Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of your comic book series, Grow a Pair! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the series’ premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
Marc Jackson: The comic is the story of 13-year-old Dusty Danson, who, after getting beaten up once again, meets a space genie called Gene who bestows on him three wishes, he chooses super-powers, a town full of bad-guys, and a pizza! Then the fun really begins! It’s my first comic aimed at an older audience, teen+. It features slightly more adult themes, a little bad language, and some gratuitous nudity! I wanted to try something different and combine the concept with a different visual style, too. It’s black and white, with a bold and graphic use of a spot red colour, to really let it stand out from my other work that usually is very brightly coloured to engage a younger audience.
BD: What can you share with us about your creative process in balancing the writing and artistic duties, and who or what have been some of your creative influences?
MJ: I basically write out the script, based on the plot in my head that is a list of bulleted scenes I suppose. This one is kind of four sections. I then literally type up the basic script with a couple of notes to myself for particular visuals and once I feel I have a good flow to the script I get started on the drawing. Sometimes I have jokes in the script, sometimes I add more funnies once I have the page drawn to enhance the comic more. I then start work on the pages, I work straight to digital ink and mainly from what I have typed, which influences the visuals. I want each page to really differ from the last. For this comic I was only working on splash pages, so one panel per page, which again gave it a distinct look. I usually drop the dialogue on to the page and then work from there, drawing the characters and backgrounds, depending on what I want to have going on. I then drop the balloons in and then fully letter the page. I can move things around as a whole at that point, getting the exactly layout and balance for each panel until I say ‘done!’ and move to the next one.
For this comic, I was hugely influenced by the late Steve Ditko’s work, particularly Spider-Man. I wanted to create the perfect, little origin issue with that same wonder and spirit than Steve and Stan put into those old comics. I even dedicated the comic to Steve Ditko. As I was using black and white, with a lot of heavy blacks, Frank Miller was a big influence on my approach, as well. The way he also used spot colours on Sin City and Holy Terror was always something that resonated with me.
BD: What do you hope that readers will take away from your work?
MJ: A sense of fun and a big smile on their face. I want them to enjoy what I have done, as much as I enjoyed making it. Self-publishing comics is an exciting process and when folks connect with your work and get what you are trying to achieve, that’s a real thrill!
BD: The series has been created in partnership with Wacom and the Lakes Comic Art Festival. What inspired this collaboration, and how would you describe your experience?
MJ: I met a great guy called Jens Kellersman who worked for Wacom back in June. We had a great chat and he knew my work from last year’s event when I worked on a comic challenge (creating 4 pages in 4 hours all on a cintiq) we got talking about how cool their products were and mentioned it would be great to work on one under a little less pressure. What came from that is me agreeing to create a 40-page comic in a month to then launch at the Lakes comic art festival here in the UK. So, a little less pressure!
I loved working on the cintiq, it really changed how I draw comics and really loosened up my style considerably. I’m forever grateful for the support from Jens and Wacom and now am a total convert. All my comics are being drawn this way now.
BD: If given the opportunity to expand your series into other entertainment mediums, in what format do you hope to see it adapted?
MJ: I’d love to do a Netflix cartoon. The concept of a town full of bad guys who all spring up in the most surprising places I think would be a great weekly show. Kind of like a weirder and animated version of the Batman TV show from the '60s!
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
MJ: I produce a monthly comic called Whackoman for Comics Scene magazine and a four-panel strip for a local magazine called RO-BERT that is an office-based comic. Plus, I edit and publish GOOF!, an online comic for all ages that launched back in June. It’s a collection of strips from me and around 25 other creators including Ken Niimura, Lew Stringer, Andreas Schuster, Emmeline Pidgen, Genie Espinosa, Allison Steinfeld, Lorenzo Montatore, Jim Boswell, and Dean Rankine. We each get a page to create a brand new comic series. It’s subscription only, so you sign-up for a year (just £12) and you get a new issue the first Saturday of each month www.goofcomic.co.uk. I’m also planning on releasing a mini-series for GROW A PAIR around February next year, building on the initial origin and introducing new characters and a roster of super-villains!
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Grow a Pair?
MJ: They can check out my Instagram for exclusive art and order it right here.
If you readers mention in their order they came via this site, I’ll even do them a signed drawing as a nice little bonus!