Ferguson’s 7 Questions With… Debbie Jenkinson
One of the books that I have enjoyed the most in the last year is Remorse. This time we have its creator. It’s 7 questions with Debbie Jenkinson.
What was the first comic work you did that was published?
I made a 12 page short story on residency in Florida called Missed Connections (actually initially it was called Kiss and Ride which is normal talk in the USA, but I thought better of it for Ireland. Ehem.) as part of an anthology led by Svetlana Chmakova, back in 2010. That residency was genuinely life-changing – we had fantastic master artists, Paul Pope, Craig Thompson and Svetlana. Amazing.
What is the biggest thing you have learned since that book?
Making the latest, Remorse, was a big learning curve. It taught me a lot about pacing and panelling because of its very nature – it’s a story about moment to moment tedium and drama that I was trying to make “experiential”, for lack of a better word, I mean the reader has to live through these moments with the protagonist. I’ve discovered in a way it’s easier to make a long comic, (a bit like the quote: If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter. ) In any case the long form fitted that ten year story, and now my challenge is to fit ideas into short form without trying to compress the story too much and losing the meaning. And remember to have confidence in the story and let it lead. Am I rambling now? How ironic. So, err, to sum up, learning is on-going.
What’s your process for writing/drawing a comic book?
Once I have the central idea, (very often something that sticks in my mind, so I know there’s something to explore in it), there follows a lot of fevered, caffeine-fuelled stratching in sketchbooks as I flesh it out. These are then drawn up as very rough little thumbnails which are scanned and drawn up bigger. Finally I ink, paint and scan them and add the dialogue. Making a web-comic allows you to reread and build on what you have and I enjoyed that flexibility a lot.
What is the biggest influence on your work?
I love stories about people in any form: radio stories, [The Mystery Show, Colette Kinsella’s brilliant zoo series], animated movies, [Song of the Sea, The Iron Giant], comics, [Jeffrey Brown, Alison Bechdel], novels [Curtis Sittenfeld, David Shafer].
What are you working on right now?
This week I am on our zine Experiment for The Comics Lab, which is a showcase of what’s going on in Dublin. On the back boiler, an old-fashioned kids’ adventure story with high ledges and bogs to negotiate set in Kerry, and (I can’t help it!) possibly another romance-gone-wrong, called Ghosting. And a series of Fears which is on-going.
What do you out now or coming out next?
Remorse, as above, is out since April and The Yellow Planet, just out, a comic about cosmic yearning.
What is your favourite Irish comic?
Ooh, Sophie’s choice. So many. Alan Dunne’s Collage, Luke Healy’s Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whales, Philip Barrett’s short stories, and there are many Comic Lab regulars whose work is very interesting. It’s a good moment in time for Irish comic-makers. We’re building a head of steam, so to speak. Watch out, world!