Jason Ho is an illustrator whose day job is making Simpsons and Futurama comics. He recently collaborated on the upcoming book Star Trek: The Next Generation: Warped, An Engaging Guide to the Never-Aired 8th Season, which was based on the popular Star Trek Season 8 twitter account by Mike McMahan.
I’m a fan of Jason’s work, so I was excited when he announced that he got to work on this book. I shot him some questions and here are his excellent answers.
RPJs: How long have you been a professional artist? What was your first major success?
Jason Ho: I’ve been a professional artist for (debatably) 18 years. I started off doing minor art assistance duties (amongst other things) when I was an intern at Bongo Comics. My internship eventually turned into a full time position. PS: I’m still with Bongo today, and now I’m an Art Director. I’m not sure it would be counted as a major success, but an important early milestone for me was drawing the flip cover for Simpsons Comics #49 (which was a Tomb Raider parody). That was the first cover I ever drew on my own!
RPJs: I think I initially started following you because you’re a fellow toy lover. What are your favorite toys to collect?
Jason Ho:Oh yeah, that’s right! Transformers are my favorite toys to collect, all day every day. IT’S A SICKNESS.
RPJs:What’s the artistic accomplishment that you’re most proud of thus far?
Jason Ho:If we’re talking about a single accomplishment, it’s this Star Trek book! I’ve never had the opportunity to be the sole illustrator for a book before this project. And the fact that it’s one of my favorite franchises is an incredible bonus. If we’re talking long-term accomplishments, I have drawn more Simpsons comic book covers than anyone else (if I’m not mistaken), which I think is a pretty cool fun fact that will most likely show up in my obituary someday.
RPJs:How big of a Star Trek fan are you?
Jason Ho:Not that big, about 5’8, 160 lbs. Har har har, you can find records of me using that terrible joke on the internet through the ages, with increasing values for weight as I have aged. BUT SERIOUSLY, I am a huuuge Star Trek fan, like Andre-the-Giant-sized. I grew up intensely into TNG. I was always aware of TOS, but really started getting into it after watching Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Star Trek VI is still one of my favorite movies of all time! I loved DS9, but fell off sometime during VOY. My Trekkie gene laid dormant for a number of years until the 2009 reboot, which reminded me how much I love the franchise. I went back and watched every Trek series in its entirety. I seriously love Star Trek more than ever now. *CRAZED LOOK*
RPJs:So what is your favorite Star Trek TV series then?
Jason Ho:Deep Space Nine! I always loved how that show had more of a structured arc. And while every Trek show is an ensemble, even the secondary characters on DS9 ended up being very compelling. Nog! Vic Fontaine! I could go on forever…
RPJs:How did you happen to get involved with this project?
Jason Ho:Way back in 2014, my buddy Dafna Pleban (who is a kick-ass editor across town at Boom! Studios) asked me if I wanted to make a Star Trek zine with her, and naturally I said YES. She recruited a bunch of other super talented folks for the zine, and one of them was Mike McMahan, AKA the @TNG_S8 guy and the author of Star Trek TNG: WARPED. Mike’s feature for the zine was some never-before-seen @TNG_S8 tweets, which I illustrated. After we finished the zine, Mike asked me to do illustrations for his book, and naturally I said YES.
Incidentally, the first volume of the zine sold out, BUUUT it’s available for free online. We made a second volume of the zine too, and Mike and I collaborated again, this time for a children’s story starring Data.
RPJs:That zine is awesome. I would like to see more of that. I know this is not a question.
Jason Ho:Thank you, I really appreciate that! The zines are a real labor of love for us, so it’s great to hear people enjoy them!
RPJs: One thing I’ve noticed about your figures is a lot of them lack pupils. Is there any deep reasoning behind that artistic decision?
Jason Ho: I am conscious of my tendency to do that, but I don’t have any explanation for it. Maybe deep down I just want every character I draw to be as cool as Batman? I should probably ask a mental care professional what it means, but I’m terrified to look too deep into my fractured psyche.
RPJs:You’ve done a lot of work with the Simpsons and Futurama world. Do you find it easier or harder to illustrate in someone else’s pre-established (and extremely well known) style?
Jason Ho:I find it easier–but that’s a bit of a deceptive answer. The nice thing about working within a well-known style, is that there are established rules, which spare you from doing some of the more crucial decision-making. However, I find that the Simpsons/Futurama style is really tough to get right. The only reason I’m even halfway decent is because I’ve been trained under the watchful eye of some incredibly talented people, and because I’ve been at it for a kajillion years. However, because the Simpsons/Futurama style is so tough, I feel like that’s given me a decent skillset for adapting to other styles when necessary.
RPJs:Favorite Star Trek character to draw (and why)?
Jason Ho:I think it’s Riker–unlike most handsome types, he isn’t generic-looking and has lots of visual landmarks… beard, mischievous eyebrows, and (when the scene calls for it) chest hair.
RPJs:Speaking of bare chests, we run our own Star Trek comic strip and Voyager episode breakdowns around here (I know shameless plugs) and my favorite is shirtless Chakotay. Have you had the joy of drawing a bare chested Chakotay yet?
Jason Ho:Haha, not yet! I need to draw Picard in his vacation short shorts too.
RPJs:Favorite Simpsons/Futurama character to draw (and why)?
Jason Ho:For Simpsons, I gotta go ultra-classic here–Bart! He’s one of the most iconic cartoon designs of all time, so it’s always satisfying to draw him and get it right. For Futurama, it’s Leela–I don’t get to draw a lot of women characters or action at work, and Leela is a bad-ass who covers both of those categories!
RPJs:If they still make Futurama comics… why isn’t it still on the air?! Sorry, that was more out of frustration than anything else.
Jason Ho:That information is above my pay-grade! All work-stuff aside, I’m a fan too, I would love to see it return!
RPJs: Aside from the Season 8 book, Warped, which you can buy at Amazon following this link, what else do you have to plug?
Jason Ho: I just did a cover for Adventure Time that’s going to be on both a DVD and a comic book from Boom! Studios. Both of those are going to be out in October.
Or hit me up on Twitter if you want to talk about Transformers.
Thanks to Jason for taking the time to talk with us. He’s a cool guy. Buy his stuff!