Comics As Jazz – Or How I Stopped Worrying And Started Coloring Outside The Lines

Joe Baden writes for Bleeding Cool:

b4“Why don’t you stand up and introduce yourself?”

“Um, okay… Hello everyone… my name is Joe Badon and I’ve been a full-time freelance comic artist for the past 4 years.”

Peabody! Set the wayback machine for about 2009.

Stepping out of seven years of full time ministry and stepping into the unknown world of freelance comic art was quite an adjustment.

No more steady paycheck.

No more job security.

No more certainties.

With my wife holding my hand, I was in for an adventure.  The first thing to was build a portfolio full of variety.  “Have variety!” That’s what every book of professional freelance tips tell you to do! You know: Be marketable! Draw muscle bound super heroes, disney cartoons, horror, concept art, blah, blah, blah…

This turned into getting jobs that were tedious as I tried to mimic other’s styles to fit the client’s wishes or tried to make the muscly superheroes muscly enough and the pretty people pretty enough.  I felt like I was illustrating cookie cutter characters from the CW or the WB.

My passion for art became as passionate as flipping burgers or selling vacuums.

Then, as I passed around my portfolio at local comic conventions, Rob Guillory (CHEW), among many other artists, really encouraged me to pursue my own style, separate myself from the white noise of rehashed comic art.

b1This became the next dive into a deeper pool.  A lunge into comics as art and not just form.  Comics as expression, fluidity, individuality.  Comics as jazz.

Where sweaty musicians with everything to lost blow their horns of “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani”.  With just the money in their pockets hoping to get enough tips to pay their rent.  Not playing for the crowd, not playing for themselves but playing to make art and not form.  To be an oracle of something greater.

And that’s what I’m diving towards.  To one day get to the bottom of the pool, pull the plug and flood the streets with something beautiful.

So, the last few years has been a transition for me.  With the support of my wife and kids, my portfolio has gone from rock and roll to jazz.  From tabs and scales to improv.  And, fortunately, I have met clients, writers, publishers and supporters who not only accept it but embrace it.

b2I have recently launched a kickstarter for a book full of my art prints and collaborative short stories that I feel best represent my current artistic aspirations.  And like jazz, I hope that where I’m at artistically is not my final destination.  There are worlds more improvisations to be played.

You can find my kickstarter at:

You can check out my portfolio at:


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