JAZZ AGE CHRONICLES
by Gary Reed
It's Boston in the 1920s. Famed Harvard archaeologist Clifton Jennings, international adventurer and discoverer of ancient treasures, has some adventures no one knows about. He's a member of a Secret Society, one that guards against supernatural threats and unscrupulous meddlers in the black arts. Jennings and his Secret Society hire seedy private eye Ace Mifflin to assist them and that's when their troubles really begin.
Creator Ted Slampyak provides us with some information about his classic series which has been released as two graphic novel compilations from Transfuzion.
Jazz Age is an adventure horror story that takes place in Boston in the 1920s. It was a project I'd been developing while in art school and was a total obsession for me. For a couple of years after college I lived at my parents' house, slaving over this series for hours a day. I took trips up to Boston for research. I even had a Boston Public Library card! And I lived in Pennsylvania! I'd research every possible aspect of 1920s fashion, slang, current events, even the weather in Boston for the dates the stories took place. And this was before the Internet, when you had to actually touch books!
How did you "break" into comics?
I'm not entirely sure I ever really did! But I guess to the extent that I did, it was Jazz Age that did it for me. I pushed that title forever to every publisher out there at the time -- and there were a lot at the time -- until I met a guy at a con in New York who wanted to start publishing comics. He managed to publish three issues before he ran out of money, and I was able to use those issues to attract Caliber Press' attention. They then published the other six issues of the original run.
Every comics job I got after that, I got from samples of Jazz Age that I sent around. So even though the series itself was never a big moneymaker for me, at least directly, it was still very profitable in that way.
So, do you have any kind of educational background for your comic skills or are you self taught?
I went to a really good four-year art college, but I didn't study comics there at all. I studied typography, graphic design and illustration. And some figure drawing and painting. I wanted to develop my skills in different ways, learn new stuff and grow my own style, and then take that and apply it to comics. I never doubted that comics was where I'd go after art school. One of my instructors thought I was crazy for doing that.
What's the best project or situation that you've worked on or with in your career so far?
I guess that would have to be Little Orphan Annie. I drew the daily and Sunday newspaper strip for six years. It was tight deadlines and demanding work, but I was drawing a comics legend that had been around since 1924 and was in newspapers around the country. I wish we could've gotten the readership to grow, but we did some really fine work in that time, and I'm very proud of what writer Jay Maeder and I accomplished.
What's the best advice to give any aspiring creators?
Learn how to self-promote. Your work may be the best thing ever, but if no one hears about it, they can't buy it. They era of big publishers promoting your stuff is over in comics. You have to toot your own horn and get people to notice you. An artist is, for better or worse, a business person in that regard.
Oh, and pay attention to the lettering. It needs to be legible, with proper grammar and spelling. Please, people! You want us to take the time to read your work, then take your time with every aspect of it!
Anything that you worked on that you would love to go back to?
Annie. I know the series was cancelled, but if they wanted to try new comic books or something, I'd love to draw that strip again. And Jazz Age. You know, I did return to it in 2002, bringing it back as a weekly full-color webcomic. Did it weekly for four years or so. That was a blast! Maybe I'll get back to it yet again one of these days!
What's next for you?
Right now I'm drawing a project for Sequential Pulp & Dark Horse that's a lot of fun. It's called Seven Footprints to Satan, and it's based on a book and silent movie of the same name from the 1920s. Prolific writer Mark Ellis is writing it. It's pretty crazy stuff! I'm enjoying that a lot.
Who is your favorite "classic" comic artist?
Steve Ditko & John Romita.
Who is your favorite current comic artist?
Do you read digital comics or plan to soon?
Oh yes. I did write and draw my own!
What is your favorite movie?
Comics-related? Spider-Man. Not? Probably Tombstone.
What TV shows are you watching?
Doctor Who! And The Good Wife -- how's that for contrast?
Give a shout out to wherever you get your comics.
Yo Apple MacBook Pro laptop!
Jazz Age, the comic was nominated for an Ignatz Award in the category "Outstanding Online Comic" in 2003 and named one of the best webcomics of 2004 by The Webcomics Examiner.
For more information on Jazz Age Chronicles, visit: http://www.transfuzion.biz/TITLES/JazzAge.htm
Gary Reed is the publisher of Transfuzion Publishing and was the former publisher of Caliber Comics. As a writer, he has written a number of graphic novels and comics including Saint Germaine, Deadworld, Baker Street, Renfield, Raven Chronicles, A Murder of Scarecrows, and others. Outside of Talking Transfuzion, he has his regular blog covering a wide variety of topics at reedgary.blogspot.com and his website www.garyreed.net
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