The first edition of Jud Crandall’s serialized dystopian fantasy Illegal Bodies debuts this weekend as part of the Saint John Free Public Library’s community-based comic and entertainment convention.
“There have been a few times during this process that I have checked with myself that this is something I want to continue to work on, and each time the answer is to keep going, so, so far so good,” said Jud Crandall, the Saint John-based artist who will be launching his comic series Illegal Bodies on June 4 at Fog City Comic Con.
Crandall’s concern for the project isn’t without cause. Afterall, he has spent the past several decades primarily seeking artistic connection through his music as a member of Wooden Wives, USSE and other Saint John groups. Until now, creating comics was something he often thought about but never acted upon with any real focus.
“It hadn’t really occurred to me to try something like this since I was a kid, and even then that was more just drawing non-stop,” he said. “I never got past a page or three any time I had attempted composing actual comics.”
Like a lot of artists, Crandall’s recent inspiration began to take shape during the many lockdowns and extended periods of isolation experienced over the past few years. With limited options for performing music, he quickly found himself exploring other projects.
“I feel like an odd sequence of events over winter of 2020-21 lead to this, but it was doing dishes one night while listening to the Cartoonist Kayfabe podcast that the switch got flipped,” he said. “They just said if you were an illustrator at home collecting a pandemic benefit, this was your time. It was a lightbulb moment.”
By the end of the winter, Illegal Bodies began to take shape.
“This became a project designed to rekindle and propel the efforts of my pre-musical youth, through creation of an original comic serial involving ideas and images I will want to manifest on a regular basis,” said Crandall. “Add on a couple decades of collage, design and printing experience, and then it’s just a lot of learning and research to build the world to be rendered.
“The broad strokes are that this story occurs in space where colonial capitalism has developed unchecked for millenia, and our protagonist has supplanted his life for employment, only to find himself facing even greater horror.”
Illegal Bodies will be serialized as a 4+ page comic strip, printed as a series of card stock ashcan comics, as well as being released digitally.
“I wanted to embrace the serialized aspect of a newspaper strip or anthology publication, releasing a few pages at a time to keep me producing and progressing as I go. It’s also the only way any potential publisher will credibly take notice of a creator, by showing you are able to do the work.”
For Crandall, creating Illegal Bodies has proven to be one continuous learning process involving both traditional and digital methods of design, illustration and storytelling.
“There have been lots of learning opportunities, and some challenges for sure,” he said. “It’s a solitary practice involving unexpected physical strain. Writing fiction and scripting dialogue are things I have had to gain a greater understanding of. I am also approaching this in a way that incorporates both traditional and digital methods, so there are multiple production stages from conception to thumbnails to penciling to inking to adding collage and screentones, to scripting and lettering, and on and on to print.
“I’d say the biggest realization of all is this scope of the task as it falls on one person, rather than a team sharing the process, so I have given myself permission to be patient in order to produce work I will be proud of.”
Crandall will be debuting Illegal Bodies this weekend at Fog City Comic Con with a street date of Wednesday June 8. Follow Extra Final to learn where you can grab a copy.