Last updateMon, 11 Dec 2017 12pm


University Employee Has Comic ‘Awaken’ing

AwakenIssue1 bannerBy day, Janine Frederick works for the University as an Assistant Website Developer, but by night she’s traveling into the furthest reaches of her imagination for the next great comic book story. Recently, Frederick wrote a five-page story titled “Awaken,” drawn by Ian Dorian, in the comic book anthology, “Out of Our Minds: Tales from the Comics Experience.”

“Awaken” is about a teenage girl who discovers she is the Anti-Christ. The comic opens with the main character contemplating a dream where she kills an angel. Soon, she delves into magic and enters a vast library where she confronts an angel who informs her of her destiny.

The basis for “Awaken,” Frederick said, came out of her life. “When I was younger, I’d have reoccurring dreams that involved a lot of angels. There was also a malevolent and evil presence in the dreams.” She continued to say that when it came to this story, “Let me do something cool with that and apply it to this 16-year-old girl. Are their problems less important than ours?”

Writing “Awaken” took about a month for Frederick “in dribs and drabs.” She said each page took around three hours to write. “You are communicating with an artist and an editor and telling them what’s in your head. You have to picture things as writer, producer, and director all in one. Writing comics is the most challenging thing there,” Frederick added.

As for Dorian’s art, Frederick said, “I wanted [the story] to feel ether real. You can look at the pictures and study the pictures. He lays out the pages so it isn’t messy, it’s interesting.” Their collaboration consisted of going over the story and the layout of the pages to make sure the art matched the script’s tone.

From here, Frederick saw that Dorian understood her story, and “he made it even more beautiful than it was in my head.” Dorian, who studied under artist Mark Texeria (“Ghost Rider”), also used Wilson Hall as inspiration for the story as well as places in Italy where he had studied art.

While Frederick would write her story independently, she found guidance for trying to tell the best story possible in Comics Experience, where eager writers and artists learn the trick of the trade for comic book narratives. “I was taught how to form my ideas a bit better” and find “the comic story I wanted to tell,” she said. The “Out of Our Minds” anthology consists of 12 stories by writers and artists in the workshop.

Within this program are mentors that have experience in the comic book industry such as Andy Schmidt, Chris Sotomayer, Dave Sharp, and Jon Barber. “[Comics Experience] is like having an editor always accessible. It’s like a constant Comic-Con. We’re working 24 hours a day online,” Fredrick said. She also mentioned that Nick Spencer, writer of Image’s “Morning Glory” and Marvel’s “Secret Avengers”and “Ultimate Comics X-Men” was once involved in this program.

She continued to explain that in ComicsExperience writers and artists communicate online, but those in the program will meet each month for sessions in the evening. Frederick said, “We all want to see each other succeed.”

Although “Awaken” in the “Out of Our Minds” anthology has secured a place for Frederick’s pursuit to be a comic book writer, she said she originally “did it for fun and didn’t think I’d do anything with it at all. By way of [her husband] Ken drawing comics, I wanted a crack at writing comics.”

Since then, her foray into the comic book industry has included stories with small publishers as well as second place in a competition by Zuda Comics (DC Comics defunct online comics’ site) in 2010 for “Alexander Kristov,” written by Frederick and drawn by her husband.

“Alexander Kristov” is about a Russian boywho runs away after his dad dies in an “accident,” and as he matures, he becomes a mercenary for the KGB. The story also required a large amount of research for Frederick, who studied Russia and its cities like Leningrad.

She described the experience as “grueling, gut-wrenching, and awesome. If they still had the competition, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

Frederick explained the Zuda competition by saying that it was not only the United Sates, but other countries like Russia and China competing against each other with their online comics. “Everybody had the same tools starting out, and whatever you did with the pages was up to you.” She also mentioned how creators were successful immediately in the Zuda completion, and that the comments sections were alive with conversations.

Yet, Frederick mentioned that not all of her projects worked out quite as well but that’s the part of playing in the comic book industry.

Sarah Savarese, Director of Enrollment Publications and Communications, is quite familiar with Frederick’s comic book escapades and said, “I think it’s great that Janine is so engaged and active in comic book writing. She enjoys it very much and I’ve seen her garner increased attention to her talent in this area since she started working in my office.”

Savarese herself has a connection to the comic book world with her husband, who attended the Joe Kubert School in Dover. “What’s cool is that he recognizes names of people he went to school with when we’re looking at what’s new in the comic book shop. Who knows, maybe I’ll see Janine on those racks one day too,” she continued to say.

Currently, Frederick is working on a new project, which she wouldn’t delve into, but when it comes to writing or choosing stories, she wants to grab readers emotionally. Whether it is a humor, horror, or science fiction story, this upcoming writer said it doesn’t matter what the genre is along as she manages to make the reader reflect on her stories and feel something.

Overall, when it came to making a comic book in general, getting it published, and having others peruse it, Frederick summed up this excitement by saying, “There’s an adrenaline rush when you’re holding your book in your hands. That’s you.”

PHOTO COURTESY of Janine Frederick

Contact Information

The Outlook
Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication
and Instructional Technology (CCIT)
Room 260, 2nd floor

The Outlook
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, New Jersey

Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151
Email: outlook@monmouth.edu