Original short interviews with notable, rising or overlooked
figures from comics or the larger entertainment field by Bill Baker.
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BAKER'S DOZEN for 12/03/2003
It's a Dog's Life
Jennie [and Jim!] Stryker on A Day in the Life
One of the best things about my job is the opportunity to watch, almost from the "inside", so to speak, a wide variety of creators each develop and extend their skills from project to project. And it's even more rewarding when I'm given the chance to catch one of those artists just as they enter the field, filled with rich promise of what's to come.
So you can imagine my sheer joy in running across a sparkling new talented duo's inaugural minicomic during the 2003 fall edition of the very fine and fun Motor City Comic con just outside of Detroit recently. That book, A Day in the Life, so charmed and delighted me with it's combination of Jim's clear, deceptively simple narrative and Jennie's clean, energetic line work that I felt compelled to feature the husband and wife team behind the project.
And if their enthusiasm for making comics is any indicator, this is but the first in a series of books -- and interviews -- that we'll be seeing from these fledgling creators.
Bill Baker: This is your first published work, isn't it?
Jennie Stryker: Yes, it's my first published work, I'm very excited about it.
BB: Is this something you've always wanted to do, or is it more of an accident that you suddenly find yourself drawing a comic?
JS: Yes, this something I always wanted to do. I've been reading comics since I was little. And become more involved into comics in the past five years collecting over 30-40 comics per month. So it's definitely a hobby for me. But it was a spur of the moment, but in no way was it an accident.
BB: Well, let's talk a bit about your first book, A Day in the Life. Who is Zoë the Wonder Pup, and how would you describe her world?
JS: Zoë is our dog, she's about 2 years old now. She's a cross between a Blue Heeler and a Australian cattle dog. Which basically means she has tremendous amounts of energy. Yes she loves to run, hide stuff and tear apart her stuff animals. So as much as we can tell as parents we're sharing her world with our audience.
BB: So, how'd she end up in a comic?
JS: My husband, Jim Stryker is the writer of Day in the Life. So it's best if he would answer the question:
Jim Stryker: I always wanted to be a writer. I see stories all around me, everyday. Zoë seems to have a million stories, and this was one of them. Also, Jen draws such great pictures of Zoë.
BB: How long did it take, from your first inkling that this would make a good comic to premiering it at the fall Motor City con, to create the book? How difficult was this process, and what were some of the unforeseen obstacles to completing the book that you might have encountered?
JS: To create the book it took about 3-4 weeks. This story has been floating in the back of Jim's head for awhile. When a friend approached me and asked if I wanted to share a table at the Motor City Comic con, I asked Jim if he thought we could do something. Two days later he handed me the script and I started work on the art. It all happened so quick. But I wanted something more than just a few pages of my art to show at the con. I wanted to show that I could do a comic and tell a story with my art. We did run into problems, lots of them, but with a bit of creative thinking we were able to overcome them. This was the first comic for both of us, and we didn't really know what to expect. But as you can see, we made it!
BB: As you noted, your husband, Jim, wrote the script. How easy, or difficult, was it working with your spouse on this? And are you two still speaking? [General laughter]
JS: Yes, we still have a civil and loving relationship, we're just not yet on speaking terms. Just kidding! I love this question, because I always wondered the same thing. It can be tough working with a loved one. Especially when your vision and your spouses are different. Fortunately, with this project we shared the same vision. One of the ways we were able to work out any differences we might have was by understanding who had the final say at each stage. Jim was in charge of the story, and I was in in charge of the art. Communication plays a big role when working together so closely, we both listened and talked before it went on paper. But at the end, we we're both responsible for our part in the comic.
BB: How much of the story was yours, what kind of changes might Jim have suggested, and in what ways did adopting any of those changes alter the final product from what you originally envisioned?
JS: The story was really Jim's idea. Though, he says that I gave him several of the ideas. The only changes I made were in character design and encouraging Jim to keep the script simple and short. I wanted an eight page story, he handed me a sixteen page story. The final story was fourteen pages, but it would've been twenty-four if Jim had his way. But I was really happy how the final version of the comic came out, though I would've loved to see it in color.
BB: Will we be seeing more of your work generally, and of Zoë, particularly, in the future, or have you gotten comics out of your system?
JS: Yes, Yes......and no way!
Yes, there will be plenty of up coming adventures featuring Zoë. Besides she's really fun to draw. She has a lot of personality and I love capturing that in my drawings. But I love the comic industry, it's really hard to explain it to someone who's not into comics. Because the overwhelming experience is like a kid in the candy store. So I don't think I will get comics out of my system for a long time.
BB: What do you get from creating comics?
JS: A sense of accomplishing something, which is the first thing that comes to mind. And it's nice to see people who enjoy our work. Jim and I both had a lot of fun creating this comic together and it also brought a stronger connection between us since it was something we both shared.
BB: What do you hope your readers get from your work?
JS: It's a very enjoyable fun story, so if they get a smile out of it, I'm happy. I would like to show people that creating and sharing your ideas may be a lot of work, but with patience and persistence it's possible for anyone to do what I've done. It was a lot of fun getting this book made.
BB: Any thoughts you'd like to leave us with?
JS: Zoë has a live journal. I should mention that now, it's at www.livejournal.com/users/zoepuppy. If anyone would like a copy, I would more then happy to send them a copy, just look at the address above and you will find details there. We will be updating her journal more as we get more stories done. But in the meantime, I will put up some pics of Zoë and the comic itself at the livejournal site. As for my husband, he has his own livejournal it's at www.livejournal.com/users/kergillian that he updates frequently. And in the not to distant future we will have an official web page, featuring some of our work.
As far as the future projects we have plenty of ideas in the works. Including stories more geared toward adult humor, called Suburban Ninjas. And plenty of Zoë adventures to share. So keep your eyes open -- you'll see a lot more from us soon!
<< 11/26/2003 | 12/03/2003 | 12/10/2003 >>
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