Jeff Zornow (ZORNOW MUST BE DESTROYED!) is a Comic Book artist and Illustrator, who also works in underground metal/punk art, and creates lots of art for the Horror genre.
Working professionally since 2005, Zornow is best known for his Horror T-shirt designs at FRIGHT-RAGS.com as well as Cover and fill-in artist for GODZILLA:RULERS OF EARTH at IDW publishing, and the ’68:Jungle Jim and ’68:RULE OF WAR zombie/Vietnam war series from Image comics. I had the privilege of interviewing this great artist about his career.
Michael Garone: So tell me how you got started as an artist? Who inspired you?
Jeff Zornow: Boredom inspired me at first when I was 6 or 7 yrs. old in school. I wanted to watch Godzilla or the cartoons I loved at the time. So, I took to drawing the characters during class to entertain myself. My first grade teacher scolded me for not paying attention, but then admitted my Road Runner was pretty good and asked “Do you want to be an artist when you grow up?”
I then realized an artist was actually a thing… and I said “YES!” from that moment on. I’ve dedicated myself to being an artist. Specifically a comic artist, but over the years I have also evolved into a full-fledged Illustrator.
After High school, I took two years off to party, work at a car wash, play in a band and then incidentally started getting some work published in G-FAN (the Godzilla Fanzine) which lead me to write and draw my own Giant Superhero/Daikaiju comic DIMENSION FIGHTER for 4 issues of MONNGA: the manga of monsters and fantasy (from the same publishers of G-Fan). Then decided it was time to take my life and art serious and moved to NYC. Attended The School of Visual Arts Illustration/Cartooning program from 1995-99 where I learned from great comic artists such as Joe Orlando, Carmine Infantino, Gene Colan, Klaus Janson, Walt Simonson, Sal Amendola and Mort Todd. Also, got to intern at Marvel and DC comics while there which was eye opening and a great crash course on how the industry works.
MG: What was the first comic you read\purchased?
JZ: WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #17 drawn by Marc Silvestri. I bought it because Spidey reminded me of Ultraman who had not been on TV for several years at that point.
Took it home, read it and was INSTANTLY hooked on Spidey. And then instead of wanting to draw newspaper strips I wanted to draw comic books! I was about 11 or 12 at this point. And was also already becoming a hardcore 80’s splatterpunk kid. Renting every gory horror I could from the local Video store, and collecting Fangoria & Gorezone magazines.
MG: First gig as an artist? What did you draw? Was it a tough job or does all your art come easy to you?
JZ: First major paid gig in comics was VAMPIRELLA! A 10 pg. short story that I penciled and inked (was also great to debut inking myself!) It was a fun job but I definitely put a lot of hours into that first gig.
MG: Name one character you have drawn that you connected with the most?
JZ: Godzilla or any version of the Wolfman/Werewolf and Incredible Hulk because I have epilepsy which is a neurological brain disorder that causes seizures and something that can be triggered by stress, lights, physical exertion, etc. Developed Epilepsy when I was 11. So, I feel like I have a legit monster in my brain which sometimes takes over my body and there is nothing I can do about it.
MG: Who of all the characters you have ever drawn is your favorite? Why?
JZ: GODZILLA…because he’s my favorite. I can’t explain my obsessive love for Godzilla because how I got into it goes back further than my memory allows (and I remember stuff from when I was 2) so it happened before that… somehow. I just always have known I love Godzilla over all other characters.
MG: Who or what character that you have loved to draw on your spare time but were never published? Such as a Spider-Man or Superman.
JZ: Ultraman, Gatchaman, Spider-Man, Incredible Hulk.
MG: Favorite Godzilla film? Why?
JZ: Either GODZILLA vs GIGAN (1972) because it is about a comic/manga artist teaming up with some hippies and Godzilla to rid the planet of alien cockroaches that control King Ghidorah and Gigan one of my favorite Daikaiju. And TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA (1975) because that one is such a hauntingly cool Godzilla film.
MG: Favorite version of Godzilla in his 60 year history? Not the suit version but the attitude he portrayed in the film. Such as his ruthlessness in GMK 2001 or his heroics in the 1970’s films.
JZ: I sort of take Godzilla as the total package. There isn’t a version I don’t like (though the ‘98 GINO doesn’t count) But, overall I do love the 70's period the most.
MG: What is most challenging when you draw Kaiju for IDW’s Godzilla series?
JZ: Making sure I don’t miss small details. MAN! Taking on this project I’ve found more little details in the monsters that I've never noticed before watching all the movies, collecting toys and books etc. I'm Still discovering new things about these creatures which is cool.
MG: Any future projects that you can reveal and discuss now?
JZ: Well as of writing this I’m drawing most of GODZILLA: RULERS OF EARTH #17 and will follow that up with the variant cover for GODZILLA: RULERS OF EARTH #19. There is more ‘68ZOMBIE comics in my future. Definitely some more Metal/Punk art coming down the tube and working with the MISFITS right now for something this Halloween season!
MG: Thanks Jeff!
Keep up with Jeff on Twitter: @zornow13
& check out his Deviant website: http://zornow.deviantart.com