Sometimes the very worst things imaginable turn out to be the most important. And the best.
When I met Jason Reeves in the inexplicably long Professionals line at the San Diego Comic Con neither of us had any idea what would follow. I had my portfolio (surprisingly declared “Gangsta”) and he had left his back at the hotel. Later, by chance, I ran into him in the mad hall upstairs and shanghaied him into showing me the big black folio of drawings he’d brought. He was a good kid who was trying mightily to get his work up to speed, but he had a long way to go. How long? Longer than anyone else in the Hall.
First back home to New Orleans. Then to lock-up, held under false pretenses and incommunicado, in the horrifically handled horror show called Katrina. Then, finally freed, back to look for his family.
When Katrina happened, my first thought was of Jason. My second was how sad it would be to never visit that fabled sunken city. But Jason was, like far too many, unreachable. But for all that I fretted for him, Jason took care of himself, and of his family. Finally we were able to get word that he was OK, even though his possessions were not. It seems that the original disaster was bad enough, but if you’ve been incarcerated for days for the crime of not being sufficiently pale or wealthy, you can’t really salvage the moldy remnants of your life.
And so it came to pass that I was his lucky host for 6 months (I offered him a couple years board, but he couldn’t stand the Oregon weather). He, who had lost so many things, found dear friends and work, and a landlord to critique each and every piece he drew – from comics to t-shirts to a first, (now-long-replaced) web site. He grew and thrived and grew some more – because that’s how he rolls.
And it was because of Jason I did finally get to New Orleans, several years later – for Jason and Kemi’s wedding. There, their Nanny June gave me an unparalled tour of the city, of its beauties, its damage, and its recovery.
I also got the call to make a comic cover for Jason’s new project: One Nation. So here’s the cover I painted of the mysterious and magical Sundiata (with helpful critique from our dear mutual friend Adam Danger Cook). Below that is the blurb for One Nation. Please check it out if you can.
ONENATION is a five-issue limited series featuring the hero Paragon, the first superhuman the world has ever seen, whose idealistic views of being a superhero and doing good for mankind is challenged when the reality of changing the world hits. At first harkening in name, design and deed to the likes of Captain America or Superman, as the series progresses Paragon; along with a rising generation of superhumans called Keramats, find the trappings of being a superhero ill-fitting when it comes to his larger role of saving the world…from itself.
Written by: Alverne Ball
Pencils by: Jason Reeves
Colors by: Luis Guerrero
On sale August 22, 2012 in digital & print @the 133art comicshop.