Nerdlocker Artist Interview: Justin Zimmerman!


We’re back with another artist interview! This one is incredibly special to me as I know the artist personally. We both attended Ohio University, School of Film. He has kept himself incredibly busy over the years with making films, but has also broken into the comic book world. Without further ado, please meet an incredible artist and my friend, Justin Zimmerman!

Nerdlocker (NL): Tell us about yourself.

Justin Zimmerman (JZ): Here’s my project bio (I don’t actually talk about myself in the third person).

Justin Zimmerman is a nationally recognized writer, filmmaker and professor. His narrative and documentary work has appeared in film festivals across the globe and has been broadcast on national public television, where he won two international television awards. He’s also been the recipient of multiple grants and fellowships. His scripts have been optioned by several production companies and he translated a Stephen King short story into a feature length screenplay approved by the author. In 2012, he’ll release his next feature length script and three independent comic series, including The Killing Jar.”

Ok, now that that’s over with, come say hi on Facebook!

(NL): Wow, going third person on me. Anywho, you have a really nice collection/balance of comic book and film work. How and what determines which projects make it onto page versus video?

JZ: How much time and how little money I have at any given time.

Come see so of my film work here:

And I have a major Kickstarter campaign for my long running comic series The Killing Jar here:

NL: Tell us about The Killing Jar and what inspired this story.

JZ: It’s a violent neowestern/horror comic series with a strong female lead. I say that a lot. What I DON’T say a lot is that it’s one of the most personal scripts I’ve ever written, and if that scares you, it’s nothing compared to how much it scares me.

NL: John L. Butler is an amazing and beloved personality at Ohio University (he’s THE audio guy, look him up on IMDB). Tell us your favorite Bear story.

JZ: When I was a prof in Colorado, I had the opportunity to bring ol’ JB out to guest teach some of my courses. It was an honor and a privilege to share the honest to God genius that is John with a group of my students, when he’d had such a profound impact on me during my Film MFA a decade before. I’d do anything for that man. Plus, KNIGHTRIDERS!*

NL: We were born in the same year, 1977. Did you watch Nerdy cartoons as a kid? If so, which ones?

JZ: God, we’re old. Transformers. I STILL love Transformers. Simon Furman FTW.

NL: Where do you find inspiration and what are some of your influences?

JZ: I find inspiration in my parents. My influences are everywhere. I try to keep my eyes as wide open as possible.

NL: Who are some of your favorite artists?

JZ: Warren Elis. Grant Morrison. Frank Quitely. Hayao Miyazaki. Akira Kurosawa. David Lynch. And my friends and frequent collaborators Mike Lawrence and Russell Brown.

NL: What are some of your favorite comic book storylines?

JZ: Invisibles and Seven Soldiers of Victory by Morrison. Supergod and Black Summer by Ellis. On the indie front, Freedom by Seamus Heffernan. Batman: Birth Of The Demon by O’Neil and Breyfogle. And the best comic collaboration of all time, Bissette, Totleben and Moore on Swamp Thing.

NL: You and I had several discussions way back when we were in film school about DC’s The Watchmen (the movie was several years away at that point). What are your thoughts on DC Comics reviving that world for a whole new series of prequels?

JZ: It’s one of many cautionary tales floating about the industry regarding creator rights, contract negotiation and content ownership. It’s worth looking into for anyone involved in comic creation! May I note that alliteration is classy?

NL: Star Wars or Star Trek? Why?

JZ: Galaxy Quest!

NL: What do you do in your free time?

JZ: What free time?

NL: Give us a Nerdy secret that most people don’t know about you.

JZ: I would KILL to write a Robocop series.

NL: What are your favorite movies?

JZ: On the doc front, Hoop Dreams and Fast, Cheap and Out of Control. On the narrative front, The Insider, Straw Dogs and Oldboy. On the TV front, Deadwood, Millenium and Arrested Development. And on the experimental front, Bruce Conner’s A Movie and Window Water Baby Moving.

NL: What are your favorite video games?

JZ: ActRaiser (SNES), Silent Hill (PS1), Shadow of the Colossus (PS2), Halo, Beyond Good and Evil and Psychonauts (XBOX), Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, Fallout 3, Mass Effect 1 and Alan Wake (XBOX 360).

NL: What is your favorite comic book or comic book character and why?

JZ: I discovered the power of comics through Wendy and Richard Pini’s Elfquest in my local library as a kid. If I ever become rich – and I won’t – all my money gets left to the libraries. And what an incredible series! Uncompromising, beautifully illustrated and completely independent.

NL: I know you are focusing on The Killing Jar at the moment, but what other projects do you have on the horizon?

JZ: I’m adapting an optioned book into a feature length script for the incomparable Kimberly Rose Zimmerman, I’m working on a YA graphic novel with Mike Lawrence, I’m prepping two shorts for Getty Images and I’m finishing up the last half of the last issue of The Killing Jar with Russ Brown. I’m also gearing up for my annual Women of Wonder Day charity documentary for the incredible Excalibur Comics and waiting patiently for someone to call me to write that aforementioned Robocop series.

We can’t thank Justin enough for taking the time to answer our hard hitting questions. In all seriousness, please support his amazing comic book project, The Killing Jar, by donating to his Kickstarter project here. And if you’d like to get to know Justin more, stop by his Facebook page here. Be sure to tell him Nerdlocker sent ya!

*Editor’s Note – John L. Butler was approached by fellow Pittsburgher George A. Romero to work on his now famous film Night of the Living Dead. John politely declined, but did loan him his audio equipment. He obviously missed out on an amazing opportunity. Years later, the two finally did collaborate on the little known Knightriders, starring Ed Harris. Yet another wonderful Bear story.

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I'm a true child of the 80s from a small town near Cleveland, Ohio. My all time favorite topics are Star Wars, slasher films and Cleveland sports (despite the misery it causes). I narrowly avoided law school, instead choosing film school. I have been accused of being a walking IMDB, but I take it as a compliment!