Posted By Leo Johnson on February 1, 2013
Just Another Sheep was brought to my attention a couple of weeks ago and upon further inspection, it was wonderful. It was featured last week in the Webcomic Roundup. Just Another Sheep is the brainchild of Mat Heagerty and JD Smith and follows Banning, a teen poet who can make a person feel any experience he’s had. It’s 1967 and Banning has embarked on a journey to learn to think for himself and stop blindly trusting others. Considering the tumultuous time in which the story is set, Banning could get into any number of situations.
The comic features beautiful art that perfectly grounds the story in the time period and a wonderfully unique story that could go in any number of ways. Just Another Sheep is set to be a five issue series that will run online. Mat and JD were kind enough to answer some questions about the comic and lend a bit more insight into who they are and how Just Another Sheep came to be.
Leo: To start with, what is it that you do when you’re not making webcomics?
Mat: For money, I bartend at a dive bar in San Francisco called El Rio. I’m basically an adult baby sitter. For fun, I hang out with my best-friend-wife Blair and our black lab June Bug. I’m always writing something, drawing something or playing guitar.
JD: I think about making webcomics! I’m currently putting my all into making comics my job, so, work wise, there isn’t a whole lot else to distract me. Not that I mind. It’s fun as hell and I love to create stories.
L: Pretend we’ve never heard of Just Another Sheep. What’s your elevator pitch?
M: In 1967, during the days of free love, the Vietnam War, and the equal rights movement, a teen poet has the power to impose any feeling he’s previously experienced on anyone! Just Another Sheep is the story of Banning, the powerful poet learning (the hard way) to think for himself, instead of blindly placing his trust.
JD: I’ll leave this one to Mat, since I imagine our answers are near identical anyway.
L: What made you initially decide to do a webcomic?
M: JD Smith and Jon Cairns (Just Another Sheep‘s colorist) totally pushed me in the webcomic direction. Before working with them I really thought going to print with an indie publisher was the only way to do comics. So far I’ve loved doing Sheep this way. Everyday I get a new reward; like a new fan comment, or a few more page views. It’s exciting to see people actually reading.
JD: A long, humiliating series of rejections. Ha. Throughout my teens to now I’ve been involved in webcomics, writing and drawing a 30 issue superhero comic, drawing a couple issues of a neon noir series, and now illustrating Sheep. Online comics were once a way for me to build my skills while I waited for Image to come-a-knocking, but it’s become a promising business model in it’s own right. Most of the smaller companies don’t give you a pagerate, so to be getting the donations Sheep is getting from it’s amazing fans have been incredibly humbling.
L: Describe the process of creating the comic a bit. What does it take to get an idea from your brain on to the page?
M: At least with Sheep it goes like this… I get inspired and write a bunch at once. Then I edit what I’ve written a million times until I get to the core of what I like about the idea. Then I send the script to JD, he pencils it, inks it, and makes it look way better than I’d imagined it could. Then Renee Keyes ads flats for Jon to put some crazy good color over. (Jon also writes and draws an amazingly good comic called Alpha Flag) Then lastly, it’s on to Ed Brisson, who letters the pages. A lot of hands in this one.
JD: I believe that, while the results are on the page, the important part happens in your head. I aspire to Alex Toth, and he always said planning compositions, angles, etc, are what separates a good page from a bad one. I do a lot of thumbnail sketching – smaller, pencil versions of the pages for planning purposes – before I touch the final page and, after that, things get easier.
L: What’s been your favorite page to create so far?
M: The one I just finished.
JD: Maybe not one particular page, but issue 2 introduces a character named Coulier who has been entertaining to draw every time he’s appeared. He’s tall, swank, and mysterious – basically the polar opposite of the regular cast I’ve been drawing for the book.
L: What makes your comic different from all the others on the internet?
M: It’s better than all of them. (Can I say that?) No, seriously I think the art really sticks out and hopefully it will grab people long enough for me to tell what I hope is a fresh, fun and original story.
JD: It’s too early for me to know, honestly. Thanks to the works of everyone involved, however, I believe it’s a quality comic, and I hope people respond to that.
L: What’s been your biggest surprise or discovery since you started the comic?
M: I was surprised that there are other people just as dedicated to making it in comics as I am. JD, specifically is one hard working and mega talented dude. In a couple years I’m sure he’ll be pencilling Spider-Man or some amazing Dark Horse book. (Corny side note: I also discovered that no matter how much work I put into making comics, it never feels like work.)
JD: That strangers on the internet are willing to donate money to get an extra update. Craaazy.
L: What do you see in the future for the comic?
M: More pages, more readers, and a print version! I have us scripted out for five, twenty-two page issues with a pretty darn cool ending. If there was interest I’d love to do two more five issue trades, but that’s a bit of a pipe dream at the moment.
JD: I have complete tunnel vision toward finishing the comic and printing the trade paperback. Having a complete story in hand for people to read is really why I do this.
L: Where else can you be found on the vastness of the internet?
JD: I run a tumblr with all those other crazy kids athttp://jdmakescomics.tumblr.com/. And a deviantart with plenty of Sheep and non-sheep material to peruse. It goes from now all the way back to when I was 14, so the progression – while embarrassing – is at least interesting.http://literacysuks1.deviantart.com/
If Just Another Sheep seemed like a comic you would like, feel free to go to the siteand get up to date. If there are any webcomic creators you want to see interviewed, feel free to suggest them in the comments or on Twitter.
We were also featured in their webcomic round up!