Disney Specific ✪ Sonic Specific ✪ Commenting on Posts
- How do you do your pages/covers/illustrations/etc?
I like to work traditionally and digitally, which means good ol’ pen and paper (I don’t own a fancy luxury Cintiq like some of my other peers haha!). Typically I use Canson 150 lb art board for all my work, a Pentel mechanical pencil (I hate dull points) with a Pentel Clic Eraser for corrections and a **wide** berth of Faber Castell Pitt pens and Copic Multiliners to ink with. Once that’s done, I scan my pages and do smaller corrections on my inks digitally with my Wacom tablet. Then, I use said tablet to color. One major exception: I tend not to color the work for anything I do that’s licensed (unless I’m asked) as that takes a lot of extra time for me and (to be 100% honest) I’m not as confident in my coloring skills. My personal comics are a way of forcing myself to learn new techniques. 😉
Other tools that I’ve used for various projects that I like (and don’t like) you can view on my syllabus — available for download in the left sidebar.
- Why don’t you do all your work digitally? It’s easier.
I don’t like drawing comics on a wacom. TBH, If I had a Cintiq I’d probably do it way more. That said, I love the feeling I get when I’m able to hold my finished work in my hands. Furthermore, I do want to try and do some digital-only illustrations to teach myself, but they’d strictly only be for training purposes. I have a few ideas on how I’d like to do that involving Patreon as time goes on…
- Where can I read your personal comics and what are they about?
- Do you do anything beyond CNW/TT or Disney/Sonic?
Yes. I’d love to do some autobiographical comics, maybe some random writing or practice illustrations. The whole purpose of me putting this page (my portfolio page) up was to allow myself to do different things that wouldnt fit on CNW/TT that I could do at my leisure. jongraywb.com is sort of a “catch-all”.
- Who are your influences? What creatives would you recommend?
Disney wise, it goes without saying that the works Carl Barks and Don Rosa were essential for me. Ducktales ’87, Gummi Bears and Darkwing Duck were essential series’ for me growing up. I used to love Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse work but now that I’ve read the full breadth of it I have very mixed opinions that I’m still sorting through. I’ve grown weary of “problematic faves” if you follow. That said, my favorite Disney creators currently include the contemporary Italian work of Andrea “Casty” Castellan, Giorgio Cavazzano, Andrea Freccero and Francisco Artibani.
Lately I’ve gotten into a lot of Franco-Belgian comics, specifically André Franquin’s Spirou, the art in Tome and Janry’s Spirou (I don’t care for the racial caricatures in their run though), Peyo’s Smurfs and of course, the early work of Albert Uderzo and René Goscinny’s Asterix.
It goes without saying that I also have a manga/anime influence in my work. Osamu Tezuka (Astro Boy), Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira -Manga Ver.-), Naoki Urusawa (Pluto, Monster and 20th Century Boys), Akira Toriyama (Dragonball) and Eichiro Oda (One Piece) are some of my favorite creators (though I would never emulate their work schedules). Slayers was my gateway drug into anime but i love the headiness, sci-fi machinery and discussed philosophies that go over my head in Ghost in the Shell.
The Warner Bros Looney Tunes are also essential for me along with Steven Spielberg’s Freakazoid and I have a penchant for the black and white Fleischer Popeye shorts.
- What’s your favorite movie?
Clue. It’s dumb and I love it.
They’re a gray area for me.
- You discuss race on your social media feed a lot…
Yup. And that will not change. I’m a black man, raised in the deep south, whose grandfather was raised on the last of the Alabama plantations. I’ve known racism intimately and been forcibly made aware of my skin since I was in first grade. I, nor my parents, nor my grands are divorced from our skin color. I can’t take it off and I refuse to hide it. It is literally who I am, who my family is and what I will be for the rest of my life. It took me a long time for me to grow and gain confidence in myself (I’m still growing) but I love every bit of me and my folks. In a world that doubles down daily to thumb blackness, I choose to live in my skin, thrive in it and, hopefully, help other people of color see the beauty in themselves the way that others helped me. If you don’t like that you don’t have to follow me. Block and mute buttons are beautiful things. But if you do follow me, I do expect you to listen and be respectful of my boundaries. I think that’s fair. 🙂
- What was it like working with *INSERT PERSON HERE*? Can you tell me about *INSERT SCANDAL HERE*?
Please, please don’t do this.
I don’t think that it’s professional to air dirty laundry out into the open or discuss problematic creatives in a publicly negative light — within reason (some issues can’t be helped and must be dealt with in a professional way).
While I am often very opinionated about certain things in my industry and very open about the things I did/do as well as the vast array of wonderful, amazingly talented people that I’ve worked with, I prefer to focus on those people who deserve praise rather than those who sow chaos for the heck of it.
That said, it’s also incredibly rude to ask me questions like this (mining for gossip) because it puts me in an awkward professional situation. Basically, unless you’re a very close friend and I trust you with my personal, private feelings–don’t ask. I will ignore you. I hope you understand.
- What do you do for Disney Comics?
I localize European comics and I drew covers for the American releases of them. It’s my job to take those comics and do very *very* rough translations. My friend and editor, David Gerstein is far more fluent than I in many of these languages. He checks my work for accuracy. My job is to take those translations and put them into an American English vernacular that sounds more like how the characters are supposed to sound/have always sounded in American Disney Comics (the same way that the characters “sound” in Overseas editions when people adapt Barks and Rosa stories in their own countries).
If we didn’t do this, many of the straight-translated versions would read bland with little-to-no-personality at all. Jokes, puns and wordplay that are region specific would read clumsily or, at worst, be completely lost on our readers. The majority of the Disney Comics fans that exist stateside tend to notice these things quickly and do not like that.
With Mickey Mouse, I lace the optimistic, pie-eyed, snarkier Floyd Gottfredson traits into his speech instead of the cutesy-poo marketing version. With Donald/Scrooge, it’s Barksian style speak all the way.
It may read a little old-fashioned (depending on the story’s context like with Duck Avenger or with whatever Disney may want, I dial it back as needed) but it gets the job done and makes the majority of people happy. I try to do localization work as accurate to the stories as I can without changing the meaning of the stories’ text out of respect for the original authors. So far, I’ve had no complaints from them and if they’re happy, I’m happy. 🙂
Current examples of my cover art and localization can be found on the right sidebar.
- If I wanted to start reading Disney Comics, where would I begin?
For Mickey Mouse, I would start with the original IDW Publishing run over everything else. This isn’t me patting myself or our team on the back, but we made a huge effort to cherry pick the best Mickey Mouse stories from the best creators we could find that people would like. There’s a lot of amazing Mickey stories (and a lot of bad ones too).
If you want to get into classic Gottfredson Mickey, above all I’d recommend Books 3, 4 and 6 of the Gottfredson Library. Some of the strongest Mickey stories ever made are in these volumes. While there are some **REALLY** good ones in other volumes, I’d be a liar if I didn’t say that they also have some very uncomfortably dicey, dated material in them (many of these stories were made in the 30s-40s so you already know what you’re up against). To follow that, all stories come with disclaimers at the start. Some are worth a passing side-eye, some are blatantly offensive, and a tiny handful that I won’t name are flat-out ignorant. As always, your mileage may vary.
For the Ducks, I recommend Barks and Rosa without hesitation. Much like Gottfredson, there is some dicey stuff with Barks, but not as much as to raise an eyebrow outside of a few select cases of ignorance. Rosa’s stuff was produced in the 80s and 90s so it’s a bit more contemporary. Again, the same claims that I made for the IDW Publishing run Mickey Mouse, also apply to the individual Donald and Scrooge series’ as well.
- You know so much about the ducks and the mice! When will you do your own stories? I wanna see you write **INSERT CHARACTER HERE**
If you want to see me do them, ask Disney for them! (Lord knows, I wanna.)
- Favorite Disney movie? Go!
A Goofy Movie is way better than Goof Troop ever was or ever wanted to be. It is perfection. I will fight you on this and I will win.
- Hey, fam. Hook me up with some park tickets!
Nah, fam. I can’t get you into a park. It doesn’t work like that. I can’t get myself into a park. I don’t have access to “free park”. Stop asking me about free park tickets, fam. =__= You keep asking me that and we’re gonna box. (I love y’all, though. You know that, right?)
- What did you do for Sonic Comics?
I talk about that a little more on my bio page, but I was an artist, assistant editor and occasional writer for the Off-Panels on the Archie Sonic comics.
My first professional gig ever was Sonic the Hedgehog (Vol.1) #134. My last work on the Vol.1 series was creating the text and ancillary pages for Sonic #292.
Currently I am a cover artist for the IDW Publishing iteration.
- What was it like?
Originally… I loved it a lot. But I was admittedly VERY green when I started. I’m amazed that I even got the gig given how amateurish my earliest work was. That said, I was an overeager noob without much guidance, happy to work on something I loved to pieces. So I went nuts! It was definitely a learning experience and one I wouldn’t rescind. I wanted to draw more after “Return to Angel Island” but I knew to follow my path a little better (and be a little warier) by that point.
When I returned to the book, I became a production assistant and eventually an assistant editor. I firmly believe that the first series’ comics were never stronger than when Vincent Lovallo and I were working on them. Both of us are Sonic fans and all the creatives involved during that tenure put their hearts into what they did. We respected the material and the characters and, overall, it wasn’t about our egos, but about producing a marketable, monthly, serialized funny-animal story that was both fun, enjoyable and respectful to the franchise.
- What work did you do on the book?
- That slap, tho.
I’m sorry. Like I said, I was an overeager noob and I drew what I was given. 🙁
Nothing fancy here, but I do have comments on an approval system which means “first” or “test” posts are a quick and easy way to guarantee that you won’t be allowed to post again. Hopefully I won’t have to update this part of the FAQ anymore than I have to. 😛