Jack Irons: The Steel Cowboy

An interview with Cody Fernandez

You’ve read about this here comic in this article, partner. But let us dig into it some more following our chat with its creator, writer, and main current marketer, Cody Fernandez. The following is a transcript of his answers to our inquiries, interspersed with my own (hopefully pertinent and interesting) thoughts and comments on the matter.
So grab a drink and listen up ‘cause we ain’t about asking people what their favourite colour is, neither…

You’ve heard us share the tale of Jack Irons, 200-year-old dystopian cowboy, with over 2000 years of memories from past lives, but in Cody’s own words, “this comic is my exploration of human existence and a celebration of the things and cultures I grew up around and love.”
Those are strong goals for a simple comic book, but if you look no further than issue #1 of JISC you’ll see how that falls in with this train of thought. Over the course of the various timelines therein, Cody manages to make his characters endearing and tragic, as well as mark the heavy hitter moments in a very sensory manner, where you’re engaged on a visual as well as audio level, something the art helps a lot with establishing the medium and the universe.

Cody self-published his first run at JISC online, and and he admitted that the involvement and risk for such an endeavour are pretty high, but he’s very well content with that approach and the current Indiegogo campaign for #2.
“I took a huge risk putting my own money into #1, but it well paid off. It showed we could deliver and i was able to leverage that initial work into fans and later into backing for #2.”
He said he wouldn’t change much about it, “except maybe leverage the website I published #1 on a bit better by releasing pages weekly instead of the huge single dump I did.” but stresses the point that your mileage may vary and his approach may not be for everyone.

Talking about what exactly putting a comic together entails, Cody had a rather logical thing to say - if you want it done right, it’ll cost you:
“(If) you want a comic done on a budget you best be the creator and artist. It takes 1000s of dollars to get one made if you want it done right and want your artists properly compensated for good work. It took us a year to get out issue #1, but that was also done on our artist's spare time, for a lower price.”

Issue #1 of JISC was done in Black and White, which I thought worked fantastically with what was being done, and this coming from someone who’s a sucker for shiny colours and bright hues. The plans for JISC right now are that “both issues are going to be black and white. I believe that will change by the end of the campaign, but we will see. I plan to do 4 or five issues, and then release a trade paperback collecting that first arc, hopefully all in color.”
As of the time of writing, issue #1 will be fully coloured, and #2 is well on its way to get to the funding needed to make it there. What exactly is ‘there’?
Here, have a taste of what Jack can sport in full colour:

Looking into the influences behind JISC, and what Cody labeled a “huge question”, the material the comic draws upon is as varied as Jack’s previous lives.
“It came from my life and all the cultures and beliefs and awesome shows and books I've experienced. There are specific influences, and they hopefully are quite apparent. I can't answer for Maximiliano (E.N. the comic’s artist) however, but his work is amazing so i am sure his influences are as well.”
Note to self: talk to Max Dall’O about this, as well.

Going further and asking about Jack himself and what he’s built as, if he’s in any way a self insertion of the author and what archetypes he brings forward/what a protagonist needs to be compelling, Cody got specific with his fandoms: “I like Cowboys. I like mysticism. I like Sci fi. I like Mad Max. Think that answers that a bit. He doesn't look like me. Hope he is compelling.”

From the three short glimpses of past lives Jack has had, there is one constant that stands out: death. Suffering, turmoil and failure have left a big mark on the technically immortal entity, so I asked about the psychological aspects of his hero that Cody would love to delve into as the run goes on, and he underlined a few main ones:
“His extreme fear of growing close to people only to watch them die. His many facets of knowledge being applied in many different ways in a sci fi universe. I want him to come off troubled, kind, but a bit nuts.”

Of course, all that knowledge came from many timelines and happenstances, so naturally I asked how hard it got to blend them all together and still keep things going smoothly, and Cody acknowledged it was a mixture of (self evident) talent and setting the scene for it:
“Well, I have tried quite hard to blend so much together. I think that is where my talents ride as a writer. The stories are not tough to tell once I find the stories i want. The universe I made is just so easy to fit whatever into.”

Speaking about his favourite/go-to scenes and concepts, Cody said he loves “mixing classic western lines with sci fi tropes. That's really my goal. To really call back to the stories that shaped me.”, and in dealing with writer’s block in comics, “Oh, it can happen. Luckily I've had a ton of time making these so it's been re writes more than anything lately. That being said I have had some trouble when my heart wasn't into writing (...).”

When dealing with the social aspect of comics, and especially the current climate of people flinging various gratuitous labels around, I felt like Cody had a very open-minded and level-headed attitude about it, especially when dealing with the online/IRL aspect:
“Our project has been really lucky so far. Everyone around me IRL and who i have met online has been nothing but supportive. It's really been mind blowing. And to think this current climate almost kept me off social media. Which has been 100% key to our current success.”

Lastly, as we’ve made it a bit of a recurring theme around here, we asked Cody to rate The Last Jedi for us, and we weren’t disappointed with his response, even though we like to stress that there are no wrong answers in this particular case.
This one’s just more right than others:
“Couldn't finish it. Got to the casino and checked out, at that point it was a 6, but i had heard it just goes downhill from there so it would probably be a 4 by the end. I don't waste my time with anything below a 7 if i can help it.”

We’d like to thank Cody once again for his time and hope we’ve helped in shedding some more light on the project, the thoughts and processes behind not only it but publishing a comic as a small indie author, and why you’d be doing yourself a favour by going in on this particular Indiegogo campaign.

Thanks for reading and, as always, have as nice a day as you deserve!