Scout Comics' Editorial Creator Spotlight: Jonathan Hedrick
EDITORIAL NOTE: As many of you know, I am the editorial director of Scout Comics. In this capacity, I am privileged to work with some very talented people. I thought it might be fun to highlight of few of my creators on this blog. The first of these is Jonathan Hedrick, for whom I edit two of his Scout Comics' titles (The Recount and the forthcoming Quicksand).
A truly great comic combines unforgettable dialogue, dramatic situations, compelling characters, and action that compels readers to turn the page.
For writer Jonathan Hedrick, these elements are essential components of his stories. Fans of his work will recognize these signature details when they read his stories. Imaginative titles like Space Cadet, The Recount, and Quicksand come to readers only after Jonathan has spent considerable time reflecting on them.
“I try to fill up every second of the day with something creative,” Jonathan says. “I feel the constant need to be productive. When I’m at a standstill in one area, I’ll switch to something else to keep moving. The creative process is about managing your time so you’re not forcing anything.”
“For Mature Audiences”
A child of the ‘80s, he first got into comics by reading Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. A fan of the cartoon, Jonathan found the paneled adventures of the iconic turtles to be an easy segue into comics.
“Reading those comics taught me the sequential storytelling of comics,” he recalls. “From there, I learned to appreciate comics as a medium and got into other titles like Batman or X-Men. When you get into the bigger name superheroes, you become exposed to the mythos and histories of these characters. Once you’re immersed in these worlds, you become fascinated with everything that’s going on.”
As an adult, Jonathan’s childhood interests in comics evolved into a serious readership that focus on more complex plots and themes. As a result, his writing is also more mature and is informed by a wide variety of interests and life experiences. His three years of service in the U.S. Army as an X-ray specialist, for instance, gives him a sense of what might really happen on the battlefield or in the operating room. Drawing on these experiences, Jonathan can write realistically about science fiction, fantasy, horror, and other genres.
“I try not to pigeonhole myself into one genre or style. Since I consume a wide variety of content, I like to ensure that I’m producing a wide variety of content,” he says.
Taking His Shot
This diversity has helped Jonathan build a wide audience in a very short time. Still fairly new to the comics scene, he started his career by writing a story for the horror anthology series Mississippi Zombie, Volume 2, eventually published by Caliber Comics in 2021.
After finishing Mississippi Zombie, Jonathan attended the 2019 Daytona Beach Comic Convention after a friend invited him to share table space at the event. While there, he met the Publisher of Scout Comics James Pruett, who just so happened to have an open submissions window to pitch titles.
Having already started work on a new title, Jonathan shared his work with Pruett. Impressed, Pruett told Jonathan to formally submit his work to Scout’s team, which he later joined that same year.
This title would become The Recount, which Jonathan describes as “an anti-political thriller that’s House of Cards meets The Purge.” The story plays with several interests of Jonathan’s related to American politics, including the history of American presidents, the lust for power, and emergency protocols for hypothetical situations. The four-issue miniseries focuses on a presidential assassination pulled off by members of a Secret Service security detail. These conspirators are part of a much larger political movement that wants to kill anyone associated with supporting the target. This includes anyone who voted for the assassinated president, as the movement publishes the general public’s voting records to trigger mass bloodshed, essentially triggering a new American civil war.
In an example of “life imitating art,” “The Recount” was published before the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. Sick of feeling like he was a pawn in one big chess game, Jonathan wrote The Recount to express his disenfranchisement with current politics.
Explaining what spawned the idea, Jonathan recalls, “I wanted to do something in the realm of espionage that incorporated modern horror themes. I came up with this idea around 2018-2019, partly because I was so frustrated with what passes for political discourse in our country. Both sides seemed to follow blindly whatever their party was doing, and there was this flood of internet memes and clickbait headlines. Seeing all of this, I thought to myself, ‘What if people were held accountable for how they voted? What would that look like? And what would the consequences be?’”
The Recount has proven to be a very popular title for Scout Comics. Its reception forced Jonathan to come up with additional stories, including a prequel one-shot entitled The Recount: Preamble and another forthcoming four-issue story. In addition, The Recount is currently being adapted for film, with Kadin Creative and Motor Content bringing the story to the big screen. Concussion director Peter Landesman will helm the project.
A Head Full of Stardust
Shortly after The Recount, Jonathan felt the need to change things up with his writing. Thus, the story for Space Cadet was born.
Space Cadet is Jonathan’s all-ages story that he co-wrote with Italian artist, illustrator, and scriptwriter Stefano Cardoselli. Jonathan had previously worked with Cardoselli on Freakshow Knight for Second Sight Publishing (2021), which had enjoyed popularity among horror genre readers. The award-winning Cardoselli is an internationally recognized name in horror, whose influences include the decadence and decay of the 1980s.
Appreciating Jonathan’s eclectic sensibilities, Stefano agreed to Jonathan’s pitch to do something uplifting and endearing. Since it was aimed at younger readers, Jonathan wanted to make something more accessible for younger readers to read.
“So, with this book,” Jonathan recalls, “I said, ‘How about we do it [using] all splash pages?’ That way, anyone can figure out what’s going on without understanding which panel they should read first. Anyone can enjoy this book, and they’ll be blown away every time they turn the page and see Stefano’s huge, dynamic watercolor pages.”
Space Cadet tells the story of a young boy who wants to visit the moon. Teased at school for his dream, the child wishes to be on the moon one night before falling asleep. When he wakes up, he finds himself on the surface of the moon, guided by a friendly astronaut who gives him a personal tour and offers life advice on how he too can become an astronaut.
“As a child, I grew up in the Cape Canaveral area. I got to see the Kennedy Space Center shuttle launches,” Jonathan says. “This story is really a love letter to our space program.”
In the Works…
Outside of planning more comic convention appearances throughout his home state of Florida, Jonathan is currently working on a few projects.
“One that I’m really excited about is Quicksand,” he shares. “It’s a sci-fi horror thriller five-issue miniseries… It’s about this hole in the ground that opens up near the pyramids of Egypt. Monsters emerge from this hole and attack a nearby city before disappearing back into the sand. This forces international leaders to assemble a team to explore this strange hole in the sand. After the entire team fails to return from the mission, the wife of the team leader heads up a rescue mission to find the missing crew….”
While Quicksand is forthcoming in 2023 from Scout Comics, Jonathan is also working on several one-shot comics for other publishers. In addition, he’s wrapping up efforts for the crowdfunding of the advocacy superhero comic “Capable.”
Seeing Comics as Art
There are a number of things that Jonathan believes have contributed to his growth as a writer. Surprisingly, one of those things happens to be getting married to native Italian illustrator Francesca Fantini. A respected horror and fantasy artist, Fantini has done cover art and interior artwork for titles at Scout Comics, Image Comics, and others.
“I was already familiar with her work being labelmates at Scout,” Jonathan explains. Jonathan further relates how after he commissioned a cover art project from her, he became friends with her through social media. Francesca eventually planned a trip to the U.S., where she’s been living ever since.
“Being married to a visual artist has taught me a whole lot. With Francesca, I’m able to look at comics in a different way. Learning from her experiences has helped make me a better writer, and in turn, I’ve been able to help her understand American popular culture a bit better.”