Film People

Comics and film collide in Aiken native’s world

(Featured photo of Jason Conley by Ron Baxley/Augusta Good News)

AIKEN — Jason Conley’s creative world brings together two of his loves – film and comics.

The Aiken native who has acted in Stranger Things and Wakanda Forever is working on a film trailer based on his comic book, The Adventures of JP Cummings. It’s one of many published by his company, Fate68 Comix.

He plans for a premiere event in a large Southern city for the trailer itself. Also, he is in negotiations for a direct-to-streaming film based on the comic book.

“It is a testament to how good The Adventures of JP Cummings is that there is a movie in the works based on it,” Conley said.

JP Cummings is a female character from the 1940s, but she is not the rogue detective type.

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According to Conley, “she did quit her position on the police force after deaths in her family but is not bitter about it. In fact, she reluctantly continues as an informal detective after resigning.”

In a dream sequence flashback, it starts out jovially, similar to the last night on the town that a young Bruce Wayne had with his parents. But it ends tragically.

“It is not your typical 40s’ hard-boiled detective story. There are times you will forget that it is a 40s’ story,” he said.

The comic juxtaposes eras at times. Conley placed an anachronistic reference to a 1990s’ pop culture figure within the comic as a subtle parody. He infuses some modern references in the comic here and there.

The story is reminiscent of film noir private detectives and even some classic literary detectives and their relationship with the police force.

While the character is not bitter about her family members’ deaths, she doesn’t want to deal with the police.

Image from a JP Cummings’ photoshoot. Courtesy Jason Conley/Facebook

The trailer has had some delays as have other film productions.

“The trailer was supposed to come out at the end of September, but because of the actor strikes in addition to the writer strikes, we are behind schedule. When the trailer is complete, we are going to do a real, full premiere for just the trailer at a major cinema. Then, the film will go directly to streaming,” he said.

And the film itself will be a full-length feature based on more than one of the comic’s story lines.

“The film script is actually done. The comic book it is based upon is a two-part mini-series. It will be made into a complete movie,” he said.

Fate68, the business of comics

Conley’s Fate68 is young compared to the comics industry overall, which dates back at least 88 years. The major players, Marvel and D.C., have been around for more than 80 years.

A panel from “The Adventures of JP Cummings”

Fate68, however, is only two years old.

“As for its increasing success, it is pretty amazing even for guys like GregBo who work with me. We have seven comic book titles, six artists and a movie in the works,” he said.

His independent comic book company is itself a success.

“We have consistently hit the top 10 comic sales. Every release has hit number one. Word of mouth about our movie trailer release has gotten the comics a lot of attention,” Conley said.

Also, Fate68 Comix has had a string of hits after doing an online crowdfunding campaign for them.

“JP was not the first Kickstarter to hit goal. It just hit goal less than an hour. We have surpassed all goals for every issue we release,” Conley said.

Conley made the decision to pick “JP” fairly simply.

“I figured I would use an old story I wanted to make a movie of as the filler and decided I would use the JP script I wrote over 10 years ago that was originally a movie idea,” he said.

Conley — Comics writer and screenwriter

A JP Cummings promotional image. Courtesy Jason Conley and Fate68 Comix.

Conley had a background in comics before even starting his own comics company. He even owned a comics shop in Aiken for several years.

“I collected comics my whole life,” said Conley.

Then, he not only wanted to collect and sell comics but write comics as well as film scripts.

“Ten years ago, I started writing stories. These short stories became scripts. I spent a lot of time working on a good story,” Conley said.

Conley’s comics are not for general audiences like many of Marvel’s or D.C.’s comics. For example, Dark Horse comics, a one-time independent bought out by a larger company, may be the type of independent with darker, more mature content with which people may be familiar. Other independents can skew toward more violence and mature content as well.

Much of Conley’s content could be labeled for mature audiences, and he said the upcoming film will be R-rated material.

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“I am more of a story guy. Some of the guys I have on staff are more into pin-up art,” said Conley, who believes the mature content is vital to advancing the plotlines as well as reflecting Cummings’ character.

“She is a strong female character who is comfortable with herself and her sexuality. If you are affected by her, she does not even care,” Conley said.

Conley said he’s been surrounded by a talented group of people and considers the project a team effort.

 Artist Gregbo, though having done some covers for the JP Cummings’ comic, is not the main artist for it.

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“Jarvis Antonio is the principal artist. Other artists include William Pompeau, Javi Laparra, John del Snead, John Audreay, Bea Navarro and Sean Joyce,” Conley said.

He then said, “Joyce contacted us and wanted to do some work. He once worked with the famous fantasy artist Frank Frazetta. He also did some of the backgrounds for Star Wars films.”

Mark DeCarlo, one of the artists on the team, has worked with both Marvel and D.C. Comics.

 Primary writing credit for all the Fate68 comics, however, goes to Conley.

“I am not ready to give that up,” he said and smiled.

Correspondent Ron Baxley Jr. is a veteran journalist who has worked with multiple news organizations in his career. Subscribe to the Augusta Good News’ newsletter here.

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