Let’s Talk Comics, Queen Vol 1 and 2, Jamie Me
Creator and Writer: Jamie Me
Artist: Bernard Gita
Colourist: Sean Callahan
Lettering: Jaime Me
Volume 1 kicks of with a bang, no pun intended. The narrative is firmly settled in the world of British Politics and the ‘truth’ of what goes on behind closed doors. Queen 1 and 2 are very poignant especially for a British reader, but anyone coming from a country experiencing political unrest can related to what they are reading. Queen 1 and 2 is an enthralling tale full of twists, turns and secrets. You are not sure if you trust either Emily Green of the voice on the phone, which makes for an interesting change from being presented with the clear cut heroes vs villains we’re used to!
The later ‘riot’ panels in Vol 2 really struck a chord with me. I have been a part of what started as a peaceful march, but due to the actions of individuals later turned into a riot. It was a terrifying experience, the combination of political unrest and hordes of the populous feeling undervalued and unheard is a firefight waiting to happen. In times of uncertainty and a lack of trust in the governing bodies whether that be in politics, educational settings or even within your job, groups always rise up to seek out change. The changes however, are not always the result of ‘peaceful’ protests so riots spring up and activists are born.
Visually Queen is well planned, well executed and sophisticated. It is clear that Bernard Gita is a professional who takes great pride in their work. Visually it does remind me of a BBC political drama, it is clear cut and there is not an excessive use of colour. The art style combined with the narrative creates an engaging and realistic portrayal of British politics that is accessible for all, regardless of their experience with politics. I particularly liked the incorporation of James’ video game within the panels, the game James is playing reflects the socio unrest and leads us to wonder how far these riots will go before the hordes escalate the violence and it reaches un-manageable proportions.
Jaime has created a very strong, sophisticated comic where the narrative and plot combined are a fascinating satire on the political system in the UK. The narrative is full of twists and turns, the world of Queen is a living and breathing entity that we can all relate too. Jaime has weaved a tale that will have you itching for more and questioning where your loyalties lie!
Jamie has granted us a deeper look into his creative process and into his inspirations;
What drew you into the world of comics? Was there a particular comic that sticks out in your mind for kicking off the love affair?
“Sonic the Hedgehog. When we were on the way to school as a kid my Mum would buy me the comics, and I would get crazy hyped. I remember tracing the blue guy on all my books. My cousin had introduced me to the video games, and comics were a way of getting more into the franchise.
It’s cool now because I’ve passed it on to my nephew, and he loves Sonic too.”
What was the inspiration behind the creation of Queen?
Back in 2013, I believe, I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Dealing with the government appointed ATOS wasn’t a great experience, far from it, and I put my anger towards the situation into creating Queen.
Did you encounter any difficulties during the creation process?
Absolutely. I wrote Queen at a time where I found it difficult to leave the house, so writing a comic was a huge step. I had to learn everything from scratch, and I even taught myself how to letter as a way to fund the first six pages. To this day I’ve never faced as big of a challenge as I did returning to creative work post-diagnosis, and I remember that when I start to doubt myself. I’ve faced far harder challenges.
Has politics been something you’ve always had an interest in?
Tricky question. Do I follow politics? Yeah, it affects mine and everyone else’s lives, so you have to, in my opinion, have a knowledge of what is going on. Do I have an “interest” in politics? No, I’d rather not talk about them in my spare time and online nowadays. I’m an entertainer. Not a politician.
What advice would you give someone looking to break into writing comics?
Read and write comics every single day. Do that, and don’t make excuses. People will always say things like they are too busy, but few really are. You can read and write on your lunch break, on the train home or get up one hour earlier to put some work in. To do well you have to want it THAT bad.
How did you go about setting up the collaboration between yourself, Bernard Gita and Sean Callahan?
I found both online. Bernard replied to a job prompt, and Sean was part of a reddit community I post in. It all happened quite fast, if honest.
What level of involvement in the creative process/overall design of Queen?
Everything is based off the original script, and that is then backed up with folders of research. I worked extensively with Bernard and Sean for us to achieve the end result all our backers and reviewers have read. Comics is a team sport, and we were all fully onboard with that.
What are your tips for creating a successful collaboration between writers and illustrators/colorists?
As a creator and writer you need to understand your role, and to make sure you establish the correct team. If you are constantly running into issues it means that their are communication issues. Be sure to make sure that the people you work with are passionate about the story and style of art you are aiming for. It will make a huge difference.
What would you recommend as ‘starter’ titles for someone getting into comics today?
I think the key is to avoid stuff that are 100’s of issues in. I’d recommend some solid, but short, stories:
Alex + Ada for sci-fi fans. It’s a love story about artificial intelligence, and it fits in two volumes.
Ajin. If you love complex action then this is one of the best to ever do it. Immortal human beings called “Ajin” exist in the world, and Japan is about to discover their third ever. When they die they return to life moments later, and society is petrified of them.
Prophecy. A three volume action-thriller in the manga format. A masked criminal announces crimes he’ll commit on the internet, and the problem escalates quickly with support on social media. Which sounds oddly like reality doesn’t it?
What is a typical day for you?
I wake up, I eat and then I get to work. Because I do a lot of different types of jobs the real challenge is carefully balancing how much lettering, graphics and design work I do in a day with my own created works. It takes time to get used to this, but I’ve been self employed for a long time.
The key is to know that you work best well rested, and to not be pressured into working more than a normal working day would entail.
If you were not making comics what do you think your career would be?
I had a choice to make a while back. I was either going to pursue comics or grappling. I chose to do comics for my career and grappling as a hobby. If I’d have gone the other way I’d no doubt be working full-time in something else, getting beaten-up on a night and competing on a weekend.
I took the work ethic and lessons from grappling, and applied them to my entire life. I’m truly grateful to have found a hobby that has motivated me to the level it has.
Do you have any hints or tips for sticking to deadlines and seeing a project through from beginning to end?
Be realistic in what you can do, and make sure you add extra time than you need. Better to deliver earlier than late.
What in your opinion, makes a great comic?
What tools should all aspiring writers have in their tool kits?
I have a bag that always has comics in, and I take it everywhere with me. I’m ready to read or write at a moments notice. That might not sound like much, but it’s a big part of how I include comics in my life at all times.
Any tips for tackling writers block?
Honestly, I’ve never had it. When the mainstream decides I’ve paid my dues I’ll be given a deadline and I’ll get the work done. I put everything into my work, and my enthusiasm doesn’t dip. The key is to only do projects that you have passion for.
Sonic The Hedgehog, for example. Ready when you are IDW.
What upcoming comic releases are you looking forward to?
Hunter x Hunter The new editions of Slam Dunk Dr.Stone Dragon Ball Super Real
Attack on Titan Vinland Saga All-Rounder Meguru Ajin
Then I have older titles I’m reading:
Ex Machina Y: The Last Man Fight Club 2 Monster Gundam The Origin
Then I have the random stuff I just pick up at comic stores. I like rolling the dice on #1’s. Fun game.
Who would win in a fight Emily Green or Teresa May?
In a battle of politics it would all depend who had the right backing. It can’t hurt having Nidus on your side though, at all.
Are you attending any conventions this year? And which would you recommend?
I’m happy to say I’ll be selling my works at Thought Bubble this year. I’ll be sharing a table with the START AGAIN and Queen editor Archie Dait, and she’s also debuting her own book Ani Wild which she did with P.S. Brooks.
Any comic con is good too. The more support you give locally the better the scene will get. Enthusiasm for the medium is key, and that starts by going in to the shops and visiting the comic cons in your area.
Comic readers hold ALL the cards, and that’s why creators like myself need to roll out the red carpet. Hit me up at Thought Bubble in the Comixology tent at Table 60, and that’s exactly what you’ll get.
You can also subscribe to my newsletter and get access to a compilation of my webcomic, IRL, right now. Have at it.