D: Tell us a bit about yourself, Jen.
J: My name is Jennifer and I draw a weekly autobiographical comic strip called Sprinkles. I graduated from The Savannah College of Art and Design with a degree in Sequential Art in 2005 and I’ve been doing mostly personal projects ever since then, with commissioned comics and illustration work here and there when I have time. Like a lot of other cartoonists I find I have to work a day job to pay the bills, but my heart will always be in drawing comics!
D: They have majors in sequential art? That’s so cool! It’s like majoring in comics! How was that?
J: They do indeed have majors in sequential art! I knew a lot of people that majored in illustration and minored in sequential art, but I was laser focused on wanting to draw comics from the start. Sequential art majors cover a lot of ground – with staples in life drawing, color theory, story telling/writing, plot pacing, page layouts and design elements, perspective and architecture, and character design. We used to joke that sequential artists were a blend of every other major available at SCAD – we had to know how to draw darn near everything! I loved my four years of college and wouldn’t trade it for the world.
D: What do you do for your day job? Is it any fun?
J: I work as a software tester for my day job. I’m relatively new to the role having moved there from another department with a totally different job description, but so far it’s been a fun learning experience. I work with a lot of super smart tech people and I’m trying to apply everything they’re teaching me to each project I get to work on. There are of course days when I get really frustrated that I can’t focus 100% of my attention on my art and comics, but I’m also grateful that I have a job that offers me new challenges and the opportunity to apply a different set of skills.
D: Tell me a bit about your creative projects.
J: Sprinkles is basically a comic that recounts whatever humorous conversation or situation I found myself in that week, with some tweaks here and there to maximize the funny. It’s a highly technical and secret scientific process which I’d rather not get into here, but you get the picture. The vast majority of the strips includes my husband saying absurd things, or my two bum cats who won’t do any chores or get jobs. I also draw a lot of beefcake pinups because it’s super fun and life is too short not to indulge, right? I’ve got several other “serious” long-form comics going on at the same time, but they’re updated sporadically whenever I find time to work on them! I also love drawing fan art for fellow comic artists. And I make pretty much the best schezwan shrimp dish you’ll ever taste in your entire life, so I got that going for me too.
D: Tell us a bit about your cats :) (Just realized post conducting this interview that the current comic on Sprinkles is about the cats)
J: They’re both rescue cats we adopted from a foster family about two years ago when they were 3 and 6 months old. Moxxi was a feral street cat that was caught to be fixed and released, but she ended up really liking people so they kept her. Apparently when feral cats are caught and fixed, they have one of their ears clipped a little shorter than the other so they can be identified when they’re released again, which is why Moxxi has one wonky ear in the comic. She’s fat and lazy and likes to lick people’s hands like a dog, to give you some idea of how classy she is. Grimmer is a stuck-up elitist cat who won’t allow petting unless it’s on his terms, and he likes to talk to himself super loudly all the time. They won’t stop shedding. Ever.
D: What does your husband think of the comic version of himself and his life?
J: He’s surprisingly okay with it. I gave him the power to veto any comic idea he wasn’t comfortable with, but the man has yet to object to anything I’ve drawn. Even the one with his underwear-clad butt shoved into reader’s faces. I gotta hand it to him, he’s stoic.
D: What else do you do for fun besides draw beefcake? ;)
J: I like to play games even though I’m the world’s worst gamer. I can’t hit the broad side of a barn in first person shooters, so often in multi-player games I’m the one who is given a single job to do for the entire mission. Usually it’s running back and forth carrying loot of some kind. Or maybe pressing a button. SUPER IMPORTANT TASKS. Occasionally I get dragged outside the house to a bar/club/restaurant/sportsball event and that’s fun too but let’s face it, like 75% of the time my mind is hung up on whatever art project I’ve left sitting on my drawing desk at home haha. Mostly everyone I hang with knows this, and thankfully they forgive my one-track mind.
D: I also love that you draw fan art for other comic artists :D What are some of your favorite comics to read?
J: That’s too many to list – I have a bookmark folder of like 80 webcomics at the moment? Whomp!, Bouletcorp, Unsounded, The Last Halloween, Paranatural, Power Nap, and Hark, a Vagrant are a tiny sliver of that list. I like a variety of artistic styles, stories, and genres, so my reading list looks like a jumbled mess haha.
D: Do you have any big hopes and dreams for your comics and artwork?
J: I would say I have a realistic dream for my comics – my art falls into the “I love doing this” category rather than the “pay my bills” category, but that’s okay. I really love being able to draw whatever stories and characters I want, and outside of a few choice projects, I just wasn’t super excited to draw someone else’s scripts and characters for commissioned work. I think it’s because I have really limited time to draw because of work and other obligations, so I want to spend whatever time I have on my own projects, you know? At some point when I have a nice collection of Sprinkles strips I’ll put them together into a book I can sell at a convention. I have so many irons in the fire when it comes to projects I want to do and create, so it’s really just a matter of slowly working my way to these goal lines!
D: Any fun comic stories?
J: Hmmmmm let’s see – a funny story involving comics? The last con I went to I had a table I shared with a friend. I had buttons, mini-comics, and post cards for sale along with a stuffed animal version of Marchosias, the cartoon demon from the finished Ticket to Heaven comic. He wasn’t for sale and was really just there as a conversation starter. This young girl – maybe 3? 4? I dunno I’m terrible at guessing how old kids are. Anyway this kid runs up, grabs the plush, and runs off with him, laughing. I didn’t know what to do – I just kinda stood there letting it sink in that someone totally stole something off my table. Finally she came wheeling back around the corner and handed him back to me, saying that “He was a good fast runner”. So now I know I design good, fast-running characters, and that’s something in this world. I gave her a button anyway.
D: Any advice for comic fans or creators?
J: For comic fans – I would say to please remember that there are real human beings behind every comic you’re reading, and they’re providing that content to you for free, so if you really love what they do please support them if they have a Kickstarter, Patreon, or tip jar. Every little bit helps and sometimes you’re literally putting food on their table! Have a heart too – if you want to post a criticism or remark please reconsider if what you want to say has any content value. If you wouldn’t say it directly to their face, then don’t post it on their site.
For comic creators – Creators, what you’re doing is HARD. It’s seriously hard work to create comics, promote yourself, and build an audience. There’s no magic key to finding what will draw a crowd and keep them, and there’s a lot of luck involved. What you can do is be consistent with your upload schedule. Even if you feel you’ve got some garbage coming out of your pencil that week, push through it and put something up. It’s really easy to fall into a pity party for yourself when things don’t go as planned, but only give yourself a day for that mess. Then get back on the saddle and crank through your slump!
D: Thanks so much, Jen, for the interview :D
If any of you readers have any questions for Jen, make sure to post them below :)