EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Concept Artist Jerad S. Marantz

CBM’s own Mark Julian interviews talented concept artist Jerad S. Marantz. You’ve seen his work on Green Lantern and X-Men: First Class, now learn which Marvel movies he’s working on now and about shelved Fantastic Four and Lobo projects.

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By Mark Julian - 7/2/2011

    With the recent release of Green Lantern and X-Men:First Class, we’ve seen a ton of concept art from those movies surface here at ComicBookMovie.com. The vast majority of that draw-dropping artwork has come from creature/character designer, Jerad S. Marantz. A vet in the concept art game, Marantz has worked on a lot more than those two films. His impressive resume includes Sucker Punch, Jonah Hex, Clash of the Titans, Nightmare on Elm Street, and many more video games and movies. Recently, I was able to catch up with Marantz and discuss his profession, what CBM movie he worked on that was never made, and what he’s working on now.



Interview conducted by Mark Julian for ComicBookMovie.com. All rights reserved, © Mark Julian.


MJ: How did you get started as a concept artist for major movies?

JM: I started off like most designers I know. I was a kid who could not stop drawing monsters. I got into a lot of trouble for it at school. It’s an obsession that was more fun to me than almost anything else. Around the age of thirteen I started to focus, realizing that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I was fortunate enough to get an internship at a local low budget special effects house. I was very interested in sculpting and making monsters for practical effects, putting actors in creature suits and stuff like that. After spending time in that side of the industry, studying sculpture, mold making, and all the things that go into practical effects, I realized I cared most of all about the design. I eventually gave up sculpture and moved into more of an illustrative education. I went to Pasadena Art Center College of Design and I studied illustration with a minor in entertainment design. Once I graduated from Art Center, I got a job at Stan Winston’s, where I ended up designing on a few projects. While there I met Aaron Sims (the studio’s lead artist) who was entertaining the idea of starting his own company. After my time at Stan Winston’s, I freelanced for a lot of special effects houses and video game companies. Eventually Sims formed the Aaron Sims Company and I became his lead artist. I still freelance for special effects houses, video game companies, and major Hollywood studios. Over time one gradually builds up a client list, develops a reputation, and hopefully when these projects come around, they think of you.

MJ: Where do you draw inspiration from?

JM: I tend to draw inspiration from a lot of things. So many things inspire me. Everything from music to art to film. Oftentimes when I’m working on a new project, I’ll actually go through my ITunes library and I’ll assemble a short soundtrack for the character or creature I have to design. It’s a trick I’ve been using for awhile—I’ve noticed that it actually helps me visualize what I have to execute. The music helps me visualize the character interacting in scenes, possibly fighting, and makes it a lot easier for me to flesh it out.

MJ: Who's your favorite comic book character?

JM: Well, I hate to be cliché, but I’ve always loved Batman. He’s been my absolute favorite comic book character for as long as I’ve been into comic books. As a kid, I would rush home and watch Batman the Animated Series. It was so wonderfully done, and still to this day I’ll watch those cartoons. Anything by Bruce Timm, I own. Batman is by far one of my favorites. Watching the cartoons got me into the comic books, and I remember when I started to get into the comic books, it was around the time of Nightfall, when Bane starts to get the upper hand on Batman. It was a really exciting time in comic books, and I remember it fondly. It was a great way to be introduced to the Batman universe. And of course, Batman has the greatest rogue’s gallery, in my opinion, of any comic book property. So Batman is obviously my favorite. Aside from Batman, I also loved Spawn. It was so dark and I loved how violent that comic was. Spawn also excited me artistically at that age—I was a big fan of Todd Mcfarlane’s work. I loved his energy and the emotion.

MJ: Which comic book character(s) did you like working on the most?

JM: I’ve worked on a lot of comic book characters over the past few years, some of them were for movie pitches that never happened. I really enjoyed designing the Guardians for Green Lantern. I’ve always been a fan of the comic book, and to help create the Guardians was a real challenge, finding their individual personalities and helping to design their look. I’ve also recently worked on the new Amazing Spiderman movie, out in 2012. I helped design the Spiderman suit and I also worked on the Lizard. That was a blast because I’m a big fan of Spiderman as well. Other projects I’ve recently worked on—I did Ghostrider: Spirt of Vengeance, over at Tinsley Studio, which will be coming out also in 2012, I think.



MJ: Which character was the most difficult to develop a concept for?

JM: The most challenging character I’ve ever had to concept as a comic book adaptation was Jonah Hex. I spent weeks on his scar. It was such an important part of his character, and it really took a lot of finessing and variations to get it to a place where people were happy. That concept was developed at Tinsley Studios and it was a really solid practical makeup.



MJ: How does working with Marvel compare to working with DC (Warner Bros.)?

JM: I’ve worked on both Marvel and DC properties. When you are on any comic book movie the design challenges are relatively the same. You’re designing characters that people are already familiar with and the challenge is always how can we push the designs, adapt them for film, but still keep them recognizable as those iconic characters.


MJ: What character do you feel is most deserving of a big-screen adaption, yet hasn't received one?

JM: There are a lot of villains I’d actually like to see onscreen that have been neglected over the years. Personally, I would love to see a Justice League movie with Dark Side as the villain. I’ve been waiting for that one for a really long time. Individual characters don’t stand out to me as much as graphic novels do. I’d love to see a Batman film around one of my favorite comic books, The Killing Joke. In that story, the Joker tries to drive Commissioner Gordon insane. He shoots Barbara Gordon, AKA Batgirl, in the stomach, crippling her for life. I’d love to see a Kingdom Come movie. It’s just a beautiful story and so epic, the budget on that would be completely insane. Aside from that, a The Dark Knight Returns movie and an X-Men: Age of Apocalypse trilogy.

MJ: What concept art will you release next after your brilliant Green Lantern pieces?

JM: I have a few projects coming out in the near future. I spent a lot of time on Amazing Spiderman, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Transformers 3, and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I look forward to posting a few of those concepts.


MJ: With your great designs, do you ever receive offers to work on comics or graphic novels?

JM: Not yet. That would be pretty fun to do. I wouldn’t mind trying cover art.

MJ:Have you ever done concept designs for comic book movies and the movies were never made?

JM: Yes, some of my favorite work has been done for comic book movies that have never been made. A few years back I did a re-launch of Fantastic Four. It was really a fun gig; I got to redesign the whole team, and their abilities. I’m pretty sure that project got shelved. Another project was for a Lobo movie. That was also incredibly fun, but I’m pretty sure that project got shelved as well.

MJ: What are you currently working on?

JM: Currently I’m designing for a comic book movie called R.I.P.D. I’m on a few other projects but cannot discuss them.

MJ: What advice would you give to someone looking to break into your profession?

JM: I recommend that anyone wanting to break into design study a traditional foundation in art. They need a solid understanding of figure drawing, painting, perspective… a good solid foundation will get you far. After that, I also recommend that you dive headfirst into the technology. You need to know at least two 3D programs. I work extensively with Zbrush, and have been meaning to pick up other programs like Maya or Modo. Nowadays it’s professionally irresponsible not to know at least one or two 3D packages as well as being proficient in Photoshop. Aside from the craft, I would recommend that people really research the jobs that they want and contact the companies they want to work for: find out what their portfolio requirements are, and what they are looking for in an employee, and then cater your portfolio to fit. It’s never too early to make your presence known.



You can follow Marantz's blog here.















Ogre from Sucker Punch:

The Kraken from Clash of the Titans:











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21 Comments
6of13 - 7/2/2011, 9:55 AM
That first image of a GL kind of reminds me of Metallo.
SamHell - 7/2/2011, 10:23 AM
Likin the Azazel pic,,wicked man
TheFlyingGarcia - 7/2/2011, 10:24 AM
all hail hydra
California - 7/2/2011, 10:26 AM
So THIS is the guy who 'designed' the suit for Amazing Spider-Man? Thanks a lot. Everybody just loves YOUR new design! "The challenge is always how can we push the designs, adapt them for film, but still keep them recognizable as those iconic characters?" There was no need to "push the design," it was fine before and the new design sucks. Oh well, please don't let your ego dictate to you that you must change something just for the sake of changing it just so you can say that you changed it. Now you will spend the rest of your life defending a stupid decision made just for the sake of your ego. On the other hand, X-men: first class was great, especially the designs, so good job on that.
jazzman - 7/2/2011, 10:31 AM
@California

geez the new Spider-Man costume is not bad plus he introduce the classic web-shooters

@Intruder

well said bro the new Spider-Man costume is alright
MarkJulian - 7/2/2011, 10:32 AM
@Intruder B/c he would be in a world of trouble if he released that bit of info. :)

Head over to Jerad's blog at http://jeradsmarantz.blogspot.com/ to see more of his awesome work!
STYGR8dotCOM - 7/2/2011, 10:55 AM
nice stuff. talent right there
dmm5 - 7/2/2011, 10:57 AM
@Intruder- Easy there lol someone's a little too pumped for Spidey XD On a sidenote, your picture! Captain America's star upside down! :O Stan Lee has authorized a punishment like no other! You shall now have to do a shot for shot reenactment of Peter's performance as Hector Hammond in Green Lantern! XD
ABLEE337 - 7/2/2011, 11:08 AM
The Jonah Hex concept art looks like Joaquin Phoenix. Was he ever up for the part??
dmm5 - 7/2/2011, 11:25 AM
@Intruder- I can imagine how you felt watching boobs for the first time! :O For me Avengers is something never done before, The Dark Knight Rises is going to end and mabey be the best CBM trilogy ever! Then The Amazing Spider-Man.... Gwen Stacy, web-shooters (original) fresh yet sticking to the source suit, with these new younger actors and a kick ass villian!..... I call a tie! Too much for a geek to handle! (jizz)
jazzman - 7/2/2011, 11:54 AM
@ABLEE337

no he was not up for the part some concept designer just like to use famous people to design their concept.

i.e. X-Men First Class concept art for Darwin they used Taye Diggs as the foundation for the deign of Darwin
MarkJulian - 7/2/2011, 12:21 PM
@ ncreb Thanks!
@ teabag LMAO

Head over to Jerad's blog @ http://jeradsmarantz.blogspot.com/ to see more of his awesome work.
GUNSMITH - 7/2/2011, 1:10 PM

MJ: Which character was the most difficult to develop a concept for?

JM: The most challenging character I’ve ever had to concept as a comic book adaptation was Jonah Hex. I spent weeks on his scar. It was such an important part of his character, and it really took a lot of finessing and variations to get it to a place where people were happy. That concept was developed at Tinsley Studios and it was a really solid practical makeup.

-YEAH DUDE. WHAT ABOUT THE EYE? FORGOT ABOUT THAT PART...
95 - 7/2/2011, 2:03 PM
GREAT JOB @GraphicCity.

CONFIRMATION ON THE LIZARD AS IF WE DIDN'T KNOW ALREADY.

PUSHING YOUR WAY TO THE TOP OF THE "BEST EDITORS LIST" ;)

@Intruder

'THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN' IS GOING TO BE A GREAT FILM, BUT I'M VERY INTERESTED IN SEEING THE CONCLUSION TO THE BAT-SAGA.
ComradeGrey - 7/2/2011, 2:31 PM
It's AZAZEL not AZRAEL retard.
rodsvilaca - 7/2/2011, 4:22 PM
Actually, this is the near Final Version of STEL:

SpiderFan35 - 7/2/2011, 10:20 PM
Why is it that the concept art always looks better than what ends up in the movie it was designed for? I liked the more crushed diamond look for Emma Frost introduced in Wolverine Origins, the crystaline thing they ended up using in First Class seemed bulky.
SpiderFan35 - 7/3/2011, 12:27 AM
@itbegins2005: Yeah I guess, it is just disappointing sometimes when the art comes out after the film and it is exactly what you wish had been used.
mcfly357 - 7/3/2011, 12:58 AM
you guys act like a concept artist has the final say in anything.

the concept artist submits ideas, they are very rarely used in their entirety in the film.

he didn't design ALL of the new spidey suit, and i know for a fact that he didn't do the shoes.

don't blame a single artist for how a character turned out in a film, that's just not how it works.
JWStubner - 7/3/2011, 9:04 AM
How come none of the designs we actually see from this guy get used? At least the ones above didn't.
MarkJulian - 7/3/2011, 3:05 PM
Head over to Jerad's blog to see more of his awesome work. http://jeradsmarantz.blogspot.com/

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