Women in Comics – Jennie Gyllblad

Jennie Gyllblad is an artist and creator from the UK with a few projects in the works. It’s great to feature an up and coming creator. Luckily, she answered our questions, and do check them out, she illustrated some of her answers!

How did you get into comics?

At University in Bristol while doing a degree in Illustration I had the absolute honour of sitting through a lecture on comics by Paul Gravett and then be given an one on one tutorial with him where I was able to show my comic-pages to someone who was considered an expert in the field (and what an amazingly nice man he is too! Love his shoes). Paul informed me of the Bristol Expo (a comic convention) and told me I should go, so I did. I had never been to a comic con before, but I immediately felt right at home and got to know brilliant people and publishers. My first graphic novel contract was signed after this convention.

I graduated from University a year ago and very quickly took on several graphic novels. As of yet, I’m still a newbie in the field since I haven’t finished any of the projects I’m working on, but watch this space! Yarr!

Tell us a bit about the projects you’ve worked on.

Right! First off there’s the graphic novel called ‘Butterflies and Moths’ written by the amazingly talented (and insane) Corey Brotherson. It was the first graphic novel I was contracted to do with a small press publisher before they went bust (long story). Me and Corey still promised we would continue with the story, even if we end up self publishing.

Butterflies and Moths is about an emotionally tortured teenage girl in Birmingham with a terrible responsibility. It is a horror story with supernatural twists set in a modern Britain.

Then we have ‘Bayou Arcana’ an anthology on the slave trade in America. I am illustrating a short story written once again by the nutty but mostly harmless Corey Brotherson. This one’s almost done…! I’m also doing the cover artwork.

After that we’ve got ‘Skal’ which is my own baby. Written and illustrated by me. It’s a fantasy graphic novel set in an Arabian styled desert landscape. I started it off as an online graphic novel where I would paint one page per week on the side of real paid work, but this soon became something much more serious for me. So! I decided to start over and repaint it specifically for print. I could also edit the story in the process and attempt to refine it. I’m planning to have the fully painted prologue done for the Thoughtbubble convention in Leeds this November.

And finally! *huff huff* we have the newest project I’ve gotten heavily involved in. Namely the steampunk world of Clockwork Watch. A Transmedia project set in a Steampunk version of London! I will be illustrating two short graphic novels and also be responsible for a lot of the design elements, like the costumes and environments. This is incredibly exciting and by far the biggest project I’ve gotten myself into!

So that makes it… 5 Graphic Novels in one year?

Oh Jesus. Hand me the caffeine.

What is your favourite work that you’ve done so far?

I love all the graphic novel projects I’m involved in! Otherwise I wouldn’t have agreed to them. Mwahah! ;D But if I had to choose one favourite, I guess it would be Skal, mainly because it’s completely my own. It is not the best work at all, but it’s mine (my own, my precious). It’s also the work I choose to escape to if I’ve had a stressful day. I always have Mushirah (the main character) to turn to. Been so obsessive about it that I’ve had actual nightmares around the plotline. A good sign, I’m sure?

Did you ever get advice about the field that you’d like to pass on?

I’ve been told about going to conventions and making yourself seen, but I didn’t really realize the importance of networking until I properly started doing comics. Use the social media to spread your creations. Use the conventions to meet publishers and comic-enthusiasts. Twitter is especially brilliant for posting process pictures and other little goodies. It also keeps you in constant touch with fellow comic creators which is very inspirational.

Another thing that I’ve learned is that comics (especially indy comics) are driven by passion and hard work. If you’re in it for the money you’re seriously in the wrong business. There is no easy way of breaking into the scene that I know of and even if you have projects on, you still need to earn a living by holding up part time jobs on the side.

It’s a bumpy ride, but it’s worth it!

What is your favourite thing to write or draw?

Expression expression expression. I love people. I watch people in real life and I really appreciate the complexity of facial and body expressions. You could do a whole story just on one person’s expressions. You don’t need an epic world-saving story.

Also really enjoy costume designing and general character creation. I can play dress-up with a character for ages.

In an ideal world, in what direction would you like to see your project evolve?

If I can do stories full time, I’m in heaven. I don’t need anything else. Why would you when you’ve got so many different universes to explore? There are infinite possibilities with a blank piece of paper!

Links to your work:

My homepage: www.jenniegyllblad.com
My art blog which gets updated regularly: http://jenspiration-now.blogspot.com/
My facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jennie-Gyllblad/224794667533925
My twitter: @JennieGyllblad

Any last words?

As a creator it’s good to have a few motivational phrases in your head to keep you going. What do I tend to think about whenever I find myself mindlessly browsing the internet or collecting belly-button fluff?

“Consume less, produce more.“

Also, in the words of the brilliant comic-creator Scott McCloud:
“Learn from Everyone
Follow No one
Recognize Patterns
Work like hell.”

About Chantaal

A book reading, nail polish hoarding, makeup loving, TV marathoning, comic book talking Philosophy major. I want to be Rashida Jones when I grow up.
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