OKG: Tell Us a little bit about yourself and your year in review? (Have you gotten covid or anyone near you been affected?)
Jerry Bennett: I’m a full-time freelance illustrator, and have been working from home along with my wife, a home baker (@countrygilrkitchen), which made the pandemic much more manageable not having to leave the house much. Neither of us, or any immediate family, have had Covid, but we have had countless friends who contracted it, and many of their family members have been lost to it.
Overall, though, my year has been miraculously full of hope, having presented in a webinar for the Alaska region of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators), inducted into the USAO (my alma mater) Hall of Fame, improving my health and diet, and turning a half-century old this year.
OKG: As an illustrator has the Pandemic changed your day to day process?
Jerry Bennett: For the most part, nothing in my workflow has changed, surprisingly, and even provided extra time to get work done. I was worried work would slow down when the economy declined, but thankfully I have had continual steady work, and even time to work on a few personal projects.
OKG: Any Project that you created over the last year that you are proud of?
Jerry Bennett: I’ve been very fortunate to create some really great pieces for the Gazette, Oklahoma Today magazine, and Glamorella’s Daughter, my collaboration with writers Charles J. Martin and Brandy Williams, that we successfully launched as a Kickstarter for issue one.
OKG: Have you been more ambitious to tackle larger projects or new styles?
Jerry Bennett: When my Cintiq went kaput, it gave me the challenge of working exclusively through my IPad Pro, and I feel like it has really allowed my style or illustration and comic art to grow and change. I also began writing on a larger scale, even hoping to write and illustrate an entire trilogy of graphic novels from an original concept of mine.
OKG: Who have you leaned on the most through this year?
Jerry Bennett: My wife, without a doubt. Having almost every social element removed from us has allowed us to depend on one another and really strengthen our already wonderful marriage. Our four cats have helped too.
OKG: What has inspired you the most this year?
Jerry Bennett: Seeing how our underpaid teachers have coped and adjusted to a ton of extra work for the sake of our students and witnessing the creative response from so many different artists, despite the oppressive nature of the pandemic and so many other issues around them have continually spurred me to stay creative and hopeful.
OKG: First thing you want to do when Covid is gone?
Jerry Bennett: I will hug all the family and friends that I haven’t been able to contact. I will also look forward to having lunch with my Dad every Tuesday again.
OKG: Top 10 movies, Tv Shows and Music of 2020 that helped you get through the Year
Jerry Bennett: As a Star Wars fan, The Mandalorian has given me a love for the property I haven’t had since I was a child. (That season two ending!) Among the 2020 shows, I really enjoyed Central Park, Star Trek Picard, and Star Trek Discovery (yes, I’m a nerd). The Banker and Just Mercy were two movies I supremely enjoyed, and I FINALLY got to watch Hamilton, thanks to Disney+. For music, I usually listen to a lot of soundtrack scores to draw to, so I have been listening to the soundtracks to the TV shows I mentioned, including Central Park, which is chock full of ridiculously clever songs, especially “Weirdos Make Great Superheroes.”
I also need to mention that, more than any shows or movies, I’ve read a TON of graphic novels this year, most notable being Ryan Andrew’s THIS WAS OUR PACT. It’s fantastic on so many levels.
OKG: Top 5 Local Artists, events, etc that inspired you this year.
Jerry Bennett: This is tough to answer, as so many things have been canceled due to Covid. Not having New World Comic Con, normally held every year at the State Fairgrounds hurt the most. OVAC (Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition) held a first-ever Art Crawl, which allowed many of us who depend on conventions and events to have a safe venue opportunity to sell our work, and it was fantastic. Seeing many creatives still pursuing their craft has definitely kept me inspired, too, like Kyle Robert’s film company, Reckless Abandonment Pictures, with their fantastic stop-motion work and the Paseo Art District, who showed some creative quality in their virtual programming to highlight artists this year. I was particularly proud of the Literati Book Shop COMICS AS ART gallery show I helped mentor and judge, which was able to keep a socially distant event and still allowed for success in highlighting the awesome comic creator talent in the state.