I don’t like change.
I’m pretty open about that fact. That’s why I was such a good fit for an eight-year project like CHEW. It gave me stability that is rare in this industry, and that was right up my alley. For eight years, my daily grind was “Draw CHEW”. That’s it. It was simple, and I like simple.
But all the while, as I was hammering away at sixty issues of CHEW, there was always a thought sticking in the back of my mind, never really leaving me alone.
“You should be writing.”
Cut to January 2016. We’d always planned CHEW as a finite story, and suddenly it dawned on me that this would be the year we reached the finale. And for someone that doesn’t like change, that reality scared the crap outta me. That fear of change, ironically, was rooted in the fact that my life had, in fact, changed over the near-decade of CHEW’s creation. I began the project as a 25-year-old untested artist, who’d been married for only a year at that point. At CHEW’s end, my wife and I were just celebrating a decade of marriage with three young children. Things had changed. And the impending end of this stable gig was freaking me the hell out.
And in the middle of that freakout, that old, nagging thought got louder.
“You should be writing.”
So as I dug out all my idea lists, scribbled on Post-it notes and torn napkins, I began searching for that new thing. Creating a comic is not a whole lot different from creating a baby (though perhaps not quite as fun). You start with nothing. Then an image begins to form. Maybe just a subtle impression. But if you keep working it, eventually you might have something that has a life of its own. Still, there’s lots of random hours feeding the idea. Maybe it keeps you up some nights. Sometimes it smells funny, but you decide to love it anyway.
That’s ideas. Also: babies.
Long story short: My idea lists were full of ugly babies.
Nothing connected with me. So I shelved everything. The idea would have to appear from nothing, because that’s all I had. Nothing.
Coincidentally, that’s when the FARMHAND concept began to grow. When I gave up and stopped trying.
FARMHAND is the story of Jedidiah Jenkins, a black farmer living in Freetown, Louisiana. He’s a typical farmer, until he has a seemingly supernatural vision that instantaneously downloads cutting-edge scientific data into his brain. And from that data, the Jedidiah Seed is created. When planted and watered, that seed grows into fast-healing, hyper-customizable human organ transplants.
An organic farmer that grows human organs. It’s a little punny, but so am I.
So overnight this lowly farmer becomes a scientific trailblazer. He becomes world-renowned and rich beyond his wildest imaginings. Unfortunately, as the recipients of these plant/human transplants begin to behave a tad erratically, things begin to take on a more sinister character.
In the midst of this, Jedidiah is in the middle of reconciling with his long-estranged son Ezekiel. Ezekiel’s been gone from the family farm for almost a decade, raising a family of his own, and his return to the farm couldn’t come at a worse time. Dark things are happening in Freetown, and Jedidiah’s family will get a front row seat to what’s about to transpire.
FARMHAND is the tale of a family trying to survive as their every dark secret long buried begins to resurface with the sole intent of tearing them apart.
It’s a story that is very personal to me, and because of that, I’ve agonized over it more than anything I’ve ever made. It’s the only story I really care about telling at the moment.
FARMHAND #1 debuts July 11 from the fine folks at Image Comics. It’s a story with an ending in mind. At this point, I’ve outlined the story with 24-30 issues in mind, but that could change (particularly if there are no sales to support it). Fingers crossed.
I’ll be spilling more details about the book in the weeks to come. Already got a lot of signings and appearances scheduled, so I’ll do my best to keep this updated.
First up, I’ll be presenting FARMHAND at the Diamond Retailer Summit in Chicago next week, along with C2E2 right after. Check me out in Artist’s Alley, as I’ll definitely have some previews of the book.
And here’s some press and interviews I’ve already done for FARMHAND. These are a lotta fun.
Lastly, I just want to give a word of thanks to all the readers, retailers and publishers that have supported my career over this ten year period. You guys have been incredible, and I certainly would not be making this book without you guys behind me. I think you’re gonna enjoy this wild ride.
Now back to work,