Cartoonist Ron Wimberly is a busy man — but not too busy to try something new.
For the past few weeks, the Prince of Cats creator has been working with Nike and advertising agency Weiden & Kennedy comic strip about Detroit Lions’ wide receiver Calvin Johnson. Launched in September, Calvin & Johnson tells the story of Calvin and how he uses his alter ego (named Johnson) to help manage his life off the field and unleash his speed on the field. The Johnson alter ego is more than just another side of Calvin, as Wimberly states it’s played — in comic form — by rapper/media mogul P. Diddy. If that doesn’t sound like a traditional comic, that’s on purpose; Wimberly says that’s one of the reasons he chose to do it.
“What’s cool about this job is that it’s a comic that you won’t find in a comic book store. It’s not about superheroes,” he told ROBOT 6. “Hell, it’s kind of in the style of yonkoma manga. It stars people of color, made by a person of color. And it’s produced by Nike; they see the value in the medium for everyday folk who are not necessarily initiated in the language of comics. And none of that was deliberate … just happened that way. So that’s cool … rare, but hopefully not for long.”
Despite how well Amanda Conner might be able to slam-dunk a basketball, it’s her artistic ability that’s got her joining forces with Nike on a new campaign. Joining with Star Wars artist Jan Duursema, Conner has created a series of superhero-friendly illustrations promoting Nike’s women’s training line under the title “Make Yourself: A Super Power.” Here’s the artwork released so far, but we wouldn’t be surprised if there are some actual comics in the offing.