Happy Tuesday! I hope you had a great weekend. The last few days have been pretty crazy for me. Nothing serious, but it was one of those weekends where nothing came together quite right. I had a busy weekend planned but a few setbacks caused me to miss a few of my goals and plans.
However, I was proud of myself for how I handled these stressors. I kept cool, did what I could, and tried to be as productive has possible. I still got a lot done, but a lot of the time-sensitive events were thrown off.
This goes to show the importance of keeping a good attitude toward your life and your craft. Over the course of your life your time and energy will be tested. The difficult times require the highest amounts of concentration and positivity.
Not only are these two very talented, they are also help others discover their own creativity. I had an excellent time speaking with both of these talented and creative people. I hope you enjoy Effective Nerd’s multi-creator interview with Lumber Jackson!
An Interview With Johnny Caputo and Jake Gerard
Aaron Iara: Thank you for taking the time to chat with me this week. Please tell the readers a little bit about yourself.
So we’re an artist-writer duo, striking out to tell a funky story about trust, human perception, and the nature of time itself. Oh yeah, and there’s a piece of tree bark that talks! We’ll be tag-teaming this interview to give you the full Lumber Jackson experience.
Jake: Hi, my name’s Jake and I’m the artist for the Lumber Jackson series! I’m a graphic designer living on Long Island New York. I love staying active with Soccer and Snowboarding, but I’d say my nerdier hobbies usually take priority. I love collecting/playing video games, watching anime, playing D&D, and reading comics
Johnny: I’m a writer from Cleveland Ohio. I work as a high school English and creative writing teacher during the day, but like Jake, I also spend a good amount of time playing D&D (which was a huge inspiration for the world of Lumber Jackson) and reading/writing comics.
Aaron Iara: It is nice to meet both of you! I loved getting caught up on Lumber Jackson. Can you give the readers a synopsis of the story?
Johnny: The Ballad of Lumber Jackson is a funky and fun sci-fi/fantasy adventure comic that tells the story of brothers/adventurers/generally-rotten-human-beings Langston and Lawrence Jackson. Their home planet, Mearth, has some pretty strict laws prohibiting underage adventuring, but that’s never stopped hyper-intelligent Langston and roguishly dashing Law from stealing what they want, when they want it. Nothing that is, except time. And their time together is almost up.
Lawrence is about to move away for Adventurer’s College, leaving 13-year-old Langston left at home all by himself. He knows that it’s sad and dumb and stupid and desperate, but on the night before Law is supposed to leave, Langston wishes, like makes an actual-honest-to-God secret wish, that he and Law could have more time together.
Later that night (and completely unrelated to the aforementioned wish…wink wink), a mystical and mysterious piece of talking tree bark named Crash, hurtles through Langston’s bedroom window bearing the news that time on Mearth has stopped.
From there, these two unlikely heroes, alongside their new twiggy friend, must travel through the time-trippy world of Chronsylvania, using their thieving skills and general roguery to stop the evil Syndicate of Stasis from bringing the flow of space-time to a grinding halt throughout the entire multiverse. And by the end of it all, they might just find out that they’re something like… heroes…Gross!
For a more full synopsis of the story and to get caught up on the full story, you can check out our website.
Aaron Iara: What is your typical process for making one episode of the webcomic?
Johnny: We try to keep things simple and set reasonable, attainable, goals that we are confident we are able to meet. Currently, we make one page of the comic per week. On Monday, I’ll send Jake the script for one page of the comic. He does all of the heavy-lifting on production and sends it back to me by the following Monday. I will take a look over it and see if we need to make any edits, which I’ll send back Jake’s way along with the script for the next page. And then, when the next Monday rolls around, we do it all over again
Jake: For any given page of Lumber Jackson, the first step is reading over that week’s page script that I always get from Johnny right on time. From there I’ll usually read the page and let it sit in my brain before drawing it out. My general workflow typically follows this pattern:
1. I sketch the page
2. Ink it
3. Add base color
4. Shade it
5. Then finally add bubbles & dialogue
Aaron Iara: The writing prompts on your social media are a great way to help people explore their creative sides. It is great that we have this in common. What made you decide to start doing this?
Johnny: One of our major goals with this comic is to engage people in a conversation about how the scientific properties of our universe affect us all in very real ways. Science in itself is such a creative force, and reading about science is a rich ground for creative inspiration. That’s why science fiction and fantasy have always thrived as genres: people recognize a phenomenon in the real world and then let their imaginations go crazy exploring the possibilities of that phenomenon to make beautiful art and fantastical stories.
Our prompts are all based on recently-published scientific articles to help people see some of the truly amazing things happening in our universe and then translate some of that wonder into a form of creative expression.
We put these prompts out there to share the joy of creating and give a clear pathway for people to access their own creativity. Because the more stories that are being told and the more art that is being created by all kinds of really cool people, the better off we’ll all be.
Aaron Iara: I love your dedication to the creative process! I think the world could benefit from more people using their imagination.
Jake: I think being part of a collaboration helps. It creates this sense of responsibility to carry your own weight with the project and not let the other person down. A big thing Johnny and I talked about in the beginning was our rate of output. We both lead very busy lives, and I’m juggling numerous illustrative projects myself, so I think setting realistic goals for yourself is super important. Keeping the work consistent and creating a schedule where you’ll never be “behind” on work is a big help.
Aaron Iara: What are your biggest obstacles when it comes to making art in general? How do you overcome them?
Jake: I think the biggest obstacle I always grapple with in terms of comics is “Speed vs Quality.” Johnny and I worked on Lumber Jackson for just about a full year before releasing a single page, because we wanted to have a stockpile upon release. In the beginning I was more focused on the speed of my output. You’ll notice some of the earlier pages are a little rough around the edges, primarily in terms of some colors running outside the lines. This comic has become a fantastic source of growth for me though. As I kept drawing, I got better because of the consistent practice each week. Now I get pages done in less time than before, and the quality has improved as well. The more hours you devote to any skill, the better you’ll get at it, as long as it’s time well spent.
Johnny: Making the time to create is always a struggle. With the demands of life (work, family, your car breaking down, intermittent trips to the convenience store to re-stock on coffee and Slim Jims) it’s difficult to make the time to sit down and just create something. Notice, I said “make time,” not “find time.” You have to make time to create. Otherwise, time will always find a way to hide from you. And the best way I’ve found to make time to work is to set a routine. Be flexible with your routine, be gentle enough with yourself to be willing to change your routine, but always have a routine.
Aaron Iara: Many of the creators I talk to are not stressing about deadlines because they self-publish. Do you feel that this is a perk of self-publishing, or do you prefer setting stricter goals for yourself?
Jake: I’d say it’s important to set firm but realistic goals for yourself. With something serialized like Lumber Jackson or Jake Fights the Void (my solo project, which you can find on Webtoons) I have them worked into my weekly & daily routines. I put that pressure on myself to keep to those self-set deadlines because it shows reliable and consistent output. If you don’t hold yourself accountable, it’s much easier to slack off and fall behind.
Johnny: It is nice to not have a publisher breathing down our necks at all times, but we definitely have publishing deadlines and we take them very seriously. We have committed to publishing a new page every Wednesday and it’s very important to us that we follow through with that commitment. We want our readers to know that when we promise new content, they can count on us to deliver. In our eyes, it’s all about building a steady relationship with our readers. That is a responsibility we take very seriously.
Aaron Iara: It looks like you both have a strong commitment to content production. Personally, I find that setting a few deadlines per week helps keep me motivated. This is part of the reason why I started doing a two-week rotating schedule.
Jake: I’m a huge fan of Emily Ree’s “Anarchy Dreamers.” Her style and color choices are super vibrant and fun, with a great cast of characters on top of that, you can check out her comic here.
Johnny: I really admire Katie Cook’s Nothing Special. It’s a fun fantasy story told in a lighthearted tone. A lot of times lighthearted stories can make readers feel like the emotional problems of the characters don’t really matter, but this series uses its lightheartedness to truly invite readers into the emotional lives of the characters. Plus, there’s a talking radish! You can follow her on Instagram or read the comic here on Webtoons.
Unsounded by Ashley Cope is a downright epic tale of a little girl (who is a master thief and has a tail) and her wizard bodyguard (who is also a zombie) as they travel through a politically complex fantasy world. The character work and the dialogue make this comic a blast to read, but you’ll stay for the intricate depth and magnitude of the fantasy world. If you’re looking to get lost in a truly binge-worthy comic, Unsounded is it. You can check it out here or head to the Unsounded Patreon Page.
Aaron Iara: Do you have any advice for those who want to start making their own comics?
Jake: If you’re an artist and an indie creator/self-publisher there’s a good chance you’ll be creating your pages from start to finish. This means you’ll be taking on all the roles of comics that are usually fulfilled by a team of artists tackling each stage, which is something to be mindful of if you’re ever feeling run down by the process. The big three things it’s critical to learn about (I know I definitely still am) are anatomy, color theory, and typography. As a full time graphic designer I have a good grasp on typography in the traditional sense, but a lot of those learned rules go out the window with comics.
With that being said, starting to make comics is much easier said than done. If you’re a writer but don’t have the artistic ability to bring your vision to fruition (like me), you will need to find artists to collaborate with. And it can be hard to find people those people. I had the concept and first twenty pages of Lumber Jackson written for almost a year before I met Jake.
However, there are resources out there to help you connect with fellow comics creators. I’ve listed some of those resources below.
Also going to conventions, both big national ones and little local ones, can sometimes be your best bet. Jake and I actually met at a creator connections panel at New York Comic Con sponsored by Buddy Scalera (follow him on twitter and Instagram @BuddyScalera). But going to your local convention and striking up a conversation with the creators there is always a great way to find someone to collaborate with. Even if you don’t end up working together, you will make some cool connections and join a community of comic creators in your area. And the more community you have, the more support you’ll have in your own creative journey.
Aaron Iara: Thank you for the great resources! A lot of my readers are aspiring comic creators. We are always looking for new tools, tips, and advice.
Do you have any upcoming events/projects/releases you would like to talk about?
Jake: I currently put out a solo comic called Jake Fights The Void on Webtoons. It’s a weekly comic strip that bounces between comedic inner-monologues, situational jokes, and even deals with things like anxiety. I started the comic as a way to make people laugh, and work through some of my own feelings. I also have another comic series and graphic novel in the works but those are a ways off from a public release for sure.
Johnny: We are very near ready to launch the Patreon Page for Lumber Jackson. This should be up and running in early February, so go ahead and check it out for all kinds of cool behind-the-scenes action.
Also, and this is a world premiere exclusive, we will be debuting The Ballad of Lumber Jackson on Webtoons in the very near future. Keep your eyes on our social media channels for more information.
Aaron Iara: Good luck with your Patreon campaign, and thank you again for talking to me! Tell the readers where they can find you and your work.
Jake: It was a real pleasure to answer these questions! Something like this means a lot to us as creators, so I want to say thanks for taking the time to read Lumber Jackson.
There’s a few places to see what I’m up to! You can see the bulk of my work on Instagram and Twitter (both @jbombcreative), and you can find Jake Fights The Void on webtoons.com. I also have my own personal website www.jbombcreative.com filled with goodies and art!
Johnny: For all things Lumber Jackson, head to our official website.
Head to our comic page to read our current story.
To support our work, head to our Patreon Page.
Follow us on Instagram and Twitter @lumberjacksonco and on Facebook at Lumber Jackson Comic.
You can follow my personal accounts on Instagram and Twitter @gojohnnycap.
Thanks for having us. It was a blast talking with you!
Thanks Jake and Johnny!
A huge thank you to Jake and Johnny for taking the time to speak with me this week. Their comic, The Ballad of Lumber Jackson, is fantastic. Make sure to follow along on social media for creative writing prompts, news, and more!
Head over to Lumber Jackson’s official website.