The Art of Jason Strutz

Jason Strutz is an artist and writer of illustration and graphic novels. His current Project is Returned, now in production on Patreon.

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Welcome to my art portfolio and shop website. My current project is Returned, a fantasy horror family drama graphic novel currently in production. Join the project at my Patreon page to see script pages, sketch layouts and running commentary on the boo

Here you can find galleries of work under Portfolio. The Sketchbook section has work that was created just for myself as well as October drawing challenges such as Drawlloween. In the store you’ll find original art, books, and prints.

Here’s a preview of my Patreon content


This opening segment sets up the frequently inverting nature of our protagonist, Vale. This unnamed family serves the story goal of “saving the cat,” an easy story beat that sets up the protagonist as “the good one.” This term is derived from Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need by Blake Snyder, a frequently hacky story formula book. Later this family will serve another story beat building off this concept, note the bit about the doll “for later” dun dun dunnnn.


This has been a long time coming. I started writing the script in 2019, with the intention of using that runway to prepare a project to work on when my daughter went to school full-time in the fall. It was a lot of reading at first, both specific comic writing, as well as screen and playwriting books. I did most of this work at the East Grand Rapids library during my half-days of alone time. I was able to progress in the script working in the mornings while continuing my freelance art jobs and work-at-home dad duties. The plan was to finish by the end of 2019 and start producing the art in 2020, but let’s rewind a bit first. 

The concept goes back to 24 Hour Comic Day, a international event that takes place the first weekend of October at comic shops, libraries, anywhere you can stay awake for twenty-four hours straight making twenty-four pages of comics. At my third event I made a comic called Vale, a barebones story of a warrior coming to terms with being forced into the army of the dead she had been fighting. It was obviously bigger than the page count allowed. When the urge to write my own graphic novel grew it was something I immediately thought of using as a starting point. This page in particular did not change drastically from the original story and there will be many more story beats in the graphic novel that correspond with this proto-version, and I’ll be including those pages in the sketch day posts. 

Fast forward to 2022 and I’ve been able to start working the book on a regular schedule. Through learning, writing, editing, pandemics, new jobs, and finally settling on a title, I am ready to start documenting this creation for Patreon. Thanks for joining me here.


The first page! I had to be convinced to add chapters to my book; all it took was everyone I asked saying that I should. I came up with a basic design style here, a wide panel that hits the edges of the page for a very zoomed out view of where we are in the story. I’m frequently drawing a panel and have to zoom out to show more environments, so I tried to make sure there was a panel that takes a long view. I’ll work up a consistent style for the chapter headings when I get to final art. 

I wanted this first sequence to be dark, shadowy, and a bit of a cold open. The family is already in danger. The situation is already tense.  This was one of the concepts that always showed up in writing advice, start your story in progress. This was a bit of a change from the 24 Hour version, where I had an establishing shot to start the book to start the scene. I had more space in the graphic novel to set that up later and allow this opening page to be more mysterious and claustrophobic. 


The template I’m using is one that I’ve cobbled together from a few sources. The pink border will be trimmed off when printed, but any art that goes to the edge of the page must extend into it. The yellow border is at risk of being trimmed, so no important elements, visuals or lettering should be in the yellow zone. The blue guides can easily divide the page into panels, and the curved lines can remind me to guide the eye around the page so one panel’s contents lead into the the correct next panel.