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J. M. DeSantis (born Jeffrey Michael DeSantis) is a writer and artist (Write-ist). He is best known as the creator of the medieval Indian fantasy heroine, Chadhiyana. DeSantis has also authored a number of short stories and artworks, mostly in the fantasy, horror and humour genres. His first graphic novel, Chadhiyana: In the Company of Shadows is currently being serialised in individual comic issues through Rosarium Publishing. He is also the writer and artist for the humorous web-comic, Gentleman Cthulhu: Emeritus Moribus Monstrum (gentlemancthulhu.com).
Born in 1982, J. M. DeSantis grew up in New Jersey where he began drawing at an early age, encouraged by both of his parents. He became interested in comics and video games and eventually began writing and drawing stories for his own characters, rather than fan-fictions. As early as ten years old he held himself to a rigorous schedule of producing a complete, staple-bound issue of his comic each month, which he kept up for over a year. In high school, though his interests turned more toward video games and prose fiction (both of which strongly influence him today), he wrote and drew a comic which appeared regularly in the school newspaper.
He went on to attend Pratt Institute, where he gained a new appreciation for graphic literature (in that it could be about more than spandex-wearing musclemen). As such, though he graduated with a BFA in Computer Animation, he took on two senior projects to produce a 3-minute animation which was a tie-in to his 72-page graphic novel. It was during these four years that J. M. also wrote some short fiction, some of which were later published, and his first novel (unpublished).
After a few years of struggle, J. M. landed his first freelance job with the Comicbook Artist Guild as the penciler for the third installment of their mascot’s origin story. This was quickly followed by a featured artist spot in Heavy Metal Magazine (January 2009) and a brief stint as a contributing writer and artist to Planet Lovecraft Magazine (discontinued). In the years following, DeSantis focused mostly on short fiction (comics and prose) and illustrating both his stories and those of other writers.
He created the well-received cover illustration for The Book of Charlie: Spirit of the Pompey Hollow Book Club (Little York Books), and worked on the Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated project (Neoflux Productions). His work has also appeared in publications by Innsmouth Free Press, Arcana Comics, Norgus Press, Static Movement, Alterna Comics and Atlas Unleashed. In addition, J. M. worked for two years (2010-2012) as an editor, writer and artist for Game-Flush.com, a humorous website about video games which he helped co-create. He maintains that the experience helped him grow immensely as a writer and artist and better understand things from a publishing, marketing and merchandising perspective.
In 2011, J. M. DeSantis began developing his medieval Indian fantasy heroine, Chadhiyana, based on a painting he made which gained some (small) attention. Claiming a multitude of inspirations, DeSantis holds that a major motivation for creating Chadhiyana was his idea that fantasy worlds could be filtered through cultures other than Medieval Europe. He also felt strongly that there was still a great need for strong female leads in fiction, especially dark-skinned women.
After developing the character and her world, J. M. DeSantis wrote and hand-painted two Chadhiyana stories which were collected into a comic he self-published in 2012. Following this, he began work on the first Chadhiyana graphic novel, Chadhiyana: In the Company of Shadows, which tells Chadhiyana’s origin story. The first 72 pages were published as a web-comic from October 2013 to December 2014 before it was picked up by Rosarium Publishing.
J. M. DeSantis’s work is identifiable by its dark themes, even in his humourous work, and his often psychologically complex characters. He is a stylistic writer and artist and prefers working traditionally. He variously incorporates watercolours, acrylics, coloured pencils and inks in his art and writes the first drafts of his manuscripts by hand. Though American, J. M. is an anglophile and often uses British spellings in his writing. The portmanteau title Write-ist (writer-artist) was coined by J. M. DeSantis in 2012 to describe the symbiotic relationship between his writing and art.
In his spare time, J. M. enjoys reading, exercising, martial arts, gaming and spending time with his family, friends, his two dogs and two cats. He particularly dislikes when his name is misspelled (Desantis–a lowercase “s” and JM rather than J. M.) or mispronounced (DeSahntees, DeSantos, DeSantez, Sanchez, etc, etc, etc, ad nauseam). He lives in his native New Jersey where he continues to work creatively and teaches studio art and graphic design.
J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, Yasumi Matsuno (especially translated by Alexander O. Smith and Joseph Reeder), H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, Mike Mignola, Hideyuki Kikuchi and William Shakespeare.
Ayami Kojima, Alan Lee, Akihiko Yoshida, Mike Mignola, John Howe, Hiroaki Samura, Drew Struzan, Gary Gianni, Adam Hughes, Frank Frazetta and Norman Rockwell.
Christopher Nolan, Tim Burton and Ridley Scott.
Vagrant Story, Dark Souls, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Final Fantasy Tactics.
Se7en, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Nosferatu, Gladiator (Ridley Scott), Schindler’s List and The Dark Knight.
Art Teacher. Ridgefield Park Public Schools; Ridgefield Park, New Jersey. September 2013 – current.
High school and middle school studio art and graphic design teacher. Also run a comic book club which teaches the comic-creation process.
Guest Art Teacher. Englewood Public School District; Englewood, New Jersey.
Taught two comic book creation workshops during; one two-week, one single-day, multiple periods.
Pratt Institute. Brooklyn, NY. Sept 2001 – May 2005
Bachelor of Fine Arts – Computer Animation.