Debuting at Small Press Expo, the weekend of September 15th and 16th in Bethesda, Maryland, Ducboi is the latest creation of writer-artist Derick Jones (formerly known as Skuds McKinley), a Philadelphia-based comic creator whose work you may know from Plunder from Boom! Studios/Archaia, as well as Rumble Moon and Red Eye. Jones is also known for his work on album art, logo design, and more.
Ducboi, according to Jones, represents a kind of creative breakthrough for him, where a small sketch in a sketchbook led to a sketchbook becoming a comic in progress, with a character and a world that were freer than his previous approaches to comics, but for that reason all the more compelling to him creatively.
Jones describes Ducboi as “equal parts journal comic meets gag and joke strips”. The collection is composed mainly of one-pagers that Jones would create each day, exploring the character and world, but there’s usually an underlying sense of a relatable experience or a truth present in each page that reaches out to the reader.
On one page, for example (seen at the bottom of this piece), Ducboi is wandering around Philadelphia with a talking balloon, who proceeds to comment on Ducboi’s recently posted art on Instagram, hinting that it was sub-par. After a back and forth, the reader realizes the trick that was present in the art in plain view, but the reveal still pending. Ducboi is fully capable of simply letting go of the balloon and allowing it to drift away, shuffling off the negativity and doubt he’s been toting around. That’s the kind of truth that is expressed in the art without a lot of heavy writing that nevertheless reaches the reader.
But Jones’ linework is clearly the work of a very practiced comic artist, even if the comic has a journal-like quality. With its manga feel, and Philadelphia scenes that might blur a little into a Japanese style of architecture, Ducboi has a sense of tradition to it. The hand-lettered speech balloons also connect with the reader as well as the art style–angular and expressive, they are as much a part of the personality of the comic as Ducboi himself.
Music plays a big role in several of the strips, permeating Ducboi’s life as it does our own, and Jones’ confessional tone about the insecurities of working as an artist, existing on the internet, and day by day having the courage to make things, bleeds throughout.
For a contemplative walk through a new world affixed with a wry grin, make sure to pick up Ducboi at SPX, or you can even pre-order it, with sketches, right here, from Derick Jones.