“30 Years of Jayson” Panel at Bent-Con in Burbank, California!
Pioneering gay comic strip Jayson is turning 30. Created by Jeff Krell on Christmas Day in 1982, Jayson features a boy from Farmville, Pennsylvania who moves the big city, earns a college degree, comes out of the closet, and waits for his life to start. Based on Krell’s years in Philadelphia as a struggling liberal arts graduate, Jayson debuted in 1983 in the Philadelphia Gay News and ran for a year before catching the attention of Robert Triptow, the editor of Kitchen Sink’s Gay Comix.
“Robert liked the strips,” explains Krell. “But he didn’t just want to reprint them. He asked me if I would be interested in writing new stories. I had just gone to my high school reunion and I thought that would make a good story.” Jayson Goes Home debuted in issue #6, launching a 15-year run of Jayson stories in Gay Comix and Meatmen.
In 1998, Krell collaborated with singer-songwriters Romanovsky & Phillips on an off-Broadway Jayson musical that divided critics but ran for 10 weeks at The 45th Street Theatre. After that experience, Krell thought he was done with Jayson. And he was – for awhile. Krell moved to Los Angeles and moved on to other forms of writing, notably screenplays. But in 2004 he visited San Diego Comic-Con for the first time and encountered Prism Comics, a non-profit that promotes the work of LGBT comics creators. Discovering Prism rekindled Krell’s interest in comics. “I’ve always loved cartooning. And I really missed my characters. Suddenly I felt like there was more of their story to tell.”
But would anyone be interested? Krell decided to find out by collecting up his old strips into two anthologies: Jayson: Best of the 80s and Jayson: Best of the 90s. With Prism’s help, Krell launched these collections to critical acclaim and robust sales in 2005. Krell felt inspired to bring his characters into the 21st century. But having grown accustomed to the larger canvas afforded by screenplays, he eschewed standalone stories in favor of original graphic novels. He has produced two so far – Jayson Goes to Hollywood (2008) and Jayson Gets a Job! (2012) – with the promise of more to come.
Krell will debut a panel called “30 Years of Jayson” at the upcoming Bent-Con (Nov. 30-Dec. 2), a Los Angeles comic-book convention devoted to LGBT creators. He will then take this panel on the road to comic-cons and Pride events throughout 2013. And if you can’t catch one of these appearances, Krell has also compiled “The History of Jayson …So Far,” a free e-book that Northwest Press is now offering on iTunes.
Jayson books are available at finer bookstores, progressive comics shops, Amazon.com, iTunes, and the Prism Comics online shop. For more information, visit ignite-ent.com.