Exclusive Interview with CITIZEN JACK Creator Sam Humphries and Artist Tommy Patterson
The creative minds behind CITIZEN JACK have given birth to a graphic masterpiece. From Jack Northworthy to Marlinspike to Cricket, together they have brought us a nightmare political landscape that is frighteningly real in its possibility.
Sam Humphries, creator and writer of CITIZEN JACK, is a comic book writer and photographer based in Los Angeles. He is currently in the process of taking over GREEN LANTERNS for DC Comics.
Tommy Patterson, the artist behind the appearance of Jack Northworthy and the malicious Marlinspike, got started on the FARSCAPE comic and has worked with George R R Martin on the GAME OF THRONES graphic novels.
Tell us about how CITIZEN JACK came to be. Where did you get this amazing idea?
(Tommy Patterson) “Sam made a deal with Marlinspike. He sent me the spell book and the characters drew themselves. I watched TV news for hours if not minutes and channeled that information to the page.”
(Sam Humphries) “There’s no special story about how I came up with Citizen Jack, except, oh, years of being pissed off at the direction of America starting with the 2000 election, through 9/11, two wars, and a culture of fear, money, and racism powering politics. This is an annotated list. Citizen Jack is an angry book.”
Any intentional correlations to the current presidential race, or was this a brainchild long before?
(Tommy) “We met in March 2014 through mutual friends and I drew three sample pages to make sure were were compatible. The first couple issues were finished before Trump entered. We fought the comparisons at first because it’s not about one guy or gal. It’s a commentary on the system. I don’t think anyone would argue the system isn’t whack. While the eerie similarities make is seem we lean one way over the other that’s not the goal.”
(Sam) “When we created Citizen Jack there were no hints that we would become political prophets. They all laughed at us. No one is laughing now! (Including me, I weep every morning.)”
Are you both active in politics?
(Tommy) “I can’t speak for Sam though obviously he is, I’m able to draw and listen to this stuff all day long. I love it. I’m a proud conspiracy loving nut. It’s the engine of history. To be honest I’m more into behind the scenes wheelings and dealings than I am surface level rhetoric. I want to know where they went to school, who their influences are, who is funding who and end goal objectives.”
(Sam) “Come on guys, let’s call a spade a spade. We’ve all heard the rumors. Well, I’m here to tell you they are NOT TRUE. I have NO plans to run for office this fall. I will be a private citizen come January 2017. This I swear!”
Who dreamed up Marlinspike? Was it a team effort or does one of you have a hidden dark side?
(Tommy) “The devil himself. I drew 20 different demons before he walked off the page and got to work.”
(Sam) “No one dreamed him up. He’s real and he’s speaking to me right now. What’s that, Marlinspike? You want me to use a bad word in the interview? If you insist…GUTS.”
There is some incredible artwork in CITIZEN JACK, especially the character of Marlinspike. How much of his appearance was your direction and how much was artistic license?
(Tommy) “We found good ol’ Marlinespike through trial and error. Sam knew what he wanted but didn’t know until he’d seen it. I tended to want him goofier looking for what ever reason but Sam wanted something creepier. We settled on a creepy look with goofy acting. [Laughs]”
Jack Northworthy goes through some interesting character development throughout CITIZEN JACK. Tell us what you can about the deeper side of Jack.
(Tommy) “Some people mean well but come off as terrible people. Some people are terrible people but come off as likable. We all have our faults. We’re all complicated. Jack is an extreme example of a terrible person that is charming and very real to me.”
(Sam) “I think we all know someone like Jack Northworthy. People who appear to be buffoons, but are one demon away from being really, really dangerous — both to themselves and those around them. And in this case, the country. Can those buffoons find the thing inside them that they’ve always been lacking, and live a life that isn’t centered around proving themselves?”
Do you think that readers of CITIZEN JACK will have a different view of the political process after reading it?
(Tommy) “I hope we aren’t preaching to the choir. The internet has allowed to people to look behind the curtains if they’re inclined. We present the smoke and mirrors they use… on? us.”
(Sam) “Let’s be real. This is a comic. I think the best we can hope for is to give people some catharsis from the political nightmare we find ourselves in. Some laughs, some thrills, and a sense that we’re all in it together. Besides, if real life doesn’t make people think differently about politics, what hope does anyone have?”
And finally, I have to know…Cricket—how did you come up with the genius idea for this character?
(Tommy) “I’ll let Sam answer this one. He’s in the middle of binge watching the Flipper box set as we speak.”
(Sam) “Cricket the Dolphin is a tragic figure. He gets no respect on cable news because he is actually intelligent. That is why Cricket the Dolphin is one of the most painfully tragic aspects of CITIZEN JACK.”