Fly Like An Igle
Tripwire’s contributing writer Scott Braden chats to artist and writer Jamal Igle about working for Ahoy and more…
DC Comics’ Firestorm and Supergirl. Action Lab’s Molly Danger. Black Mask Studios’ Black and upcoming sequel, White. And, of course, AHOY Comics’ debut blockbuster, The Wrong Earth. Jamal Yaseem Igle helped produce all these things, and was the recipient of the 2011 Inkpot Award for Achievement in Comic Art. He has also held almost every major post in comicdom. Now, with the release of AHOY’s Dragonfly & Dragonflyman – the prequel to his and writer Tom Peyer’s hit The Wrong Earth series – he’s producing its striking covers and helping provide a style and sophistication to a title that will connect the dots while bringing fans more duality and excitement when Season Two of The Wrong Earth begins next year.
First off, Jamal, where did you learn how to do what you do? And, when I ask this, I mean beyond you being an amazing artist – how did you become such an incredible storyteller? Did you go to school for this or were you self-taught?
Well, I’m a classically trained illustrator, so I do have a lot of formal training in terms of my style. When it comes to storytelling itself, it’s a bit more eclectic. Some of it is a combination of being a fan of people like Dave Stevens, Paul Smith, Steve Rude and others, and working in film and television animation and advertising. I also really have to give a lot of credit to a few people like Keith Giffen, who would give me copies of his layouts from his Justice League run when I was an intern at D.C. Comics. Another person would be animation director Adu Paden, who I worked with at Sony Animation while I was doing storyboards on the late 1990s Max Steel cartoon and Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles. They both, in different ways, showed me how to make visual connections between key scenes to create a flow. Another person who I give a lot of credit to is Only Living Boy co-creator Steve Ellis. Steve is my best friend in the world and we lived and worked together in the same apartment studio for three years at the beginning of our careers. Steve has one of the most exciting styles, super-explosive and visually arresting work. I sat under his learning tree because my early work lacked that kind of energy and I learned a lot watching him as well.
You have a wonderful working relationship with Tom Peyer on The Wrong Earth. Has he become one of your favourite writers to work with?
He has, but it’s more than that. I’ve been very lucky over the course of my career to have worked with some of the very best writers in the business. I’ve worked with Waid and Morrison, Greg Rucka, Alex Simmons, Stuart Moore, Ron Marz, Marv Wolfman and on and on. Tom is someone I was a fan of but our paths never crossed. We have very similar sensibilities and senses of humour and it’s been a joy to get to know him on a personal level.
What can you tell us about the secret origin of Dragonfly and Dragonflyman? When you and Tom created the characters for The Wrong Earth, Tom originally wanted to call the heroes, “Watchdog.” Are you the one who came up with their current names? What’s the “real” story?
It was a combined effort, actually. My biggest concern about Watchdog was that there were other dog-themed superhero characters, particularly one created by my friends Vito Delsante and Sean Izaakse, and I didn’t want to step on their toes, so to speak. Tom and I had bounced a couple of other thematic ideas around during the initial stages of development. I just happened to be in Japan on vacation at the time, and anyone who’s been there, especially during the summer knows that Dragonflies are super common. They’re literally everywhere you go, but they hold a cultural significance. They adorned samurai armor and flags and are considered a symbol of grace, power and the warrior spirit.
I mentioned this to Tom and he replied, “That’s funny, because in Europe, Dragonflies are seen as tools of the devil!”
We knew we landed on a great compromise that would represent both versions of the character and we were off to the races.
Were you surprised with the critical and fan response to your characters and their worlds? Or did you expect it to be a hit?
Honestly, yes, and happily so. You never know what is going to take off creatively, and I’ve been very lucky over the course of my career to have had successful runs on series. It’s a little more gratifying because this was something that Tom has been generous enough to allow me to contribute to in such a huge way.
It looks like Peter Krause and Russ Braun were brought in to do the interiors of Dragonfly & Dragonflyman, while you’re doing the covers. Were you too busy to draw the interiors, or did you want to give someone else the chance to play with your characters.
Well, in all honesty, when I agreed to work on The Wrong Earth, It was the understanding that I would be alternating with another project called Black created by Kwanza Osajyefo and Tim Smith 3. We knew there was always going to be a break in the main series, so Dragonfly & Dragonflyman was created to fill the gap. That said, you couldn’t ask for two finer talents like Russ Braun and Peter Krause to come on board. While we all have very similar influences, we come at them in such different ways. They’re so incredibly talented and keep the flavor of what we’ve built so well, that it’s fun to see their work come in. Luckily, I get to contribute as cover artist as well.
You mentioned your work on Black (and White) as well as The Wrong Earth. Does your schedule permit you any freedom to bring us more of your fan-favorite Molly Danger? If so, is there anything that our readers should expect from her further adventures?
I am working on the next Molly book actually while doing all of this. The next book actually focuses on The Supermechs, the villains of the series. We find out what motivates them and why they’ve been brought together by “Father” and what his connection to Molly is. It’s not all cut and dry and there’s a reveal that’s coming that I think will take a few people by surprise.
was good enough to send me a script for the first issue of The Wrong Earth. There is quite a bit of difference between what is
written down on paper and what got put on the printed page. How do you and Tom
work together? Do you have a process?
My process is to take what Tom writes, and enhance it, fill in gaps visually and add to it. I don’t try to change things, but if I can add something that makes things more fun visually Tom has given me the freedom to do so. Tom is so generous, so talented, it’s a joy to read his scripts and I always run ideas by him first before I implement them.
know you’re currently working on other projects, but when are you planning to
start on Season Two of The Wrong Earth?
Do you have a set time?
If all goes well, February/ March of 2020 and it looks like that’s going to happen.
can you tell us about the much-anticipated sequel to The Wrong Earth. Any surprise you can hint at?
We introduced another Earth at the end of the first season, Earth Zeta. It’s a technological utopia run by their version of our antagonist, Number One. The question becomes how did he get there, and where is his Dragonfly?
Hollywood has been looking at AHOY’s various projects. Anybody checking out The Wrong Earth?
Maybe. I’m not allowed to say.
Of all the things that you and Tom have created for The Wrong Earth, what creation of yours do you like the most?
There’s a lot of little things, but I think creating Earth Alpha’s rogues gallery was a trip for me. I dug deep into my kitsch 1960s supervillain memory hole for those guys.
You are working on critically acclaimed series. Is there anything else out there in comicdom that you wish you were working on as well?
There’s always something that comes out that makes you go “Man, that seems like it would be fun!” Nothing specific because I’m so overloaded with work that it’s hard to nail things down. I have ideas for short runs I’d love to do, but I’m also very tempted to take those ideas and refashion them as creator owned projects. It’s more of a time issue than a willingness to play with other people’s toys.
Did you have any say in the story of Dragonfly and Dragonflyman, or is that all Tom?
We talk about the broad strokes, but I let Tom handle the nuts and bolts, storywise. He’s Tom Peyer – I’m just happy to be able to work with him.
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