Jeremy Haun Interview

Jeremy Haun is a seasoned comic book writer and artist whose work has been published by DC, Marvel, IDW, Image, BOOM!, and more. His newest release, King Spawn #31, written by Todd McFarlane, will hit shelves and digital this month. While this is Haun’s first time working on the Spawn franchise, plenty more is to come.

In addition to discussing his future with Image, Haun spoke about his unshakable passion for horror. This is obvious in many of his titles, such as the stunning anthology Haunthology, The Red Mother, The Approach, and The Beauty. Haun’s appreciation for the genre began at a vulnerable point in his life and continues to shape his work.

Check out his official website to stay updated on what’s coming next.

Jeremy Haun King Spawn 31
Image Comics

Horror Geek Life: I’m excited to talk to you about a few things, starting with King Spawn. Issue 31, which you did pencils and ink for, is coming out soon. You’ve posted previews on social media, and they look fantastic. When will the issue come out, and how did you get involved?

Jeremy Haun: That comes out on February 28th. I think digitally, it hits on the 27th.

I had been a huge Todd McFarlane fan forever. My brother and I skipped school in May of 1992 when the first issue of Spawn came out. It was my favorite of the Image books. I really love that crazy, fun combination of BatmanSpider-Man, and Dracula that kind of made Spawn initially. His character is much more about heaven and hell and good and evil and all of that stuff now. But, visually, for me, those were the icons. And they’re the perfect icons for a 16-year-old kid to get into.

Todd and I spoke in 2018 about possibly working together at some point. And I was really excited to do so, but I was so booked out with my own work. Part of what we have to do in comics is plan at least a year ahead for most of what we do. So, the schedule didn’t work out. And finally, this year, it did.

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Todd said that he’s growing the Spawn line. He has some really exciting stuff coming up. And we had started work on our larger project right before the holidays. I was in Kansas City at a little marketing boot camp for comics, and I got a message asking me, “We really need some help with this next issue of King Spawn. Will you come in and rock it out?” I’m not really the guy to quickly do anything anymore. In my dotage, I have slowed down a lot. But it’s Todd asking, and I think that’s a different thing. The opportunity to work for him and help him out was an important thing. So I took it, and I worked my butt off drawing this crazy issue.

HGL: If adult Jeremy were to go back to Jeremy in 1992 and ask, “Hey, kid, guess what you’re going to do one day?” Can you imagine the response?

Jeremy Haun: I think that kid would say, “You’re really old.” Yeah, I think that would be something that would just utterly blow my mind. I think about that a lot — the idea of what the younger versions of ourselves would have wanted for us as creatives. This was a kid who was renting his way through every horror movie at our local video store, finding more and more sci-fi, fantasy, and horror fiction. He was obsessed with comic books from the ‘90s, but also learning about all of the wonderful history of comics before that and reading stuff from the ‘70s and ‘80s. The creative I am today comes from that time period. So aside from the old thing, I think that I would be pretty impressed.

Jeremy Haun King Spawn 31 Ink
Jeremy Haun | Image Comics

HGL: What has the entire creative process been like working with Todd McFarlane?

Jeremy Haun: I’ve been incredibly fortunate in my career to work with a lot of amazing writers, artists, the whole nine yards. The thing that really struck me was even after being in this industry for 20 years, I realized how much I had to learn from somebody like Todd.

When you’ve been doing this for as long as I have, you think you know all the tricks. And I try to go into things with a sense of wonder and fascination, and I love to learn. With Todd, every single note that he gave was fantastic.

Typically, what I do is get the script or the plot. I quickly thumbnail it out. They’re not stick figures, but they’re really rough, quick images. They show the shapes of the panels. They give an idea of everything that’s going on. Then they go to the writer, and the writer says, “I was thinking about this aspect or that aspect. What if we made sure that we zoomed in closer to show the horror on this person’s face?” That sort of thing. I believe that every person you work with cares about the process, but sometimes, you’re working with somebody who doesn’t quite understand the visuality of the thing. Todd does, and he can quickly look at something and explain to you that if you move this a little bit over here, or if you flip the direction of this panel, or if you black out all of this stuff that you were planning on putting all this detail in, it’s going to be more visually effective. This guy’s a master. I had a lot to learn.

HGL: He’s definitely a legend for a reason! My first introduction to your work was The Approach. I enjoyed it and checked out more of your titles. I’ve noticed there are certain themes you explore quite a bit, such as isolation and the apocalypse. Can you talk a bit about the predominant themes in your work?

Jeremy Haun: I think that sometimes you start out in your career, and you’re kind of throwing paint on a wall and seeing what sticks. For me, there’s always been this throughline of horror in everything that I work on. Whether it’s The Beauty, which is basically body horror, or some of the post-apocalyptic horror elements in The Realm through to The Red Mother, which is cosmic horror. There are different variations; the first thing that really happened there was my unabashed love of the horror genre and the subgenre within that.

You don’t always know those themes, though. But you realize, oh, I’m kind of giving a nod to the things that made me who I am. Those movies that I watched when I was obsessively going through every VHS tape at the video store as a kid. All the times I would absorb this great stuff made me a little bit of who I am today. So, specifically, when it comes to horror, the things that I love the most are the things that scared me the most as a kid.

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At the beginning of sixth grade, my parents divorced, and we moved in with my grandparents about an hour south of Joplin. It was a hog and cattle farm, so there were all these terrifying night sounds. I was a city boy. If my window was open in the summertime, I heard cars go by and city sounds. Now, suddenly, when I had my window open on the farm, I heard pigs screaming at each other in the night as they do. I heard crickets and frogs and animals moving around in the woods outside. I was so terrified by all of that.

During this time, in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, horror trailers were playing on primetime TV, like the new Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street. I was so terrified of the world around me. I had to figure out a way to survive that. My answer was going through every horror film. The first one that I really dove into was A Nightmare on Elm Street 3. It took all the best things about the first one but kind of made superheroes of the kids. It made sense to me, and, in the end, I got to see the monster die. They beat Freddy.

That hooked me — the ability to take these things that terrified me and empower myself with them. I didn’t have the language to even say that at the time, but that’s what was happening. I was empowering myself using horror.

Jeremy Haun Haunthology Cover
Image Comics

HGL: I think that comes through the most in Haunthology, which was a unique and personal way to document the anxiety and loneliness felt during the pandemic. Was it scary to put so much of yourself out there?

Jeremy Haun: To be honest, when I started the anthology, I didn’t know that it would end up being a true collection. I was probably on the fourth story before I really understood that I was building to something that was more than therapy. I put the stories up on my Patreon. I was trying to just figure out ways to give people some kind of comic content at a time when comics weren’t coming out. I was trying to heal myself.

The first story in that collection, while I think there is a lot I’m saying there, I was telling a short story to do something. And then each story after that had a little bit of a theme. Without being too dramatic about it, I think that it saved me during a really tough time. What it grew into was something that was probably one of the most personal and enjoyable things in my career.

I think that stories are always somewhat personal. They’re the things that we’re dealing with in our lives, the things that we’re thinking about. I’ve often been a big idea guy; I’ll see the beginning, middle, and end. At its heart, The Realm is a post-apocalyptic high fantasy story. I know the beats along the way that you get to. They go here, they fight this thing, they do this thing, they move on. But I think that while the early stories were always personal, by the time I did Haunthology, I realized how much of myself I needed to put into my stories. That was even better for connecting with my audience.

HGL: And it’s easy to see that you are a creator who enjoys connecting, including con appearances. What has that experience been like over the years?

Jeremy Haun: I love the personal experience of conventions. My first real convention was San Diego Comic-Con in 1995. I was there in those early years, and you would actually go through the back of the San Diego Convention Center and come down the escalators. While coming down, I looked to my left, and the first people that I saw were Sergio Aragonés and Stan Sakai. Groo and Usagi Yojimbo were these hilarious and wonderful books from Dark Horse at the time. I immediately met them, and they were so sweet and wonderful. Then I walked into the Comic-Con, and it’s like throwing yourself into the deep end of the pool. But I saw at that moment, even meeting those two initially, how much connection you can have from the other side of the table.

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Taking it back to Todd McFarlane, that same year, I met all of the Image guys. I stood in line to get books signed, and I met Todd. He has this way about him. He tells a little anecdote to everybody that comes up. I was 18 years old, meeting the guy who changed my comics world just a few years before. Now, I have had the opportunity to be on the other side of the table at so many different shows. I don’t think most people know how important it is to us. Not just the people coming up and buying something from you. Yes, that’s great. I appreciate it. Beyond that, though, I come back from conventions charged. I get back, and I want to write more. I want to draw more. I want to make more. When you put something in a book because it matters to you, and then it connects with someone, and they walk up and say, “This part moved me; this part had this effect.” It just does amazing things.

Jeremy Haun King Spawn 31 Ink Color
Jeremy Haun | Image Comics

HGL: Are there any events coming up on your calendar? And what are you working on beyond King Spawn?

Jeremy Haun: At the end of February, I am doing Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle. Directly after that, I am doing Planet Comicon in Kansas City, Missouri. I live in Joplin, and Planet is my hometown show. It’s in my mind and heart. It’s the show that is, in a lot of ways, responsible for me working in comics. I gave a copy of my first book that I was self-publishing to Jim Valentino, and he invited me to join Image Comics at that show.

This is Planet’s 25th anniversary. Chris Jackson runs the show, and he’s always been incredibly good to me and supportive of my work, but also just championing the idea that, while Kansas City is a big city, it is still a Midwest city. I love that show. Unabashedly. So, if you’re reading this and want to try a different kind of show, come to Kansas City. It’s fantastic.

After that, I’m going to be at C2E2 in Chicago, which is another Midwest bit of fun. I’ve got a few more that I’m lining up throughout the year. Horror fans, I love you so much, and I love comic cons, but I’m really wanting to do more horror cons. It’s everything that I love in one place, so I’m going to make that happen more in 2024 and 2025.

As for what I’ve got coming up creatively, we are developing a new Spawn Universe book. It has my favorite aspects, like horror stuff and over-the-top action. It’s going to be a really fun new story. That’s going to be out at the very end of 2024, so we’re working on that now.

As for writing stuff, I have redoubled my horror comics efforts this year, and 2024 is going to be really exciting. I’ve got at least two new creator-owned horror series you’ll be seeing. I’m working on Spawn stuff, and I’m going to be returning to Image in a pretty big way.


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