STEPHENS Jason (Jay)
Oddville, Art Ick Productions , July1996.
Born 22 March 1971 in Toronto and currently living in Guelph (2018)
His first published effort was the cartoon strip “Oddville” which appeared in the alternative newspapers, Motive, [Guelph], Voice [Montréal], Nu-City, [Albuquerque], Mad Planet, [New York], and The Stranger [Seattle]. These strips were collected into Oddville: The Complete Strips, published July 1996 by Art Ick Productions, of Guelph. It has since been reprinted by Oni Press and Adhouse Books.
In 1992, a whole new set of his creations appeared in the graphic periodical SIN published by Tragedy Strikes Press. We are introduced to “Land of Nod”, “Badman”, “Sinister horde” in addition to an array of quirky other characters and stories. See the GALLERY below. All of these serials and stories were loosely connected. The suggestion was they were all dreams out of the head of Jason. The title of the periodical is a comment on Jason’s playfulness and ambiguity. Does he want us to take the title at face value, although there is little “sin” in the periodical. Is this a play on his signature which is “SIN”. Or, is both the title and his signature taken as suggested in the “Letter Section” from the first three letters of “sincerely” and is a short form for “sincerely Jason”.
With the conclusion of SIN 5, the series was restarted as SIN Comics, now published by Black Eye Productions probably a reconstructed Tragedy Strikes Press. “The Land of Nod” survived into the new periodical but the serials “Badman” and “Sinister horde” were replaced by a single new serial called Tales of Atomic City featuring “Big Bang”. Had Jason tired of them? Were they only exploratory features in the first place? They show neither the accomplishment nor confidence that the new serial shows with its bold lines and sharply contrasting blacks and whites. Were these dropped serials actually some of Jason’s very early efforts gathered into SIN? Is SIN Comics actually a reflection of his then current work?
Perhaps the best application can be found in the evolution of Jason’s use of his own persona in these features. Jason opens SIN, 1, with a page introduction in which his character “Nod” saws open his head to show us what’s inside. What follows is a “Land of Nod” episode. The next episode, introduces us to “Badman” who is Jason in costume. What follows throughout the SIN issues is an ambiguous mixture of autobiography and imagination. Apparently “Badman’s” first cartoon effort “Coxwell the Badly Drawn Ghost” refers to Jason’s own first effort. “Badman” relationship to “Superb Woman” including his confession about being a cartoonist followed by absurd justifications, seems to be an absurdist comment on Jason’s own relationship with the woman he loves and his nervousness about confessing that he’s a cartoonist. Was the wedding gift to “Badman” and “Superb Woman” of “Taboo” a cat, a real wedding gift to Jason and his wife? In the same issue, in the two page episode “The Origin of Nod” Jason returns to his opening concept of an interaction between himself and his character. In the last issue of SIN both Jason and his character “Badman” appear in a final story. Jason the cartoonist bookends the story while his alter ego “Badman” fights Jason’s other cartoon creations.
The SIN series ends and so does “Badman”. In the first issue of SIN Comics, Jason returns to the way he began SIN with a cartoon representation of himself battling his own creations. The two episodes presented are bookends to the stories in which Jason doesn’t appear. In the second issue of SIN Comics, Jason presents himself in a separate story that appears to be autobiographic. For reasons given below SIN Comics was replaced by Atomic City Tales. In this series Jason develops the final incarnation of himself. The cartoon version of himself that appeared in separate stories in SIN Comics is now integrated into the main story “Atomic City Tales featuring Big Bang”.
As stated above, the short lived mutli-serial forty page SIN Comics was replaced by the single storyline twenty-four page Atomic City Tales. In SIN Comics, 2, Spring 1994, we get a glimpse of why this happened. In addition to the SIN Comics , he was still working on the cartoon strip Oddville and had added a full colour serial called “Bug Patrol” for Nickelodeon Magazine. He was writing animated shorts for a children’s sketch comedy show called Squakbox which appeared on YTV a specialty channel owned by Corus Entertainment. He was illustrating covers for The Stranger. The work load was too heavy.
“Jetcat” for Nickelodeon’s KaBlam. He was also the creator behind the animated series, Tutenstein and Secret Saturdays, as well as producing animated features for Squawkbox. He has received two Emmy Awards, been nominated for Eisner Awards several times, Reuben Awards twice and Annie Award once.
Black Eye Productions published Atomic City Tales for three issues. The Kitchen Sink Press published only three issues as it continued its downward spiral.
Jason created “Chick and Dee” which first appeared in chickaDEE, September 1999. and “Xtra-cirricular” for Owl Magazine. He worked on “Chick and Dee” for about four years till the summer of 2003, creating the tone and nearly all of the characters. “Chick and Dee” is still a significant feature in chickaDEE to this day (2019).
From the beginning Jason created communities of characters. Yes DC and Marvel have created “worlds” but in their cases those worlds revolve around a few heroes. In the case of Jason, the “worlds” are true communities in which all characters are given more or less equal time. Sometimes the presumed central characters disappear for a time.
Visually Jay’s strong lines and stark backs and whites with no shading creates a strong visual impact for this serial.
Another Jay creation “Arrowhead” first appeared in True Patriot: All New Canadian Comic Book Adventures in 2013. with a follow up in True Patriot: Heroes Of The Great White North, 2014. Chapterhouse reprinted the first episode in True Patriot Presents, 1, Nov. 2016 with the intention of continuing the series which apparently did continue online but cannot be found. Sometime later, “Arrowhead” was then resurrected for Owl magazine, but the tone was quite different.
He has participated in “The North Wing Project”.
BOOK GRAPHIC ANTHOLOGY:
Content serial & Cover book front:
True Patriot: All New Canadian Comic Book Adventures. Ed., J. Torres. True Patriot Comics, 2013: “Arrowhead in ‘Phase One: Test Flight’”: 57-66.
True Patriot: Heroes Of The Great White North. Ed., J. Torres. True Patriot Comix,2014: “Arrowhead in ‘Phase 1.5’: Dawn of the Biodrones”: 8-10. “Arrowhead in ‘Phase 2’: Dawn of the Biodrones”: 113-122
BOOK GRAPHIC COLLECTION:
Content serial & Cover book front & back:
The Land Of Nod Treasury. Black Eye Productions, Nov. 1994. A collection from SIN and SIN Comics.
Content story & Cover book front:
Dejects. Black Eye Books, 2019.
Content story & Cover book front, dustjacket wraparound:
Jetcat & Friends. Black Eye Books, 2021. The complete “Jetcat” stories in colour.
Content strip cartoon & Cover book front & back:
Welcome to Oddville. Adhouse Books, May 2011. Complete strips from Brand New Planet and the Toronto Star.
Content strip cartoon & Cover book wraparound :
Oddville: The Complete Strips. Art Ick Productions, July 1996.
Content story black & white & Cover front & back colour :
|Atomic City Tales, …. Ed., Michael Vrana. Black Eye Productions. Black &white.|
|1, Summer 1994.||2, Autumn 1994.||3, Spring 1995.|
Atomic City Special, 1, Summer 1995. “Night of the Monkey”. Black & white.
|Atomic City Tales, …. Kitchen Sink Press. Black & white.|
|1, 1996.||2, 1996.||3, 1996.|
Content story colour & Cover front & back colour :
|Dwellings: Familiar Horror From Within….. Black Eye Books|
|1, December 2020.||2, June 2021.||3, April, 2022.|
PERIODICAL GRAPHIC ANTHOLOGY:
Content serial black & white & Cover front colour:
True Patriot Presents, 1, Nov. 2016 “Arrowhead in ‘Phase One: Test Flight’.” Chapter House Comics. A reprint from True Patriot: All New Canadian Comic Book Adventures.
PERIODICAL GRAPHIC COLLECTION:
Content story black & white & Cover front & back colour:
|The Land of Nod, …. Ed., Michael Vrana. Black Eye Productions. Black & white. Size smaller than regular sized magazine (15cmX23cm)|
|1, March 1996: “Space Ape No. 8”: 1-24.||2, July 1996: “Captain Rightful”: 1-24.|
The Land of Nod featuring JetCat, 1, July 1997. Dark Horse Comics: 1-24. Black & white.
|SIN,… Editor & Publisher, Michael Vrana. Tragedy Strikes Press. Black & white.|
|1, June 1992.||2, Aug. 1992.||Oct. 1992.||4, Dec. 1992.||5, Feb. 1993.|
|SIN Comics,… Ed., Michael Vrana. Black Eye Productions. Black & white.|
|1, Winter 1993||2, Spring 1994.||Replaced by Atomic City Tales.|
PERIODICAL TEXT & GRAPHIC ANTHOLOGY:
|chickaDEE…., “Chick & Dee.” …. Col., Claudia Dávila. (For issue 22-6, Col., Michael Chow) Batard Press Canada. Colour. .|
|21-6, Sept., 1999: 4.
21-7, Oct. 1999: 4.
21-8, Nov. 1999: 4.
21-9, Dec. 1999: 2.
|22-1, Jan./Feb. 2000: 2.
22-2, Mar. 2000: 4.
22-3, Apr. 2000: 4.
22-4, May 2000: 2.
|22-5, Summer 2000:2.
22-6, Sept. 2000: “The Big Race”: 4.
22-7, Oct. 2000: “The Scare”: 4.
22-8, Nov. 2000: “Up And Away”: 4.
|chickaDEE…., “Chick & Dee.” …. Batard Press Canada. Colour. .|
|22-9, Dec. 2000: “DEE’s Masterpiece”: 4.
23-1, Jan./Feb. 2001: “The Dog House”: 4
23-2, Mar. 2001: “Horsing Around”: 4.
23-3, Apr. 2001: “A Gross Nose”: 4.
23-4, May 2001: “Totem Toppers”: 4.
23-5, June 2001: “Lunch Rush”: 4.
23-6, Summer 2001: “Waterpark Fun”: 7-11. “Nature Hike”: 53-59.
|23-7, Sept. 2001: “The Big Sale”: 6.
23-8, Oct. 2001: “The Robin Hood Play”: 6.
23-9, Nov. 2001: “The Sailboat Race”: 6.
23-10, Dec. 2001: “ Gift Giving”: 6.
25-6, Summer 2003: “Something Fishy”: 7-13. “Spooky Stories”: 57-61.
Canadian Notes & Queries,102, Summer 2018: “The North Wing: Selections from the Lost Library of
CanLit Graphic Novels Episode Twenty-Two, Margaret Atwood’s ‘Oryx and Crake’, as adapted by Jay Stephens.” 32-33.
Taddle Creek, XVII-3, 33, Summer 2014: “Toronto Tunnel Monster”: 10-11.
Brand New Planet [Toronto]. 20 Mar. 2003: “Welcome to… Oddville”: 5.
PERIODICAL TEXT & GRAPHIC ANTHOLOGY :
|chickaDEE,…. Batard Press Canada. Colour.|
|23-3, Apr. 2001: “Make Fake Snot”: 22-23.||23-4, May 2001: “Totem Pole.” 22-23.|
Cover front colour:
|chickaDEE….. Bayard Press Canada.|
|22-1, Jan./Feb. 2000.
22-9, Dec. 2000
|23-6, Summer 2001
23-9, Nov. 2001
|25-6, Summer 2003|
Owl, 26-1, Jan/Feb. 2001.
Atomic City Tales Presents Big Bang and the Manic Gang. Signed Sin. Ltd edition. No date. Blackeye Productions.
chickaDEE, 23-4, May 2001: “Snowboarding in Spring”: 16-17.
chickaDEE, 23-9, Nov. 2001: “ Explore the Sea with Chick and Dee” Illus., unidentified: 18-19.
Brand New Planet [Toronto]. 20 Mar. 2003: So you want to be in the funny papers”: 5.
True Patriot: All New Canadian Comic Book Adventures. Ed., J. Torres. True Patriot Comics, 2013: “About the Creators”: 104.
Oddville: The Complete Strips. Art Ick Productions, July 1996: “Jay Stephens”. “Land of Nod.” The Land Of Nod Treasury Nov. 1994: Cover.
chickaDEE, 22-3, Apr. 2000 “Chick & Dee’s Best Buddy.” Car. & Writ., Jay Stephen’s.: 8-9.
SIN Comics, 2, Spring 1994 “Sincerely.”: Back cover.
“So you want to be in the funny papers.” Writ., Jay Stephens. Brand New Planet [Toronto]. 20 Mar. 2003: 5.
“Jason Stephens.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 28 July 2019. Accessed 24 Sept. 2019.
The Land of Nod Treasury, November 1994: Front cover.
The multitude of characters that appear in SIN. SIN 4, Dec. 1992: Back cover.
Canadian Notes & Queries,102, Summer 2018: 32.
Canadian Notes & Queries,102, Summer 2018: 33.