|An illustration of running back Ladanian Tomlinson.|
When I was in sixth grade at St. Frederick’s in Pontiac, Michigan, I had the extreme good fortune to meet my good friend Fred Jackson. We soon discovered that we both liked to read comic books, but what really astounded me was that Fred was already making his own homemade comics. And better yet, he soon taught me the process and we soon had our own mock company called Vokson.
Fred’s comics were far superior to any of my crude attempts. He already had several issues of a Mad parody called Cool,Calm and Crazy, as well runs of his adventure character Smollett Jones (for which he used the O.E. system of naming his protagonist ala Sherlock Holmes and Nero Wolfe…and this is a 12 year old) as well as the superhero , with my favorite villain, the son of Fu Manchu.
Over the next few years we cranked out dozens and dozens of books and traded them back and forth to read. Needless to say, I learned a great deal about storytelling and the creative process from this association with Fred; without that friendship I certainly never would have gravitated toward my own career as a graphic storyteller. Hmmm…should I be thanking or blaming him.
Since I didn’t have TV at my house in those days, I also learned a lot from Fred about all the cool shows and movies I was missing out on: Abbot and Costello, Shock Theatre, etc. I was listening to The Shadow on the radio, and Fred was reading the pulp stories. We both read a lot of Sax Rohmer and loved detective stories.
And we both visited each other’s houses from time to time. Which isn’t that odd except that Fred lived in the black neighborhood of Pontiac and I lived in the very white (trash) neighborhood of Auburn Heights. This type of stuff was frowned upon, but fortunately both our parents were fairly progressive for their time.
|(One of the pencil roughs Fred did when we collaborated on a Clark Equipment manual in the early 80's)|
Fred still lives in Pontiac while I have ended up on Tujunga,CA but we have always kept in touch over the years. So when I started working on the latest story arc of The Mad Mummy, and needed someone to give me an editorial assist with the scripts, and I was wracking my brain to think of who could help me, it seemed only natural to pick on…er, to pick out Fred. It’s fifty years later, and VOKSON REUNITES!! And the best thing about collaborations, if they are successful, it’s easy enough to claim the glory, and if they fail, there is always someone there to take the blame. (And you thought I had learned nothing while working in comics and movies.)
All kidding aside, it’s great to be involved in the creative process with Fred Jackson again. Thanks, my friend!
|A couple of the crosswords puzzles that Fred designed for USA Today and the LA Times|
(For those of you interested in seeing more of our youthful creations, here is a link to a previous blog about the subject:
Below, and above are a few pages from the The Mad Mummy #6. I’ve been trying something a little different on this issues. After I finish the inking, I’ve been going bad and adding just a bit of Prismacolor pencil to create a bit of shading, similar to Crafttint/Duotone process. I certainly didn’t invent this process; Alex Toth, Howard Chaykin and others have certainly tried it- it was a fairly common approach in the 30’s and 40’s newspaper illustrations. I’ve always thought my best drawings were ones in my sketchbook where I used a combination of pencil and ink, so it made sense to me to try and incorporate that into this work. I’m curious to see how it looks once the color is added. But, check back for that next week….
|The original She-Hulk cover, and below, my 2015 version.|
|Ms. Marvel: A pin-up I penciled years ago, but for some reason hadn't inked.|