The following is an interview with Desmond Walsh on the release of the comic book series, Jungle City. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Walsh about the inspiration behind the series, his creative process in bringing the story to life, what readers can anticipate from the story, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the release of your comic book series, Jungle City! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the series’ premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
Desmond Walsh: The premise of Jungle City is that our base nature will forever prevail regardless of the social constructs that curb or in this case attempt to tame them. The protagonist of the story is an altruistic, yet savvy, dog named Josh Labrador who moves from the country to New York for work. The story begins with Josh moving into town and trying to find a place to live. The initial narrative settles the reader into a Disneyesque setting wherein all the animals seem somewhat happy and content; however, the story quickly strips away that façade, and we see that the animals have very mundane problems ranging from alcoholism to heartache. Furthermore, if the reader looks very carefully, they will notice that the animals are not truly like their civilized dress and urban settings. They are very much not domesticated. Specifically, they are eating each other in this civilized world just like they would out in the wild. They just don’t talk about it.
The inspiration for the story came from several various sources. For starters, I have always wanted to write and draw a 22-page comic book. It is a very tall order, and I really wanted to be able to say that I did it before I died. So, that is probably more motivation than inspiration but there you have it. My true inspiration was my ten-year-old son, Matthew, who is constantly drawing his own comics. He is getting very good at his craft, and I wanted to partner with him on a comic book father and son project. So, we started this together. But once I saw how much work it was, I wanted to take it very seriously and create something that reflected my sense of humor and storytelling. I guess you could say we had creative differences, and I moved on without his ten-year-old guidance. The other inspiration for the book was my life experiences moving to New York in 1993. At that point in time, the city was still a bit of a mess. There was rampant crime and graffiti on just about every flat surface. That colorful era of New York City has now been completely sanitized and is probably gone forever, so I wanted to capture some of it in this book. I thought it would be a good setting for some of the terrible things that Josh discovers.
BD: What can you share with us about your creative process in creating the series, and what have been some of your creative influences?
DW: Well, to tell you the truth, my creative process evolved over the course of the project. Although I have been involved in many creative projects though my day job as a designer, I never wrote and drew 22 sequential pages. So, my process in the beginning was quite flawed to tell you the truth. I would rough out an 8” x 10” image of the page and if I liked it I would blow it up on the copy machine and use a light table to pencil it in and then ink it. This process has a lot of problems. For starters, I did not leave enough room for word bubbles. I did not create model sheets. The story was not thought out from start to finish. So, when all was said and done, there were some major gaps in the plot which forced me to redo about six of seven early pages. Contributing to this was my drawing style. By the time I drew my 22 page, the drawing of the characters was substantially better than when I started so many characters shots had to be redone.
It was frustrating, but you learn so much more when you screw up and have to fix things.
My creative process now is to write the entire story from start to finish – the entire story with every word of copy and every set and character described in detail. In addition, I now create model sheets of each character so that I can reference that from start to finish and keep the character consistent looking.
With regards to creative influences, I would love to say I was influenced by some of the greats like John Romita Jr or John Bryne or Frank Miller, but that would be almost narcissistic as my craft is lightyears behind them. I would say my creative influences have been the many great designers I have had the privilege to work with in my career. It is really a great experience to see my coworkers develop something you can hold in your hands based on just a conversation with an end user. I like to think that I have emulated or at least imitated the best practices of my coworkers.
BD: What do you hope that readers will take away from your work?
DW: I hope the readers enjoy the book. I hope they like the characters, appreciate the story, and laugh at my jokes. I hope when they put it down they think to themselves, “I can’t wait to read that again.” I also hope they like it enough to share it with others and go to the patreon website and take advantage of the opportunity to place their pets into the story/book.
BD: Do you have a certain number of issues planned for the series’ first story arc, and do you anticipate expanding into further arcs?
DW: I wrote four issues, and that is the first story arc. I have drawn one and have plotted two. Ideally, I will complete all four if I can continue significant traffic and support at the patreon website.
BD: If given the opportunity to expand your series into other entertainment mediums, in what format do you hope to see it adapted?
DW: The series was specifically designed to expand into a patreon-sponsored web comic. The business model was based on the following premise: People love their pets and will spend a substantial amount of their disposable income on them. I wanted to leverage this by offering pet owners the opportunity to get their pet featured in the comic. The reader would submit a picture of their beloved pet with a description of their personality and, based on their level of sponsorship, that pet would either become a major or minor character in the book.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
DW: Yes, I am working on a new book called Orphan 13. It is the story of a human orphan boy born in captivity to an alien race that has enslaved humanity. The aliens consider themselves benevolent in that they are “repairing” Earth of the damage affected by humanity. This includes shutting down or destroying anything that creates substantial pollution: factories, automobiles, and cities to name a few. These repairs have violently disrupted our place in the world. The story follows Orphan 13 as he rises from a slave to a position of power that affords him the opportunity to purge the aliens or side with them in their effort to correct hundreds of years of negligence.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Jungle City?
DW: Here is the Jungle City Patreon Page. The patronage structure is described, and every page of the book has been uploaded as a PDF. This was done as the pages were completed, so you need to go to the beginning to read them in order. (The last page created is the first page you see at the top of the page.)
Here is the link to purchase a paper copy of the comic via Etsy:
In closing, I want to say how much I appreciate the opportunity to discuss my work and am happy to answer any further questions from readers. My personal email address is: DesmondMWalsh (at) gmail (dot)com.