Most people who follow my work today have really only heard of me through my webcomic URBAN ANIMAL. And why wouldn’t they? It’s easily the most successful thing I’ve ever done in terms of gains and readership. I co-plot the thing with Justin Jordan and handle the totality of the art (which… mental note… that’s a whole other thing to talk about because hoo-boy).
As of this writing, UA has upwards of 100,000 weekly readers and roughly 487,000 Subscribers on the Webtoon app. That’s pretty great. That’s a whole lot of people with a whole lot of eyeballs reading a comic I made. I whole lot. And if the comments section is to be believed, a handful of them read and re-read the thing to catch all the hidden gems, the easter eggs. The little character moments.
But what a lot of people don’t know is that the UA series that started running in 2018 is not the first iteration of the story. Because in 2002 College John was not only paying just enough attention to get by, but was actually working on the rough-as-hell, exceedingly locally flavored, and painfully self-referential BEAST BOY JOE… later re-dubbed The URBAN ANIMAL.
An angsty teen. A school setting. Monsters. Hormones. The original series had all the trappings of what would eventually become today’s URBAN ANIMAL. I guess the biggest difference between UA today and that old series was the setting. It was definitively set in the Philippines, with references to local street food, jeepneys, and the like. I grew up in Cebu, and looking at those old pages really takes me back to those times. Circa 2001-2005. No smartphones. No money. No problem. That’s just how it was. The world was simpler. And so College John wrote a simple story.
And a big part of the local flavor, I feel, shines through in the new series. In the quiet moments when the characters are just hanging out. Or when Joe’s dad blurts out a random expletive — College John has a shit-eating grin. I bring this all up because it’s a nice feeling when people respond to silly little character things like that. We have this really cool magic system that potentially encompasses any manner of shape shifting and monster situation you might think of… but also this one guy said yawa and there’s Chippy on the snack shelves.
I looked through some of those old pages. Man oh man. Let’s just say my art’s definitely better now. And speaking of stuff that I’m making now…
URBAN ANIMAL is currently on its third season, and Episode 77 comes out free to read this weekend (Ep 80 for Fast Pass Readers). No spoilers, but we’re in this season’s homestretch as all the elements and disparate parties are coming together. Roll initiative, basically. The battle map has been revealed.