Tuesday, November 24, 2015
2015 Sha'sheen J'onzz Space City Comic Con Jam Sketch Detail by Ryan Benjamin
Thanks to the constant distraction of podcasting, and the specific demands of getting new Martian Manhunter podcasts onto this blog every few weeks, I've managed to go over a month without a new member of the J'Onzz Family Portrait appearing. Who better to set the T'hanksgiving D'inner than “Mother” J'onzz, the Silver Age domestic later rendered as "Sha'sheen?" The post-Zero Hour, pre-Flashpoint incarnation of J'onn's mom was herself a Manhunter from Mars who wore an outfit near identical to her son's, which struck me as boring and lacking individuality. The unnamed materfamilias appeared thrice in the old Detective Comics strip, once in the early days with a bald head in a sort of formalized muumuu, and years later in the version you see here. I prefer this sort of austere pilgrim look to the Groening overbite original version, especially the lavender hair, which would also turn up on Bel Juz.
I had considered Wildstorm and DC artist Ryan Benjamin for several members of the J'onzzes, including M'yri'ah and M'yrnn, but as other artists took precedence the selection was made by default. I'd previously enjoyed Benjamin's work on WildC.A.T.s and Grifter, plus his more recent cover work, and figured he'd be a good fit for any of the alien Martians, but especially a female. I actually caught the artist toward the end of his stint at the convention (can't recall if it was Saturday or Sunday) and he was drawing a large, very detailed Bane on his table mat as a going away present (after having already done an attractive Harley Quinn.) I stood around for a long while, watching the artist work. Once I finally attracted his attention, he offered to do a ten minute sketch of Sha'sheen for $80.
As he settled into the drawing using my waist up reference, Benjamin asked me a lot of questions about the character's costume details, especially those left unseen. I frankly didn't have many answers for him, since to my recollection Mother J'onzz was never drawn below the waist in this costume, and I ultimately regretted frustrating the artist by not asking for one of the character's other two designs. Truth to tell, I have no great interest in Sha'sheen, which played into her late, obligatory, and cramped inclusion in the jam piece. I think the artist sensed my lack of enthusiasm and inability to articulate much of interest about the character. Obviously, there's a lot missing from view in this scan, as Sha'sheen is interacting with two other members of the family I'm saving for later. Also, I had another artist add graytones to this figure to better integrate it into the overall piece.
More from Ryan Benjamin