The following is an interview with artist Josue Justiniano or better known as just Justiniano who provides the art for two issues of the DC Universe title Doom Patrol, both of which tie-into BLACKEST NIGHT. Brought to you by the Green Lantern Spotlight Podcast.
Green Lantern Spotlight: Thanks for taking the time to do this, it means a lot. How about we start off with your start in the comics industry? Take us through the journey.
Justiniano: Growing up, I had no knowledge about anything called the “comic industry”; nor care for that fact. Comic properties like Superman, Batman, Spiderman, and The Hulk, were just part of life like having Frosted Flakes in the morning. You don’t question those things when you’re a kid, you just know they’re there in the morning and expect them the following one…
As far as how I came to grab a pencil to draw these characters, I have no recollection how it started, it was simply there when I noticed. I do believe most of my earlier images came from television; scenes I had seen in a film or serial. My earliest memory of any drawing, is one of the Lone Ranger my father drew for me before heading to work, and since he was in a rush, he drew him with his arms behind him to save some time. That wasn’t enough for me, so I added ropes to show that he was tied up. I was probably 3 or 4.
Comics were just there, and I read them often when I was able to get them. I never paid attention to who drew them, nor wrote them. I just enjoyed getting absorbed by them. If my memories are correct, I think that the first comic to simply blow my mind, was the first issue of Crisis on Infinite Earths. It had a million different characters in it, and the notion that there were hundreds of different versions of Superman and The Flash was completely amazing to me. After that, I wanted to know more, and even more importantly, the urge to create, create, create, had been ignited and I would draw, draw, draw until my eyes and fingers burned. Even still, I never had any plans to work in comics. For me, it was something I just loved doing.
Fast forward about 10 years or so, I attended my second comic convention and met the creators of the now defunct Chaos! Comics, who were on tour to promote their infant company. I learned that their next stop the following weekend was a comic store not too far from my hometown in Connecticut. For some reason or another, I dared to make some samples based on the first few pages of Evil Ernie and when they came around, I gave them copies. I did not hear from them for a while, but eventually, they put up a talent search ad in one of their comics and I sent them the same exact copies I previously gave them. Few days after, publisher Brian Pulido assigned me what became my first published piece.
A few months after that, on the same store, I met a young fellow who claimed he worked at Marvel, and insisted that I showed my stuff to the editor he worked under. For some reason I believed him and sent some stuff out to Marc McLaurin. It worked out, because he called me back a few days after, and hooked me up with an issue of What If…?
That’s how pretty much I broke in. No plans; just happened…
GLS: You’re working with Keith Giffin on Doom Patrol for a few issues. What’s your relationship like with him?
J: I’m working on those issues simply because editor Liz Gehrlein called me up and ask me if I wanted to cover those issues for regular guy Matthew Clark. I said “Hell yeah. I dig the DP!”. That project has been tons of fun, and it hasn’t been the first time I’ve worked with Keith on something. I penciled over his breakdowns on 52, and I drew two chapters of the Doctor Occult back story for Reign In Hell, which he wrote. I’m also drawing over his breakdowns on DP, to say the least. As far as a relationship, we’ve spoken on the phone a couple of times, and exchange a couple of emails as well. He’s a “straight to the point” kind of guy, or so I got from our interaction. I found him very pleasant and very smart. I think he really knows what he’s talking about.
GLS: So what brought you to do these two issues? Was it the zombie-like aspect, or just the chance to draw Elasti-Girl and Negative Man?
J: I’ve drawn the DP previously, if only briefly, and I really wanted to draw Robotman. I mean, the fact that it involved the Blackest Night bit, did not hurt that decision, sure, but I jumped on it because it was simply The Doom Patrol. It could have been DP vs The Possessed Pink Bunnies from Hell, and I still would have agreed to do it. You can never go wrong with zombies either. Rotting, flesh eating ghouls are a passion of mine, anyway…
GLS: Artistically I hope…If you don’t mind me asking, are you DC Comics exclusive? When can we expect more Justiniano art in the DCU?
J: I’ve been under contract with DC since my run on Day of Vengeance, and as far as any DCU stuff after DP, I’m knee deep into a Wonder Womangraphic novel, which I put away to cover some issues of The Spirit and of course, Doom Patrol. Now that DP is done, I’m jumping back into it. That little stunt will keep me busy and out of sight for a few more months easily. I really need to put my whole energy into into it, since I think it will be a fine piece of work and very challenging for me.
GLS: With Doom Patrol jumping into the Blackest Night extravaganza, there will be lots of new readers to the title. What can we expect in these two issues from you and Keith? Do you have a favorite scene you’ve drawn in the series thus far?
J: I hope that more readers jump into the book. The DP has got many runs, and besides the Grant Morrison days, it hasn’t stuck very long, which I find sort of sad, since they have so much potential. What I’ve read from Keith so far, has been great, and if readers allow him to bring the goods, I’m sure they won’t regret it.
Surely, I cannot spill the beans on really what’s happening overall with what Keith, myself, and the whole creative team have in store for those two issues, but expect a good read. I still can’t believe just how much fun stuff was wrapped in just two issues! Surprisingly, as much as I enjoyed the Robotman sequence, I really loved working on the Elasti-Woman pages the best. It’s not everyday I get to draw a giant, nevertheless a fine looking one fighting a hurricane. Also, the cliffhanger from issue one should shock readers. Or not. Who knows. I hope so.
GLS: Any indie projects you’re working on? Anything you want to plug or promote?
J: Nope, no side projects for me at the moment, though I’ve been brainstorming personal ones in and outside comics.
GLS: Thank you for your time, its been great.
Be sure to read Doom Patrol #4 and #5 by Keith Giffen and Justiniano, this November and December.