Watch Out For Jerome Opeña

UPDATE!
It’s been announced that Jerome
Opeña is joining Rick Remender on The Punisher. You can read all about it over at IGN. We’ve “heard” that Opeña‘s Punisher is to die for…


That’s right, you heard me. I’m making the call. In the next year or two, Jerome Opeña is going to blow up. I wish that I was the first person to say that, Rick Remender, writer of Fear Agent has said it before me. But then, comic creators plugging their own work are occasional hyperbole, so I nod politely and say “yeah” agreeably. And I like Jerome’s work on Fear Agent just fine, but if I’m being truthful, I was a Tony Moore fan first, so there lies my preference on that book. But not by much.

So who is this Jerome Opena, and why am I talking about some artist most of you haven’t heard of? Well, the thing is, I’m not sure. He doesn’t have a website, and he doesn’t even have an entry on Wikipedia. I know him from the aforementioned Dark Horse book, but really nothing else. I do know that he won the Russ Manning Award, for the most promising newcomer in 2003, but I couldn’t tell you for what.

Then a couple days ago, I was looking at Newsarama, which I occasionally remember to do, and I saw a preview for an upcoming story called Wolverine: Flies to a Spider, written by Gregg Hurwitz (who I continually think was in Bad Religion, but sadly was not), and drawn by Jerome Opeña. Now, I’m not normally going to click on a story about upcoming Wolverine stories, but I’ve been evangelizing Fear Agent like it was up for election, so look I did.


Immediately upon looking at these pages, I just knew it to be true. This guy is gonna be huge. No doubt.


Why do I say that? For whatever reason, there’s something intangible about the quality of comic book art. I’d always liked Jerome on Fear Agent, but I did have a bit of the feeling that he was working within the parameters set by the original artist, Tony Moore, with whom he trades off arcs. Also, as Fear Agent is its own entity, it really only exists in its own context, and the art is good, and works in the world of Fear Agent. But when you take that artist, and you put him in a familiar context, such as a Wolverine comic, you suddenly have decades of work that exists in the same context, to compare with. You and I have seen hundreds of mediocre Wolverine comic books, and when I see something that brings a fresh energy, but also just works in the Marvel Universe, you know there’s something special there.


Take a look at those pages. There are no words. But do you have even a moment of trouble deciphering what’s happening in the story? That right there is what we call quality storytelling. An excellent comic book artist should have the ability to do a page where you can take out all the letters, and you’re still left with a coherent sequence of events. So clearly the craft is there.

Now there’s the intangible quality some artists clearly have. I look at these pages, and see something special. I see hints of Darick Robertson, mixed with a bit of Steve McNiven, plus just a little of that Tony Moore style. But I also see something of his own, and I suppose I just like what I see. Further, I think others will as well. It’s clean, and not sketchy, but it’s very detailed, with interesting backgrounds that have character. It’s almost realistic, but the character faces are acting with enough exaggeration so that you know what’s going on. It’s just a nice combination of qualities.


It’s important to note that I don’t see doing Marvel work as the road to success, but in comics, it’s the way to recognition. If I’m right, he’ll start on some lower tier books like this, and before too long, perhaps in the event after next, Opeña will get his chance to shine. You’re going to start to see him more and more is my guess. He’s already showing up on plenty of covers. Of course, I hope he still has time to do Fear Agent, but as we’ve seen countless times before, well paying work corporate work usually trumps struggling creator owned work, and an artist can only do so much.

But this guy has the stuff, and mark my words, before too long, you’ll be able to say you heard it here first. Or possibly second. I’m not splitting hairs. Just keep your eyes open for the next next big thing.

 

Comments

  1. Those are some awesome pages!

  2. READ FEAR AGENT!

    Seriously. I’m gonna start punching people.

  3. This guy neeeeeeds to do more work he is awesome.  Fear agent is great.  It seems like he has to try to look like Tony Moore on fear agent so this will be great to see.

  4. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Wow, take a look at these sketches he did (linked in the Cronin CBR article) a few years back.  Gorgeous.  

    http://artofcrom.blogspot.com/ 

    I love the way Remender talks about the artists he chooses to work with.  He calls them "scientists."  As an artist in his own right, it’s clear that he has a great deal of respect for the individual talents and styles bringing his words to life.  

    And Opena…damn, this guy is awesome.  This guys is having some fun.  These thugs have just as much character as a featured hero or villain.  

    Great work, Josh.  I love when we can venture into an analysis of craft and technique and not just industry chatter.  

  5. It’s early; the first time I read "Watch Out for Jerome Opeña," I didn’t see the "for" and I thought you were trying to start a feud. "Why are we mad at this guy? I’ve never even heard of this guy." (Don’t punch me, Chris! I’m still several Fear Agent trades behind the rest of the world.)

    Those are some excellent pages! I was not inclined to pay too much attention to another Wolverine one-off until you posted this art.Well, for a second I was… while Josh thought Gregg Hurwitz was in Bad Religion, I confused him with Mitch Hurwitz and briefly thought the creator of Arrested Development was writing a Wolverine comic.

  6. I admit to being one of the people not reading Fear Agent, but I’m in the process of recitfying that, picking up the first two trades and hoping to catch up to issues ASAP.  The above-posted artwork is frickin’ sweet – hopefully the Wolverine gig will up his profile enough so we can see a lot more of his work.

    And is it just me, or are there not enough Bad Religion references in the world?  Maybe it’s just me…

     

  7. I first came across Jerome’s work at comic con around 1999 or so. He had at table and was selling this short, wordless, black and white, spiral bound comic. It completely blew me away. The guy was obviously a great artist, but his story telling was very impressive too. It was one of my favorite things I got at the con that year. I lost it for a few years, but after I got it back, I kept googling him to see if he was a massive star yet.

  8. Those are some nice pages, if he did go to marvel i think Ghost rider would be a good fit, also i just bought the first two trades of fear agent from which i will most likely devour the rest of the trades. so now you have another fear agent follower before hes even read any fear agent.

  9. Can’t wait until Opena’s a big enough name – and it will happen – that we can use him to describe other artists.

  10. I read the first trade and was kinda pissed that it ended with a cliffhanger.  I’m on the fence about reading the rest of it.

  11. Wow, this guy is damn good.

  12. He did a mini series called ‘Lone’ (post apocalyptic loner saves the day) for Dark Horse a long time (maybe 10 years?) ago. It was so good I’ve since had the issues bound and it sits proudly on my bookshelf. God knows why he wasn’t picked up on back then, he was just as good as he is today.

  13. Yup, very nice.

  14. I just bought all four fear agent trades like a week ago. please stop shouting about it now.

  15. wow just realized how incredible the moment to moment panel transitions with the eyes filling with blood are.  That’s just amazing.

  16.  This artist is going to big and ifnbase can say were the frist to say we was him frist. 

  17. Nice. I will pick up Fear Agent in the future – no need for punching.

    The comics industry really needs rookie cards.

    http://www.homeruncards.com/rookiecards/page1.shtml 

  18. I love his work on Fear Agent, and these pages are pretty dope.  This will lead to some serious recognition. 

  19. Picked it up. Loving it. Thanks Ifanboy.

  20. I also picked up the Fear Agent trades because of this podcast.  Great recommendation!

    Also, it looks like Remender and Opena have a new gig:

    http://comics.ign.com/articles/920/920905p1.html

     

  21. Here’s a link to the Dark Horse site and the tpb of ‘Lone’ (written by Alan Moore’s chum Stuart Moore), for all you Opena-loving-johnny-come-latelys… 😉

    http://www.darkhorse.com/Books/12-438/Lone-TPB

     

  22. Well this article needs an update he was just announced as the new artist on the punisher book with Rick remender. The fear agent team.

     http://comics.ign.com/articles/920/920905p1.html

  23. I completely agree that Opena is bound for greatness!  If Opena is the new artist on The Punisher with Remender, what becomes of his next arc on Fear Agent?  Is Tony Moore slated to pencil the book after the I Against I arc?  Gulp…why am I starting to get a bad feeling about not seeing much more Fear Agent after issue #32?

  24. Those pages remind me Darick Robertson with a hint of Howard Chaykin, and Angel Medina-esque faces.  I like what I see.  Then again, I compare all new Wolverine artists to Darick Robertson’s fantastic run.

  25. from those pages he seems like a very good storyteller witch you cant say about allot of superstar artists. i like how he uses simple panel arrangements and keeps his gutters nice and tight. the robertson and chaykin comparison is spot on

  26. Just announced, Rick Remender and Jerome Opena will be taking over Punisher with a brand new #1 in January.

  27. Ok josh, we get it, we are jumping in your bandwagon a little late, you don’t have to rub it in our faces. By the way I just started reading Fear Agent bought the trade at San Diego and its fantastic, can’t wait to read the Opeña voulme.