KYN: Comic book artist creates his own heroes
 
Published Friday, April 29, 2016

by Latisha Catchatoorian 

The funny thing about comic book artist John Marshall is that he didn’t really grow up reading comics.

“My younger brother would read some comics (occasionally) but I wasn’t into them… I didn’t have an enjoyment of reading at that time in my life,” Marshall said of his youth.

Marshall picked up his first comic, with the intent to really read it, in his late twenties. An avid fan of TV shows like The Hulk, Batman and Superman, he turned to comics when he could no longer wait for new episodes or shows to be made.

“(I discovered) the comics had better story lines than the shows,” he said..

Marshall had a talent for art at a young age and got his start in the first grade. He would get paid 10 cents to 25 cents to draw pictures of “strong men lifting up heavy weights” and had an art teacher who was encouraging. But a few years later he gave up his budding interest in drawing before it had time to come to fruition.

After working several jobs over the course of adulthood, Marshall realized that regardless of whether or not he could make a sustainable living off his “doodling,” he wanted to get back to it.

Though he still works a day job, he is now an independent publisher, author and artist of his own comics. His comics feature black characters that are intelligent, educated and inspiring. Much of his inspiration comes from his son, as he creates stories with positive messages his son can learn from.

“My flagship character is called ‘The Finisher’. By day, he is Jim Mitchell, a professor of kinesiology at a college in Philadelphia. He has no superpowers, but was trained by a reclusive boxer after being beaten by bullies,” Marshall said.

Marshall also has written a children’s book called Family Adventures in Space about a father and son who build a rocket ship and fly into space at night when the son can’t fall asleep.

The process of creating his comics can take Marshall hours from start to finish, as he first draws a rough draft with paper and pencil and then goes into refining his artwork in Photoshop.

He said aside from feeding his need to be creative, he feels he is contributing something worthwhile to the narrative of African-Americans in fiction and media. He said the portrayal of smart, successful and heroic black characters in the media is lacking but who better to tell these stories than him.

“Creating and owning your creations means you can choose who the stars are,” Marshall said. “I’ve heard it said that if something doesn’t exist but should, you have to be the one to make it. I’ve become accustomed to making things that not only put African-Americans in their best light, but (also) help to create an environment where black heroes are the norm.”

Marshall’s work can be viewed and purchased at: http://www.indyplanet.us/brands/jonyxcomics/.

 

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