Justin Greenwood has a hit on his hands—and he’s ready to follow up. The School of Illustration graduate is the artist of Stumptown, a graphic novel series set in Portland, OR. Stumptown is also now a show on ABC, for which he’s an executive producer.
Having grown up on a steady diet of crime stories, Greenwood was a big fan of Stumptown since its launch. Originally created by writer Greg Rucka and artist Matthew Southworth (who drew the first two volumes of the book), the series now spans four volumes, published by ONI Press.
Greenwood came on board as artist when Southworth stepped away. Greenwood drew the next two volumes. “I’ve always enjoyed working on this book,” he affirms.
Stumptown follows military veteran Dex Parios, a private investigator in Portland whose strong personality makes her good at her job, but often gets her in big trouble.
Stumptown, the Show
On Sept. 25, 2019, ABC premiered its television adaptation of the graphic novel. The TV series stars Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother), Jake Johnson (New Girl), Michael Ealy (Being Mary Jane) and Camryn Manheim (The Practice).
“The timing of the show has really been great,” says Greenwood. “It’s been a couple of years since volume four was released. Greg and I had been discussing returning to it for a new volume.”
Greenwood shares that the TV series had “quietly” been in consideration for a while before ABC announced the production. He says, “It’s only gotten more exciting as things have developed.”
While Greenwood wasn’t concerned with every detail of the show lining up with the graphic novel, his hope was the spirit of the show would still ring true. “They’ve done a great job with that balance,” he says. “ABC has been great, really supportive. They’ve been really cool about trying to bring in some of the comics’ elements in how they market the show and making sure the point isn’t missed.”
The team was particularly fortunate in casting Smulders as Dex, according to Greenwood. He says Smulders makes Dex feel human and compelling. The entire cast is “fantastic,” he adds. “They seem to have a natural connection that is easily apparent on the screen.”
Justin Greenwood Grows Professional Roots at the Academy
“I’ve often said that one of the best assets of the Academy is the emphasis on the foundations and understanding art in a broader sense before focusing on something specific,” Greenwood says. “Comics is constantly throwing me into situations where I have to feel comfortable drawing anything. And attending the Academy was a great primer for that.”
After graduating with his BFA from the Academy in 2005, Greenwood was determined to pursue a career in comics. He spent several years going to conventions and building his portfolio before getting his first comics series about 10 years ago. He says he “slowly rolled that momentum in to a full-time job.”
The comics industry thrives on making headlines, he said, and attending the Academy prepared him to manage his time as a freelancer.
Instructors Provide Feedback Beyond School
School of Illustration Director Chuck Pyle says he wasn’t exactly expecting that a property Greenwood worked on would become a “star in its own right” on TV. “May it be the first of many to come! Justin always worked very hard pushing his story and drawing skills.”
Pyle points to Greenwood’s “distinctive” style of holding things together. “He remains an outstanding ‘value’ in the comics world, and now in the other part of sequential stories: television and film.”
Illustration instructor Lisa Berrett had Greenwood as a student in her clothed figure drawing class and remembers him fondly for his enthusiasm and openness to learning. “I’m so pleased to see how Justin has evolved in his career and the quality of the work he’s doing. He makes his illustration family proud.”
ABC’s Stumptown Premieres
On Sept. 8, comics fans were treated to a sneak peek of the Stumptown TV premiere at Rose City Comic-Con in Portland, where they got to interact with the show’s cast and producers.
“It was awesome,” says Greenwood. “It made me a little apprehensive to watch it in a big room of comics fans, but the response was pretty overwhelming, very positive.”
Greenwood reports the arrival of another project. “I’ve been working on a new comics series called Crone, which came out from Dark Horse Comics in November. It’s kind of a cross between Red Sonja and Unforgiven, a searching and action-packed tale of an old warrior who has to go to battle one last time.”
Learn more about Justin Greenwood at www.justingreenwoodart.com.
Original article by Caroline Andrade, Publications staff reporter for AcademyArtUNews.com