Brides of Helheim is the second series to feature the realm of Helheim and its main character, the resurrected Viking Rikard. It is about Vikings so it draws heavily on Nordic influences, but there is definitely an aspect of fantasy there as well with witches and other baddies. In this series, we find a duo of hesitant heroes on their way to find help from the undead Viking warrior against an unknown threat to their village.
We had a chance to talk with Joëlle Jones, the lead artist for the first issue, and someone that had been to Helheim a few times already herself. We talked about Vikings and a little more!
Graphic Policy: Upon reading the first issues of Brides of Helheim I was struck immediately by the very organic feel to the characters and the setting. Did you have to do a lot of research for the setting?
Joëlle Jones: I did basically little to no research on this book. I was a huge fan of the Viking genre going in and borrowed a little from things I loved but since the basis of the book is fantasy I wanted to just let my imagination do its thing.
GP: Braids are one of the common stylistic features of Nordic heroes. They kind of look hard to draw though, or am I wrong?
JJ: Braids aren’t really hard to draw just time consuming but I count myself lucky, if I was doing The Sixth Gun (Cullen Bunn’s other amazing book) I would be stuck drawing chains and that’s way worse.
GP: So drawing a braid is easier than braiding your own hair?
JJ: Braiding my own hair is way harder!
GP: The Nordic world is stereotypically a very masculine one, with bare chested Vikings fighting others. That is present in this issue, but the female characters that you draw maintain a strong feminine appearance despite their role in this rugged world. How do you find the balance between the two influences?
JJ: The balance was there in the writing mostly. Cullen has a really good sense for character and I think he made that really easy for me to translate visually.
GP: It is not as common for an artist to handle both the cover art and the interior art, but in the case of Brides of Helheim #1 you drew everything. Do you find that the cover is more representative of the interior in such cases as you are part of the creative team throughout?
JJ: I love doing the covers but the interior art is what I enjoy most. Covers have to try to get attention from a reader across the room so with a viking book you can’t really go too subtle, well this viking book anyway.
GP: Your experience in comics has tended more towards stories with supernatural elements. Is this just a coincidence or is this one of your favorite genres and atmospheres?
JJ: Total coincidence. I really make an effort to try different genre so that I can continue to grow as an artist and not get stuck doing the same thing all the time. I think the reason I do so many supernatural books is that that is just the trend for fiction in general at the moment.
GP: Are there any other genres that you would like to get the opportunity to get a shot at?
JJ: I would like to try my hand at some straight up horror
GP: Success among the independents is sometimes hard to come by, but this is now the second Helheim series and you have been involved throughout. How does it feel to be part of a team that is making their own recognizable characters in the comic industry?
JJ: I am having a really great time working on this book! I love the absolute freedom I have to draw the most crazy thing I want and at the end of the day if I can back it up with a reasonable argument they say go for it.