Some artists spend years climbing up the ladder to get their chance to shine at Marvel or DC, but other artists only shine when they leave the Big Two behind for the freedom outside that structure of corporate comics. Boston-based artist James Harren did just that.
Harren is making a name for himself currently at Dark Horse working on B.P.R.D. and stepping in for Becky Cloonan on Conan the Barbarian, but his comics debut came in the summer of 2010 in a book many young creators would die for: an X-Men book. Harren made his comics debut doing a short in the 2010 anthology series X-Nation with a short called “Big Boy Pants” written by Grace Randolph, and bounced around the Marvel offices for a year doing fill-ins on miniseries like Heralds and X-Men Origins: Nightcrawler and a second short inside X-Men: To Serve & Protect. DC saw an enterprising young creator and enlisted Harren to help out on their ill-fated Doc Savage series for two issues, but Harren failed to find traction to stick around Marvel or DC.
Harren turned that negative into a positive and found open arms at Dark Horse where he quickly joined the Mignolaverse drawing the two-issue series Abe Sapien: The Devil Does Not Jest. The publisher was quick to keep him busy, doing a fill-in issue of Turok, Son Of Stone before re-enlisting in the Hellboy titles drawing the current mini B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth: The Long Death. It’s in these books that Harren’s began to tighten up and show more confidence than his rookie work for Marvel and DC, showing the heft of expert draftsmen like Kieron Dwyer mixed with the rough contortions of someone like Jeff Lemire, quickly carving out his own niche. Harren is gearing up for his biggest challenge yet next month when he takes up after Becky Cloonan to draw Conan The Barbarian for writer Brian Wood.
We’ve collected samples of Harren’s work, but take note: April marks only the second full year he’s been in comics, and his style is still evolving. We look forward to seeing what he does with Conan The Barbarian when it comes out.