CENTRAL KITSAP — As his pen flicks back and forth across his sketchbook, Jeffrey Veregge’s main character comes into focus. The figure is slinking out of a compromising situation through a window.
“He’s kind of a rogue,” Veregge said, sitting in his Central Kitsap home studio. A lifelong comic fan, he’s surrounded by action figures, comic books and movies as he sketches this concept.
On the page, just above the character, is the title “DEMICON.”
Three years into his full-time career as an artist, S’Klallam tribal member Veregge is in the midst of work on his first solo comic series. It’s all his.
DemiCon will be a six-issue series written, illustrated and lettered by Veregge. Inside those issues, he’ll mix Native American and Greek mythology, while addressing an underlying theme mixing spirituality and technology.
“Can they coexist in the same world?” Veregge said.
By the end of 2017, Veregge will have had his hands on well over 100 comic titles from the past three years, he said, including cover designs on Marvel’s Red Wolf series. But in DemiCon, he welcomes his first shot at taking on all of the creative elements from those projects — including storywriting, layout design, illustration and typography — and wrapping them into one series.
In Veregge’s steampunk world, readers will be introduced to DemiCon, the story’s S’Klallam protagonist, who discovers a plot by the Greek god Vulcan to break California away into his own kingdom.
DemiCon is both a demigod with subtle supernatural abilities and a conman who lives under the radar. He has bits of Lando Calrissian, Danny Ocean and Harry Houdini mixed into his character, Veregge said. DemiCon will have a choice to continue in his old life of crime or to step up and do something about the situations with which he’s presented, he said.
The series will be Veregge's own take on the hero’s journey.
“It’s got love, action, adventure, twists and turns,” he said.
The series will be published by Native Realities Press, a New Mexico-based company that highlights Native American artists through comics, toys and games.
Lee Francis, the company's CEO and publisher, said he's excited to see a comic that examines a different type of Native hero, one who's part anti-hero, who's on the edge of being good. The series stretches the horizon on how Native superheroes are portrayed, he said.
"It's not just 'cowboys and indians'," Francis said. "This vision and version of a hero he’s created is exactly what we need."
For Veregge, the series will be a chance to show a Native American hero while also celebrating his own heritage.
“I’m proud of where I’m from,” he said of his tribe. “I feel like if I’m enjoying any kind of success, it’s like I’m bringing them with me.”
Veregge plans to wrap up work on the series by the end of the year and for DemiCon to be published and sold in shops around Kitsap County not long after that.