What She Does: It's become increasingly clear that Houston is home to a lot more comic creators than I was originally aware of, and man, some of them are really, really good. Today, meet Jessi Jordan, the artistic side of webcomics like The Class. You can also find her set up at every comic convention you can hit, whether it's all over the country or right here for Comicpalooza.
Jordan has been an avid cartoon watcher and comic reader for many years and sports a BFA in 2D animation and a BFA in illustration. Despite training to be a creator of moving images, she found herself drawn much more to the process of creating the initial images and storyboarding than the finished animated product. Because of the similarities between storyboarding and comics, it was an easy leap for her to move into comics full-time in 2009. She's never looked back.
It was in 2009 that she started working with writer Jason Headley on The Class, a classic tale of young people discovering that they have superpowers. It's a hell of a book that touches deeply on the subject of teenage interactions and coming of age. After 400 pages, it's still a hell of a story and quite an accomplishment for a young artist.
Why She Likes It: "I love to draw and I also love telling stories. In my opinion, comics are the perfect marriage of the two. It's great therapy to get my own stories down on paper, and it's also an amazing and thrilling feeling to bring other people's words to life.
I also think they are great tools for getting kids into reading, especially ones who have reading disabilities. The connection of words and pictures is an invaluable teaching tool and really gets kids engaged. My mom is a reading teacher, so helping kids read is a cause that I champion."
What Inspires Her: For one so dedicated to visuals, it's words that really get the creativity going for Jordan. She listens to audio books while drawing, and is a huge science fiction fan as well as of history and mystery stories. Her appetite is voracious, though, and she'll consume anything in any genre. She's also found that beekeeping serves as a nice break to step away from the drafting table and let the wheels of creativity work. It's profitable, too, and she just had her first honey harvest.
Her artistic heroes are Faith Erin Hicks, Becky Cloonan, Craig Thompson, Kaoru Mori, Naoki Urasawa and Jeff Smith. She's also a passionate member of the underground comic community here in Houston, and like a lot of that community draws considerable strength from the support each of them offers in a common goal.
If Not This, Then What: I'd have to say a librarian. I've been working on and off in libraries since I was a little kid. My mom is a teacher and her classroom was located across the hall from the school library. After school I'd go there and help the librarians re-shelve books...I was intimately acquainted with the Dewey Decimal System by the age of five. I love helping people find books to read and enjoy. Plus, if I was a librarian I'd stock my library with a kick-ass graphic-novel section!"
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If Not Here, Then Where: Jordan has creative connections in Denver and New York City, and has visited both extensively. Let's just hope she doesn't want to get too acquainted with them to leave us.
What's Next: "I'm currently collaborating with Austin-based writer Matt Gordon on a comic called Musings, which we'll premiere this November at Austin Wizard World. I've also got something in the works with Houston writer Meredith Nudo and I'm currently writing an all-ages comic called The Adventures of Marni & Edward, which takes place in a Victorian-esque setting and is all about a girl and her best friend who is a giant Yeti."
More Creatives for 2013 (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).
Patrick Peters, architect and professor Jamie Kinosian, visual artist Paris F. Jomadiao, mixed-media artist and stop motion animator Shanon Adams, dancer James Glassman, Houstorian historian and artist Lou Vest, photographer Sara Gaston, stage and screen star Rachael Pavlik, a writer mom Ana Villaronga-Roman, Katy Contemporary Arts Museum director Erin Wasmund, actor, singer and dancer Karim Al-Zand, composer Jan Burandt, paper conservator for The Menil Collection Deke Anderson, actor Craig Cohen, hockey fan and host of Houston Matters Mauro Luna, Poe-Inspired photographer Trond Saeverud, Galveston Symphony Orchestra music director and conductor Khrystyna Balushka, paper flower child Christina Carfora, visual artist and world traveler Sara Kumar, artistic director for Shunya Theatre Kiki Maroon, burlesque clown Gin Martini, fashion designer Lacey Crawford, painter and sculptor Homer Starkey, novelist Jenn Fox, mixed media Shohei Iwahama, dancer Erica DelGardo, metalsmith Bob Clark, executive director Houston Family Arts Center Kerrelyn Sparks, bestselling romance author Lindsay Halpin, punk rock mad hatter Drake Simpson, actor Shelby Carter, Playboy model turned photographer David Matranga, actor Crystal Belcher, pole dancer Daniel Kramer, photographer Blue 130, pin-up explosion art Nina Godiwalla, author and TED speaker David Wilhem, light painter Tom Abrahams, author and newscaster Browncoat, pin-up pop artist Kris Becker, Nu-Classical composer and pianist Vincent Fink, science fashion Stephanie Saint Sanchez, Senorita Cinema founder Ned Gayle, thrift store painting defacer Sameera Faridi, fashion designer Greg Ruhe, The Human Puppet Sophia L. Torres, founder and co-artistic director of Psophonia Dance Company Maggie Lasher, dance professor and artistic director Jordan Jaffe, founder of Black Lab Theatre Outspoken Bean, performance poet Barry Moore, architect Josh Montoute, mobile gaming specialist Ty Doran, young actor Gwen Zepeda, Houston's first Poet Laureate Joseph Walsh, principal dancer at Houston Ballet Justin Garcia, artist Buck Ross, dilettante and director of Moores Opera Center Patrick Renner, sculptor of the abstract and the esoteric Tomas Glass, abstract artist and True Blood musician Ashley Stoker, painter, photographer and Tumblr muse Amy Llanes, artistic airector of Rednerrus Feil Dance Company Bevin Bering Dubrowski, executive director at the Houston Center for Photography Lydia Hance, founder and director of Frame Dance Productions Piyali Sen Dasgupta, mixed media artist and nature lover Dean James, New York Times bestselling mystery novelist Nicola Parente, abstract painter and photographer Cheryl Schulke, handmade leather pursemaker Anthony Rathbun, Alternative Lifestyle Photographer David Salinas, computer-less analog photographer Danielle Burns, art curator Alicia DiRago, Whimseybox founder Katia Zavistovski, contemporary art curator Ashley Horn, choreographer, filmmaker Amanda Stevens, scary book author Peter Lucas, film and video curator, music lover and self-described culture-slinger Ana MarÃa Otamendi, collaborative pianist and vocal coach Billy D. Washington, comedian Michele Brangwen, choreographer and dancer Kristin Warren, actress and choreographer Kelly Sears, animator and film maker Colton Berry, Bayou City Theatrics' artistic director jhon r. stronks,dance-maker Joe Grisaffi, actor, director, writer, cinematographer