Who is Justice Jack?


Here’s another peek into the process of the process. In this post, I go through the steps of creating illustrations for Sammy Keyes and the Power of Justice Jack, the latest in author Wendelin Van Draanen’s series published by Random House Kids.

Who is Justice Jack?


According to the description on the jacketflap, Justice Jack, “. . .  is a real-life superhero! Well, really he’s just a guy in Spandex and a mask who rides around town on a dirt bike, hoping to find some crime to fight.”

According to Stephanie Moss, Senior Designer at Random House:

“I think this one will be a BLAST! We’d like to depict the character Justice Jack on the cover.

Awesome description below:


A self-styled, real-life superhero. He stands very upright, arms akimbo, head high, jutting chin!

Here’s the description from the book:

The man has long, black hair. And he is wearing red and gold Spandex. Over his red and gold body suit, he’s wearing tall, heavy, black boots that have buckles everywhere, red knee and arm pads, and a gold chest plate that looks like a cross between a hotrod grill and a catcher’s chest protector. And in the middle of the chest plate there’s a big, red “J” with a black lightning bolt behind it. Topping it off are heavy gold gloves, a red-crested Roman centurion helmet, and a black mask across his eyes. And around his waist is a utility belt. You know – like Batman wears? Only instead of high-tech Bat-gadgets in his utility belt, this weirdo’s got a hammer, a flashlight, and a slingshot.”

Here is the first round of sketches.


Stephanie’s response:

“Hi Karl –

We all love option A! Pretty much spot-on!

Two minor comments: Jack does not wear a cape, so please nix it.

Second thing. Can we go with the belt on option D?

No decision on the back cover art yet. Will keep you posted.

In terms of color, please refer to the original description.

Let me know if you have any questions.”


Good art direction, Steph! Next step.


The correspondence with Stephanie continues:

“The colors are fantastic! One minor detail that we’re missing is the ‘J’ on his chest. It’s in your sketch. He just needs to have the ‘J’ with the lightning bolt behind it.”

Oops, I forgot . . .

How’s this?

On the back cover, Stephanie wanted a spot illustration of a running peacock.

And here is the final.

Stephanie’s great art direction makes the process nice and easy.

A copy of the published book arrived in the mail today. It’s always fun to see my work on a Sammy Keyes cover!

Here it is!