Remember the days when the Black Parade wasn’t dead? Yep, I’m talking about My Chemical Romance’s third studio album Welcome to the Black Parade. The band is not the topic of conversation today though. It hasn’t been for a while. The album artwork and it’s source is what’s important.
The cover itself is super simple and isn’t terribly impressive. but when you open up the little insert, the paper folds out to reveal a creeping parade of whimsical marching band ghouls and other macabre characters. I always wondered who was responsible for this amazingly executed illustration and I finally found out.
James Jean’s body of illustrative work is defined by a wispy, fluid line quality and his impeccable sense of color. His command over ink and watercolor is second to none. His compositions are brilliant, leaving viewers’ eyes to bounce around the page while eating up every little detail.
Like a true illustrator, Jean doesn’t just do one thing. Aside from album art, his work has been published in several big name magazines and he has an extensive career as a comic book cover artist as well. Diehard MCR fans would probably have identified the same style on the covers of vocalist Gerard Way’s comic book series The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite. Each issue has an amazingly detailed wraparound cover illustration. He has worked for DC comics and has provided covers for a comic series titled Fables as well.
Jean retired from his illustration career in 2008. He’s still making art though. Brush in hand, he has decided to work on a series of personal paintings that are similar in style to his illustrations but slightly different in terms of subject material and scale. He works so much bigger now. So. Much. Bigger.
I didn’t realize how much of James Jean’s stuff I had. Unfortunately, the beauty of his work was eclipsed by the love I had for the band but it’s easy to see now that his artwork goes above and beyond it.
Check his stuff out here! Let it inspire you to do just as great things. And remember, if you like the album artwork, check the credits on the last page of the booklet and wonder no more who the artist is.