I'm back with another indie spotlight interview for you guys. This time I got to chat with Jamie Jones. Once again the magic of that Wizerd zine I always talk about was responsible for me discovering Jamie's work
His character. The Baboon, is a fun and beautifully crafted book. But he's also done a bunch of other stuff and has some cool stuff lined up. But that's enough from me lets hear what Jamie has to say.
RYAN: For those that may not be familiar with your work, can you give us a brief rundown on yourself?
JAMIE: I am a cartoonist living in St. Petersburg, Fl and I have been in the comics game for about eight years now. My first published work was in The Five Ghosts Special #1 with Frank Barbiere. I did a run of mini comics with Tres Dean called Dodger. Other projects include Kicking Ice, A Constant Distraction, and an anthology book called the Whisper.
Most recently I worked on Quarter Killer with Vita Ayala, Danny Lore, and Ryan Ferrier. QK was one of the Comixology Originals that wrapped up earlier this year. Now, I am working on the second Baboon book and a Baboon Comic Strip, as well as the Tales of MFR strip that comes out weekly on monkeysfightingrobots.com.
RYAN: What was your first exposure to the world of comics?
JAMIE: Comics were always around when I was a kid. My brother and I read the Sonic the Hedgehog book. But, it wasn’t really until I was 17 and went into my comic shop, Big Dog Comics in Ft. Peirce, FL that I really got into comics. I had no desire to read superhero stuff and I was given Sandman, Fables, and The Goon. It was then I was hooked.
RYAN: Who were some of your artistic influences growing up?
JAMIE: There are really 2 phases in my life. B.E and A.E. Before and After Eisner.
As a kid I was into anything in the Hanna Barbera line. The types of humor and action stories that they produced were my favorite. I would watch old cartoons with my dad every morning. Cut to age 17 when I got into comics, it was a lot of Mike Grell, Mark Buckingham, Eric Powell. I was just penciling pages at this point. Trying to find a voice. But, I was all over the place in influences, if anything I was a crappy Oliver Copiel clone.
Then at age 23 I got a Best of The Spirit comic and my life changed. Here was a man making fun action adventure comics with a cartoony line, but a tone that walked the line between silly and serious. I was dumb founded and discouraged. I stopped drawing for two months just to process. Now, Eisner continues to be my biggest influence.
RYAN: I discovered your work from the Wizerd Zine, which seems to be a recurring them with some of my recent interviews. How did you hook up with Eli to get on that project?
JAMIE: Right place, right time. I had just joined the Kayfabe Ringside Seats fan page on Facebook and posted about the Baboon being on the Heroes Con Hull episode. And he hit me up. What’s crazy is Eli used to live in St. Pete and we never met. So, there was an instant connection.
RYAN: Your creation, The Baboon, is a fun read and easy to get into. Can you talk a little about the character and where the inspiration for him came from?
JAMIE: I used to work at a comic shop and it was always discouraging to tell parents that certain characters, the big guys, were not appropriate for their young child to read. I remember being a kid and not wanting to read the “kids” version of comics I wanted to read the real thing. So, I wanted to make that. A comic that was enjoyable to adults and children. Like the cartoons that I grew up with.
I am also a big fan of old action adventure comics so I figured that would be the thing I do. Make an action adventure comic that was for everyone. Like in the old days.
RYAN: It was also a successful Kickstarter, can you talk a little bit about that experience?
JAMIE: The Baboon would not exist in the form it does without Kickstarter and I am forever in the debt of it’s service and the fans that made the book possible. But, holy hell, it is so emotionally taxing. The constant checking in on how it’s doing the constant promotion, the perpetual self doubt. And then it’s done and you feel like a genius and that people like you. I did another for the first issue of Tales of MFR and it was a lot easier to step away for a couple of days and let it do it’s thing, but my writing partner on that book was freaking out the whole time. He’s now doing his second KS and is much easier to talk to during it. Haha.
I think the hardest thing about Kickstarter is not knowing what to expect from it. You see some people making bank and some struggling to make their goal. But, after you do one you learn where you fit in and you find a tribe of other KS creators and it makes it easier to want to dip your toe back in.
RYAN: What do you tackle first, story or art, when working on a new book?
JAMIE: I’m a big plotter. You kind of have to be in the action adventure genre. I’ll get an idea for the story and then start to break down the beast using a combination of two techniques: The 22 points in John Truby: Anatomy Of Story and the Dan Harmon Story Circle. This becomes my road map for the whole thing. Then I start writing. Writing and drawing happen at the same time. I will draw out 2 pages at a time on a regular sheet of copy paper, writing dialogue where it would go in bubbles and everything and maybe some story notes in the margins. It’s real freeform which is nice because I am so structured in the plotting stage. Then Boom, I have a book that all I have to do is draw and tweak dialogue.
RYAN: Do you work on you're cartooning full time or do you have to maintain a "regular" job as well?
JAMIE: I do! I am so lucky. I have started branching off into more illustration work which has been fun. Currently doing beer cans. So the “regular” job is still drawing. I used to teach and I was an actor for a while.
RYAN: What project is currently sitting on your drawing table?
JAMIE: The Baboon Sunday comic strip for the Monkeys Fighting Robots Magazine. It’s a beast of a project. 59 panels in 2 pages. I don’t know what I was thinking.
RYAN: For all the readers out there, where can they follow you to learn about any projects you might be working on?
JAMIE: I am @artofjamiejones on all social media. And I have a Patreon page patreon.com/artofjamiejones where I post the Baboon comic strip early and some behind the scenes pages of the next Baboon book and really anything that I can’t share just yet. It goes there.