When Steve Jobs died of cancer in 2011, he was almost deified. He did, as he said he would, change the world. But Jobs was only human. Creative agency JESS3 and Caleb Melby’s The Zen of Steve Jobs explores the many facets of the man and legend. With Jobs’s design aesthetic at its center, the story achieves a vivid portrait of the complex figure that Jobs had cut.
Jobs was, of course, a forthright Buddhist. He had begun practicing meditation at the Tassajara Zen Center in the 1970‘s, and it was there that he met Roshi Kobun Chino. He was drawn immediately to Chino’s reputation as innovator and rebel, and the two formed a lifelong connection. When he was fired from Apple in 1985, as he did in any state of turmoil, Jobs turned to Chino. But not for religion. He wanted to learn about the Buddhist concept of Ma, the relationship between objects and space, upon which, his entire brand would eventually come to rest.
Ma, too, is evident throughout The Zen of Steve Jobs. The team at JESS3, renowned for groundbreaking illustration work, paid careful attention to the relationship between Melby’s story and its visual execution. Composition and space make every single panel artful and important.
Originally created for Forbes magazine, and later published by Wiley, The Zen of Steve Jobs is the opposite of an indie comic. This was big business, celebrating, well, a big business. But Melby, an intern at Forbes, had long dreamt of writing a personal piece on Jobs. That’s the thing about him. All business. All the time. Unflinchingly. But the ship’s captain is always the most romantic character aboard, don’t you think?