Jamal Igle never stops evolving - some fans might know him for his Supergirl run, while others for his creator-owned franchise Molly Danger. This year he's been illustrating the Black Mask Studios drama Black while working behind the scenes as the Vice-President of Marketing for Action Lab Entertainment. That's all changing, however, as Igle is getting back into the business of his own comic books.
Newsarama reached out to Igle after his resignation from Action Lab to talk about his evolution as a creator, the return of Molly Danger, as well as his own accomplishments at being healthy despite being in what could be a sedentary job of drawing comic books.
Newsarama: Jamal, what are you working on today?
Jamal Igle: Today is penciling day, so I'm working on a page for Black and finishing that up. We lost time because of New York Comic Con, so I'm trying to get caught up. We're still ahead of schedule, so that's always a big help.
Nrama: I reached out to you after you announced you were stepping down as the Marketing VP of Action Lab Entertainment. You spent three years there, doing your part in building up their line. What led to your decision to step down?
Igle: It was a combination of factors actually. First, and probably foremost was my scheduling was becoming unmanageable by my own admission. On the Action Lab end, the company has grown so much in the last three years since I came on board internally what was a part time job grew more and more. I found myself doing between 12 and 15 conventions and trade shows over the last three years on top of my normal work load. Now, these are all great things for everyone involved but I really had to make a choice, and it wasn't easy. I loved being part of the staff and learned a lot about a side of the business (distribution particularly) that you aren't privy to, even working in editorial. Unfortunately, it meant that I wasn't spending as much time at home as well.
Nrama: What knowledge from working at Action Lab do you think you'll most utilize that you're back working on your own?
Igle: Well, having had to deal more with scheduling, working with the editorial staff at Action Lab and with our account reps at Diamond being the biggest one. I have plans down the road that will include working Diamond directly at some point. The other was getting back to learning about sales within the industry, how to brand a product, and myself as a creator are huge takeaways.
Nrama: So what does this mean for Molly Danger, your creator-owned book you do at Action Lab currently?
Igle: I'm still writing and drawing Molly Danger and got delayed and want to catch up. We're working on a few Molly-related things as well, so there will be more Molly Danger in one form or another.
Nrama: Can you give us any specific details on when and what the next Molly Danger book will be?
Igle: The next book picks up after the first one, we delve into Molly's origin and introduce a few new villains as well. Molly's world will be explored and you'll see her relationship with Commander Holder, Austin and even Brian change. The when is to be determined but I'm hoping early next year.
Nrama: And you’re still doing Black, as you mentioned earlier.
Igle: Yes and having a great time doing that. I'm on for the entire six issues, and we've already started talking about the next series.
Nrama: So looking ahead now, you're 100% a creator again, right? What are your goals and aspirations moving forward?
Igle: I'm "mostly" creator owned and it's something I'd like to keep doing. I don't close doors to doing small things for other publishers but the majority of my efforts continue to be independent, creator generated material. I already have another creator-owned series in the works after I finish Black, which should get started early next year and will be coming out through Action Lab.
Nrama: Last year you said you weren't going to work on characters you didn't own anymore. Now that you're back 100% freelance, is that still the case?
Igle: Like I said, I'm "mostly" creator owned. While Black is Kwanza Osafjeyo and Tim Smith 3's baby, I have an equity agreement with them. At the same time, I don't have a problem with working on corporate brands occasionally, but in terms of what I promote as a creator, it's only things I generate. Even in my statement last year I said I'd "made a decision to be in the ‘Molly Danger Business.’” Much like a stage father, I have to groom and mold my creation to be everything I need her to be. I can’t do that, however, If I’m trying to sell prints of Batman. That still holds true with Black and any other creator-generated project I'm involved in.
Nrama: This feels like a new chapter in your life, the previous one which began when you left being a DC exclusive artist in 2012. How do you see this change in light of your career thus far?
Jamal Igle: It's certainly put me in a different category in some people’s eyes, which has been educational. My association with Action Lab certainly has helped, I think, legitimized my status as an "indy" creator. While my first work was at DC, independent comics like Billy Tucci's Shi and Alex Simmons Blackjack series is where I cut my teeth as a creator. Where my role models as a creator when I was strictly freelancing where people like Jerry Ordway and Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, My inspiration as an content generator are now Terry Moore and Mike Mignola. It's still new, so whether I'm truly successful at it or not remains to be seen. Am I making a living? Yes. Am I healthy? yes. Am I happy with the way things have worked out? Hell yes.
Nrama: You mentioned 'healthy'. I know you buckled down and made some amazing effort at weight loss and fitness. How do you feel right now?
Igle: I feel really good actually. I'm exercising almost daily and making real progress in terms of building strength and endurance. I don't want to pretend that working out is all that, because it occasionally sucks to get up as 5 a.m. At the same time, it's important. I went from being pre-diabetic, pre-hypertensive, and being on blood pressure medication to being off the meds and having a BP of 110/64. I'm shooting for a bigger goal eventually, like running a full marathon, but that's a few years away.
Nrama: And as someone who's one of the many comic creators who work in their home studio, how important is fitness and being active for comic creators? Any advice you'd give?
Igle: Extremely important, because our lifestyle tends to be so sedentary and isolating. The weight crept on and I made so many excuses for not exercising or watching my weight. I had issues with my back for a while where I couldn't walk more than a few blocks without being out of breath. I had issues with my shoulder and thought I would have to get surgery. I could at one point hear my own heart beating in my ear at night (which isn't normal) and my doctor kept pushing me to do something. I don't have any of those now, but I also acknowledge it's not something everyone can do. So my advice is "take it slow, do what you can. As long as you're active, short walk, bike ride, sports, anything, you'll help yourself in the long run."