Growing up, Jake Morrison was captivated by comic books and cartoons. Now in his third year at Cal State Fullerton, Morrison is still captivated by the very same things. The only difference is, instead of watching and reading comics and cartoons, he is actively creating his own and trying to make a name for himself in the competitive and crowded field of animation and illustration.
“He is always working on his comics, or he is working on something. He always takes a pause every time we hang out though, but usually I always interrupt him when he is working on something,” said Jenny Duong, Morrison’s girlfriend.
Morrison chose CSUF because he wanted to take advantage of its storyboard courses in the animation department. Morrison eventually applied those courses in his “Dani and Ramen” comic series.
The series follows two woodland characters who search for the culprits who destroyed their home. Inspired by the real world around him, Morrison decided to bridge his comic with current environmental issues.
“There’s this person who is taking all the power from the earth, the trees, the resources and giving the power to himself, similar to what humans are doing with fracking and deforestation,” Morrison said.
He initially wanted his comic “Dani and Ramen” to get picked up by a network channel, but instead Morrison opted to develop the comic first in the hopes that networks would approach him and eventually adapt it into a cartoon. Morrison also sees the added benefit of making money from the comic itself while he develops the series.
“Dani and Ramen” is a source of pride for Morrison as he was able to copyright it at the age of 19.
The copyright also allows him to go public with the comic and ensure protection from anyone attempting to steal his idea. While Morrison has other projects planned for the future, the absence of the copyright makes him keep those projects private, which he said is an issue plaguing the cartoon industry.
A friend of Morrison, Victor Calleja, admires Morrison’s art and draws inspiration from his work as well.
“I really enjoy his little fish dogs,” said Calleja. “Seeing the variety of all his fishdogs is really fun, really fun shapes, great sense of design,”
The fish dogs, which are featured on Morrison’s Instagram, are an example in which he combines animals to create unique characters.
“He has really precise linework, he is always good at doing that. I don’t know how he does it,” Duong said.
Morrison’s ultimate goal is to be a showrunner on a network like Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network. He also hopes to help other independent comic book makers by funding and developing their comics because he understands the difficulties.
“I would like to be one of those people that says ‘Alright let see what you got and if I have faith in this I can give you the money so you can quit your Target job,” Morrison said. “You come into my shark tank and pitch me your idea.”
Comic books and cartoons are no longer a childhood treasure for Morrison, it is the foundation for his career aspirations. He is now using that passion and his art skills to navigate the competitive industry in hopes of one day making it to the top.