Graphic Tales: Interview with Jerry Beck

Graphic Tales: Interview with Jerry Beck

uesday, February 19, 2008 – 07:22 PM

Who is Jerry Beck, the horror artist?
How long have you been an artist?

Before I begin let me compliment you on such a wonderful name. I like the name Lillian. As for Jerry Beck, the horror artist? All the things that I love to draw are all the things I loved as kid…or in some cases, loved to hate.

Seriously, many of the things that scared me most, are the things I’ve come to embrace the most (in my artwork).

As for how long I’ve been an artist. It was something I enjoyed doing from the earliest of ages. But I never took it seriously til’ after high school, around 1991.

What got you started in art?
As a kid, my mother and Aunt Kathy were absolute horror movie fanatics. The stories I’d over here them tell, coupled with a Saturday afternoon show called “Super-Host” and another show called “The Hilarious House of Frightenstein” very, very influencial. Super Host would play Godzilla and all the great Universal Monster films. At a very early age, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Sr. and Jr., and Bela Lugosi captivated me.

Jerry Beck, Evil ErnieJerry Beck, Wicked JesterWhen did you know you wanted to get into the horror genre?
Specifically, in high school. Frankenstein was assigned to us in english class. I was introduced to the illustrated version by Berni Wrightson. A couple years after high school I finally decided to get serious about the art. I just didnt know what direction to go with it.

If I’m gonna dedicate my life to this art thing I’m gonna need to delve into something I enjoy. Comic books and sequential art were the direction I thought I’d fit in with best. I knew very little of the biz, so I enrolled in the Joe Kubert School around 1992, to get my feet wet.

I loved the experience, although I never finished the final year due to the birth of my son, Kaylon. It was at the Kubert school that I really became immersed in the old school horror genre.

Jerry Beck, Halloween IIJerry Beck, Warrior
Was there a particular inspiration or event that lead you in this direction?
The aforementioned Wrightson “Frankenstein” book got my blood flowing.

Do you use traditional tools or digital? If digital what software/hardware?
Very much the traditional stuff….Pencils, erasers, dip pens, nibs, india ink(Higgins Black Magic) and the trusty brush. I’d love to learn photoshoppe, Dream Weaver, or Corel (Or all of them. LOL!), but I’m completely unfamiliar with them as of this writing.

What inspires your wonderfully dark and frightening work?
Much of it stems from my childhood. From the stories my mom and Aunt would tell, to the overwhelming catholic environment I grew up in. The likeness of a man nailed to a cross through out the house was creepy. The tortured and left for dead image of Jesus bothered me deeply. On the other hand, from a very graphic perspective, I’m very much color-blind. So, I knew from day one in art school that whenever I created artwork there would be no intention on my part to color it.Jerry Beck, Something WickedJerry Beck, SlipKnot It had to have a ton of depth as it stood alone, in black and white.

It seems like you are really tight with your family. You’re obviously very protective of your kids (“…let I not forget… I cant wait to meet the boys that try to date my daughters.”), close with your mom and brother. Your comment about your father “being very misunderstood” struck a chord, and if I am not being too personal, I wondered what you meant. Did the situation with your dad impact you with regards to your art?
One day I came home from school and my dad was gone. I was about 5, my brother,3.

The stories that were told to me as kid left alot of questions in my head. My father would rarely call, and rarely be seen. When someone you love leaves your life…it’s painful. When that person comes back, it’s uplifting! But then they disappear again…and the void grows deeper. That happened time and time again. It made me very empty inside. I don’t want my kids to be without their dad. I want them to always be near me, whether it’s a phone call away, or a hallway away.

As for my dad being misunderstood, I now know the truth about him and I feel bad for him. He had a very hard life, and had to make some very serious decisions. He doesn’t even know that I know.

Jerry Beck, Something WickedWhat kind of creative mischief are you up to now?
As of now, I’m swamped.
I got my hands in alot of main-stream stuff. is my line geared towards hardcore athletes. It re-opens in March.
Iron Asylum
I have a line geared toward the Cleveland Browns called Rabid Zone, that debuts for training camp this year.
I do the artwork for extreme clothing company,
I do artwork for Muscular Development magazine.
And I’m slowly resurrecting my dark comic-book tale:
Just to name a few.

What creative mischief would you like to cook up in the future?
I love what I’m pursuing professionally. More than anything, I want SOMETHING WICKED to work. I’d love to see it become a film. But, honestly, I get up every day really amped about the possibilities for the day before me. I love what I do. Excessive amounts of money would serve others far better than myself. If one of these projects really takes off, I’m taking care of my family and kids to a fuller degree. But as for me, I’m doing what I want to be doing. I’m very lucky to have this ability. But it’s very much untapped. I have a lot of learning to do. Keep an eye on me, I’m far from done.

Thanks for the opportunity, Lillian.
I appreciate your support.

Thanks for taking with me Jerry. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the creative mind behind the wicked cool art. I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more you and your creative mischief!!

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