I chatted with Jim Balent via Facebook a while ago. He is a famous American comics artist, writer, and publisher from Pennsylvania. He will potentially be best remembered for his artistic epic run on Catwoman between 1993 and 1999. The gentleman has also drawn Batman and Lobo for DC Comics. His adventures into self publishing are also a huge accomplishment.
Paul: Jim Thank You for your time, may I politely just start by asking what was the first comic you read and especially enjoyed? Or the first comic you bought for yourself?
Jim: Very interesting question! It’s difficult to remember the VERY FIRST COMIC I read. But I’m sure it was a BATMAN or SPIDER-MAN comic. Those were the two main characters I was into and grew up with… and basically started me drawing superheroes. I would spend hours and days drawing Batman or Spider-Man after reading their comic. I do remember the first comic I hunted down and bought with my own money. That was Moon Knight #1… by Doug Moench and Bill Sienkiewicz… I believe it came out in 1980. I was in high school at the time.
Paul: So how did you first become interested in becoming a comic artist? What was you very first published work?
Jim: I have been drawing since I was 5. It wasn’t until my senior year in high school that I learned I could be a Comic Artist full time as my career. My first published work was a backup story in SGT ROCK 393.
Paul: It is certainly impressive how quickly you gravitated towards the Batman family of titles and obviously specifically regular work on Catwoman. That must surely have been very satisfying?
Jim: I love drawing Catwoman and Batman to this day! So being given the opportunity to draw those characters for DC was amazing! I am very grateful for that time!
Paul: Working on The Batman family of titles did it ever get complicated working on the various huge crossovers. No Man's Land Springs to mind?
Jim: No… because I would get copies of the finished inks of the bat books before me so that when I started drawing Catwoman… the continuity would stay the same for those large crossover stories.
Paul: Before I move onto your wonderful self-published work, can I please ask your opinion of Catwoman on the big screen. You are something of an expert on the character. There have been several examples over the years. Do you have a favourite?
Jim: Each Movie Catwoman was interesting … but I have to go with my favourite… Julie Newmar. She had the perfect combination of being Deadly and Sexy at the same time.I also liked Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman too. She had the ferocious outburst energy that Catwoman has.
Paul: What made you decide to stop working for DC comic and create your own comics?
Jim: In the year 2000 DC was switching artists from all the books like musical chairs and I was offered the Robin book… but instead of taking that …I started BROADSWORD COMICS.
Paul: At the time how difficult did you find that? Surely becoming your own publisher and editor must have presented a few challenges.
Jim: I’m a workaholic… so it was easy!😁
Paul: I'm sure there must have been slightly more to such a dramatic and bold move in your career... but it makes me wonder if you rely entirely upon yourself. How long does it take you on average to complete a page? Some artists are notoriously slow and some are very fast, how would you describe yourself?
Jim: It normally takes me to pencil and ink a page about 10 to twelve hours. If it’s a complicated page… it takes me two days.
Paul: Out of sheer curiosity how long may a cover take you to create from start to finish? I am sure there aspiring artists that would be intrigued to know.
Jim: Between one day to a week. Depending on deadlines.
Paul: BroadSword Comics has been a huge success. Tarot is an incredible massive ongoing achievement. I'm curious how much promotion does it require. Just how many conventions do you attend, and is that a part of the job you enjoy?
Jim: I don’t do many cons because if I’m at a con… I’m not drawing the book. 😁
Paul: That makes sense, but do you have a good relationship with all your fans?
Jim: I think so… I believe it’s an honour to have them follow my Art!
Paul: Did you find it a difficult transition from being an artist to a writer and artist?
Jim: No… because I have been creating my own stories since I was 5 years old.
Paul: What was the inspiration behind Tarot?
Jim: I grew up loving strong female characters and also Sword and Sorcery… monsters… and Frank Thorne’s Red Sonja and Frank Frazetta’s work. As well as Pagan beliefs and Witches. So, when the time came for me to create a starting Title for BROADSWORD COMICS… Tarot was one of three titles I chose from.
Paul: What were the other two options?
Jim: I’m keeping them secret.
Paul: My final question is simple. If I may? What does the future hold for Jim Balent?
Jim: I’m still having fun Drawing and Painting… so I guess there is A LOT MORE of that in my future! Hahaha!Paul: That is a wonderful final answer. Thank you so much for your valuable time. It has been a plea