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October 16, 2012

Artist Jim Terry talks The Crow: Skinning the Wolves from IDW

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Written by: DecapitatedDan
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Decapitated Dan: Hey Jim, thanks for taking time to talk with me about The Crow: Skinning the Wolves.
Jim Terry: No problem, Dan – thanks for digging me out of my cave.

DD: First of all let’s talk about you. Who are you and what do you do?
JT: I’m Jim Terry, comic book “creator”. Quotations are there so I don’t take myself too seriously.

Cover for issue #1

DD: How did you find yourself getting into making comics?
JT: I’ve always loved comics, but I took a break for a while in the 90s – I didn’t care for the direction they were going in and wanted to pursue different creative avenues. I’d written some screenplays and was close to getting something done, but too many cooks in the kitchen was killing it for me. Like so many others today, I decided it’d be better to do a “graphic novel” of my script. Little did I realize how intensely I’d rediscover my love for graphic storytelling – it soon became the only thing I cared to pursue.

DD: How did you come on board to work with James on The Crow: Skinning the Wolves?
JT: I had xerox pages of my book LIE DOWN LOW with me at a convention in the early 2000’s, he was there, I threw them on his table and disappeared. About four years later he sent me an email saying he just got around to looking at them. We ended up liking many of the same artists, writers and filmmakers, and cared about comics and visual storytelling in similar ways. I’d been working on my craft for around ten years by then, and he liked where I was with that so when the opportunity arose he asked if I’d like to be a part of it. I would have drawn grass growing for him, but the story he gave me was… well, it’s right up my alley.

DD: So what can you tell me about The Crow: Skinning the Wolves. What’s it all about?
JT: It’s a World War II era story set in a prison camp – The Crow has returned to deal some justice to the SOBs running it, show them that life should not be the disposable thing they believe it to be. He just does it in a mean, mean way.

DD: Who are the main characters?
JT: There are a couple prisoners we focus in on, particularly a young girl and her mother – they are the moral eyes. There is The Commandant, a man obsessed with chess, Wagner’s Ring Cycle, and stomping out the lives of others with nonchalance. And of course there is The Man – with a Crow perched on his shoulder, ready to do some damage. But the less you know about him the better – at least for now.

DD: Where did this idea come from?
JT: I guess James has been knocking this idea around for some twenty odd years.

Interior Art from Issue #1

DD: If you were to give this book a movie style rating (G, PG, PG-13, R, X) what would it get, and why would you say that?
JT: It’s definitely a hard R. I won’t sugarcoat it, there is plenty of violence in these pages, and most of it is graphic and brutal. The setting itself is, to me, enough to warrant a more mature outlook.

DD: In terms of horror what can we expect?
JT: Well, as I said, we’re not shying away from the violence in this book. Now I know that gore doesn’t automatically denote horror but I think the overall tone of the book is macabre enough to put it in that category. Besides, I think my graphic sensibilities lend themselves to the horror realm with or without my intentions.

DD: What are you hoping readers can take away from this story?
JT: First and foremost, I’m hoping readers will find something they’re not used to seeing. There are sooo many books on the shelves today, it’s a bit overwhelming – not to mention the myriad digital options – so I’m hoping for a unique experience. If it can get people interested in what went on over there, that’s great but not our prime goal. I’d love to just tell a good yarn, and if there are any aspiring artists out there who are inspired to drop the mouse and pick up a brush, that’d be fantastic too.

DD: Where can people go to order the first issue? What is the Diamond Code?
JT: The order code for issue 1 is OCT12 0354 and it will be on the shelves mid-December.

DD: Can we expect more Crow work from you in the future?
JT: We’ll have to see what James is up to, what IDW has planned and if this book connects with readers. I’d love to, though! It’s a universe I’m very comfortable in and have a great respect for.

DD: Can you talk a bit about your experiences so far with working in comics?
JT: I liken it a bit with busting into film. Very difficult and if you’re a character actor (as I am) and not some handsome, generic dude you have to dig your heels in and take what you can until something comes along that can help define you. I’ve been working alone on my books for some time, but it’s all been growth. Page 1 is different than page 50, you know? But so far I’ve just been trying anything and everything that comes my way, I try not to say no to anything unless I absolutely can’t do it.

DD: Other than The Crow, what other books are you working on at the moment?
JT: I’m working on an independent book called THE UNDERNEATH with Chicago writer Tom Stillwell, which is a lot of fun and should be completed soon. You can find more about it at http://www.underneathcomic.com/. I’m also (when I can) working on my crime epic LIE DOWN LOW, a modern noir concerning low level criminals trying to justify their existences. Heavy! Always irons in the fire.

DD: What is the most horrific thing that has happened to you at a convention?

Jim Terry's take on Decapitated Dan

JT: I’d hate to say it, but the soul-crushing, spirit smashing monotony of having EVERYONE pass the table without looking at the work. I’m sure many creators out there can sympathize. If you’re not a used car salesman at those things, it’s hard to get anyone interested long enough to see the value of what you’re trying to do. That’s a horrible feeling, experiencing that over a very long weekend. Other than that I love cons! Ha ha!

DD: Were you into any horror titles growing up that led you to want to work on a book like this?
JT: Absolutely. I was a passionate reader of CREEPY, EERIE and anything else I could get my hands on. The EC stuff was a bit hard to find so I didn’t discover that until later but now it’s a profound influence on my work. I drool over Bernie Wrightson, Tim Vigil, Timothy Truman, Corben, not to mention James O’Barr’s gritty work… the list goes on and on and I could fill a book with my heroes. I still have the Twisted Tales written by Bruce Jones, with the cover by Bernie that used to give me butterflies in the gut every time I read it. Proud member of the Fango Family here.

DD: What comics are you currently reading?
JT: Ah, I was reading SCALPED until it recently ended, I’m liking FURY and dug SPACEMAN… HAWKEN was a lot of fun! Usually anything Steve Niles puts out. There’s a lot of great work coming out of Chicago as well, Tim Seeley’s horror stuff is great, Mike Norton’s dipping his pencil in that world… OFFICER DOWNE is nasty fun and SMOKE AND MIRRORS was great. Mostly I dig backwards though. I have a steady diet of EC books I go back to, learning about guys like Alex Toth and Will Eisner and Harvey Kurtzman and the legends that built the foundation we all stand on now.

DD: So where can readers find out more about this book, and about yourself?
JT: I think I told you everything there is about me, but my website is www.woundedbutdangerous.com if you want to swing by there and scope some work. Keep checking IDW’s website for more info about SKINNING THE WOLVES, and please give it a try when it arrives!

DD: So in summary give me a quick recap on The Crow: Skinning the Wolves and why fans should give it a try.
JT: Again, there’s a lot of honest sweat in this book, it’s old-school and brass knuckled and its heart is on its sleeve. If you come away from it not feeling there’s passion on every page, I certainly haven’t done my job. If you stick around through issue 3, hopefully you can close the book and just softly say, “damn”.

DD: Thanks so much for your time Jim.
JT: Thank you Dan, sorry for giving you a Tolstoy length interview!

To find out more about Jim go to http://www.woundedbutdangerous.com/
To find out more about The Crow: Skinning the Wolves go to http://www.idwpublishing.com/

Decapitateddan@comicattack.net

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