first project that they offered me, was, “Hey, you want to do this book?”, and I said “yes.” And that’s how it all started.
Carl: Wow! Did you always want to be a comic book artist?
Mr. Fabok: When I was a kid, I wanted to be a movie maker. I wanted to be a film director. I made lots of movies growing up. I was always studying film. Even in college, that’s what I wanted to do. But then, towards the end of my high school I started to really fall in love with comic books. I wanted to pursue that because I loved illustrating, and the way I see comics is, the comic book is essentially a movie put on a page, right? It’s drawings. It’s almost like a storyboard for a film. It’s a visual medium. It’s kind of married both those things that I really loved together. So, I went to college for animation, to learn how to animate. I figured I could maybe get into Disney or something. But then, like I had mentioned, when I got out, I was really into illustration and I met David Finch and that’s how I went into comics.
Carl: Do you have time to read comics now, or are you too busy?
Mr. Fabok: I don’t read as many comics as I used to. Right now, I’m reading Doomsday Clock by Geoff Johns, that’s my favorite book. You know, as time has gone by, I’ve read less and less. But I do find the books that I’m reading, they’re more… they’re different. I’m really getting into some of the European style comic books, which are a little more sci-fi and they’re a bigger size print. Different kinds of stories than the American comics. So, I’m finding inspiration in different areas right now.
Carl: Oh, wow. I read that you were mentored by David Finch. He’s a really great artist and a really nice guy. What did you learn from him?
Mr. Fabok: I learned a lot from David! He taught me how to do the anatomy on the characters, how to draw backgrounds, how to draw buildings, you know, doing pretty much everything. We went step by step and did a little bit of everything. And he was really harsh. He was a harsh teacher. If he thought it stunk, he told me. And it’s kind of taught me to have a tough, you have to have a tough skin working in comics because you can do the best work you possibly can and if you go on the internet, somebody hates you. Somebody thinks it stinks, somebody thinks you’re garbage, and you kind of have to gain a thick skin. Or your editors at work, they’ll tell you something doesn’t look good, and you’ve spent hours doing it. But I learned a lot from him, and I still learn a lot from him. I still send him pages and get his opinion on things.
Carl: You drew the cover for Flash #22 as part of the Button story. When I interviewed John Wesley Shipp, who plays Jay Garrick on TV, he told me how much he loved that cover. Have you ever had a chance to talk to him about it?
Mr. Fabok: No, that’s pretty cool. I didn’t know that. I remember watching the old Flash movie when I was a kid and, yeah, that’s pretty neat. It’s neat when people like that, actors, or movie stars, when they’ve read your stuff. It’s kind of surreal.
Carl: Nice! A lot of artists (Neal Adams, David Finch, Tom Mandrake) have told me that Batman’s cape is something special – that it’s like no one else’s cape. Do you agree? Why do you think it has its own personality, but Superman’s cape, for example, doesn’t?
Mr. Fabok: Hmmm. Essentially, Batman’s cape is almost like, the way you draw it is, it’s like its own entity. I like drawing the cape blowing in the wind, even if there’s nothing else blowing in the wind. It gives Batman a really dynamic look. And you *can* do that with Superman: if Superman’s flying you want to have his cape going specific ways, showing the motion that he’s moving, or if he’s just floating there, flying, hovering above something, you want to have it billowing and moving. You know, the superhero cape is a fun thing to draw, and it does add a lot of action and movement to the character. You want to find little things like that whenever you’re drawing comic books, so that, you just want dynamic looking poses and dynamic looking things, whether it be smoke billowing through a city, or rain coming down. Things like that help bring the image to another level. So, Batman’s cape does that for sure. It adds a surreal feel to the character and a dynamism that you can’t get with other characters.
Carl: I read online that you’re very religious. Does that affect your art at all, or do you keep them separate?
Mr. Fabok: Yes and no. I mean, I choose the projects that I work on based on whether I think they’re appropriate for myself. You know, there are certain things that I don’t want to work on. I don’t want to draw super ultra-violent comics, or anything like that. But I look more or less for the message in the story, and the good-versus-evil aspect is something that shows up in Christianity. You know, a lot of the comic book stories and super heroes are all based off of old Bible stories, in all honesty. So, I like that, and I like it when certain writers will know that, like Geoff Johns, he knows what my faith is, and so he likes to mix some that stuff in there. But, it’s not something that has to be in there. You know, for me, I treat it more…as a Christian I believe that it’s my duty to work and do everything “as unto the Lord”, as it says in Galatians 3:23. So, I do my best, not for the applause of man but for the applause of God. I want Him to be proud of my work. So, that affects what I work on and what I choose to work on, and I also trust that God’s going to give me…I’ve put my career in His hands and I said, “Hey, show me where you want me to go, show me what you want me to do,” and so far He’s blessed me with some really great projects. I have no complaints and I’m always looking forward to what’s in the future.
Carl: Nice! I read that you love to go toy hunting at conventions. Do you ever have time at a show like this?
Mr. Fabok: Oh yeah! I just came back from toy hunting!
Carl: Oh Wow!
Mr. Fabok: Before I even sat down at the table this morning, I ran around the show floor trying to buy all the things I wanted to buy before the crowds were in there. But, yeah! I’m a big toy nerd. I recently got to design a whole bunch of action figures for DC Collectibles. I’m designing some big statues for Prime 1 Studios, just these huge statues! My office is just filled with toys, action figures, statues, and comic books. My wife, it drives her nuts, she just thinks it’s all messy in there. But I love toys. I’m still a kid at heart and I’m a collector. I’m a fan at heart. That’s how that keeps me young!
Carl: My helper won’t let me get any toys at conventions!
Dad: Always blame the help.
Carl: What’s your favorite toy that you’ve found at a show?
Mr. Fabok: Well, recently I’ve been buying these…here, I’ll show you. I just picked this one up today. I’ve been buying these Star-Wars samurai figures.
Carl: Oh nice!
Mr. Fabok: So, it’s like as if they are samurai. Ancient Japanese samurai, but as Star-Wars characters. I bought the Darth Vader, and some storm troopers, and I found this Boba Fett today. This is the one that I was looking for. So, I’ve been into these ones and I like collecting the Hot Toy figures, which are really beautiful, realistic looking ones. I bought a Darth Vader at one of the shows last year. That one has been something special for me. Also, some Ninja Turtle stuff. I’m a big Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fan. So, I’ve collected a bunch of those at different shows. Some of the original action figures that I had when I was your age, and my mom threw them all out!
Carl: Oh, wow!
Mr. Fabok: And, so, I’ve been trying to re-collect them! You know, now that I have some money. Yeah, so, things like that. There’s always something new I’m looking for. Big Cons like this are awesome because you can find so much that I don’t have available to me yet back at home.
Carl: Thanks for answering my questions, Jay. It was great meeting you.
Mr. Fabok: Awesome. Great to meet you, too, buddy!