Artist Sam Shearon Talks ‘The Devil’s Chord’ Ministry Comic Book + Living With Al Jourgensen
Now that Ministry have seemingly recorded their last album, mastermind Al Jourgensen is open to venture on with new creative endeavors. Recently, it was revealed that Uncle Al would become a superhero … in the new comic book series, ‘Ministry: The Devil’s Chord – The Chronicles of Alien F. Jourgensen.’ To get you even more excited about the dark graphic novels, we spoke with the series’ co-creator and artist Sam Shearon for an exclusive interview.
We’ve already given you a sneak peek into the creative process into ‘The Devil’s Chord,’ exclusively premiering early sketches of Alien F. Jourgensen which Shearon drew while visiting Al at his El Paso compound. In addition to speaking with Mr. Jourgensen himself, we also spoke to Sam Shearon all about his experience with his time at the Jourgensen’s home, fleshing out the storyline for the series + much more. Enjoy our exclusive interview with Sam Shearon.
As an artist, how perfect is it to have Al Jourgensen as your most current muse?
Wow. Yes, it’s surprising how easy it is because I’m so familiar with the music. I listen to the albums; Ministry back when I was a teenager and in art college. So, to finally meet and work with Al and to illustrate him in his many guises throughout the decades, is kind of a dream come true. It’s kind of written itself, played it self out. You couldn’t make this up.
You were able to meet with him in person?
Yeah, I was invited to stay at the Jourgensen’s house in El Paso for a couple of weeks. Many, many late nights of drinking with Al, sitting out in their garden watching the sun go down and come back up again several times, surrounded by empty bottles every morning and piles of notes and sketches and all kinds of little details, stories that he told me; a whole memorabilia of information to pull from to write this.
We were given two black and white portrayals of Al that you drew. Were these preliminary sketches? How long before Al’s final form did you draw these?
Those were done while I was staying with them at the house. While I sat with him sketching away, listening to his stories and taking notes to really map out where the story was going to go and what this 13-issue epic was going to be about. I did 10 or 15 in one night to really get a feel for Al and what he looks like, to simplify him in some ways and to really capture all of his little details; his piercings, his tattoos, his dreadlocks, his fangs, his variety of sunglasses, his hats, his jewelry… There’s so much going on with that guy to look at to begin with. I did so many drawings to really tie down the essence of what he is as a character. He’s unlike anyone out there.
To say the least. So, you’d be sitting with him, listening to stories while drawing him and taking notes for the storyline of this comic series. How do you narrow that down to only 13 issues?
It’s a lot to take in. Angelina [Al’s wife] has been incredible. She’s a really amazing powerhouse of a woman to manage everything and orchestrate everything. It was her idea, the actual concept of turning Ministry into a comic book now that the music is done. She contacted me, saw my artwork and said, “Let’s do a comic book.” So I said, “Yeah, absolutely,” and I was invited out to stay with them.
Al had a few ideas about what he wanted it to be, but he wasn’t too sure. Then I suggested, why don’t we base each issue on each album? Not necessarily what the album is about, but more so the era of his life and what was going on in and around. I got all kinds of stories and ‘memory lane’ tales that aren’t even in the autobiography. Things that you just shouldn’t really repeat. Things that will not go in the comic book, but absolutely fascinating because it gave me an even deeper insight of how he thinks and who he is and what he behaves like and his reactions to certain situations, which are very extreme in most cases.
It was really hard to tie it down and limit it to just 13 issues. Each issue is probably going to be about 20 pages or so, 20-30 pages maybe. It’s one big story arch and they’re all linked. They’re all connected in some way. Each one will lead on from the last. Again, the concept of the album is not necessarily what that issue will be about. There will just be elements; it’s more of a canvas to paint onto. An extended edition, if you will, with each album. All of the different albums have a different sound. So, again, it’s what is that whole era of his life? What was going on? Who did he meet? Again, in each issue he’ll meet different people and there will be cameos of his band members, people throughout history he’s met; William Burroughs, Tim Leary, obviously his current band members, a couple of special guests that we can’t really say now; a few things we need to clear. He has his wish list, who Al would like to see, but we can’t say that they are because we’re not speaking for those people. They haven’t said yes. All we can do is say who Al would like to have as a guest. He really wants to see people like Trent Reznor, Billy Gibbons, Ogre from Skinny Puppy… a whole bunch of other people he wants to include, but it’s something that is not 100-percent. We’d have to hear from them; it’s up to them.
I spoke to Al not so long ago. I asked him how many times he had been declared legally dead. He said “three.” Will we see the Alien F. Jourgensen character potentially have the power to rise from the dead? What other powers might we expect?
We’re not giving too much away. His initial powers are discovered through the powers of music, but there’s more to it. There’s a hidden mystery within it. It’s something he has to unlock and he has to discover himself. Throughout each issue he gains different abilities and is able to unlock other people’s abilities deep within themselves; who they are. So, in terms of rising from the grave, no comment. [Laughs]
What can I saw without giving too much away? He’s not necessarily indestructible. He does have some tricks up his sleeve. He plays with the occult a lot, combined with drugs. Let’s just say he goes down an Aleister Crowley-type of route at times, raises a few things here and there. But, in terms of death? Hmmm, cliffhangers.
‘The Devil’s Chord’ comic series is scheduled to premiere at 2014 Comic Con’s San Diego convention. For more on the dark arts of Sam Shearon, check out his official website.