Interview: Jon Jebus, writer and creator of indie comic The C-Listers

Posted on Dec 7 2013 - 9:00am by Isaac Rouse
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Second panel from left to right: Manticore & Gearman. Third panel: Lieutenant Lightening

[Jon Jebus is a comic book writer based out of Baltimore, Maryland. While preparing to graduate in 2007 with his bachelor's in video games, he attended New York Comic Con and discovered the medium of comic books and its ability to convey unhinged creativity. It was then Jon decided he wanted to write comics, and without so much as writing a single line of code, Jon was already on his path. Years later with the help of publisher Paperlab Press,  The C-Listers are born! In this e-mail interview, we discuss what The C-Listers is all about, his inspirations for characters, and the title's sheer raunchiness. C-listers is a great read and easily the funniest comic I've ever read.]

Hey Jon, I’m very pleased to be interviewing you. We met at New York Comic Con and I walked past your booth and saw this very bizarre and hilarious Jay Leno-looking character (Lieutenant Lightning) and had to ask you about it. Could you explain exactly what he and The C-Listers are all about?

Thank you. I pride myself on writing comics filled with action, adventure and absurdity and I hope the marketing reflects. Put simply, the C-Listers is a satirical series chronicling the life and times of three of the worst superheroes ever.  I guess you could look at it like The Tick meets The Venture Bros.

Lt. Lightning is an average Joe that just so happens to have superpowers.  He’s quite incompetent in his his real life and his superhero life.  He and the rest of his motley crew often find themselves in peculiar and precarious situations that The Justice League would never be in.You’re also the first to mention the Leno chin which I’ll have to ask Mervyn if that was a conscious decision.  We modeled Gearman’s shit-eating grin after another famous celebrity. (Matthew McConaughey has that quintessential grin to me.)

Which sort of brings about the root of LL’s problems, his girlfriend Lakeisha. She’s my favorite thing about this book and I have to know where the inspiration or the idea of putting her in this comic spawned from. You have a lot of characters, like Gearman and Manticore, who are modeled after comic book characters in a satirical kind of way. But I’ve never seen a character quite like Lakeisha in a comic. 

In terms of Lakiesha, I’m glad you can see the forest through the trees.  Most people will focus on one aspect of her or another because of her name, looks or attitude, but what I hope people see over time is that she’s the ultimate curve-ball. Opposites are attracted to each other and I wanted to create a character that would create a very unique dynamic with Lightning.  She’s the cloudy storm to his silver lightning and it’s hard to say what she might do in any given situation. Lakiesha is fiery in temperament and a force to be reckoned with. She’s a cosmic level threat if she chooses to be which I love and probably the most powerful black character in comics. I want to tell stories of characters that will probably never exist in the big two and I find it very weird that a more diverse set of people are never at that level. Wouldn’t you agree?

This will also sound really random, but I used to love Bewitched as a kid which is another influence for the character.  So somewhere between that and too many episodes of Martin, I think a seed was planted. (P,S. — She’ll often be on fire literally, but that’s more because of the idiocy she surrounds herself with).

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Issue 2 forebodes so much and delivers all too well.

Haha, Martin is like my favorite show ever, so it’s starting to make sense why I love her so much. Now the art by Mervyn McKoy really caught my eye. You open the book and it’s like a tidal wave of eyeporn. But then there are panels where that gorgeous art can be used for evil. Issue 2 in particular I read on the train—and after a certain moment was afraid to turn the page for fear someone would glance at what I was reading. There’s sooooo many glistening body parts. Is the visual raunchiness something you tell McKoy to focus on when you email him a script? Are there moments where the comedic effect is focused on just how detailed McKoy can make a character?

Yeah, I can say I was definitely came up watching on an unhealthy dose of raunchy sitcoms.  I always thought shows that came on Nick-at-Night were great, but also dug the more risqué material.

Mervyn is a fantastic collaborator and once I hand him the script, he really takes it and runs with it.  I kind of like to just come back and see what Mervyn can do because, he’s a fantastic story-teller in his own right.  I’d say one of the most slept on dudes comics.  More people need to find out about his eyeporn.

I’d say if anything else, Mervyn is the restraint in terms of raunchiness and I’m really curious to see how he handles issue four , lol.  Normally, we only discuss the script if he has a question or a suggestion and I trust him to handle it.  He’s really the senior man on the team and that’s why he goes into such wonderful detail.  A good collaborator takes what you give him and makes it better.  Frankly, my scripts for this series are much more bare bone (I break down ideas, but mostly focus on jokes) and I’m always pleasantly surprised by what he does.  I also have an excellent colorist I want to give a shout-out to who helps take the book to a whole new level.

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Cheers.

So which issue out now would you say is your favorite and why? Or is it like choosing a favorite child at this point?

They all feel like babies by the time you’re done.  My first issue will always have a special place in my heart, but it’s certainly not what I’m most proud of.  It’s when the dream became real.

The one I’m most proud of would possibly be issue four cause I had no idea where I was going by the time I hung three off the cliff, but it came together. It’s when I started to feel more comfortable writing and accepting that I had more than a couple stories in me. The team could go the distance; to trade. This arc ends with five, but I really hope it’s just the start.

Making comics is exhilarating.  I think people should put it on their bucket list. I feel like I’m in a rock band except I don’t have to carry a tune, lol.

And finally (with the perfect segue) What advice would you give anyone interested in writing comics?

Like Nike always says: “just do it. ” Write your script (skill and success come through hard work over time), assemble people around you that you like and like working with cause if you’re in this for the long haul like I am, you don’t want to make something you enjoy feel like work.  My crappiest day making comics is still better than my best day at my 9-5.  Oh, and don’t quit your day job.  You’ll need the income to pay your artists, lol.

You can purchase copies of the C-Listers by visiting the C-Listers website or  Comicsfix.com

You can follow Jon @JonJebus and Paper Lab Studios @paperlab on Twitter and LIKE The C-Listers Facebook Page
Also, if you follow and/or like any of the above and mention this article, you’ll be rewarded with a free PDF copy!

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Isaac lives in New York City, concealed usually in a room full of comics, an Xbox 360, and his iPhone. He only pokes his head out from under his rock to shop for games and comics, possibly to go out and party. At these parties however, he usually discusses games and comics. He also spends some of his time manning FL Studio 10 and creating lovely electronic hip-hop beats.

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