I am so flipping excited about this interview you guys! Jenn's art is beautiful and amazing, and I just want to show everyone. When I didn't think it could get any better, I found out that she and Kelly Thompson are putting out a Nancy Drew comic, with a fun cross over, and I just knew I had to have her on the blog!
NAL: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
JO: I’m Jenn St-Onge (aka Princess Jem on social media). I’m a tattooed cat mommy living in the general vicinity of Toronto and I’ve worked on comics like IDW’s The Misfits and Image’s Bingo Love.
NAL: What has been your favorite project so far?
JO: It’s hard to pick a favourite because each job has its perks/challenges, but looking back, working with Kelly Thompson and Sarah Gaydos on The Misfits was a hugely rewarding experience for me. I went into that series having not really drawn any bands or instruments but I loved the Jem comics and wanted a piece of it so badly, I put myself out there and did my best to step up to the plate! I loved getting to draw these characters I already really liked so getting to put my own twist on them and delving into their emotional sides a bit more was a huge gift for me.
NAL: Can you walk us through your creative process?
JO: I’m a pretty typical thumbnails > pencils > inks > colours sort of artist, working mostly digitally with Clip Studio Paint Pro. My initial thumbnails are super, super rough but more to just get some sort of idea down on the page, then my pencils are a lot more focused. Inks probably take me the longest of all my steps, as I tend to get very involved in every panel I work on and tend to be a perfectionist, but I can genuinely say that all my work submitted has been to the best of my ability (even if it was to the detriment of my sleep schedule haha)
NAL: What drew you to the Nancy Drew Project? (Pardon my pun)
JO: Kelly Thompson and I had pitched a separate comic idea shortly before Nancy Drew that unfortunately didn’t get picked up, so we were already in a conversation about collabing together again on a new comic. Dynamite approached Kelly with ND and she approached me, so I was very on board. I read the books as a kid and Nancy has been at the back of my mind for a while to do a 2010s version, so things just kind of worked out in my favour!
NAL: Tell us a little about Nancy Drew (If you can) What will be different in your comics?
JO: If you are unfamiliar with the character, Nancy is a teen detective who solves a wide variety of mysteries with her friends, Bess, George, Joe, and Frank. She clever and resourceful, and although her original mid-century sensibilities didn’t resonate with me 100% as a kid, her tenacity stuck with me. “Teen detective” was a very appealing job title to me as a kid/preteen, so I feel this Nancy is a bit of an extension of that daydream for me. We didn’t want to completely change the spirit of any of the characters in our take, so they are still very recognizable as themselves, they are just in a more contemporary setting with personalities that reflect that update.
NAL: What’s a typical day for you?
JO: Get up, go on Twitter/email on my phone (bad habit, do not recommend), make food, play outside with our German shepherd/care for pets in general, reply to emails, actually start work
NAL: What’s your favorite movie?
JO: I’m bad at this question but in no specific order: Howl’s Moving Castle, Grand Budapest Hotel, Shaun of the Dead, Last Unicorn, and Big Fish.
NAL: Do you have a fandom you hold dear? Harry Potter, Pokémon, Digimon etc.
JO: A few years ago I would have said Harry Potter, but since the controversy around the casting decision in Fantastic Beasts and not super cool stuff Rowling herself has said, I’ve chosen distanced myself from the books. I’m currently a big fan of Adventure Time and Steven Universe, along with Zelda and Bioshock.
NAL: Do you have any advice for beginning artists?
JO: -Try to balance improving your basic art fundamentals as well as developing a style that you like, as both are very important for creative longevity
-Be open to jobs but don’t take jobs just for the sake of taking them if they don’t relate to what you actually want to do with your art. It’s better to work for free for yourself developing your portfolio than to waste time and energy on projects that don’t relate to your future goals
-Build a network of peers at a similar level to you, not just established artists you admire, and have open lines of communication with them in case you are unsure about a client or a contract, or just want advice
-On that note, be very careful with contracts and do your best to read them through thoroughly/multiple times before signing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions on things you’re unsure about; if a client is unwilling to answer contract questions, that is a big red flag on them, not a sign of unprofessionalism on you.
NAL: Who are some of your art role models?
JO: My cheating answer to this is that if you’re looking for new creative types to follow, check out my Twitter follow list because it’s very full of cool people.To name a few, I love Naomi Franquiz (Misfits City), Marley Zarcone (Shade: the Changing Girl), Sarah Graley (Kim Reaper), and Babs Tarr (Motor Crush)
NAL: What in your opinion, is the best way to break art block?
Jo: Draw fanart or something generally fun for you that is a short turnaround time so you can at least get something out of your system!
NAL: Do you have any pets?
Jo: I have many pets haha, my husband and I have an all-black German shepherd and a bunch of rescue kitties!
NAL: Do you have any tattoos? If so of what, if not what would you get?
JO: I actually have six tats right now! My first tat is a Majora’s Mask design at the base of my neck, I have a floral/kitty half sleeve, a VFD ankle tat, a coffee/witchy thigh piece, a kitty skull forearm design, and a Sailor Moon side piece. My next job that I’m wanting to do is to extend my half sleeve into a full sleeve; it has portraits of our cats in it and I want to update it to add our newer fur babies.
NAL: If you could live in a fictional universe, what would it be and why?
JO: I’m a big Adventure Time fan so I’d love to explore the Land of Ooo! I like the series’ fantastical approach to a post-apocalyptic world and there just seems to be a lot of really cool, diverse places to see. Alternatively, if I could just visit somewhere not commit to living there, I’d want to explore Rapture from Bioshock (I am holding out hope that one day a VR version of the game will be made so I can just go walk around the city)
NAL: Who is your dream team up? Your art and “Insert here” writing?
JO: Okay the artist question was hard, this one is even harder. Maybe Sam Maggs, Kate Leth, Vita Ayala, or Cecil Castellucci? I try not to close myself off to options for collaboration, there are a ton of people I even haven’t met yet that could be a match made in heaven!
You Can Find Jenn at the sites below! Make sure you give her some love!
Same Bat Time Same Bat Channel,