FORT WORTH, Texas — Give Jake Tinsley five minutes and he’ll sell you his latest comic book. It doesn’t matter where you meet Jake: on an airplane; in a restaurant; in the halls of his middle school. At 14, Jake is one of the youngest comic book writers in the U.S. and has more than a year of sales experience under his belt. He has authored five comic books and 20 comic strips, launched art shows at three galleries, and served as an expert panelist during a comic book convention in Las Vegas. “One of my favorite places to sell my comics is on airplanes, because you have some time to talk and get to know people,” Jake says. “I think it also helps that I have so many freckles. People like that.”
This month, Jake debuts his fifth comic book, “The Legend of Night Owl,” a collection of comic strips he wrote since co-founding Wham Bang Comics last year with his father, journalist Ben Tinsley. The comic, along with its four predecessors, is available at http://www.comixpress.com.
Several pieces of original art from Jake’s comic adventures are on display at Orison’s Art and Framing at 110 E. Louisiana St. in McKinney, Texas, and Jake and his father also are trying to raise money to produce an educational children’s show using the Night Owl character.
Jake started dreaming up superheroes almost as soon as he could walk. Night Owl, the main character in his series of comics, is a normal 12-year-old boy by day who inherits superhuman powers after his grandfather’s untimely death.
Night Owl, with his trademark glowing green eyes and red freckles, evolved from a character Jake originally called The Superhero Jake, who would sleep on the angel of justice in downtown Fort Worth and watch over the children of the city. If any child called for help, The Superhero Jake would zoom to their defense.
Jake always had a ferocious imagination, but he began writing in earnest after his grandfather and best friend, noted Texas journalist Jack Tinsley, died unexpectedly in 2004. Jack Tinsley, known to Jake as “Poppa,” was the executive editor of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The paper won two Pulitzers under his leadership.
In Jake’s Night Owl adventures, the character “Poppa Finley,” patterned after his grandfather, constantly reminds Night Owl to remember his responsibilities, use his powers wisely, help innocents and protect his family at all costs.
A powerful Shaman, Night Owl is charged with protecting the balance of the universe. His powers include strength, ability to see the future and to fly, and near invulnerability.
Night Owl’s alter ego, Zack Finley, wears glasses to mask his identity.
“Jake truly has created a new mythology of heroes,” says Ben Tinsley, publisher of Wham Bang Comics. “Night Owl’s world is not a world where Superman and Batman exist, but it is a world where the idea that anything can happen is prevalent.”
For Ben Tinsley, watching Jake in action is like looking in a mirror.
“When I was Jake’s age, I was an avid comic book reader, and I imagined several comic characters, but I never carried through and put pen to paper,” Tinsley says. “It is such a joy to be a part of this world that Jake has created. Not only are we allowing him to pursue this great passion, we are also honoring a period in my life.”
Although Jake has become quite proficient at selling comics, he still, at times, can hardly believe he is a published comic book author. When Jake saw his most recent book, The Legend of Night Owl, in print for the first time, he was taken aback. “When I first saw the finished product, I lost my breath, it was so good,” he says.
Ben Tinsley assists Jake, when necessary, with story development and editing, and Jason Dube of California, Wham Bang’s art director, creates the art. Kristoffer Condes of the Philippines brings the characters to life with color.
Wham Bang Comics also publishes a monthly Night Owl comic strip at http://www.myspace.com/whambangcomics .
Jake hopes that his comic books inspire other children and teens to read more and to research new things that they learn about in the books. “I also hope they make people laugh until they poop their pants,” he says. Spoken like a true 14-year old.
When asked what he wants to do when he grows up, Jake doesn’t hesitate. “Exactly what I’m doing now,” he says. “Write comic books.”
Send2Press(R) is the originating wire service for this story, Copr. 2009.
[tags]Jake Tinsley, comic book artist, Wham Bang Comics, The Legend of Night Owl[/tags]