Company: Terminus Media
Job Title & Description: Freelance Writer
Jamie: How long have you been working in the comics industry?
Robert: 9 years
Jamie: Describe why you chose the industry and the path you took to get there (education, internships, etc.).
Robert: Writing has always been sort of a first love, which ran in tandem with me reading A LOT. I knew that I wanted to write professionally in some form or fashion, so once I started college at Georgia State University I began writing for our school newspaper (GSU Signal) and web magazine (Rampway.org, R.I.P). While there I interned at the Clayton Leader Newspaper, and upon graduating I began freelancing for The Atlanta Voice Newspaper, which led to a lot of other gigs.
I’ve always felt that building up your portfolio is essential when pursuing writing as a full time, or heck, part time career. Published work can show prospective employers that you’re capable of doing the work, on time, and on a variety of fronts. That’s the mindset I had once I got out of college, and it’s worked out so far.
Once I’d built up my portfolio, I approached Terminus Media about writing comics at a convention we have down here called Dragon Con. Since then it’s been a steady flow of opportunities including client work (including co-writing animated motion comics for the Centers for Disease Control), working on Terminus Media published titles such as Radio Free Amerika and Terminus Team Up, and writing my own creator owned series, Route 3.
Jamie: What have been some of the highlights of your career/current job or project so far?
Robert: When working at the Atlanta Voice Newspaper I won the 2008 Miller Brewing Company A. Philip Randolph Messenger Award/ Journalism Award of Excellence in the field of AIDS/Health. On the comic’s front, the publication of Route 3 has been a personal source of pride for me, so I consider that to be a highlight.
In 2014 Route 3 # 2 won the Glyph Comics Award for Best Cover, courtesy of the awesome work of Anthony Piper. I was also nominated for the Glyph Comics Rising Star Award in 2012 along with B. Robert Bell for my work on Radio Free Amerika.
Jamie: What are your thoughts about the representation of Black people and people of color in comics? Is it getting better? Do we still have a long ways to go?
Robert: On the independent side, I think that things are excellent. In mainstream comics, I feel that they’re playing catch up to a certain extent. I never want to discount what larger companies like Marvel and DC are doing, and have done on this front. I grew up reading Marvel. The Amazing Spiderman, 90’s era X-MEN, and Generation-X were comics that I grew up with. X-MEN boasted a helluva diverse cast, and I enjoyed that. I still read Marvel and DC books.
But when my dad introduced me to Milestone Media, to put it simply, my mind was blown. The creative teams, including the folks behind the scenes of Milestone, helped me to realize that EVERYONE could be represented in the world of comics. Both in production, and within the pages. In well written, awesomely drawn stories. EVERYONE.
And that’s stuck with me. The older I got, the more I found myself seeking diversity in characters, the types of stories being told, the folks telling the stories, and themes within the pages of comics.
So yeah, there’s a big push for diversity nowadays in comics, and maybe that’ll level out the playing field. But I don’t expect the big two to match the strides that indie comics have made when it comes to providing better representation for all readers. I hope they do, but I’m not waiting.
Jamie: Any links to past/upcoming projects or a portfolio you’d like to share?
Robert: Here’s a link to my personal website at robertkjeffrey.wix.com/robertkjeffrey, where you can find information about myself and upcoming projects. I’m also a regular contributor for Tessera Guild, and you can link to my posts at http://tesseraguild.com/robert-jeffrey-ii.
Jamie: What comic books are you currently reading?
Robert: Funny enough I recently started reading a Marvel book for a comic book reading club I’m a part of. Its Kevin Grevioux’s run on Blue Marvel which I’m enjoying. I’ve also started David Walker’s Cyborg, and am re-reading Geoffrey Thorne’s Prodigal: Egg of First Light and his run on Lion Forge’s Knight Rider. Also doing my annual read through of Greg Rucka’s Queen and Country series. For me, it’s always a mix of old and new.
Jamie: Any advice you’d like to pass along to someone interested in the comics industry?
Robert: I always steal from Nike on this one, but I’ll say it again: Just Do It. If you draw, draw. If you write, write. If you color, color. If you ink, ink. Same goes for lettering, editing, etc. Study your craft as much as possible, network, take advice, forget the haters/ naysers, create, and just grind.
And believe me it’s going to be difficult. Extremely so, at times. But if you want it, just keep shooting for it.
Jamie: Are you attending any events or participating in any panels in Spring/Summer 2016?
Robert: Still mapping out the schedule for next year, but definitely will share details soon. For the remainder of 2015, Dragon Con is a big one for me, with it being in my backyard (Atlanta, GA). I’m also planning on attending the Diamond Retailers Summit, and then rounding out things with the Urban Axis Indy Con in October, where I’ll be participating in panels.
Jamie: Any last notes or information you’d like to include?
Robert: I just wanted to say thanks for the opportunity to speak with your website. Having places like this is extremely helpful in spreading the word for a lot of creators/ projects that deserve more attention. And to potential readers: try something outside of the norm. You’ll find some stuff you like, and maybe other things you don’t. But believe me, there’s a lot of quality work out there ripe for the picking.
I’d start with Route 3, The Gilded Age, and Radio Free Amerika at http://www.terminusmedia.com/store/ but I’m kind of biased.
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