I recently stumbled across the below play by play video recapping my Zenescope series THE JUNGLE BOOK which I wrote back in 2011. Having just finished a few series for another indie company, I was trying to begin the arduous climb up the corporate ladder that is the comic book industry. One of the the most important rungs was this series which brought my writing to the attention to Zenescope’s thousands of fans. While the company is known for it’s cheesecakey covers focusing much on T&A, I was given free reign to take the concept of one of my favorite stories as a kid and adapt it in any way I sought possible. The only guideline was that I had to change Mowgli, the Man Cub from Kipling’s Classic to Mowglii, the Woman Cub. And while this gave the series a chance to show off it’s trademark T&A covers, I found changing the sex of Mowglii opened up many more possibilities for directions this story could take. After all, “the female of the species is the more deadly than the male,” or so the Space song says. But also, the quote is from Kipling’s writing itself, which I thought was a nice omen.
So having my female Mowglii, I set out to write a story of warring animal tribes and adopted children, an aspect I was all too familiar with since I had been working by day as a Licensed Therapist at a Residential Home for boys and girls. Seeing children every day taken from their families and being reared in an environment not their own with parents often looking nothing like themselves lead to some interesting observations about the concept of nature vs. nurture. Seeing that the environment very much molds the adults these children become, I explored that by adding three other children to the mix in my JUNGLE BOOK story and giving them attributes of the animal tribe which reared them. So Bomani, who was raised by ferocious tigers of the Shere tribe suffered from constant abuse for not living up to the ferocity his tribe exuded and had difficulty making a kill. Dewan was raised by apes of Bandar Log, who not only lived and manipulated things (mostly in wrong ways) that crashed on the island in the pirate ship, but also was a victim of parents who were unpredictable and addicted to an opiate that was on board the vessel as well. So he was unpredictable. A friend one minute, an enemy the next, based solely on the impulse he had in the moment. Akili was brought up by the Tavi tribe (referencing Rikki Tikki Tavi, another Kipling story), which are immensely strong in numbers, but their small stature compared to Akili’s has rocketed her up to be a hero and savior of the tribe. She now patrols the jungle as a sort of superhero with her trusty sidekick Tobaqui the Fox, another character from Kipling’s stories who was ignored in the movie versions.
Lastly, there is Mowglii, a product of a pretty strong upbringing with the nurturing wolves and overseen by Bagheera the Panther and her “coach” Baloo the Bear. With this type of guidance, she would be the most stable of the group and the below story is how they all discovered one another on the vast island of Kipling. While the reenactment in the video below misses some of my favorite nuances and story beats, the broad strokes are all there. I’d love to get feedback on this, one of my favorite writing experiences so far in comics.
I have much more to talk about this series, specifically my work with artist Carlos Granda, and how we developed a language that melds the script and art together, but that is a post for another day.