Part of the reason for sharing this is that after the Art Of Mouse Guard came out, I realized how cathartic and rewarding for others it can be to share embarrassing older work, to show artistic development and that everyone has work they are no longer proud of.
Jesters started as Halloween costumes in 1995 Jesse cobbled together for he & I. The only store bought elements were the hats; the sashes were National Honors Society sashes, the shirts were old ones of Jesse's, and the chords were from High School Honors. After the Halloween party where these were used, I couldn't help but think that these characters would be a good starting point for a comic story. Two medieval spies, swashbucklers, and adventurers, who are loyal to the king, pose as fools to infiltrate enemy monarch's courts, and merchant's feasts in service to their king. Who would suspect the Jesters?
But, it wasn't until 2000, when Jesse started writing a script that anything more came of it. Jess had just re-read some Alexander Dumas that inspired him to craft a banter-filled story about political intrigue with the king and our heroes mistakenly jailed at the start. Jesse didn't break the script up into pages or panels, so I just started making notes on the printed script pages for where I though good breaks were or where I thought was the limit of what I could fit on a single page.
It was my first time illustrating comic pages from a written script (and echoes of this process are still with me in Mouse Guard today)
To the right are two watercolored "covers" (I don't know how I thought these could work as covers...each only showing half of the duo...and in no context...or even background.
Below are the 10 finished pages (as much as Jesse had produced script for). I was still in my phase of trying to emulate Mike Mignola's work to cover up my shortcomings at illustrating (especially when drawing people)
Now for the growth part of the post. I have no plans to do anything with JESTERS at the present time, but these old characters still rattle around inside my head and every now and then ask to be let out and updated. I find it a useful exercise (us the From the Vault tag at the bottom of this post to see more examples).
The first of these was drawn & rendered in pencil and then digitally colored and manipulated. I stuck closely here with the original designs of the characters costumes (though I avoided the Insane Clown Posse-style face paint and just hinted at the happy and sad faces a bit more subtlety.
And the second was done all in grey Copic markers (I'd originally planned to paint them in watercolor, but for some reason I broke out my rarely used markers instead) and digitally colored. Here I deviated from their original costumes, not just in style, but also in color (making a nod to the Saxon & Kenzie nature of the two)
As I said, I don't know if Jesse or I will ever do anything with Jesters, but digging out the old work, reviewing old files, and making some new artwork feels like visiting old friends.