Welcome to Five for Creating! An interview series here at ComixCentral where we focus on getting to know Indie Creators and what they are working on through a series of five questions. This week we chat Legendary Comic Creator Jim Lawson, known for his incredible run on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But has recently been pumping out a few fantastic creator-owned series. He is currently Kickstarting two books, DRAGONFLY and HELLRIDE.
1. Tell us about Dragonfly.
I love fun adventure comics and that basically was the intent with Dragonfly. Also, I was looking for a world where I could just throw in whatever I wanted, as far as characters or situations. In the world of Dragonfly, I’ve even messed with the timeline. Here I’m talking about the environment that the characters inhabit is filled with dinosaurs. It really is totally wide open and available to have pretty much anything happen.
The mystery is where are they, exactly? Also, who are they? Each character has special abilities, but they don’t know why or where they came from. They know that they were placed there (in Dragonfly world) but for what purpose. I like that that can relate to ourselves, such as why are we here? What is the meaning of our lives? I like writing about serious issues against a playful backdrop.
2. Tell us about Hellride.
Hellride is funny. It really is a simple story- there’s a guy on a journey. He faces trials and obstacles and in the end— well, you’ll just have to read it. The thing for me, that I loved, was to try some new things artistically that I haven’t done before. Those things are like, black panel borders, strange layouts, and full-page bleeds. It might not sound like much to most folks, but it was a journey for me too. I like the look of the book and hopefully, others will too- it was a lot of fun.
3. What are some of the differences between creating and putting out your own books vs working on a book like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles which was initially someone else’s idea, but it still seems like you were able to add your own touch too?
That’s interesting. The answer has to be the control that you have with your own book. Plus you don’t have to ask permission. Lastly, the characters are yours, and there is an intimacy with them that comes with that, like your children.
I certainly have certain troupes that I have an affinity for. The kick-ass girl- the big, strong thoughtful guy- and the cute, funny guy. I did these over and over again- so much that I think I need an intervention. I’m in all their heads and I know how I want them to react and go through their struggles. I know that I can get weird with them and if I feel like pushing the limits I can. I could kill off one of the main characters if I wanted- that’s incredible power in your storytelling.
With the TMNTs it was different. I remember in volume 2, kinda treading lightly on the guys. I didn’t really feel like I could alter things in the Turtle world. Imagine my surprise when they went to Image and Donnie became a robot, and Leo got his arm hacked off and Raph became the Shredder. It truly was stunning to me.
When I say permission it’s instances like that that I mean. A bunch of years ago, I made several proposals to Peter (Laird) asking if I could expand on the volume 4 universe. These would’ve been stories outside of the main plot but after a few tries and rejections, I stopped. Ultimately the characters are not mine, and I totally get it, yet I was frustrated that I was so thoroughly rebuffed.
It was great times working on that book, the Turtles. I absolutely loved it- and I guess it’s just the end result of doing so many pages of them, writing and drawing that I probably held a secret idea that they were mine. Silly I guess, but the book was everything to me and I put so much into it that I probably allowed myself to get too attached. I’ll admit it- when the book sold it was tough, devastating for a while.
4. What are your plans for your creative future? Do you have more in store for us fans?
So there’s a Kickstarter now. Neither of those books you’ll see from me again. Dragonfly will go to its new owner (and I’m very happy about this and excited to see what he does) and Hellride was a one-shot so that’s all for that.
I have another series that I’ve been working on, called The Box City Wallops. I’ve written and drawn 7 issues so far and as of right now the book is in Russia being colored. I don’t know when it will be done or when it will be published but that’s where my concentration is right now. All I can say is stay tuned.
5. Here at ComixCentral we are all about promoting all things Indie. With that being said, besides yourself and your projects, what is one Indie property or creator you think people need to go check out right now?
Well, you asked for one so after reading this question, my brain went right away to Doug Tennapel. He’s got a crazy, cartoony style with lots of vivid brushwork and motion- it’s amazing. Also, as a writer, he always seems to be doing something new- I really admire his ability to always come up with something fresh. Also too- the guy just doesn’t seem to stop, it seems like he’s working on a book or one’s just come out- he’s astoundingly prolific. I believe try recently he’s just had a book come out that he funded with Indegogo- Bigfoot Bill. His library is huge so there’s probably something for everybody in there. Recommended.
Jim Lawson is a Comic Creator from New England. He is best known for working on one of the most popular Indie Properties of all time, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, where he created the Ferocious Vermin Master The Rat King, who first appeared in the Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Issue titled I, Monster. While working on Turtles he co-created Planet Racers with Peter Laird as well as his own series Paleo: Tales of the Late Cretaceous, among many other projects.
Since the sale of the Turtles Jim has kept busy by creating comic series such as Dragonfly, The Box City Wallops, and Hellride. He continues to make appearances at local cons and provide beautiful commissions of anything from Turtles to Motorcycles. If you would like to contact Jim feel free to reach out to him through his Facebook page or Website.