Jamal Igle is a 28 year veteran comic book artist and writer. He’s been involved in a lot of different projects in that time, including lengthy runs on Supergirl and Firestorm for DC Comics. For the last 6 years he’s been primarily doing creator owned series like Molly Danger, as well as BLACK (created by Kwanza Osafajeyo and Tim Smith 3) and his current co creation, The Wrong Earth with Tom Peyer.
- How did you get started in the comic industry?
I grew up a comic book fan and as a Junior at the High School of Art and Design in New York City, I had the opportunity to become an intern at D.C. Comics for six months. After that I spent several years both in college and later as a retailer at Jim Hanley’s Universe. During that time, I attended a convention at the Jacob Javits Center (around 1993) where I both met Dwayne McDuffie, but got my very first comics work for a publisher called Majestic Entertainment. Unfortunately due to things beyond my control, that work went unpublished. I did however use that work to show editors and ultimately got my first published work from it, eight pages in Green Lantern Vol. 3# 52 featuring Kyle Rayner.
- Who were your early influences?
Well, the first comic book artist I remember seeing as a kid was Michael Golden on Doctor Strange. After that it was guys like Larry Stroman on Alien Legion, Chris Warner on The American, John Byrne was huge back then as well. The guys I really gravitated towards though were people like Jerry Ordway and Jose Luis Garcia Lopez. Later, I fell in love with Steve Rude, Dave Stevens and Brian Bolland.
- What comic books did you collect or read while growing up?
I was more a reader than a collector, So I tried to read as much as possible. I was a huge fan of Baron and Rude’s Nexus. Jerry Ordway on Superman and Infinity Inc. A lot of DC comics in the 1980’s especially the Justice League books.
- Who do you think are the top five black superheroes out there and why? |
In terms of overall popularity right now? Storm from the X-men, obviously and Black Panther. I think the more popular black heroes are the ones that people know from other mediums like Static, more because of his cartoon series than the Milestone Comics and the same with Black Lightning and Luke Cage because of their relative T.V. exposure.
- If you could rewrite any character which one would it be and why?
Well, that’s a subjective question isn’t it? I mean there are a lot of characters that you could do a top-down reinvention on. There’s a character that I felt you could do more with called Mohammed X that appeared in one issue of Superman (Vol.2,#179) back in the early 2000’s. He was used as a cipher for a n issue on race relations but it came off very hollow.
- If there were anything you would say to someone looking to get into the comic industry; especially a person of color; what would it be?
Be realistic about what you can do and how long it takes you to do it. This business is built on promises and keeping them. People fail on all sides, but that’s just the reality of things. If you want to do comics, you have so many avenues to get them seen. Self publishing is the best option, but you have companies like Action Lab, Alterna, Advent and Image who primarily focus on creator owned books. You can publish for the web, you can work small press, there are so many venues for it. If your goal is to work for a DC, Marvel, Boom, IDW, etc. remember that you’re playing by their rules and have to comport yourself as such.
- What is the central premise behind your book “THE WRONG EARTH”.
It’s a cross dimensional tale ,where a “Silver-age” called Dragonflyman, a caped crimefighter swaps universes with his darker counterpart, simply known as Dragonfly while pursuing their respective arch nemesis. Using a magic mirror, both Dragonfly and Dragonflyman end up on worlds where the rules are very different respectively. How does a happy, relatively well adjusted hero deal with a world of murder, mayhem,and bent cops?. Conversely, how does Dragonfly, who would just a soon kill his enemies as look at them, handle being a beloved duly deputized officer of the law?
- THE WRONG EARTH is a gorgeous book. How did you decide on the art style for the book?
A lot of it was internal. I originally thought of trying to go much more simpler with the Earth Alpha sequences of The Wrong Earth, but I would have gotten very bored with it very quickly. I decided that the best approach was to tackle it very directly, play the premise very much like the first season of the 1966 Batman series. They played it straight, took it very seriously. The humor came from the absurdity of them playing it straight.
- Who is THE WRONG EARTH’s target audience?
All ages, but if you’re a fan of great superhero stories and superhero satire, I think it’ll be right up your alley.
- How is your titular character different from say Luke Cage or other black superheroes?
Well, he/they are super White, so…lol.
- What other project or projects are you currently working on?
Nothing I can announce publicly just yet but I’m still working on the second Molly Danger book.
- What’s the experience been like working in comics?
It’s a job that I love. That doesn’t mean it’s without its occasional frustrations, just like any job but I wouldn’t trade it.
- Why do you think it’s so hard for Indy creators to get mainstream coverage?
Well, from my observation many indy producers don’t know as much about marketing themselves and their product as well as they could. Marketing a product is a full time job, so it can be a bit daunting, especially in a business with so many titles available.
- What is the biggest obstacle that Indy creators must overcome to be taken seriously alongside mainstream companies like Marvel and DC Comics?
Don’t think of yourself as being in competition with them. You can’t compete on that level in terms of money, longevity and product awareness. Concentrate on your product, partner up with like minded individuals where you can, and do the work that YOU want to do.
- Why is Worldofblackheroes.com important for Black Superheroes and Black Creators alike? Because growing up I didn’t know about the other creators of olor in the industry, or how many characters there were or the history of African americans involved in the American comics historically. The coverage of the Black Cosplay scene, characters of color in popular media is a one stop shop practically for fans of speculative fiction. It’s an amazing site and a valued resource.
Thanks for the time and kind words Jamal, we look forward to watching you become the next big name in comics!
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