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Unseen Justice: Talking to the Man Behind the Graphic Novel
It’s not too often that a comic book accounts for the officer’s point of view. That’s something John Prince aims to change with Unseen Justice.
The storyline follows Wyatt Stone, a discharged Marine sniper who returns home from Afghanistan. He’s decided to come back to care for his father and takes a job at the local sheriff’s department as a corrections officer. In response to the many injustices he witnesses there, he soon finds himself embarking on some old-fashioned vigilante justice.
A little ways back, Prince was kind enough to answer some questions for us. Read on to find out everything you could want to know about this new project. If you like what you see, you can find this serial comic book on Amazon and the website.
What inspired you to create Unseen Justice?
I have always liked the graphic novel/comic book art form. There is something personal about it that you do not get from movies, music or other media forms. The magic takes place between each panel on the page. That little white space, known as the gutter, is where the reader gets to fill in the blanks, to become part of the story.
How would you summarize the graphic novel series?
We have a system of justice that society has heavily invested in. But there are times that the system fails or is manipulated by unjust and evil people. Unseen Justice is about the unraveling of a combat marine/correctional officer and his transformation into a vigilante determined to right wrongs by any means necessary. What sets Unseen Justice apart is you are going to have a front row seat in the creation of this unbalanced character. There are going to be times that a part of you agrees with his actions and there will be times that you are uncomfortable and want to look away.
Unseen Justice utilizes real tactical gear and brands. Do you think it’s difficult to incorporate these sponsors into the story? Why or why not?
Artwork is not cheap. As with any indie project money is always an issue. When writing the story I wanted it to be based in reality. No superpowers or babies from alien planets. In doing this, I started adding real equipment and brands that I was familiar with in my experience. Then it struck me, why not ask these companies to help out with the cost of producing the project. So far it has been pretty painless to incorporate these items and brands, since you would really see them in these settings. These are products that are used in the real world, so they fit. Now if someone wants me to embed a pogo stick into the story, I will have to pass.
Do you have a particular process for writing Unseen Justice?
I would love to tell you that I lock myself in a cabin for six months pounding on a manual typewriter and drinking cases of Monster energy drinks. The truth is, writing a script is a lot like writing an incident/crime report. You have to paint a picture to what happen, who said what and what the place looked like. So I use those skills to help Justin Case, the artist, in the right direction. He in turn, uses his awesome talent to graphically tell the story.
Which character do you identify with the most? Why?
Great question. Not to sound like a therapy session but parts of me like the ideals Wyatt Stone stands behind. If you do the crime, you do the time. If you use power or corruption to bypass that justice, then something needs to be done about it. I would write a letter to the editor of the paper, whereas Wyatt Stone would snipe someone from 400 yards.
How long were you a corrections officer?
I have been in the field of corrections for 25 years, 15 years at local Sheriff’s Department and 10 years with the state. I also served four years in the Marines. So I am pretty much brain damaged.
What are the most important things you have learned as a corrections officer?
Keep my back against the wall. Frontal attacks are easier to defend. That joke about dropping the soap in the shower is true. While some folks don’t like to think about it, the inmates can take control at any moment and the reason they don’t is the staff.
If you had to pick just five pieces of duty gear, what would you select as the most important?
Wow it has been awhile since I was in the ops game. I would say knife, gloves, survival strap, solid pack and duct tape. You can do anything with duct tape.
Back to Unseen Justice. What can readers expect from this series?
A roller coaster ride with twists and turns. The number one rule on the yard, “Trust no one!”
[Author/creator John Prince is on the far right.]
Do you think that any of the content will shock readers?
Yes. The story takes place in two different time periods: Stone’s time as a scout sniper in Afghanistan and stateside as a correctional officer. The war side of the story will be pretty standard—that genre has been fully explored. The stateside story will center on the correctional facility. This is truly the Unseen part of the Justice system. The average person has no idea of the things that happen behind those walls.
One of the driving focuses of the project is to tell the corrections story. Too often correctional officers are seen as guards and knuckle dragging apes. Almost all corrections centered stories are about inmates. Personally, I am over that. The men and women that walk those yards, dining room and housing units deserve to have their story told. As for shocking, there is saying that sums up the field of corrections, “You can’t make this s**t up.”
What kind of feedback have you received thus far?
So far I have received very positive feedback. We have had some positive reviews on ibook and Amazon. I would love to hear what people think and answer questions. In our second issue we will be including comments, photos and questions from our readers.