Jason Masters: Drawing Batman in Joburg

Joburg might not be Gotham City but it’s the home of comic book artist and illustrator Jason Masters, a regular contributor to Marvel and DC Comics.

Jason Masters began his career in advertising, drawing illustrations for commercials. Now he pursues his childhood dream full-time as a comic book artist for DC Comics and Marvel, working on titles such as Nightwing, Batwoman, X-Men, Wolverine and Batman.

Working in advertising and illustrating for commercials meant Masters had to adapt and draw in different styles. “Learning to draw in different styles was quite important. Even now I feel like I’m trying to adapt to the stories – not always successfully, but I do try.”

Masters has always been a fan of comics. As a kid he would source comics from the only place that they were available: the corner café.

“Now I finally get to draw and get paid to draw something that I’ve loved for so long and it’s pretty exciting,” Masters says.

Masters got his big break a few years ago when Ethan Van Sciver, an artist for DC Comics (“he’s a very big deal”), was in Joburg for a book signing. “Being the needy illustrator that I am, I brought a portfolio with me to show to him because I require validation from people who I think can draw,” he says wryly.

The neediness paid off: Sciver passed Masters’ portfolio on to his editor and six months later Masters received an email from Ben Abernathy, an editor at DC Comics at the time.

“He asked if I’d like to draw some comics for DC,” Masters says.

With independent comics in South Africa growing and creators’ styles and stories diversifying, Masters says that he enjoys seeing the range of work being produced.

Referring to the likes of Moray Rhoda, Loyiso Mkhize and Roberto Milan, Masters says: “I think that the guys working in independent comics are doing a great job, writing their own stories with a South African perspective.” 

Masters says his success proves that it’s possible for anyone to do it. “I’m just some silly white kid from Joburg who decided he likes to draw comics – and now I am and I’m making money doing it.”