Thee Comic Column #48: UGLI Studios Presents #2 – An Interview w/ Jason Lenox

image courtesy of thisisUgli.com

UGLI Studios has only recently come on my radar. They are a small, totally independent imprint that releases very high quality books that their creators put A LOT of work into. With the just-released anthology UGLI Studios Presents #2 is now available for order on their founder and artist extraordinaire Jason Lenox’s website, jasonlenox.com. I was recently able to throw some questions at Mr. Lenox. Here’s what we spoke about.

SCB:You’re fresh off a successful Kickstarter that helped make the new Ugli Studios Presents Vol#2 possible. Do you feel that the age of crowdsourcing changed the game for you and other independent comics publishers?

Jason Lenox: Certainly, it gives the smaller independent creator with a non-mainstream vision a way to fund to the level of their fandom.  Which is something that an artist or writer can grow via the booming convention scene, and then continue to keep the momentum going these days via social media.

SCB: Do you see yourself doing this again?

Jason Lenox: Most certainly!

SCB: What did you learn this time around that you might do differently next time?

Jason Lenox: I would tweak the rewards a bit to encourage people to give more as a donation, and perhaps add the fans images into the book as a backer tier.  Otherwise, as I meet more people in person, and keep them engaged with email and social media, it just grows organically- I went from about $1100 in my first Kickstarter in 2012, to over $3000 in 2013, and tripled the backers to almost 100 from about 35.

SCB: Tell me a little about how UGLI Studios came to be.

Jason Lenox: When I discovered my original writer, David Paul, on the now closed HEAVY METAL

image courtesy of kickstarter

MESSAGE BOARD in 2011, we made material to submit to HM, so we submitted VERMIN and THROUGH THE EYES OF GRIZELDA, and never heard a peep- and we decided to just make our own books, and David made up the name UGLI STUDIOS to have a label so to speak.  David left due to health reasons last year in 2012, so the name and concept remains!

SCB: Your story the Painted ladies of San Quentin is tied in nicely with historical fact. How did the story come about?

Jason Lenox: David made the original concept in the early months of 2012, and then when he bowed out Kevin Truglio and I expanded and finished it.

Was the impetus for the story the history of San Quentin Prison or Marin County?

Jason Lenox: I’m not sure what David was thinking when he first penned it, but I loved it when I read the first draft, it reminded me of Gangs of New York or Boardwalk Empire, where the writing weaved in fiction with some historical fact. SQ Prison Newspaper has reviewed the story, and they loved it, so it was fun to take it back to the prisoners of 2013 to get their opinion on where they live (go here and scroll down a page to read that article)

SCB: Elijah Holman is a great protagonist for a western like this – I really think people who read this will dig his ‘arc’. Was his story something that you guys wanted to tell because of the character and genre?

Jason Lenox: Again, I have no idea what David’s original thought was on it. I liked Elijah because he was a hero who’s climax is to put his guns down and put his faith in god, at the climax. This is really the reverse of most modern action archetypes…. he is also a hero with a beard, which is something I don’t see very often!  Now when I say it’s cool he puts his fate in his faith, I’m not trying to tell a religious conversion story, I just like story arcs and characters that are different- the whole thing is “slam bang” action story so to have him lay down his arms and then not take vengeance out on the villain (Jessica) at the end was a good way to really challenge the action western stereotype.

SCB: Agreed. Now, I have to say, the book is very nicely put together – it reminds me a bit of the old Dark Horse Presents.

Jason Lenox: Thanks!

SCB: I think a lot of people interested in getting into comics and especially the potential self-publishing aspect of the new age of the medium will find UGLI Studios Presents very appealing in that you really did it, you created and published your book your way.

Jason Lenox: I meet a lot of people at cons that are not capable of taking that step, so it is harder & scarier than it looks, the comic industry is not a welcoming one, and there is a strong barrier to entry in general. If I can get someone else inspired to do a comic, that’s awesome.  I’ve noticed my friend Sean Bodley making a really cool comic called OHA on face book, I’d like to think I’ve given him a push in the right direction.

SCB: That is fantastic. (the link to Mr. Bodley’s art is here and the Facebook with  the OHA material is here – both are fantastic). How did you find your collaborators for UGLI STUDIOS PRESENTS Vol. #2?

Jason Lenox: Joe Freistuhler (colors on PLOSQ) was a cartographer I found on a website for people that make maps, he did the map for GRIZELDA  in UGLI #1 and now he did full art and story for THIRTEEN in UGLI #2.  Dave Sharpe (letterer on PLOSQ) I met a con in Hershey, PA, Dani Kaulakis (UGLI #1 colors and the person that keeps me in check artwise!) and Brian Allen (cover colors PLOSQ)- COURIER writer and artist are local artists to me that I am a fan of their work from just discovering them on the internet.  Kevin Truglio (PLOSQ editor/writing)  was a writer I found on Digital Webbing.com when I lost David.  Andy Mylin (pinup) was a local artist I met at my printer in the lobby, FERN (pinup) is a guy I love his art online, and Jeremy Bratton (pinup) is a friend of Brian…So that’s the team from the whole comic, not just Painted Ladies. I consider all of the folks to be friends first, and collaborators second, which is very cool to work with people that you honestly like!  I got to hang with DanI and Brian last weekend at an artist signing at Jake’s Cards and Games in Bellefonte, PA.

 SCB: Tell me about The Art of Jason Lenox Vol. 1. This looks like it was a big deal for you. How did you organize your ideas? Does the art in this book serve as a jumping off point for any future comics ideas?

image courtesy of jasonlenox.com

Jason Lenox: It was something I really wanted to do, to just have an art book, albeit small, with my name on it- frankly that is just cool!  I cant wait to get enough material for #2! No new ideas really in that volume, just a collection of cool stuff I made that was not really comic book stuff- while there are some comic related materials in there, it was more of a pinup/ process book as opposed to a comic book, and it is something fun you can buy from me at a con… (see my next answer!)

 SCB: It says on the UGLI website that you’re going to be doing a lot of conventions to promote this book. Anything you are most looking forward to being ‘on the road’? 

Jason Lenox: Cons!!! I’m excited to be at WV Pop in Morgantown, Baltimore Comic Con, Infect Scranton, Pittsburgh Comic Con and the Cleveland Comic Con in 2013 to round out my year!  Info at http://www.jasonlenox.com/events/

SCB: What’s next for Jason Lenox and what’s next for UGLI Studios?

Jason Lenox: Some time off from sequentials, then a writing meeting with Kevin Truglio, and two new writers Jason Palatier and Rebecca Weih to lay out some new story ideas I have for UGLI STUDIOS PRESENTS #3

SCB: Any work outside your own imprint, aka David Lapham holding down El Capitan for years while taking work-for-hire from other companies? You’ve previously done some work for PK Games’ Pathfinder RPG Module “The Bleeding Hollow” and the film Zero Charisma. Anything else out side the UGLI box?

Jason Lenox: I’ve got another potential film art gig, and some nibbles to see some art in some more mainstream books – but no hints. I don’t want to jinx anything- I’ll keep you posted if you can see my work in another well known book- in the mean time I was just in an independent book called KANTARA #4 with a pinup inside the front cover, and I’ll have a pinup in the trade of FUBAR Press’s “BY THE SWORD”

Thanks man!

SCB: Jason Lenox, thank you! A great book, through and through. Both UGLI Studios Presents #1 and 2 can be purchased directly from Jason Lenox right HERE!!!

……………………

Can’t find a comic shop? You can always use old reliable Comic Shop Locator at 1-800-COMIC-BOOK. Or you can take some of my recommendations. If you live in the greater Chicagoland area I recommend any of the wonderful four locations of Amazing Fantasy Books. In Los Angeles it’s The Comic Bug. Las Vegas it’s Alternate Reality Comics. San Francisco? Try the Isotope Comic Lounge and if you happen to venture a little further North I’d say you have to visit The Escapist Comic Book Store in Berkley (with the wonderful Dark Carnival Books next door and owned by the same folks). Read on!!!

Shawn C Baker

Shawn C Baker

Shawn lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts Drinking w/ Comics, writes screenplays and fiction and has been known to drink quite a bit of beer. Good beer.

One Response to Thee Comic Column #48: UGLI Studios Presents #2 – An Interview w/ Jason Lenox
  1. [...] Jason Lenox, whose Ugli Studios Presents #2 I showcased in a recent issue of Thee Comic Column (#48) has... joup.co/comic-kickstarter-painted-ladies-san-quentin

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