Jason Metcalf: Space Goats, Construction, and Comic Books

A comics interview article by: Alex Rodrik
Earlier this week we began our Space Goat Productions Interview series with Shon C. Bury, President of Space Goat. In this second installment to the series I had the chance to pick Jason Metcalf’s brain about what it’s like working with Space Goat and working within this ever growing industry.


Alex Rodrik: How’d you get involved with Space Goat?

Jason Metcalf: I was introduced to Shon Bury, owner of Space Goat Productions, through a mutual friend in the local Seattle comic scene at a small convention a couple of years ago. Initially the three of us were hashing out a pitch idea which segued into the offer to join in with the Space Goat crew. With the amount of shows and circles both Shon and I had run around in over the last decade, it's bewildering how we didn't meet sooner.

AR: Tell us a bit about yourself, how’d you get involved in the industry? What drew you to comics?

JM: I've been drawing superheroes, aliens, and monsters since I was 4 years old and got into reading comics at about the same age. My first comics were a Marvel 3-pack with Avengers, Hulk and Defenders books. Superfriends and Shazam were on TV every Saturday morning. The old black & white Superman was on every Sunday. The Incredible Hulk, Wonder Woman and an occasional Spidey were on during the week.

The love of drawing and the inspiration of comics have always been a part of my life, and I always knew it would someday become my profession. As a kid I could tell there was something noble about the superhero and the fight against evil and the characters and stories became inspirational and set examples to do the right thing. It was a very powerful influence and that's one thing I love about the medium -- the potential to role model to growing, questioning minds about the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, choice and consequence; all through iconic stories and images.

Fast forward to the mid-90's. I had graduated from college with a degree in Construction Management but while in school I was also working more and more on the art of comics, storytelling, anatomy, etc. The Image boom was inspirational to me and my love of the genre was rekindled. Through the next several years I started going to a lot of local and regional comic conventions, and soon started getting artist alley tables of my own.

My construction career was growing in parallel to my fledgling comic career, and I spent the better part of a decade being pulled in one direction by great salary and benefits and security, and in the other by my passion for comics and drawing and uncertainty. I got involved in several small projects which never saw the light of day, leaving me feeling very Edisonesque. Then, I got my first small break --at Comic Con San Diego in 2000. My ink work caught the eye of Joe Weems. He had me do a small amount of ink assist work for him on The Darkness and Magdelina.

My own artwork started to improve, and the reality of eventually shaking my day job for my dream job started to gain some traction. I kept going to shows and kept pushing myself to learn more, getting portfolio reviews and feedback as I wanted to be at a certain level of craft before my work fed the masses. I knew I wasn't up to snuff yet.

Then my first real gig offer came from Bluewater to do issue #4 of Wrath of the Titans. The original penciler and I had met at Comic Con a year before and he had cut his hand in some sort of accident. The gig was for no pay. I knew that going into it but decided that it was time for me to get something published, and I liked the genre (I'm a sucker for myth and fantasy). This was about 6 months before meeting Shon and signing on to Space Goat.

AR: I hear that you’re working on a promotional comic for Eternal Descent. How did that come about? What is it something they approached you about, or were you friends with the band and told them, “Hey, this would be a cool idea!”?

JM: Eternal Descent, for those who don't know, is a rock-opera band out of London, England. I believe they approached Space Goat, correct me if I'm wrong here, and there was a previous penciler who had done some prelim and promotional work for them already. Shon pitched me the gig and I liked it well enough, with some angel-demon power struggle threads in it, so I bit. The storyline coincides with the band's music, and there are guest band appearances in each issue by other bands. There's also a lot of specific instruments and gear like ESP Guitars and Orange Amps which are seeded in the panel work. It's been a good course in character likenesses as I try to bring each band member to life on the pages.

AR: How has Space Goat affected the way you view and exist within the industry?

JM: Well, in a few ways. Shon is very knowledgeable and has his ears to the tracks all the time. I pretty much rely on his hard work and effort through his contacts to drum up gigs.

I guess this is a side of the industry I hadn't been exposed to -- the role of the talent agent and the life of the freelancer. I feel very fortunate to have met Shon and sign on with him. The flip-side is that, I think I told Shon this one day, comics and contracts are very similar to what I had experienced in my decade-long construction management career: You don't really know if you have a job until the contracts are signed, the script is in your hand, and you've collected cash for your work. There is a lot of talk out there, and in my experience 1 out of every 10 projects ever get to the starting line; which is fine by me, actually. I'm faithful that the RIGHT projects will come my way and there's a reason for the gutter balls.

AR: What are some of your current projects that our readers should keep their eyes open for?

JM: Right now I'm continuing with the Eternal Descent series, fleshing out angels, demons, and band members in their ongoing struggle in the gothic urban jungle! I'm also keeping myself busy with commission work and convention appearances, and if you want to keep an eye on me -- or want something done by me -- I keep my deviantART site pretty current with material and sales and announcements. I'll even answer questions, if you've got 'em! There's also some top-secret stuff I've been working on, but that's for another time.

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