As a child, Jorel Lonesome’s mother gave him a journal, where he sketched, jotted down notes, and gathered coins, articles, and other memorabilia.
“I would draw familiar characters such as Spider-Man, Spawn, and Blade,” he explains, naming pop-culture Superheroes.
Fast forward to life after high school. After performing at poetry and spoken word events throughout Manhattan, Lonesome decided it was time for a creative change.
“I was away from the comic book world for a while,” he recalls. “But then I saw the Robert Rodriguez movie Sin City. I loved that it was based on a comic book.”
From there, he recalls, “I read the Sin City volumes, and that pushed me back into comics, and I started reading all sorts of genres, from comedy to action. I wondered, ‘Could I write comics? What is the process like?’”
And so, “I decided to take a break from spoken word events to focus on comics.”
Lonesome enrolled as a Writing and Literature major at BMCC, where he found mentors in Professors Carlos Hernandez and George Stevenson.
“Professor Stevenson showed me that storytelling for film is not too different from the way comic books are made,” says Lonesome, who is also an ASAP student.
Prior to BMCC, in 1999, Lonesome attended Andy Schmidt’s Comics Experience courses led by Mike Siglain, “an editor at DC Comics at the time,” he says. “We were given scripts to read and had to draw them out panel-by-panel. We’d make sure the action reflected the description of what’s happening in the story.”
When the comics course ended, Lonesome and friends, “networked and decided to create a comic book anthology about bounty hunters. We scheduled monthly meetings at a pizza shop in Times Square to discuss our ideas.”
From there, Pronto Comics—an independent, non-profit collective of writers and artists—was formed. The group’s first book was called For a Price: Bounty Hunters And Other Scum.
Putting the words down
As more books and anthologies were launched under the Pronto name, Lonesome “felt more comfortable taking the position as writer and editor.”
Lonesome, who graduates this spring then heading to Hunter College, is best known for his independent comic book anthology series, Blackout 1 & 2, published by Pronto.
“In addition, I have featured stories in other anthologies such as For a Price, Kicked, and Pronto Goes to War,” he says.
Pronto Comics are sold at conventions, online stores, and Manhattan storefronts such as The Time Machine and St. Mark’s Comics.
Real world preparation
Lonesome encourages anyone interested in writing or illustrating comics to stop by a Pronto comics meeting for some feedback—but you’ve got to be a team player, he stresses.
“If everything works out, we pair a writer with an artist, and your work is overseen by an editor.”
According to Lonesome, “we serve two purposes; the first is to allow creators to network and build teams, allowing them to achieve their goals and make their books together,” he says.
“Also, we self-publish. Large companies like Marvel and DC want to see your professional work, and that’s why publishing your own comics is so important.”
Pronto’s official facebook page can be found here.