PopCultHQ is kicking off 2018 in a new way. Each month, we’ll be selecting Comic Book Creators of the Month and interview them for a spotlight article. For March 2018’s Artist of the Month, we chose illustrator Jenn St-Onge.
The self-professed “dedicated cat lady” has such a fun, lively, and expressive look to her illustrations. From her sharp interiors (and covers) for Finding Molly: An Adventure in Catsitting, to her attitude-infused look in Jem and the Holograms: The Misfits, and the heartwarming feel represented in the recent Bingo Love OGN, Jenn’s range is only exceeded by her talent.
Here’s just a sampling of some of Jenn’s cover work:
PopCultHQ had the privilege in interviewing the gifted illustrator about her entry into the comic book world, her upcoming Nancy Drew series at Dynamite Entertainment, and what the artist feels is the biggest issue in the industry right now. So sit back, relax, and find out more about PopCultHQ’s Artist of the Month for March 2018…Jenn St-Onge!
PopCultHQ Spotlight Interview
Artist of the Month – March 2018:
PopCultHQ: How did comic books influence your childhood? What was the defining moment in your life that you knew, from then on, that you wanted to illustrate comic books for a living?
Jenn St-Onge: As I kid, I mostly read Archie Digest and kind of got into manga as a teen, but I generally consider myself a really late bloomer when it comes to getting into comics both as a medium as well as a community. I took classes for children book illustration in college and only actually thought of comics as a job possibility once I started working on Finding Molly. I honestly just thought comics were too hard and I didn’t have the skill set needed, but as I’ve learned, you can’t let that scare you off of trying something new!
PopCultHQ: The first comic I read that really drew me to your work was in EMET Comics’ Finding Molly: An Adventure in Catsitting #1, as well as your covers for Valiant’s Faith. Recently, you’ve illustrated some fantastic issues for Jem and the Misfits at IDW, as well as the amazing Bingo Love TPB with Tee Franklin. You have a true talent for drawing memorable and empowering female characters, giving life and authenticity to each. Do you prefer to align with a project featuring a strong, female lead? And when doing so, what do you feel is the most important aspect to bring out through your work for readers to embrace?
St-Onge: I do connect more with stories that feature interesting heroines, for sure. I try to create characters that are both a bit unique in comics and very likeable and relatable in their own ways, while each being individuals in look and personality. It can be a bit of a challenge, but I’ve also been very lucky with the writers I’ve collabed with, as this is something that’s been really vital to them too in their world building.
PopCultHQ: This summer, you will be re-teaming with Jem writer Kelly Thompson over at Dynamite Entertainment for their new Nancy Drew series. From an early look, it’s a sharp look with a diverse cast of characters. What are you most excited about in illustrating this series?
St-Onge: I really do love drawing people, and the characters in Nancy Drew are all very unique individuals both in their motivations and their emotions. It’s also giving me a chance to explore some themes/visuals that I haven’t really had a chance to in my previous comic work, mainly mixing my more upbeat art style with a story that definitely has some darker/heavier moments in it.
PopCultHQ: What does a typical work week look for you? How do you manage your time between your projects, appearances, and personal time?
St-Onge: I am probably a bad person to ask this because I legitimately work all the time. Art has been my hobby since I was young so when it became my full time job, it became a huge focal point in my life, even more so than before. I guess I just feel like I don’t know what to do with myself if I’m not making something? A less emotional answer to this is spreadsheets, lots and lots of spreadsheets for schedules and progress updates haha.
St-Onge: One: don’t beat yourself up over another artist being “better” than you because there will always be better or worse artists than you, just strive be the best YOU can. Two: finished is more important than perfect (still trying to learn this myself but it has yet to take)
PopCultHQ: On top of Nancy Drew, what’s on tap in 2018 for Jenn St-Onge? Any conventions and signing appearances lined up? Projects you can discuss?
St-Onge: Nancy Drew is the comic I have that’s coming out this June, and I’m also working on a middle-grade graphic novel with Mags Visaggio and Balzer & Bray (an imprint of Harper Collins) that is slated for release in 2021. As far as conventions go, I tried to keep my schedule pretty bare bones this year but currently I’m planning on tabling at TCAF May 12th, Toronto Fan Expo Aug Aug 30th to Sept 2nd, and Mississauga Comic Expo Oct 20th.
PopCultHQ: If you had the power or ability to make one change in the comic book community or industry, what would it be?
St-Onge: Probably my biggest complaint in the comics community right now is the mistreatment of certain creators by certain fan bases and the lack of support from the industry for the people experiencing the harassment. In my opinion, both as a creator and as a fan, having access to the people who make stuff we like is a tremendous privilege that requires a level of empathy and respect and that seems to be missing way too many of these scenarios; there’s a huge lack of respect for creators right now, both from people who like their work and people who don’t, and seeing it just constantly is really tiring. I think companies have a responsibility to hire writers/artists from a variety of demographics to keep their teams fresh and evolving, but they also need to stand up for them if they’re being harassed. The comics industry has been an echo chamber for a while and while even small changes can seem scary, it’s important that genres and media grow with the times.
Bingo Love interior pages by Jenn St-Onge
PopCultHQ: Which artist’s work are you currently following/reading/collecting?
St-Onge: I recently read Shade the Changing Girl (by Cecil Castellucci and Marley Zarcone) and Eternity Girl (by Mags Visaggio and Sonny Liew), both awesome superhero stories from DC with a bit of a twist on the concept. I also read a gorgeous, fun webcomic called Warm Blood, written by Josh Tierney and illustrated by a variety of artists to a really cool end product. I honestly could list off hundreds of awesome artists/writers, but probably easier to just check out my follow list on Twitter if you’re looking for some inspiration!
Special thanks to Jenn for making time to speak with PopCultHQ.
To find out more about our March Artist of the Month,
be sure to follow Jenn St-Onge online!