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Industry insights from PopCon Dubai guest stars
C omic books are making a huge comeback as classic stories and characters jump off the pages into mainstream TV and movies. Illustrator Jason Palmer, who is a guest at the inaugural Popcon in Dubai this weekend, says the industry has changed dramatically.
“It is now considered more source material for movies and TV shows than it is a final product,” he tells us ahead of the Outlet Mall event from Thursday to Saturday that covers everything from comics to games, music and more.
He recently enjoyed the Luke Cage Netflix series, based on Marvel’s Power Man: “When I read the comic as a kid, I just liked it for its own sake; I never thought about it being anything else. It is kind of wonderful that I get to enjoy these stories again, adapted for my matured sensibilities. I get to experience them all over again in a sophisticated manner. It's kind of like a second childhood.”
Palmer has been working as an illustrator since the 90s and is best known for his Star Trek painting covers and licensed artwork for Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Firefly.
Being an artist seems like a cool job and though Palmer says he’s lucky and grateful, it is hard work.
It’s a continuous learning process for him. He says: “I'm currently working on a job that is outside of my comfort zone. I have to really knuckle down and work harder, drawing the figure over and over, discarding more sketches than I normally would, in the process of bringing this artwork to the same standard as my typical work. It's frustrating that it takes more time, but I know that it makes me a better artist.” Palmer’s hardest project so far has to be the Indiana Jones Blu-ray set illustrations: “There were many interests involved: Lucas, Spielberg, Paramount Pictures, Lucasfilm, the local design company. Getting them to agree and be happy with a concept was nearly impossible. That project went on for two years.”
During PopCon, the American will be ready to answer questions about artistic impulse and direction, and will probably talk non-stop about the latest movie or show with the fans. Palmer says: “Sometimes people are very particular. ‘No, this person wouldn't be standing like this’ or ‘No, they wouldn't be doing that’. I always want to hear people out - sometimes there’s some validity to it. But more often than not, it was something I considered but rejected in the creative process.”
Palmer wants to tell aspiring artists that there are no shortcuts or alternative to good old hard work when it comes to the industry, adding: “All of the other artist guests at PopCon are good friends of mine. We understand that person worked very hard to get where they are.”
And though the final product might not always be good, the process always is: “Drawing things in your life - people, things, your pets - the doing of it is a good thing. We all draw as children, and lose the impulse somewhere along the way - usually because we become aware of being judged. But it can be a source of joy to anybody.”
FAN ART: Jason Palmer’s art prints for TV series The Walking Dead and Once Upon A Time (inset) have a fan following. See some of his work at PopCon from October 27-29 at Dubai Outlet Mall
self-portrait with Yoda ears