The Adventure Takes Flight: Winter 2017
THE BIG IDEA
Conceived by indie comic book and animation sister-team, Shawnee´and Shawnelle Gibbs, "The Invention of E.J. Whitaker" is a 24-page comic book tale mixing elements of Adventure, Romance, Historical Fiction and Steampunk to tell the story of one heroine's epic journey through the cultural and gender land mines of the early 20th century to become a bonafide inventor.
Imagine a time in which your week might include being assaulted by patent-jackers, a surprise run-in with Nikola Tesla and catching up on "the tea" through actual tea time with Madame CJ Walker….with no Instagram to capture it all…
Welcome to the world of Ada Turner and her secret life as E.J. Whitaker.
When Ada Turner, a young Inventor's apprentice, creates a flying machine in 1901, she's introduced to the dangerous side of the Industrial Age.
At the turn of the century, in America’s great Industrial Age, Tuskegee University student Ada Turner is a brilliant and charming ﾠinventor with dozens of patents to prove it but she’s got one big strike against her: She’s a woman…and...well, frankly put, she’s got more than a few strikes going on. So in an effort to have her work taken seriously, she comes up with her best invention yet: the pseudonym of E.J. Whitaker…
When "E.J's" patent for a wondrous flying machine begins garnering national attention, Ada finds herself relentlessly pursued by William, a mysterious young businessman and his colleague, Samuel. Ada must keep her identity and popular invention under wraps but can she, as more and more powerful people set sights on EJ Whitaker...? People with intentions to use the inventions for their own financial gain and get Ada out of the picture.
The Invention of E.J. Whitaker is a combination of science, adventure, romance, and transformation that we have been starving to see visualized since our teenage years gobbling up series after series by Octavia Butler and later Tananarive Due. It was in part developed because of our appreciation and passion for telling classic stories featuring smart, aspirational, and diverse female characters.
A recent Census Bureau report showed that Women remain significantly underrepresented in engineering and computer occupations, occupations that make up more than 80 percent of all STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) employment. Blacks and Hispanics have been consistently underrepresented in STEM employment. We believe stories like EJ Whitaker are key in creating heroes that spark the belief that we can continue breaking down the walls of centuries past.
The need for stories from and for multi-cultural perspectives in the world of steampunk and sci fi adventure is a big reason why we chose to tell a story in the genre. With so much development in STEM and STEAM education, we’d love to contribute to the vast land of stories and myths that inspire young men and women from all walks of lives to continue dreaming, creating, and soaring in the 21st century and beyond.
A SUCCESSFUL LAUNCH FOR 'E.J. WHITAKER' :
On February 25th, 2016 The Gibbs Sisters launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the first issue of "The Invention of E.J. Whitaker." With the support of 442 backers, the project exceeded it's goal by $10,000 and the sisters were able to secure funding for the series' first two issues.
The Kickstarter funding will be used to help assist with art production, printing costs, limited edition prints and fundraising gifts for donors.
Our long-term goal is to make "The Invention of E.J. Whitaker" a 5-issue series, so that readers can continue the adventure as Ada runs into historical icons including Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla and more on a journey that follows our protagonist and her trusty team of thrill-seekers cross-country and around the world.
The Gibbs Sisters plan to continue to work diligently to bring the next 3 issues to life culminating in a gorgeous 120 + page, full-color graphic novel.
THE GIBBS SISTERS: WRITERS / CREATORS
The Gibbs Sisters are a sibling duo with a passion for telling unconventional and timeless stories
about multi-faceted characters.
Shawnee and Shawnelle grew up in Oakland, California writing and illustrating hand-made comic
strips which they sold for a quarter around their grade school. Later inspired by literary and animation
heroes including sci-fi novelist, Octavia E. Butler, and cartoonists Morrie Turner, Aaron McGruder and
Craig McCracken, the sisters began creating Flash cartoons and animation while undergrads at San
Francisco State University and wrote and independently produced short films including the Black
Filmmakers Hall of Fame inductee, “Ravishing Raspberry,”ﾠ the sci-fi animated web series’ “Adopted
By Aliens” and later the comedic series “Old Ladies Driving.” Their Tribeca-funded directorial short
animation “Sule and the Case of the Tiny Sparks” was cited as a highlight of the New York Kids Fest by
the New York Times, was an official selection of the Chicago and Seattle International Children’s Festivals
and won Best Animation at the Montreal International Black Film Festival.
The sisters’ﾠ work in comics continued with their comedic Young Adult time travel series, "Fashion Forward," which began as a popular online webcomic and made its comic book debut on Comixology in 2015. The series was hailed as “one charming comic book adventure” by Brian Cronin of Comic Book Resources and declared ‘Witty, fun and upbeat’ by Girls Read Comics. The sisters have also written the graphic stories “Good Mourning, Jacob” and “Tati” for Graham Cracker’s Comics' Ladies Night Anthology.
The Gibbs Sisters’ storytelling abilities are multi-platformed, and in addition to weaving tales for comics and animation, they’ve crafted stories for non fiction programming for networks including BET, NBC, ABC, Food Network, Discovery Channel and National Geographic. The sisters are 2011 fellows of the Guys Hanks and Marvin Miller Screenwriting Fellowship at the University of Southern California and are members of the Writers Guild of America, Organization of Black Screenwriters and Women in Animation.
HASANI MCINTOSH: COLORIST
Hasani has worked as a digital artist for Disney Animation and Disney Consumer Products.ﾠ He's also served as a researcher for the University of Florida’s Digital Worlds Institute contributing to educational gaming projects as Art Director.ﾠ A native of California, Hasani graduated from San Jose State University with a B.F.A. in Animation.ﾠﾠ He then went on to achieve a M.S. in Digital Arts and Sciences from New York University.
Hasani and The Gibbs Sisters collaborated previously when Hasani worked as Background Artist for the short film, "Sule and the Case of the Tiny Sparks" and as a background artist for an animated segment of the Comedic Sketch show "Purple Stuff TV." The sisters are still pinching themselves that they get to work with such a MONSTER talent from their homeland of the San Francisco Bay Area. #DoItForTheYay
EARL WOMACK: SHORT STORY ARTIST (PENCILER / INKER / COLORIST)
Inspired by Highlights, Saturday mornings, and the unknown extreme sport Cloud Hunting, ACTIVITI 8's U U R L is among Connecticut's stable of skilled artists. He executes illustrations with a focus on story first, adept in both traditional and digital techniques. U U R L's work captures an awesome amount of motion and energy.
The Gibbs Sisters met East Coast-based Earl Womack at Long Beach Comic-Con and have been Team UURL GREYY ever since. When Earl surprised them with BOMB fan art for their then-online comic web series, Fashion Forward, they knew the three of them shared some sort of six-legged spirit animal. Earl created the fun horse & carriage scene for E.J. Whitaker and solidified himself as its cover artist. He is a stealth ninja of a figure but look up in the sky on a clear night and you might see him shooting past Venus or moonwalking during an eclipse.
MARK HERNANDEZ: PENCILER / INKER
Mark holds a BFA in Animation and Entertainment Art from Cal State Fullerton. His experience in art as a
professional has ranged from getting his start at Dreamworks Animation to freelance illustration for books and
political cartoons, and various endeavors throughout the California Southland. "I strive to put quality into whatever I create."
Mark Hernandez and the Gibbs Sisters' previous collaborations include the award-winning short animated film, "Sule and the Case of the Tiny Sparks," where Mark served as Storyboard Artist for the film's memorable and challenging bee scene. The sisters were floored by Mark's style and over the years partnered for some of the key concept art for EJ Whitaker. His line and figure work absolutely encompasses the era and romanticism of the story. Breathtaking!
STARLINE HODGE: E.J. WHITAKER EMBLEM DESIGNER
Starline Hodge was born and raised in Miami, FL, but currently lives in Los Angeles. She earned a BA in Digital Arts and Sciences at the University of Florida, where she learned that she likes to make cool drawings and graphics all day.
She's currently a Graphic Designer for Discovery Digital Media LA, for the DeFranco Creative Division. She's also a renowned comic book artist and dynamo creator of the popular online webcomic series, Candi Comics.
Starline and The Gibbs Sisters previously collaborated when she created the eye-catching logo for their comic book series "Fashion Forward," where Starline also served as colorist and graphic designer.
SHANNA LIM : INKER
Shanna Lim has worked in the film and animation industry as a 3D artist on such memorable films as Dreamworks’ "Kung Fu Panda," "How To Train Your Dragon," and "Shrek 2" just to name a few.
She recently decided to follow her lifelong passion of being an Artist/Illustrator and is currently freelancing for clients including Disney Consumer Products and Nickelodeon. Shanna holds a BFA in Graphic Design and Fine Art from UCLA, and is a wonderful and versatile addition to the E.J. Whitaker team.
HOW TO HELP
If you missed the Kickstarter campaign but love the idea of The Invention of E.J. Whitaker and would still like to
make a contribution to help bring the series to life, please feel free to give a donation via Paypal here:
Amounts as small as $5 (USD) are welcomed and will be rewarded with thanks from the team and an
illustrated digital thank you card.
Amounts of $10 (USD) or greater will receive a Digital Copy of Issue #1 of The Invention of E.J. Whitaker
and digital perks including an illustrated digital thank you card, screensavers and the E.J. Whitaker
"Bohemian Rag" Ragtime Theme remix by Taiwo Heard.
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(Flying Machine Concept Art)
Concept Art Credits: Mark Hernandez, Earl Womack, Chul Kim, Jenny Chui