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6 Days of BAIT: Lee Bermejo, “add all the devil horns” you’d like.


What’s up everybody! Welcome to a very special series you’ll only see here on The Beat. We’re days away from Dark Horse publishing the enigmatic Chuck Palahniuk’s new collection of short stories/adult coloring book, Bait: Off-color Stories for You to Color. To count down, over the next few days we’ve got reader’s digest style (yep, carbon-dating myself) questionnaires answered by some of the artists who worked on the book. It all leads up to a very special interview with author Chuck Palahniuk on Tuesday.

To start us off, a comics painter with one of the most gritty visual storytelling styles in the medium today. You know him from books like The Joker and Batman: Noel, he’s Lee Bermejo. You’ll see the artist illustrate one of the most personal stories in the master of mind f**kery, Chuck Palahniuk’s new book.

Lee was gracious enough to be first in my rounds with the amazing artists featured in the book. He’s also awesome and brief AF.

Comics Beat: What was your first experience with Chuck Palahniuk’s work?

Lee Bermejo: Reading FIGHT CLUB after seeing the movie.  That led to CHOKE and SURVIVOR and the fun began.

CB: Good god does anybody read anymore! But I’m not one to talk, I think we follow the same path on this.

Describe the story you illustrated for Bait in three words:

LB: Stays with you.

CB: As someone who’s had the privilege of reading these stories, I completely agree.

I don’t know if you’re aware of this but, according to Chuck, the story you illustrated for this collection, “Dad All Over”, is his most personal story in Bait. Were you aware of this going in, if so was there an added pressure? If you weren’t aware before, does it add something special for you as an artist?

LB: I didn’t know that.  Actually, kind of glad I didn’t because it would have created even more pressure and working on a Chuck story was already nerve-wracking enough. Still, it does make having the possibility to participate even more special to me. I actually related to the story in many ways as well, so it was truly a pleasure.

CB: Every story in Bait makes you feel something different, but the story you got to do illustrations for is incredibly emotionally heavy. 

Your work in comics from books like Suiciders and the Joker GN is so visceral and polished. It was such a site to behold how good your line work is on its own here. Other than not painting did you have a different process for the illustrations in Bait?

LB: Thank you!!!  That’s lovely to hear considering most people hate it when an artist presents something different.  I composed the images pretty much exactly as I would had I fully rendered the images, but the change in style was really a welcome novelty and also something I’d been wanting to do for some time. I’ve always been attracted to line work and tend to follow artist[s] who’s style is radically different from mine. Darrow, Pope, Grampa, Moebius… just to name a few. After finishing the story it actually made me want to do an entire project in this style.

CB: It’s the first night of your own Fight Club. What two celebrities or fictional characters would you choose to fight each other and who wins?

LB: JD Salinger v Ernest Hemingway.

CB: Think about it and I want you to post a winner on social media. My money is on Hemingway hitting an RKO. 

What advice do you have for the average reader coloring Lee Bermejo’s work in Bait?

LB: Feel free to add as many c**ks and devil horns as you’d like.

CB: That’s sort of a given. I hope you retweet all of the finished ones people are going to send you. 

Finally, do you have a favorite memory of coloring or coloring books?

LB: I don’t remember ever using coloring books. I may have done it at some point but I drew so much as a child I think the idea of coloring over someone else’s art wouldn’t have been very appealing to me.  I was already a control freak about my drawings at age 4, lord knows a coloring book might have seemed like a prison sentence.

CB: That’s strange, but in a way makes sense for an artist. Now you’re making me wonder who drew the drawings in my Garfield coloring book as a kid. Well, now we know Lee Bermejo hates coloring books, but he wants you to draw all the veiny peni you can on his masterpieces in Bait: Off-Color Stories for you to Color when it comes out Tuesday. Check out one of Lee’s pieces: 

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