Character Collaboration with Jeff Thomason


In March 2012 Jeff Thomason (the superb comic artist behind the Jak Phoenix Universe illustrations) decided to create this stellar graphic depicting his character, Wandering Koala, and good old Jak Phoenix himself in a ‘what-if’ situation. Like everything he has drawn for the Jak Phoenix Universe this one is a wonderful piece of art. Jeff’s drawings took Jak Phoenix off the page and really brought him to life. His article here explains some of the technical details behind the work and is entitled ‘Teamwork in Fiction,” which perfectly outlines the relationship he and I formed through our indie publishing adventures. Thanks again, Jeff!

Matt D. Williams

Author of the Jak Phoenix Adventures

Jak Phoenix and Wandering Koala

 

Be sure to check Jeff’s original article here: http://atouchofjeff.blogspot.ca/2012/03/teamwork-in-fiction.html

Using Words and Pictures to Tell a Story – A Guest Post with Jeff Thomason


Jeff Thomason artist on Jakphoenix.comJeff Thomason stopped by Jak Phoenix author Matt D. Williams’ website with a great guest post! The author and artist discusses the illustrated story and how he is making it work for him. Check out this snippet and then head to mattdwilliamsonline.com for the full article!

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Using Words and Pictures to Tell a Story

Words can be spoken, written, or read. The auditory section of your brain does the processing and interpreting, even if you read black text on a white page. Using words is telling a story (despite what your English teacher said about showing and not telling). There are many advantages to using words and telling including clarity (say exactly what you mean) and economy (cover large periods of time quickly).

Stories can also be told with pictures. The visual part of the brain does the interpreting here. Pictures have the advantage of showing what is happening, whether it is an action or emotion. They also save time by showing a scene and avoiding a lengthy description. The disadvantage is everyone sees something different in an image, so this approach lacks the clarity of words. And the economy—you can’t move as quickly through time nor as effectively with just visuals…

Head to mattdwilliamsonline.com for the full article!

New Art – Jak Phoenix vs. the Scoparian Dragon!


Jak Phoenix vs. the Scoparian Dragon in the sands of Scoparia - a Scene from the first Jak Phoenix novel.1

Artist Jeff Thomason just presented this amazing portrayal of a crucial scene from the opening of the first Jak Phoenix novel. It is a beautifully rendered illustration of Jak and Baxter facing off against an unexpected foe in the sands of Scoparia. If anyone out there is looking for artwork for your project, I urge you to visit www.skyfitsjeff.com and contact Jeff. He’ll be more than happy to bring your ideas to life with his unique graphic style.

Jak Phoenix 2: The Markazian Deception – Front Cover Revealed!


Here we go! It’s the front cover of the new novel, Jak Phoenix 2: The Markazian Deception! Hope you like it. The book will be available very soon. In the meantime, let the great cover artist Jeff Thomason or author Matt D. Williams know what you think of it either in the comment section below or on:

Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/jakphoenix

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/jakphoenix

Jak Phoenix 2: The Markazian Deception – Back Cover Art Revealed!


Hot off the virtual press, here is the back cover of the upcoming space adventure novel, Jak Phoenix 2: The Markazian Deception. You’ll really only see this on the back of the print book, so now you won’t miss out on Jeff Thomason’s great artwork if you’re an eBook reader. Keep checking back for more news. The big(ish) release is sooner than you think!

Jak Phoenix 2: The Markazian Deception Back Cover Art by Jeff Thomason

Jak Phoenix 2 Update – It’s Getting Closer!


Jak Phoenix 2: The Markazian Deception by Matt D. WilliamsJust a quick update from Jak Phoenix author, Matt D. Williams:

Yesterday I finished with the final edit of Jak Phoenix 2: The Markazian Deception. I’ll be posting more info about it as often as possible while it is readied for release. Right now it’s in the hands of author and artist Jeff Thomason, who did the great character art you see on this site and on the cover of the first novel. Jeff will be creating a cover I know will knock your socks off. More info soon…

Thanks for your support,

Matt

Characters Page – Just Added!


Jak Phoenix of the Jak Phoenix space adventure novel by Matt D. Williams – art by Jeff ThomasonBaxter of the Jak Phoenix space adventure novel by Matt D. Williams - art by Jeff ThomasonLook up top…you’ll see a “Characters” tab! Check it out for an appetizer on the main characters in the space adventure novel, Jak Phoenix by Matt D. Williams. As always, a super thanks to Jeff Thomason for his character artwork!  Or click here http://jakphoenix.com/characters/

How has technology affected the illustrated story? – A Guest Post by Jeff Thomason


Jeff Thomason stopped by for a great guest post about what he knows best. Take it away….

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How has technology affected the illustrated story?

 

Case study 1: Pulps vs. Comic Books

 

Jeff Thomason artist on Jakphoenix.comSince the beginning of recorded history, people have had some form of illustrated stories, whether they were carved in stone by hand or printed on paper by a machine. While the essence hasn’t changed (still words and pictures) the technology used to create them has and this has brought about changes in the stories themselves. One of the best examples comes from the early twentieth century: Pulps vs. Comic Books.

Pulp Fiction refers to inexpensive magazines and books printed on cheap paper called pulp (hence the name) from 1896 thru the 1950s with their popularity (and sales) peaking in the1930s. They cost a dime (and are sometimes referred to as dime novels) and featured an exciting, full color cover, a quickly written story, and a few black and white illustrations. They were wildly popular and sold well even during the depression. Characters included Tarzan, Zorro, Buck Rogers, Doc Savage, The Shadow, The Spider, Fu Manchu, and many others. They covered every genre from adventure to science fiction, action, romance, weird tales, exotic travels, and spicy fun.

Comic books began in the 1930s as reprints of the Sunday color comics section printed on cheap newsprint at a quarter the newspaper size. They quickly introduced new materials and a new genre: the superhero (who was originally called a costumed character or costumed hero) and included Superman, the Bat-man, Wonder Woman, Captain America, and Captain Marvel. They usually included several stories with each lasting anywhere from one page to 8 pages and sold for a dime.

These two forms shared a lot during the 1930s and 40s. Both were on cheap paper. Both sold for the same price on the same newsstands. Many of the same people were involved in both pulps and comics. Both used words and pictures to tell stories of adventure, action, romance, terror, heroism, vigilantism, and salaciousness. But technology changed the possibilities of form and, as an unforeseen result, the content of the stories.

When pulps started in the late 1900s, color illustrations were difficult and expensive to print. So the pulps were mostly text with a great cover and a few poorly reproduced black & white line drawings. The stories were novel length and featured characters with simple garbs. But by the late 1930s, color illustrations were commercially viable, so comics could be full color with more picture than words. This meant the simple trench coat of the Shadow or the bronze skin of Doc Savage wasn’t enough for pictures. Comic heroes needed bright costumes and colorful foes. Because the stories contained so much illustration, the stories become much shorter and much simpler with several in each issue.

A paradigm example is the comparison of the Doc Savage pulps of the 30s (one of the most popular and successful series) with the Doc Savage comic of the 40s. In the pulps he was strong, smart, and wore regular clothes and traveled in planes and boats. In the comics, he gained a costume and super powers and basically became a completely different character.

Technology also produced another unexpected result: the death of pulps. The four-color adventures proved too exciting for the text heavy pulps to compete with. When readers were faced with a choice between 64 full color pages of costumed clad heroes or 80+ pages of black and white text both for a dime, they chose the one more visually exciting.

You may be wondering what a 60-year-old example has to do with us today. Ah, here’s where the big question comes in. How will technology shape illustrated stories today? The eBook revolution (sorry big publishers, there is a revolution going on whether you like it or not) provides new opportunities and new limitations for stories. Here are just a few:

  • Cost & Length – To make selling a story worthwhile (and to make the binding practical) stories have to be at least certain length, but can’t go over a certain length. Digital files don’t have this limitation. An author can sell a one-page story or a 4-million-page story. The usual limitations don’t apply. This opens up new possibilities for new forms. It also may be the salvation of comic books, which are pricing themselves out of existence due to high printing costs.
  • Layout – eReaders offer flexible layouts and font sizes, which means you can’t guarantee how a page will display. The picture may be on its own screen, or you may have a two page layout showing several pictures and a healthy chunk of text. The play between images and pictures needs to be simpler and more flexible.
  • Size – Comic books have had a hard time going digital, because the text is hard to read on a small screen. Many solutions have been tried such as breaking it into individual panels (which gives you odd shaped pages and loses the effect of one panel interacting with another) to cropping the page to just the essential elements (robbing you of beautiful artwork). In the 80s it was common for toys to include mini-comics. These mini-comics were meant for a small page and work well on eReaders and other small screens if only comic book producers could break from their current template.

 

Of course, eReaders and eBooks are new, so we have yet to see the real possibilities this new technology will open up and the effect it will have on illustrated stories. I, for one, am excited to see what will develop.

Jeff Thomason

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Check out his website at: http://skyfitsjeff.com/

Great Deals for Read an eBook Week on Smashwords.com!


 Smashwords.com is once again sponsoring “Read an eBook” week, which runs from March 6th to March 12, 2011.  Many of the great authors I’ve featured here on Jakphoenix.com are participating so I thought I’d throw together a list of some of their included works. Now is a great time to check them out for next to nothing! 

Jak Phoenix – by Matt Williams

Jak is a space pilot who would rather kick back with a cold drink than stick his neck out to save the galaxy. But, as we all know, life often gets in the way of these ‘big dreams.’ In the spirit of space operas of old, comes a light hearted, action packed novel following the exploits of the best low quality pirate in the galaxy, Jak Phoenix.

50% off this week – only $0.99!

 

 

 

Jak Phoenix: Paid in Full – by Matt Williams

An all new Jak Phoenix space adventure, set before the events of the first novel! Jak and Baxter are asked to pull off a seemingly simple grab – for a big payout. Unfortunately, shady dealings frequently end in space shenanigans.

 

 

  

 

Say Goodbye – By Robert Capko

Air Force pararescueman John Paxton is commanded to lead a team on a dangerous mission—supposedly to rescue the pilot of a stealth fighter. Yet, nothing is as it seems. As the mission goes from bad to worse, Paxton uncovers a deadly plot that threatens National Security. But to fight this enemy, he must also risk the lives of the people he loves the most.

50% off this week – only $1.50!

 

 

 

The Defector – by Mark Chisnell

‘This is a remarkable thriller – chillingly violent, full of tension and with a very original ending.’ Publishing News. Self-interest or selflessness? This is the dilemma at the heart of The Defector – can Martin Cormac turn his back on his ruthless past as a currency trader, a player, and do the right thing? Not when he’s looking for answers in a succession of sleazy bars…

FREE!

 

 

 

The Wrecking Crew – By Mark Chisnell

‘A real ripping yarn… begging to be made into an all-action film.’ Qantas in-flight magazine. Drug warlord Janac has turned to piracy to fund his battle for control of the Australian narcotics trade. Attacking the MV Shawould on an evil night in the South China Sea, it seems Janac has also found the perfect next victim for his psychotic games… sequel to The Defector.

 

 

 

 

The Hook (a Wandering Koala tale) – by Jeff Thomason

What if music could do more than affect your mood? What if a song not only got stuck in your head but in the rest of your body as well? What if music became addictive? Someone has discovered a new melody that is more addictive than any drug and is selling it on the streets. Teenagers are hooked with one listen. Only the intervention of a silent wanderer can save the town from an invisible snare.

FREE this Week!

 

 

 

The Scientific Method (a Wandering Koala tale) – by Jeff Thomason

He’s done it! Brent Jakes has discovered the Unified Field Theory, the Holy Grail of Physics! It will provide unlimited energy, new medical breakthroughs, and other advances only dreamed of before. There’s just one on catch: it’ll cost three men their careers– science is not immune to the corruption of greed and politics. Only the intervention of a silent wanderer can stop them…

50% off this week!

 

 

 

Wandering Koala rides The Phantom Coach TPB – by Jeff Thomason

Has anyone ever told you to stay out of an argument because it doesn’t involve you? Do private disputes really stay private, or do they have a larger effect on the world around them? What if a domestic disturbance caused a ghostly disturbance? Mike and Angie are just another couple on just another Friday Night date having just another argument. But this time it won’t stay between them.

50% off this week – only $1.50!

 

 

 

Union of Renegades: The Rys Chronicles Book I – by Tracy Falbe

The epic begins as Dreibrand Veta and the conquering Horde of the Atrophane Empire reach a mythic Wilderness that beckons with a magical call to glory. But Onja, Queen of the rys, a race far more powerful than the greatest human state, guards this land. She has the power to imprison souls and her genocidal rage is legendary. Everything is at risk for her desperate enemies, the union of renegades.

FREE this week!

New Jak Phoenix Character Sketches from Jeff Thomason


Jeff Thomason was good enough to make another series of character sketches, this time adding his touch to Baxter, Cyan and Murdock. Here is a posting he put on his blog:

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So Matt, the creater of Jak Phoenix, liked the drawings I did so much, he wanted more. And I was glad to draw more. I’ve been interested in this kind of space opera style scifi for a while and have wanted to do something in this style, but I never had a good reason for it. Until now.

The characters were again drawn with a brush dipped in Sumi ink on Strathmore Drawing Paper (the yellow cover), then scanned into my iMac on a Canoscan printer, and digitally colored in Corel Painter X. I really liked the end result. This may be the process I use for all my art for a while.

The original article can be found here.

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Awesome work Jeff!

A cast of characters from the space adventure novel Jak Phoenix. Baxter, Jak, Cyan and Murdock

From left to right: Baxter, Jak, Cyan & Murdock