My interview today is with Mama’s Boyz creator Jerry Craft who was born in the Washington Heights section of New York City. He won his first art contest in third grade and remembers as a youth creating comic strip versions of movies he saw to send to his brother who was a marine stationed in Japan.
He has worked on various comics and graphic novels including six issues of Sweet 16 for Marvel Comics, four issues of New Kids on the Block, three Mama’s Boyz graphic novels/anthologies as well as illustrations for seven children’s books. He has also had his work in two Chicken Soup for the Soul books as well as the newly released Moving Diversity Forward published by the American Bar Association.
The first comic he worked on was with Barbara Slate who created the “Sweet 16” series. She taught him a lot of what he knows today.
In 2006 he decided that it was time to work on his own series. He left his job as an editorial director of Sports Illustrated for Kids and started his Mama’s Boyz series.
List of awards:
- Three African American Literary Awards for Best Comic Strip
- Profile Magazine Award of Excellence (2009)
- 2007 “Conversation Starter Award” from the DC Campaign to Prevent Teenage Pregnancy
- Two ADA Outstanding Supporter Awards from the American Diabetes Association
- National Cartoonists Society Award Nominee (2000)
- Glyph Award Nominee
First let me thank you for taking time to do this interview. You have a very vibrant and fun illustration style. Where did the style for Mama’s Boyz come from?
It actually was a long time in the making. For years I didn’t have a style of my own because I always had to match someone else’s style. Then it just evolved over time. The way the characters look in my first book are really different than how they look now.
Can you describe for us your start to finish process when working on a comic strip?
I start with the idea, which usually just pops into my head as I’m going about my day. I never sit down to actually think of ideas. Then I do a rough sketch where I work out the dialogue and what pictures I’m going to draw. Then I do my final version on a nicer grade of paper. Finally, I scan it and color it in Photoshop. Then I email it each week to newspapers around the country. And I’m always looking for new clients.