♦ Tripwire’s contributing writer Scott Braden gives us his latest in a regular series about comic series that never were. Today it’s the turn of JG Jones’ Fatale: Who Is Like unto The Beast?…
JG Jones’ Fatale: Who Is Like Unto the Beast?
In the 1990s, J.G. Jones – the phenomenal artist behind Marvel Boy with Grant Morrison, Wanted with Mark Millar, and all of DC Comics’ striking 52 covers – was turning heads with his work on Broadway Comics’ Fatale. But although he completed the first story arc for the now-defunct publisher, there was more story to tell with his work on the never-completed lost tale, Fatale: Who is like unto the Beast.
Although now considered one of comicdom’s most lauded creators, that wasn’t always the case. How did this amazing sequential storyteller break into comics?
“I was working at the Brooklyn Paper, among other jobs,” remembered Jones. “That’s where I met Jonathan Larsen and Batton Lash (Batton was the paper’s cartoonist before me). There was a comic shop just up the street in Brooklyn Heights, and Jonathan and I would walk down every Wednesday to check out the new books. Eventually, I thought it was time to try the waters, and we wrote a little book called Rant from an idea that I had. I only had about eight or nine pages of penciled and inked art when we attended the NYCC at the Javits Center. Jonathan was much more knowledgeable than I about the world of comics (I had stopped reading when I went off to college, and didn’t reengage until graduate school). He said, ‘Show your portfolio to this guy,’ and pushed me toward a tall gentleman seated behind a table.
“That tall gentleman was Jim Shooter, and he had just started up Defiant. After looking through my pages, he asked if I could come to the office the following Monday to talk about a job in comics. That was it. He talked me into ditching the newspaper job, and taught me the ropes. I’ve been at it 25 years now.”
After working on Defiant’s Dark Dominion and the third issue of the never-published Schism crossover, how did Shooter and company approach Jones to draw Fatale?
“After Defiant closed its doors,” Jones continued, “Jim got to work on his next venture, which turned out to be Broadway Comics. He asked me if I could hold out until he was up and running, and, although I was flat broke, I found enough illustration work to tide me over until Broadway was up and running. He brought me in early to design the Fatale character, along with some other pre-production stuff. I did all the work in Broadway’s temporary offices.”
At first glance, Fatale looked like yet another “bad girl” book that was so prevalent in the ‘90s. When did Jones realise it was something more?
“Well, I knew that it would be more than just another ‘bad girl’ book because Jim was writing it,” explained Jones. “Jim was all about story and, while he has an eye for good art, I knew that the art was always in service to the story. I just trusted him, and he delivered a good script with a character that had an actual growth arc. My job, then, was to challenge myself to improve my chops and make the art look amazing.”
That job would also see Jones start work on a mini-series starring Broadway Comics’ resident bombshell in Fatale: Who is like unto the Beast. Briefly mentioned in the hardcover and softcover versions of the company’s sole graphic novel collection, Fatale: Inherit the Earth, the lost tale was scheduled to see release in the fall of 1996 – and would detail the origin of what became Broadway’s flagship character.
Although some art pages from the never-released mini-series were seen in the Fatale collection and Broadway Comics’ media kit, little is known of the work today. So, exactly what memories does Jones have of working on Fatale?
“There were a lot of good memories of working in that office,” Jones said. “One was my one and only Steve Ditko sighting, and the second was that the intern was Matt Senreich, who went on to fame and fortune as a co-creator of Robot Chicken.”
At the time he was working on it, did Jones think that Fatale would be as big a book as it became?
“Honestly,” Jones asked. “You always hope for the best, and expect the worst. I’m just happy that I was able to get the entire story arc done before Broadway Comics closed up shop. I learned a lot, and I think you can see my work improve a lot over the six issues.”
Although Fatale: Who is like unto the Beast never came to be, Jones is still doing what he’s always done – looking towards the future.
“I am still on hiatus – recovering from a stem cell transplant,” Jones concluded. “I’m feeling better and better, though, and working on some Lord of The Rings paintings, learning digital painting, and writing a graphic novel. I recently took a cover job, just to shake off the rust and stick my toe back in to publishing pool.”
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