How The Jonahverse Began
I came up with the idea for a spacefaring African comic book hero named Jupiter Jonah in the final year of college, at MCA. A Nigerian plucked out of time and flung far into the future, Jonah was heavily influenced by the likes of Flash Gordon, Tarzan, and John Carter of Mars. He would embark on a series of grand adventures in a pan-galactic jaunt across the stars. At least, that was the plan. I got a job out of college, life took over, and Jonah was put on the back burner.
Over the next five years, I chipped away at the script for the first book. In 2009, Shof liked the idea enough to get on board to do the art, that's when Jonah got it's first major kick in the pants. We worked really well together, it was fantastic to have a second opinion on the story, and Shof's vivid concept art brought Jonah's world to life. After such a long time in development hell, it looked like Jonah would finally take flight.
Then things went quiet again. We faced a new challenge, one we hadn't counted on. We simply couldn't figure out a realistic way to get the book produced and published. How would we print it? We had no money to speak of and no connections in the industry. Where would we sell it? We didn't know any publishers! Would anyone (outside a small but loyal group of friends and family) even know Jupiter Jonah ever existed? It all seemed... impossibly big. Jonah quietly went into hibernation again.
A couple of years went by without much progress, and then, out of the blue Shof sent me some very early layout pages for a 6 page comic he had started work on. The comic featured Denarii one of Jupiter Jonah's secondary characters (the red-tuniced fellow on the far left in the image above) breaking into a monastery on a rescue mission. Shof asked if I could help with the script and dialogue, and figure out the ending, which he was having trouble with.
A couple of weeks later and the "short comic" had transmogrified itself, becoming a full blown 24 page comic! The simple story had (surprisingly organically) become a high-stakes rescue mission set about 30 years before the events of the first Jupiter Jonah book. It would now feature not just Denarii, but Stein, as well as Funlola's mother, Sulesh and her father, Persio. This wandering quartet solves problems of any kind, anywhere... for a price. The first book presents a problem of a personal nature, and paves the way for the further adventures of a rogue, a scientist, a con-man and a diplomat, on a mission to change the galaxy, and get rich doing it.
How did we solve the issues with production? How would the book be published? Where would it be sold? That's a story for another day (and in truth one that's very much still coming together). Shifting gears, the next blog post will focus on the leader of our group, Sulesh!