Shortly after graduating high school I wrote and self-published a book about an oddball character that lived in a school bus titled, “Jim Jamkins: The Fringe Benefits of Converting a School Bus into a Home.” The comical story allowed readers to see life through Jim’s eyes as he used unlikely logic to handle the different experiences that were presented to him throughout each chapter. In the opening pages Jim decides to purchase and live in a school bus. Although he researched a number of housing options, Jim realized that to afford any of them he would have to put in more than 30 hours a week at the local pizza place where he worked. Spending that amount of time working would severely cut in to Jim’s current video game schedule. And if you knew anything about Jim, you understood that gaming was one aspect of his life that was non-negotiable. Sure, he ended up having to buy cheaper land that was located next to a semi-dangerous electrical power site in order to stay within his budget and pull the whole thing off, but on the flipside he was able to live in a freaking awesome custom rigged school bus and enjoy uninterrupted game play.
But when a leak in the bus roof suddenly ruins his gaming console, Jim’s world is turned upside down as he figures out how else to spend his time while waiting to hear back from customer support. Throughout the book Jim proceeds to undertake such projects as creating an imaginary community out of trash in his backyard, have the most awkward rollerblading accident / dentist appointment of his life which ultimately inspired him to purchase a daddy long legs insect farm, end up using a box of Smack Puffs cereal to reenact a movie, have a nightmarish experience delivering a pizza to a customer, and much more. While true, it’s likely that Jim is probably the only person that could handle dealing with such an insane combination of psychotic experiences, it’s also fair to say that Jim is probably the only person who could manage to get himself in those situations in the first place. The more I wrote about Jim, the more interesting his life became and I decided to delay a solution to his video game dilemma, extending the storyline to a second book that would pick up where book one had left off.
After self-publishing book one as a paperback, I went on to write “book two” of the paperback series, which I was planning to title, “Buckle Up, It’s Gonna be a Rough Ride.” The storyline in book two was based around Jim’s frustration with his unreliable SUV that had “untraceable / unfixable” electrical problems. Completely fed up and unable to sell the vehicle due to its faultiness, Jim decided to host a “farewell and good riddance” bon fire in which he would blow it up. In the climax of the story Jim devises a dramatic mob style vehicle assassination, which required guests to yell and scream with pitchforks in a medieval battle like setting. Wanting the event to be played out like a Hollywood production, Jim planned to jump a scooter (his new ride which was actually quite reliable) off a ramp he had attached to his bus that would hurl him over the SUV as he fired bullets in to it at the exact time guests were signaled to ignite trails of gun powder triggering explosives inside the vehicle, sending Jim through the flames like Evel Knievel. I was never fully happy with the completed book cover illustration for Book two because I felt you couldn’t quite tell what was happening just from looking at it. But to be fair, after what I just described, how could you, ha ha. I really enjoyed working on the storyline of book two, however, up to my neck in real estate and remodeling work at the time, the endeavor slipped through the cracks and I never ended up following through with publishing the second book.
Years later I pulled the original paperback book after deciding to redevelop Jim Jamkins character and storyline. As time had passed, I felt the original book wasn’t as good as it could be and I welcomed the opportunity to make it better. Learn more about how that came about here. Among other changes, the revamped story of Jim Jamkins would also include a new character design, (which had previously simply been a likeness of me, ha ha). Unlike the original book, the new Jim Jamkins story will feature illustrations of each scene. I went on to draw a number of characters and scenes for the new story, which were then passed along for coloring. You can see those completed illustrations in the gallery below. The work continued for a while and then seemed to taper off and reach another stopping point. Shuffled in with a variety of other projects I’m currently working on, the “new” Jim Jamkins book is still a ways away from being finished. Maybe one day the stars will align and the timing will be right for me to get back to it. Although I’ve made other creative projects a priority right now, the story of Jim Jamkins is definitely something I’m planning to complete at some point in the future. Either way, this process has also shed a light in helping me understand why some movies or stories have taken “years” to reach completion, ha ha.