Winston and I frequent some comic book groups on social media and I have had the privilege of watching some of his success as not only a writer but an incredibly talented artist as well.
Ian: So Winston, you seem to be a very busy guy, maybe we should start with your comic book Dragon Trio. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Well, first I’d like to thank you for this interview. The title of the primary project that I work on is entitled The Dragon Trio. It follows the story of three Japanese brothers who are on the search for the answers to why their family was murdered. In the course of that search they become costumed vigilantes who protect their city’s innocent but they also become entangled in a battle with an internationally feared crime syndicate.
Ian: How do you balance being a writer and an artist?
Well I know that I’ve always enjoyed both activities. My mother had a talent for writing and my father was the artist, so I guess it was only natural that I developed a passion for both. It’s not easy because at times you’re inspired to do one but not necessarily the other, and it usually comes at a time when you NEED to be working on the opposite one. The truth is my writing usually comes to me in spurts, and inopportune times, like three o’clock in the morning.
Ian: What sort or “tools of the trade” do you use when creating?
I’m still very traditional when it comes to drawing itself. I’m a pencil and paper guy. While the comics industry has mostly moved to entirely digital production, I still do traditional line work and scan it into the computer. After the old-school ways I utilize pretty much the standard tools. Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are my primary tools for my work.
Ian: Have you considered outsourcing something like coloring or inking to speed up the process or are you satisfied with being the sole creator?
That’s actually in the works with my next issue. I can be a pretty daunting task to handle all aspects of creation but I have for years. This book is my baby. So yes it was difficult at first. I belong to a group that operates off of Facebook called Independent Creators Connection, or ICC for short. It was founded by Terance Baker who is a creator himself, and it houses over 6,000 members, many of whom also publish their own works. It houses everything from comic creators, to actors, to novelists, to filmmakers. That talent is incredible. I’ve run into a number of people that I feel comfortable entrusting my baby to. Todd Mulrooney will be assisting with colors from issue 2 onward, and Michael Armstrong will be helping with inking and plotting, and Wade Price who is the creator of the independent comic Ghost, also published by Insane Comics, will be writing certain fight scenes. I was very impressed with the fights in the first issue of his comic. I read it and it was like.. “that’s what I want in Dragon Trio.”
Ian: Do you find yourself molding your writing to your art or vise versa?
Usually it’s my art to my writing. I don’t write with the traditional comic script layout, where you describe panel by panel what’s going on. I tend to write it like a film screenplay, the produce roughs from that.
Ian: Do you have any formal training in either writing or art?
Writing just comes mostly naturally, other that some brief creative writing courses I took in school. I also have an Associate’s in Graphic Design.
Ian: Where did the inspiration for Dragon Trio come from?
So many places. I was always a big fan of Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I can remember being interested in martial arts from the moment I watched Enter The Dragon with my father in 1985. I became a Bruce Lee fanatic. In about 1990 after watching all these things I decided I wanted to create my own.
Ian: Batman and the TMNT are always a good idea and two of my favorite as well.
Ian: Do you have any specific creative influences?
Too many to name. The ones that immediately come to mind are Michael Turner and Frank Cho. The way they rendered women is just incredible. I always admired J. Scott Campbell’s anime influenced style. One of my biggest influences is actually not a famous person. My high-school art teacher Ralph Norwood pretty much mentored me. He took time out of his personal life to mold my artistic skill. Many afternoons he stayed after school to draw with me. Many teachers just don’t care about their students like that anymore. He still teaching today and what lucky students they are. The man will have my unwavering respect for the rest of my life.
Ian: Wow… That is truly amazing and stands as a testament to the fact we need to stop cutting arts programs in our schools.
Ian: Are any of the characters based on real life people? If so who and why?
My female assassin in the book is based primarily off of Lucy Liu. More specifically the way she portrayed Oren-Iishi in Kill Bill.
Ian: Dragon Trio has been very successful, in part because of digital sales, what are your thoughts on the success of Dragon Trio and what do you think of digital vs print?
Well I am absolutely ecstatic about the success DT has enjoyed. I am honored that my work is so well received especially since I’m my own biggest critic. As far as the preference between the two, I love the way technology has allowed us to read our work from any device. I am however one of the fans who still loves the feeling of an actually printed book in their hands.
Ian: Do you prefer digital or print?
I prefer printed books. Though I do tend to start my purchases with digital because they are less expensive and if I develop a love for the series, from issue 2 onward its print.
Ian: How do you feel about sites like Comixology, Indy Planet, and Drive Thru Comics?
They’ve changed the face of the business without a doubt. It’s opened the doors for people like myself who would have otherwise never gotten a chance to get their work out to the public eye.
Ian: As an independent comic creator do you plan on starting your own production or publishing company?
Well the production umbrella I founded is Samurai Studios. I hope to branch out and who knows, maybe one day it will be a full fledged publisher and not just a studio.
Ian: You have also wrote for other mediums like Alex Fernandez’s Body Jumpers, can you tell us a little bit about Body Jumpers?
What Alex has been able to accomplish with no budget and a cast of actors who simply have a passion to do it is amazing. I started off as a fan. Eventually he asked me to do some writing here and there. I also designed the DVD cover to Season 2 along with Jean-Paul Germain, another artist in ICC. It was an honor to see the cast reading my lines. It’s basically an urban sci-fi series that follows a group of interplanetary agents and their quest to stop a group of aliens called Body Jumpers, who use human bodies as hosts. These criminals are led by Lord Primus, who’s played by Bowlegged Lou of the hip hop group Full Force. It includes tons of up and coming actors like Harold Gibson, Patricia Lisanne and Gretchin Noel. He’s also started allowing other characters in the ICC to make appearance like Terance Baker’s Pink Hammer, played by Parisse Davies. It’s good stuff if you haven’t checked it out yet.
Ian: Can you tell us a little bit about the differences and similarities in writing comics versus TV?
Amazingly similar, at least for me. As I mentioned before I use a film format to write my comics. It helps me visualize everything better. After I write it, I read over and play it in my head as if I were watching a movie, then I produce roughs from what I visualized. So for me there’s not much of a difference. I’m basically the director.
Ian: Can you explain some of the similarities and differences in balancing dialog and visual storytelling within both mediums?
I’ve always been particularly good at dialogue writing so I’ve been told. I just try to write dialogue the way people actually talk. I don’t get unnecessarily wordy unless I need to. I think that’s the mistake a lot of writers make in both mediums. They feel they have to write a lot of dialogue to prove they can do it. Less is more. In both mediums you have to describe what’s happening. But I think the major difference in comics is when I finish with a page, I let someone look at it, usually my wife, and if that person cannot tell me what’s going on before I put letters on it, then I have more work to do.
Ian: Do you have a harder time with either medium? If so then why?
Not really. I view it all as writing. It just pours out.
Ian: Which do you prefer writing for?
I love writing period. No real preference for either.
Ian: How do the two mediums compare and differ?
The similarities are bigger than most people know. Some just don’t realize that a comic is basically a film put to paper and a film is basically a comic put to camera. Even the early stages of film involve storyboarding, which is basically drawing a comic. I think that’s why so many movies based on comic properties translate so well.
Ian: Do you have any plans on getting Dragon Trio to another medium like TV or movies?
Yes I do. Within the next couple of years I plan to fund an animated short. I have even started lining up voice actors. Harold Gibson, who plays a role in Body Jumpers, has agreed to voice act as well as a few others. Alex has allowed ICC characters to appear in his show, I can only hope that someday down the line we see a live version of a Dragon Trio character in Body Jumpers.
Ian: You’re very active in social media can you tell us how social media has helped, or hindered your success?
I think it’s safe to say that we would not be where we are without social media. It’s been vital to my success, but at the same time it’s hindrance is I can sometimes tend too much time on it. But I’ve made some fantastic friends and connections with it.
Ian: You have a project involving people from the social media group Independent Comic Creators, or ICC, can you tell us about the project and the people involved?
There’s been many projects going on within ICC. Namely the unique I-Hero. The concept behind that is a story with no definite script. Each creator involved is assigned two pages, and they determine what happens over their pages, the next creator picks up from there and so on. It’s on its third volume. Terance Baker and I collaborated where our female assassin characters met in an epic fight called The Wind and the Wolf. We also have upcoming The Bad Babes of ICC which is a 103 page sourcebook featuring art and profiles on some of the popular female characters in the group. That’s coming in January. That’s the thing about this group that I love, I’m a moderator and I’ve developed a fierce loyalty to it. We have so much going on, presence outside of Facebook and ICC hosted its very first and very successful con this past summer.
Ian: Who’s idea was the project?
The Bad Babes of ICC is my baby. Though the creators contribute their own art and profiles. I just do the layouts and the overall design of the book. So many others come up with the other fantastic ideas. Frank Soto is a lead on a lot of projects.
Ian: Do you plan on doing more collaborations?
Absolutely. This industry thrives on us putting our minds together. Individually we’re good but together we rock.
Ian: What can we expect to see coming from Winston Jordan in the future?
More of Dragon Trio obviously and my writing partner Michael Armstrong and I have some great stuff planned. There will be a sequel to The Wind and The Wolf called In The Path of the Wind. I’ll keep doing projects until the day I stop breathing.
Ian: How can people get a hold of your projects like Dragon Trio and Body Jumpers?
The Dragon Trio can be purchased through it’s publisher’s storefront at www.insanecomics.com. While I’m on that subject, there are many many other great titles there. James Munch is the CEO of Insane Comics and when I tell you that he’s building a brand, its an understatement. Insane Comics is becoming impossible to ignore. Body Jumpers can be watched on YouTube and the DVD’s can be purchased on Amazon.
Ian: How can people get a hold of you?
I’m always accessible through Facebook. I’m pretty good about answering messages. People can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I have to thank Winston for taking the time and being so open and candid with his answers. Winston and many other independent creators like him are the reason I love the comic book industry!