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Talking "Jail Bait and Trailer Trash" With Justin Gray

Written by  Published March 2, 2017 02:19
When you hear, Jail Bait and Trailer Trash, you might be thinking that your sister's boyfriend finally wrote his family's memoires, but it's actually something much better than that. Jail Bait and Trailer Trash is a collection of short stories in graphic novel format, written by Justin Gray.

You may have heard of Justin Gray before and most likely have already enjoyed some of his work. For well over a decade he has been writing, co-writing and creating comics and graphic novels. Some of which are; Monolith, Jonah Hex, Power Girl, Batwing and All-Star Western to name a very few. Gray is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to get his latest work funded and in the hands of readers.

jailbait 13ColorsGray describes the three stories as, “engaging tales about people facing moral dilemmas, adversity, confronting prejudice, falling in love and struggling with the inevitable change that comes with age.” He goes on to describe each story in the book. “Suburban Infidels is a darkly humorous tale of a middle-aged son taking custody of his estranged mother's remains and coming to grips with her mental illness and the darkness of their shared past. An Obscure and Vanishing Tribe looks like it's going to be a good read. It looks like your ignorant Uncle Bob going off on a politically fueled tirade at Thanksgiving dinner, but it's great because you're not actually related to this guy. Gray describes it as, “a racist and misogynistic alcoholic named Ben tried to play cupid to a Korean American bartender in love with his African American co-worker”. The book is rounded off with Jail Bait and Trailer Trash, a story that is, “a high octane teenage lesbian, spaghetti western set in the modern world”.

Justin was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions about this project.

 

JK: First off I have to congratulate you, you've been fairly busy. I've been reading Filthy Human Overlords and The Adventures of Penelope Hawk which leads me to the first question; what kind of story are you telling this time?

JG: Thank you, Jess. I hope you’re enjoying those books! JB&TT is a collection of short stories that are very different in style and tone from most of my other work. The closest comparison are the stories I wrote for the two volumes of Sex and Violence that Jimmy Palmiotti and I co-created. There are three distinct stories with three very different artists dealing with mature themes.

 

JK: Your description of the book says it's for mature readers, do you have to be a certain age in order to back the project?

JG: Yes, think of it as content you would find on a premium cable channel as opposed to commercial TV. There is some nudity, violence, language and so on. It isn’t excessive it just suits stories that are in the book.

 

 

JK: You say these stories are a progression of the stories you wrote in Sex & Violence, is that title available for readers who want to start there first? Do they need to read S&V first in order to understand SI PG09 Letterswhat's going on in JB &TT?

JG: Nope, these are all unique standalone stories and I would say the major difference between JB&TT and the Sex and Violence stories is just genre. While both stories I wrote for S&V are genre pieces focusing on crime and war, these new stories focus on the lives of the characters in real or surreal circumstances. One big influence on the main story is David Lynch’s Wild at Heart, the adaptation from Barry Gifford’s Sailor and Luna stories.

 

JK: How do you decide on which artists you work with?

JG: I look at style and storytelling. What is the mood of the work? What kind of story do I believe suits this art? There are a lot of artists but not a lot of storytellers. Comics are meant to be an experience not a portfolio of figures. All three artists are very unique with different styles and outlooks. David Brame has great character work and there’s almost a jazz quality to his style. Jhomar Soriano has just enough Eduardo Risso in his work that it made sense to pair with him on the title story. Because Suburban Infidels is a more personal story I knew Paul Tucker would really capture the atmosphere and tone while maintaining a kind of dreamlike quality with his color palate. The stretch goal artists are also phenomenal.

 

 

JK: What made you decide to colour pages and do lettering on this latest endeavour? Is it something you've done before or did you learn how to do it for this project?

JG: This book has been a labor of love born from a need to challenge myself creatively. The stories in JB & TT were among those I normally wouldn’t try to publish. What I mean is that I write a lot of material for myself and some of it isn’t commercial or at least not in the current market so I finish it and store it. Since I decided to do this I thought I would attempt to color some of the line art. That meant I had to teach myself how to color. It was not easy and I knew that going in. I have serious limitations but I also have a passion for these stories and I felt I could make up for some of my weaknesses by channeling emotion. I agonized over every panel and deleted countless layers in Photoshop. I’ve started entire pages over three or four times. I also had to learn how to prepare the files so at that point Lettering the pages was just another thing to learn.

 

Tribe LetteringPG08JK: How intimidating is it to put your project on Kickstarter?

JG: It can be very stressful and there’s a considerable amount of room for doubt. I spent a lot of time with my cursor hovering over the send button. You worry that you’re going to miss something. You double and triple check your numbers and then you check them again. I’ve tried to learn from projects that went unfunded, but there are no guarantees for success.

 

 

JK: Is there any particular reason why you do a Kickstarter campaign rather than going the traditional publishing route?

JG: I’ve spent a number of years co-creating and working on books that have high concept and commercial appeal. I’ve done work for most of the major publishers of genre comics. The Monolith is one that people know about but there are others in the works. This is not a book mainstream publishers or even some indie publishers would see generating enough revenue to make it worth their expenses to produce it. However, I do believe there are enough people that will enjoy this book to potentially Kickstart it. These stories are different and at times much more personal than anything I’ve put out there.

 

 

JK: There are about 20 days left on this campaign, when do you get nervous about reaching your goal?

JG: I was nervous months before I launched. It is a constant battle to stay on point and focused. I’m nervous right now, but I’m also positive and excited to see if it can reach the goal.

 

 

JK: What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?

JG: Right now, my main focus is in hopefully getting JB&TT funded and off to the printer. The plan moving forward is to finish a science fiction novel I’ve been working on called Immersion. I originally wanted to do Immersion as an ongoing comic series but it is so big and would require such an investment of cash to secure the right art team that it seems unlikely to take that form.

 

 

The campaign runs until March 24, 2017 and with a mere $5 pledge you can get a digital version of the book. Sixty four pages of great story telling for less than a good cheeseburger or a badly brewed pint of microbrew! You can certainly pledge more for greater “rewards” like a printed version and posters. Justin Gray has been a part of nine successful Kickstarter campaigns that delivered highly entertaining content and you should expect nothing less from this latest campaign. 

Jessica Kirby

It was a cold winter day when we had decided to play hide-n-seek in the house. I hid in a dark closet in the attic. That's where I found my first comic book. I have never returned from that dark closet in the attic. They have tried to drag me back into the light. But they cannot. I will forever be on the DarXide.

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