Ron Frontier talks about JIN & TONIK

First Comics News: So what’s “Jin and Tonik” about? The basic premise?

Ron Fortier: It’s a modern-day spy thriller that deals with two very different assassins; one Chinese, Sammy Jin, and the other Russian, Darya Tonikova.

1st: Who came up with the idea in the first place?

Ron: This was all artist Cesar Feliciano’s idea. He wanted to do a story that would focus on mankind’s daily struggle with the dual aspects of life; spiritual and material. This would be played out by two extreme characters representing the opposite philosophies. Jin is a martial artist depending on his chi to fuel his fighting skills. Darya on the other hand was born in a test tube, her DNA manipulated while in an artificial womb so that upon her birth, every molecule in her body works to peak performance. In other words, she’s been made superhuman via science.

1st: How did you come into the project?

Ron: The more Cesar’s concept kept expanding, he decided he needed a writer to give the plot some kind of overarching plot and narrative. He and I had met years ago at a con and I’d expressed a desire to work with him. He’s such a gifted artist. So he wrote me asking if I’d be available and sent me a page-and-a-half outline. Immediately I saw the potential inherent in his concept and started writing a more robust breakdown of the saga that would be told in four big books. Cesar loved what I’d done and called me. At the end of that hour conversation, both of us were fired up to get this story told and in print.

1st: Is it harder to work on someone else’s idea rather than your own?

Ron: Sometimes. But not in this case. Cesar’s conceit had me so wound up, that it inspired my own imagination and happily, he was in turn receptive to my suggestions.  Between the two of us, we shared the same vision. Communication between writer and artist is vital in any comic endeavor, along with trust and mutual respect. Cesar and I share those completely in producing “Jin and Tonik.”

1st: What was it specifically that intrigued you as a writer?

Ron: Well the fact that as the story unfolds, both Sammy and Darya are cold-blooded killers. They’re the bad guys. Then halfway through the tale, each of them experiences a soul-shattering epiphany. I truly believe that all human beings have these experiences multiple times in their lives. Meaning you come to a crossroad where one path leads to happiness and joy and the other chaos and destruction. Which you ultimately choose is dependent on how strong your conscience is and if you are willing to listen to it. That’s what happens to these two people and I was fascinated with how to write that epiphany they mutually share.

1st: What happened next?

Ron: Witt Cesar’s thumbs up, I went and wrote some 85 pages of script. Half of that is Book # 1 and the rest is Book # 2.  And he started drawing.  A year later issue # 1 was penciled and inked and looked amazing. It’s truly some of his best work ever. Still, I felt it was time to expand the team.

1st: How so?

Ron: We had debated whether to do the series in color or black and white. Upon seeing Cesar’s finished pages, I thought they begged for color. Something to totally enhance the art was selling. I put out a plea on Facebook and Matt Webb responded. Matt’s a great colorist and one of those rare creators not obsessed with money. He simply loved the idea and was at the time between gigs so he signed on. When we saw his first few pages, we were delighted. I believe Matt managed to color the first 11 pages before having to get back to his other commitments. At this point, Cesar was ready to tackle that particular chore and almost overnight became a truly awesome colorist wrapping up the remaining 29 pages.

1st: Are there any other members on your team?

Ron: For sure, artist Mike W. Belcher, a good pal with whom I work with all the time. There isn’t a comic job Mike can’t do. I recommended him to Cesar to letter the issue and Cesar concurred. A few weeks later all the pages were done. And now issue # 1 of “Jin and Tonik” is up at Indigo raising publishing funds.

1st: How much time is left on the campaign?

Ron: Four days.

1st: Terrific. So what’s next for you?

Ron: Well as most folks know, I just had my Crimson Nun series launch from Ben Dunn’s Antarctic Press.  Next up will be issue number 2 of “The Boston Bombers” Vol 2 which I’m doing with artist Rob Davis. This is a sequel to a book I did ages ago at Caliber Press. Fans can get that collection and the new books at (

Then later in the year, I’ll be debuting “Hamlet’s End,” my new western series with artist Zane DeGaine.

1st: You do keep busy?

Ron: Now there’s an understatement.

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