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Christopher Jones Talks New “Parallel Man” Series, Working On Animated DC Comics Titles

The World’s Finest caught up with artist Christopher Jones to discuss Parallel Man: Invasion America, a new science fiction adventure comic book series from FutureDude Entertainment, and how his work on the Young Justice comic series – and other animated DC Comics titles – prepared him for this upcoming project. Jones has a long history with DC Comics, particularly when it comes to the animated adventures of the World’s Greatest Superheroes. And now, with Parallel Man: Invasion America #1 hitting shelves in comic book stores nationwide on October 8th, 2014, Jones is ready to take it to the next level. Continue on to the Q & A below to hear more from Jones himself!

The World’s Finest: First, before we go any further, can you give us a quick rundown on Parallel Man and why fans of your DC Comics work might want to check it out?

Christopher Jones: Parallel Man: Invasion America is a 7-issue mini-series about parallel worlds with a cast of great characters, lots of action and adventure, and a ton of cool gadgets and vehicles. The basic idea is that instead of a breakthrough that led to atomic weapons and power, another America breached the dimension barrier, gaining the ability to travel to parallel Earths. That America didn’t just win the war but dominated the globe, and by 2014 is known as the Ascendancy and controls an empire of 11 parallel Earths. As the Ascendency is about to move to annex our Earth, intelligence agent Nick Morgan goes rogue. He is being chased by Mackenzie Cartwright, who’s possibly my favorite character in the book.

For all the advanced technology the Ascendancy has accumulated from the worlds they’ve conquered and absorbed, their culture hasn’t really evolved since just after World War II because they’ve never really left their war footing. The Civil Rights movement never happened there. No advancement in the rights of women in their society. The general who created the dimension-hopping technology became president and founded a dynasty. The current Ascendancy president is his grandson, and his daughter Mackenzie Cartwright is his only child. She’s the heir-apparent in a man’s world, and serves as the only woman in an all-male military. Furthermore, she commands the Hellfighters – an all-black unit of commandos in the segregated Ascendancy military. It’s Mackenzie Cartwright and the Hellfighters who are sent after Nick Morgan when he goes rogue, in a chase that starts on our Earth and travels to the super-industrialized ChinaAmerica, to a world where the dinosaurs were never wiped out, and to a world where the only lifeform is a toxic fungus. And that’s just part of the first issue!

Each issue introduces new worlds and new characters, including the Scavengers – a group existing on the world that’s the dumping ground for all the undesirables from the Ascendancy worlds. We meet the Illinis Native American tribe on a world where Europeans never came to North America. And most importantly, we meet the Futurists – a group of scientists leading a resistance movement against the Ascendancy, trying to reclaim the technology they helped create from the imperialistic regime that is abusing it.

I think it’s all very cool and smart and exciting. The story is by Jeffrey Morris and Fredrick Haugen. Character designs are by myself with concept art by Eric Chu who worked on the new Battlestar Galactica, and the color on the book is by Zac Atkinson who I worked with on Young Justice.

In addition to the 7-issue comic, we’ve got games in development and are in production on a 12-minute pilot for an animated version which should be available online later in October. John Cho (Star Trek) is voicing Nick Morgan, Ming-Na Wen (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) is voicing Mackenzie Cartwright, and Lance Reddick (Fringe) is voicing Atlas, an AI assistant to Nick Morgan who becomes an interesting character in its own right. It all starts when issue #1 of Parallel Man: Invasion America launches on Wednesday, October 8th, 2014. It’s available for pre-order through Diamond now at your local comic book retailer, and will be available digitally on Comixology.

WF: How would you compare your work on Parallel Man to your previous works?

CJ: I’ve drawn different books in a wide variety of styles over the years. Many of the titles I’ve worked on in recent years which I’m best known for were based on animation properties (Young Justice, The Batman Strikes!, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes), and were drawn to resemble the show on which they were based. Other books I’ve done such as Batman ’66, Kolchak, and Re-Animator have been based on live-action films or TV shows. There I was trying to capture likenesses of lead actors and to evoke the look and feel of the show as much as possible. Other superhero comics I’ve done have been fill-ins or short one-off stories that didn’t seem well-suited for departing from what had gone before so I was just trying to draw versions of those characters that were rooted in what had gone immediately before.

So here, finally, is a chance to draw a comic that is it’s own thing. When I came onto this project there had already been some concept art done by Eric Chu (Battlestar: Galactica) and some vehicle design had been done, but I got to design all the characters from scratch, as well as uniforms, locations, props, all kinds of things. I’ve said that my Young Justice work was moving in the direction of being in “my own style” while still being anchored by the character designs from the show. Here now is a chance to see what my own style looks like unfiltered by other artists’ designs from an animated TV show!

And this is a sci-fi series about traveling to parallel worlds, so there’s been a lot of fun design work to be done in creating the different locations the story takes us to.

WF: Parallel Man is currently undergoing a bit of a media push, with games, soundtracks and merchandise. Can you explain to us the appeal of this character and why he deserves a little attention?

CJ: We’ve got a number of characters, actually. Despite the very singular-sounding Parallel Man title, even our lead character has two different aspects in this story! We are introduced to Nicholas Morgan (our Earth’s version of agent Nick Morgan). Nicholas is for from a super-spy; he’s a gamer geek who lives with his Grandfather Tobias, who has a connection to the Futurists and may just be the key to everything that is happening.

Parallel Man is packed with so many interesting ideas! The parallel worlds concept gives us so much to explore and has such limitless possibilities. So yes, we’re doing a 7-issue comic book mini-series to begin with. If it’s successful, we’d love to continue on from there. FutureDude is also developing a collectable deck card game and a mobile device/tablet game that are based on the concepts of Parallel Man and based on the look of the comic.

I also got to help develop and do storyboards for a 12-minute animation being produced as a pilot for the animated Parallel Man TV series we’d love to do. After years of clarifying that I worked on the Young Justice comic book but not on the TV show, I’d finally be able to say “Yes, I worked on the show!” The animation pilot will be available on-line in October, and a trailer is available right now.

WF: For fans who know you just from your animated comic work, why do you think they should give your work on Parallel Man a shot?

CJ: I think we’ve got a great-looking book with a ton of story packed into every issue. And if they liked my art on comics based on animated TV shows, here’s a chance to be a fan of the comic before the TV show happens! “Hey, I was a fan of Parallel Man before it was cool!” (Too late, it’s already cool.)

WF: Do you see a natural evolution to your artwork and storytelling abilities, looking at your older work to now? Do you tell stories differently (more panels, less, and so forth)?

CJ: So much changes depending on the needs of a particular project. The first issue of Parallel Man was already fully scripted when I came on board, with the rest of the series existing as an outline. For subsequent issues I’ve been doing layouts based on those outlines, giving me much more control over the visual storytelling. I’ve been trying to give the visuals a really cinematic flavor and have tried to limit the number of panels per page. Every time we go to a new location I try to do a big cinematic establishing shot, but it’s a real balancing act. We cover a lot of story in each issue and each page has to move the story forward.

But I think the projects I’ve done in the past have definitely had a lasting influence on my style and how I tell a story. My work has definitely become much more dynamic and expressive since doing so much animation-based work. A cartoonier drawing style I really think lets you focus more attention on the composition and design of a page. I like my action scenes to really move.

WF: How do you compare some of your earliest gigs to your current and upcoming work? Is it hard to believe just how far you’ve come in the last decade (give or take)?

CJ: It’s been a strange career trajectory if you go back more than a decade to my pre-DC Comics work. I started out drawing a lot of crime, horror and adventure comics. I really don’t have any professional superhero credits before the work I did for DC and Marvel. I was doing stuff like the Re-Animator movie adaptation, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and some other properties you likely wouldn’t know. The thing that got my foot in the door at DC were some samples I’d done for Warner Brothers Animation, which got me some fill-in work on Young Heroes in Love, a series DC was doing that was drawn in a fairly cartoony style. And that let to more and more in the same vein. And while I love all that material, especially The Batman Strikes! and Young Justice, I was getting to be known pretty exclusively for that kind of thing. It’s like getting typecast as an actor. You might be able to play more than one kind of role, but if that’s all you ever get offered, it’s all you’ll ever get the chance to do. So it’s exciting to get a chance to do something that’s removed from all that both in terms of visual style and subject matter.

WF: The Young Justice fanbase has been really loyal to the creators involved in both the television series and supporting comic. What is it about the characters and the fans that inspire such loyalty?

CJ: Aside from just being really well done, Young Justice offered strongly character-driven writing that with rich relationships between the characters. You saw those characters and relationships tested and changed by the adventures they had. That encourages a degree of investment in those characters from the audience you don’t often get in superhero material. Young Justice also had a remarkably large and diverse cast of characters – ethnic diversity and really strong female characters which is much rarer than it should be. When someone sees themselves represented in the cast of a show that’s huge. Young Justice offered a lot on so many levels. I was a huge fan of the TV show and was really proud of the work we did in the companion comic as well.

I really love the Young Justice fans. Meeting the Young Justice cosplayers and other fans as I travel to conventions continues to be such a joy for me. It’s really the gift from my association with that series that keeps on giving.

WF: Can you give us a rundown of your upcoming convention appearances? Let us know where we can find you!

CJ: Here are the rest of my appearances for 2014:

Cincinatti Comic Expo
September 19-21, 2014 – Cincinnati, OH

MCBA FallCon Comic Book Celebration
October 4, 2014 – St. Paul, MN

New York Comic Con
October 9-12, 2014 – NYC, New York

Grand Rapids Comic-Con
November 21-23, 2014 – Grand Rapids, MI

You can always find a list of my upcoming appearances at my official website.

WF: To wrap this up, can you give us one last sell on why Parallel Man: Invasion America #1 must be checked out when it hits shelves on Wednesday, October 8th, 2014?

CJ: The artwork is by my with color by my Young Justice collaborator Zac Atkinson. I think we’ve got some amazing world-building with a series jam-packed full of action and sci-fi concepts. And did I mention that the leader of the Futurists is a parallel world version of Carl Sagan, and that Carl’s real-world son Dorion Sagan is our scientific advisor for the comic book? It’s pretty cool stuff.

If you can’t find Parallel Man at your local comic shop, ask them to order it through Diamond. Otherwise, you can get it in digital form through Comixology! You won’t be disappointed!

Thanks for your time, Chris!

Parallel Man: Invasion America #1 is will be available at comic shops and for digital download on Wednesday, October 8th, 2014, from FutureDude Entertainment. The title currently is available for pre-order. Further updates on Jones and his assorted projects can be found at Christopher Jones Comic Art & Illustrations Blog.

Stay tuned for further updates right here at The World’s Finest!

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Christopher Jones Discusses The “Young Justice – Volume Four: Invasion” Comic Collection

Last week saw the release of the new Young Justice – Volume Four: Invasion trade paperback collection, courtesy of DC Comics and DC Entertainment, to comic book stores and hobby shops everywhere. Now the collection is set to hit regular retail and book chain outlets starting tomorrow, Tuesday, December 17th, 2013. In this latest collection, the Team adds to its ranks in an effort to battle the impending invasion by The Collector of Worlds. Young Justice – Volume Four: Invasion collects the final six issues of the acclaimed tie-in comic series, issues #20 – 25, written by Greg Weisman with art provided by Jones. Jones took a few minutes to talk to The World’s Finest about this new collection and how Young Justice has managed to keep its fanbase strong.

WF: Young Justice – Volume Four: Invasion collects the final story arc for the Young Justice comic series. Care to tell us some of your favorite moments from the issues included in this trade – in terms of story and perhaps of your own work?

Christopher Jones: I’d really enjoyed all the stories we’d done in the Young Justice comic up to this point, but with the “Invasion” storyline it really felt like we’d ramped up to something bigger and more pivotal. I’d been the one to suggest Superboy meeting Clark Kent and having that give Superman a chance to get to know his clone/sibling without the pressure of Superboy’s expectations of him, so those sequences were fun to do. I really enjoyed getting to show Blue Beetle’s introduction to the team, and the beginnings of Miss Martian’s relationship with La’gann. I also had a great time with the Nightwing sequences that bookended this storyline (Dick Grayson you dawg!). And of course I was always excited by any opportunity to do new character designs and this storyline introduced several characters into the Young Justice universe who hadn’t already been designed for the show – most notably Kylstar, Deadshot and the Collector of Worlds (our version of Brainiac)!

WF: Young Justice tied very closely to the animated source material. What type of pros (and maybe cons?) came from having this comic so tightly affiliated with the cartoon?

CJ: I didn’t really see any downside, as I was such an admirer of the cartoon both in it’s conceptualization of the characters and their visual design. Phil Bourassa and his team did gorgeous designs that were a really comfortable fit for my own drawing style. And thanks to co-producer Greg Weisman writing the comic, not only the the storylines of the comic and the show tightly interwoven, but I always had easy access to all the visual reference I needed.

The only negative that came from the comic being based on the show was that because it was based on an animation property, DC Comics insisted that it be labeled as a kids book, which meant that it was segregated from the “mainstream” DC superhero titles in the solicitations and by most retailers, so I don’t think it ever got the amount of promotion and exposure it deserved.

WF: The Young Justice comic series definitely went out with a bang, thanks to this story. What would you have liked to have explored in future arcs if the comic continued?

CJ: We never got to do the Marvel Family storyline that Greg was planning, which would have told Captain Marvel’s origin and would have introduced Mary Marvel and Freddie Freeman as a version of Captain Marvel, Jr. It would have been fun to explore more of the 5-year gap, but at some point you have to stop obsessing over those gaps and turn your eyes to the future. The thing I’d have most liked to do was use the comic to tell the stories that went untold when Cartoon Network declined to greenlight a third season of episodes. That could still be done, and I’d love to see Young Justice return with “Season Three” stories as one of DC’s digital tier titles.

WF: You’re very active in the Young Justice fan community – interacting with fans, doing sketches, and so forth. What do you find to attractive and welcoming about the fan community? Why do you think it continues to be so strong?

CJ: Why would I not want to be involved with the amazing fan base Young Justice has out there? When I was drawing The Batman Strikes! there was nothing like the response I saw online to Young Justice. I don’t know how much of that is the difference in the fan base versus how much more developed social media is now, but Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter makes it so much easier for fans to share their passion for the show and it’s characters. I’ve had a great time interacting with Young Justice fans, and expect I’ll continue to do so online and at conventions for a long time to come!

WF: If fans want to see more of Young Justice, be it as digital comics and so forth, what would you encourage them to do?

CJ: I wish I had more faith in petitions and letter-writing campaigns, but the reality is that the powers-that-be are well aware that Young Justice has fans and don’t need to be convinced of that. What they need to be convinced of is that there is more money to be made by producing more of Young Justice in some form. That’s just the reality of the business. So the best way to lobby for more Young Justice is with your spending dollar.

Both seasons of Young Justice are available on DVD.

All 26 issues of the Young Justice companion comic have now been collected in four volumes.

The Young Justice: Legacy video game is available through several channels, and there is a Young Justice soundtrack CD.

Now, does this mean that you need to sell your possessions and go to loan sharks to raise money to buy Young Justice stuff? No. But you could do what I’m doing this year and giving Young Justice for Christmas (or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, or Flying Spaghetti Monster Day) this year. It’s a double-win: You generate sales for the Young Justice property and grow the fandom!

Please support your local retailers. If they don’t have your Young Justice item in stock, ask if they can order it for you. If all else fails, you can always get the products from online retailers such as Amazon.com.

And writing to Cartoon Network or DC Comics to tell them you’d like to see more of Young Justice certainly can’t hurt, it just doesn’t carry as much weight as do Young Justice sales. And remember, when writing either company stay polite and positive! Focus on what you’d like to see them do, as attacking them for decisions you didn’t like just turns them off and doesn’t support your cause!

WF: To shift gears for a moment, can you give us a rundown on your upcoming projects? Let us know!

CJ: I just did a 2-part story for Batman ’66 featuring False Face. I’m a huge fan of the Adam West Batman series so that was a ton of fun! The digital version of those stories is already out, and the print version will be coming out in January. And now I’m hard at work on another mini-series that hasn’t been announced yet. It’s a science fiction property and hopefully would hold some appeal for fans of my Young Justice work, and I’ll have plenty more to say about it once I can talk about it publicly, so watch my social media for announcements!

WF:Last question – can you tell us why fans should rush out and pick up Young Justice – Volume Four: Invasion?

CJ: It was a great last hurrah for the comic book series, and great sales would be the best possible argument to convince DC Comics to produce more!

Check out the Christopher Jones Comic Art and Illustration Blog for more from Jones. Links to an assortment of his social media sites can also be found at his blog.

Young Justice – Volume Four: Invasion, currently available at hobby and comic book stores nationwide, will hit book store chains and larger retail outlets starting tomorrow, December 17th, 2013. Cover price for the comic book collection is $12.99US. Check out the The World’s Finest Young Justice subsite for more details and content from the acclaimed animated series.

Stay tuned for further updates and coverage here soon at The World’s Finest.

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Now available for Playstation 3, XBox360, Nintendo 3DS and Steam!

View the “Young Justice: Legacy” trailer by clicking the images above!

New “Young Justice – Volume Four: Invasion” Comic Collection Now Available

The Young Justice – Volume Four: Invasion trade paperback collection, released by DC Comics and DC Entertainment, is now available at comic book stores and hobby shops. In this latest collection, the Team adds to its ranks in an effort to battle the impending invasion by The Collector of Worlds and Brainiac. Young Justice – Volume Four: Invasion collects the final six issues of the acclaimed tie-in comic series, issues #20 – 25, written by Greg Weisman with art provided by Jones. Cover price is $12.99. Click on the thumbnail below for a closer look at the front and back cover to the collection, along with the official synopsis for the release.

YOUNG JUSTICE – VOLUME FOUR: INVASION
Written by: Greg Weisman
Art by: Christopher Jones
Cover by: Christopher Jones

It has been more than five years since Dick Grayson and his young hero friends first joined together to help the Justice League, but their biggest battles are still to come. To prepare, the Team has been recruiting. Now, newer heroes like Batgirl, Beast Boy, Wonder Girl, Lagoon Boy and Bumble Bee fight and train alongside veteran members Nightwing, Superboy and Miss Martian. The extra help will definitely be needed when the world’s most powerful super heroes abruptly vanish. With half the Team trapped under a force field covering all of Metropolis and the other half trying desperately to rescue them, Earth’s young heroes are about to face their greatest threat yet … Brainiac!

Cover Price: $12.99

Check out the The World’s Finest Young Justice subsite for more details and content from the acclaimed animated series. Stay tuned for further updates and coverage here soon at The World’s Finest.

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Click here to discuss “Young Justice: Legacy”
Now available for Playstation 3, XBox360, Nintendo 3DS and Steam!

View the “Young Justice: Legacy” trailer by clicking the images above!

Final Trade Dress For “Young Justice – Volume Four: Invasion” Comic Collection

The World’s Finest has a look at the final trade dress for the upcoming Young Justice – Volume Four: Invasion comic book collection, hitting comic shops and hobby stores on Wednesday, December 11th, 2013. The image was provided by Young Justice comic book artist Christopher Jones. Young Justice – Volume Four: Invasion collects the final six issues of the acclaimed tie-in comic series, issues #20 – 25, written by Greg Weisman with art provided by Jones. Click on the thumbnail below for a closer look, along with official product details provided by DC Comics.

YOUNG JUSTICE – VOLUME FOUR: INVASION
Written by: Greg Weisman
Art by: Christopher Jones
Cover by: Christopher Jones

In this action-packed collection from issues #20-25 of the all-ages series, Young Justice adds to its ranks in an effort to battle the impending invasion by The Collector of Worlds and Brainiac!
Release Date: December 11th, 2012
Cover Price: $12.99

Check out the The World’s Finest Young Justice subsite for more details and content. Stay tuned for further coverage on the upcoming Young Justice – Volume Four: Invasion comic book collection release here soon at The World’s Finest.

Discuss this in The DC Animation Forum!

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Click here to discuss “Young Justice: Legacy”
Now available for Playstation 3, XBox360, Nintendo 3DS and Steam!

View the “Young Justice: Legacy” trailer by clicking the images above!

Details For November 2013 Issue Of “Beware The Batman” Comic, Upcoming “Young Justice” Collection

DC Comics has officially announced details for the November 2013 issue of Beware The Batman, the new monthly comic series. The comic title is based on the new Cartoon Network animated series of the same name. Beware the Batman incorporates Batman’s core characters with a rogue gallery of new villains not previously seen in animated form. Along with backup from ex-secret agent Alfred and lethal swordstress Katana, the Dark Knight faces the twisted machinations of Gotham City’s criminal underworld. The comic book will feature rotating artists and writers providing stories based on the continuity of the new DC Nation CG-animated cartoon. Continue below for further details.

BEWARE THE BATMAN #2

Written by MATT MANNING
Art and cover by DARIO BRIZUELA
On sale NOVEMBER 27 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED E

Professor Pyg has planned a series of heists—and Batman needs reinforcements! But even as Alfred and Katana take on two of Pyg’s targets, the Professor himself careens around the city, threatening the lives of a young boy and his parents. Will Batman rescue him in time?

Stay tuned for further coverage on this upcoming monthly comic series here soon at The World’s Finest. Additional content on this animated series can also be found on the The World’s Finest Beware The Batman subsite.

DC Comics also release official details for the fourth and final Young Justice comic book trade collection, slated to hit shelves in December 2013. The trade release collects the final six issues of the Young Justice comic series based on the fan-favorite acclaimed animated series.

YOUNG JUSTICE VOL. 4: INVASION TP
Written by GREG WEISMAN • Art and cover by CHRISTOPHER JONES
On sale DECEMBER 11 • 128 pg, FC, $12.99 US

In this action-packed collection from issues #20-25 of the all-ages series, Young Justice adds to its ranks in an effort to battle the impending invasion by The Collector of Worlds and Brainiac!

Check out the The World’s Finest Young Justice subsite for more content on this animated series. Keep on eye on The World’s Finest for further news and exclusive content!

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