Comic world’s biggest fan
The Colorado Springs Gazette
Vail CO, Colorado
COLORADO SPRINGS (AP) “Three months.
Jonboy Meyers, his life at a crossroads and his bank account nearly empty, gave himself three months to land a job drawing comic books. If he didn’t succeed, he would abandon his dream and settle into a steady, secure and likely humdrum job.
It took less than one.
The Colorado Springs man put together a three-page submission featuring Spider-Man and sent it off to, among others, Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada. Quesada liked Meyers’ work enough to pass it along to an editor at Marvel. Days later, Meyers was offered a job illustrating “Marvel Age Spider-Man,” a kid-friendly title featuring one of the most popular characters in comics.
Meyers credits not talent, not luck, but God.
“I was prepared to give it all up ” if that’s what God wanted,” says Meyers, who calls himself “a baby Christian.”
That was about five years ago. Since then, Meyers has made a living as a freelance artist, working mostly on comics and trading cards.
October saw the release of Top Cow’s “Necromancer Pilot Season” No. 1, illustrated by Meyers. Another release came Nov. 28 with “Gen 13: Armageddon,” a one-shot from Wildstorm, an imprint of DC Comics. He’s also set to illustrate some backup tales in DC’s popular “Justice League of America.”
If Meyers continues to hone his craft, “the sky’s the limit for where he can go,” says Mark Irwin, art director for Upper Deck Co., a trading card company. Irwin, an artist himself, has worked as an inker over Meyers’ pencils on much of his cards and comics work.
“Having a work ethic and talent is an extremely rare combination in the comic business,” Irwin said of Meyers in an e-mail.
Meyers is a longtime comics fan. As a kid, he would snatch up the comics that his dad, who was in the Army, brought home.
“I grew up on a lot of war comics,” Meyers says. “My favorite was ‘Weird War Stories.'”
Meyers, 34, has also been drawing since childhood. When his dad was away on duty, Meyers and his older brother would draw pictures for him.
After graduating from Fountain-Fort Carson High School in 1991, Meyers attended Midland Lutheran College in Nebraska ” the same school, he says, the creator of Aquaman once attended. Meyers took many art classes in college, but he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in natural science.
He decided, however, against a career in science, realizing that art was his passion. He applied to art schools on opposite sides of the country ” CalArts in California and the School of Visual Arts in New York. He was accepted to both, but got “a bit fearful,” as he puts it. Instead of heading to art school, he accepted a job offer from Colorado Springs Utilities, where he had worked during his summers in college.
But his dream still called to him. For a time, he attended the Art Institute of Colorado in Denver. But Meyers, who wanted to draw, became frustrated by the school’s focus on 3-D animation.
Then came a job offer to work in comics. A friend of his had started a comic book company, MV Creations, and wanted Meyers to be MV’s marketing director. One catch: He had to move to Virginia.
He and his wife, Stephanie, who he met while attending the Art Institute of Colorado, decided she would stay in Colorado Springs while he headed east to see whether the job panned out.
“Comics is a bit of a shaky business for small publishers,” he says.
Meyers moved in late 2002. Things started off strong, but then problems began to add up for the new company. The hours were long, and Meyers missed his wife. When his father fell ill, that was the last straw, and Meyers returned to Colorado.
That’s where he found himself at the crossroads. And where he fully immersed himself in his dream.
That dream job is rewarding, but it’s not easy, Meyers says. Toiling at home, his work day begins at about 9 a.m. and may last until midnight, with breaks for lunch and dinner. He always tries to save time for his wife, though. They don’t have children, but they do have three birds ” “and they’re demanding enough,” he says.
On a good day, he’ll draw a page and a half to two pages. He used to listen to music while he drew, but it got the birds, two cockatiels and a parrotlet, too riled. So he works in silence or listens to Scripture or talk radio.
When asked to describe his style, Meyers struggles for an answer. “I guess a touch of manga,” he says, referring to Japanese comics.
Irwin, of Upper Deck, uses the word “kinetic” to describe Meyers’ work.
“He has a lot of fun on his pages,” Irwin says. “Everyone is animated and excited in his work.”
Bret Stevens, a longtime friend and fellow comics fan, says Meyers’ work continues to evolve, noting improvements in areas such as storytelling and the use of shadow.
“Comic book artists are the best artists in the world,” Stevens says, “because they have to be able to draw anything that the writer has in his imagination. I mean anything. A policeman, a gun, a guy being knocked through a building, a glass of water.”
Meyers says he gets a bit miffed by people who put down comic book art.
“We’re telling stories with pictures,” he says. “We’re basically making movies. We’re director, cinematographer, everyone all in one.”
At some point, he says, he may want to tackle his own projects, perhaps something in Christian comics. For now, he’s content refining his skills with mainstream comics. He lists Batman and Captain America as characters he’d love to tackle.
What’s ahead, he says, depends on God.
“I’m holding on tight to see what God is going to do next.”