Harper Woods library to host comic book artist Arvell Jones

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published March 2, 2018

 Arvell Jones

Arvell Jones

HARPER WOODS — The Harper Woods Public Library will be hosting a presentation by comic book artist and Detroit native Arvell Jones.

Jones has worked with both Marvel and DC comics during a career that has spanned more than 45 years. Responsible for work on series such as “Iron Fist,” “Luke Cage,” and “Thor,” he also helped create many well-known characters, including Misty Knight. 

Jones regularly hosts comic book workshops, and he will be bringing that experience to the Harper Woods Public Library. The presentation will take place at the library at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 20.

“It will be kind of like a meet-and-greet,” explained Suzanne Kent, the adult services librarian. “He will talk about his background and growing up in Detroit, tell about how he got started, and he will, of course, answer questions from the audience. He’s been called a pioneering comics artist, and he really broke ground in his profession.”

Having recently worked with Marvel Studios and ABC in adapting some of his characters, he also worked on the promotional posters for the film “Black Panther.” The library decided to try to get the Detroit native to speak after he was featured on the cover of Blac Magazine, in which he discussed his recent work, which also included being featured as a panelist on the AMC program “The Secret History of Comics.”

“He appears on the cover of the magazine, and one of our volunteers called us saying he was a former neighbor and she put us in touch with him,” said Kent. “It seemed so timely with the movie coming out, and we’ve been seeing his face every day on the cover of Blac Magazine.”

Jones said he wants to teach people how to succeed with their artistic skills, be it in graphic novels, graphic design or other career paths. He does plan on teaching some of the basics to those interested.

“We tend not to teach style — we don’t want to interfere with someone’s personal style — but we do teach basics like concept design and outlining,” he explained. “If someone wants to do graphic novels, we also don’t want them to close their minds to other types of art or other uses for their skills.”

In addition to his work in comic books, Jones had a lengthy career in graphic design, something he wants young people interested in honing their artistic skills and passion to consider.

“I started working in comics at 19, and at one point, I moved back to Detroit and worked at local TV stations designing sets, billboards, vehicle graphics and other graphic design work,” Jones said. “I had some training in the field, attending Cass Tech and the School of Visual Arts in New York, as well as Wayne State University here in Detroit. I concentrated on drawing and painting, and the design aspect came to me as I kept working.”

Jones would be the first to tell people that leveraging artistic talent can be difficult, but he would also be the first to say that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. He hopes aspiring artists will follow their passion and do so with the knowledge and foresight necessary to succeed.

“For kids, it’s about getting them to look at their current classes in school and learning the basics and imparting to them that they will need those skills, as well as subjects like math or knowing how to do research,” said Jones. “It all plays a part in telling stories and working on various art projects. With adults, it’s a different game. It’s a lot about the numbers of working in the business and how to attract the larger companies to your portfolio or marketing yourself.” 

The library staff believes Jones could provide valuable inspiration and knowledge to young people who are considering going into comics, graphic design or other artistic endeavors.

“We would like to see him approach younger people and describe what inspired him and got him involved in comics and drove his career,” said Kent. “I would like him to tell them how and why he succeeded.”

Jones said he hopes he is able to inspire some young people and help guide them into a satisfying career.

“I don’t think there were limits in my career, so people shouldn’t put limits on themselves,” said Jones. “Even more than artistic skills, they need to be able to read and write and use their imagination. … Whether you are starting a company, or doing graphic design, or writing a comic book, you still have to tell a story and show visuals; you still have to think about what would appeal to people.”

More information on Jones and his comic book workshops can be found at www.comicartworkshop.com.