Women in Comics Month: Interview with Jenn St-Onge
Mar 01, 2018
In honor of Women in Comics Month this March, PREVIEWSworld talks with artist Jenn St-Onge!
PREVIEWSworld: Who is your current comics employer?
Jenn St-Onge: I’m working a couple different things, right now I’m doing something secret/creator-owned as well as something TBA with Dynamite. In the past I’ve worked also worked with IDW, Image, Archie, Valiant, BOOM!, Emet, and Oni Press.
PREVIEWSworld: What is your primary job title? In a quick phrase or two, could you define your job’s key responsibility?
Jenn St-Onge: I’d say I’m an illustrator/comic artist, but for my commercial work, I’m like 90% comic artist. Depending on the project, I do concept art along with layouts and clean inks for my comics, plus I do cover art (which is mine from start to finish)
PREVIEWSworld: Could you please explain how your work helps make comics a reality? (Connect the dots for us. Where are you in the flow of getting a book into reader hands?)
Jenn St-Onge: Well, without my part of the process, you kinda just have a script! I do my best to translate the story given to me into a clear, expressive picture with aesthetically pleasing flow; it’s also important to take into consideration what the colourist and letterist are going to do once they have my art, and to try to make their steps as painless as possible (I hope I’ve more or less succeeded in that department haha) With my cover art, I do my best to create an image that is a good drawing but that is also eye-catching and something that will pique a random passerby’s interest. Finally, I consider myself someone who is pretty active on social media and decently okay at it, so when I have new stuff in the works, I like to make sure my followers know what’s on the horizon and get them excited!
PREVIEWSworld: What’s the part of your job you enjoy the most?
Jenn St-Onge: I feel like each part of the process I do has its fun parts and its not-so-fun parts. I like doing pencils, especially on the first issue of something, because it’s really that feeling of just jumping off the deep end of the pool and getting your hands kinda dirty, but also that feeling of accomplishment because it’s the first look at this new chapter. I like doing inks because admittedly my roughs are very “draw a circle, now draw the rest of the owl”, so there’s a bit of uncertainty how it’s going to look actually done; I love getting to send off completed inks and get feedback that what I did was correct and that the writer/editor are really happy with something!
PREVIEWSworld: What comic titles have you worked on?
Jenn St-Onge: At this point, I’ve done interior art for a few things: “Finding Molly” with Emet Comics, “Jem & the Misfits” and “Jem & the Misfits: Infinite” with IDW, “Bingo Love” with Image Comics, and “Giant Days: Holiday Special” with BOOM! Studios, along with a short comics for various anthologies.
PREVIEWSworld: While there are loads of professionals in the comics industry, there are only so many folks who get to do what you do! How did you get started? How did you learn all the skills you needed for your position?
Jenn St-Onge: I attended art school and have a diploma in illustration, but honestly, the self-teaching I did after college has been significantly more valuable in my learning curve than anything I did while in school (sorry, school). I did not-art jobs for several years after graduating, while also taking on a few commissions as they came up, but also got into Tumblr and Instagram, and found some interest in the curvy pinups I was doing. It’s hugely unfortunate how social media input vs output has changed, because I truly do not think that I could have built the following I have or connected with the industry professionals I did without it; it sounds a bit weird, but I feel like my time on social media interacting with people has allowed me to hone my skills and focus on things that get the most attention/traffic. It’s also gotten me literally every job I’ve had so far, whether it’s commission or comic, so I really do think it’s important for freelancers to have some skill in it.
PREVIEWSworld: Talk to us about the heroic people in your comics life. Who do you admire? Who inspires you? Why?
Jenn St-Onge: I’m bad at naming names, but I want to say that right now there are a lot of very brave, strong creators in comics who don’t take shit from anyone, and their stubbornness in the face of cruelty and adversity is incredibly inspiring. We may not be some people’s idea of “mainstream” but comics are growing and becoming more accessible and more wonderful, and we are not going anywhere.
PREVIEWSworld: Please tell us about the coolest experience you’ve ever had thanks to your job!
Jenn St-Onge: Probably the people I’ve had the chance to meet, either online or in real life. It’s awesome being a fan of someone and their work for a long time, then be able to form some sort of connection with them, whether it’s through work, fandom, or just being in the right place at the right time.
PREVIEWSworld: If you had one comics-related wish—no limits—what would it be?
Jenn St-Onge: I want to do a “Sabrina” series really badly haha!
PREVIEWSworld: Do you have an online presence we can link to and share with our readers?