#MakeComics: Artist Jen Bartel

How do the pros #MakeComics? We’re here to tell you. Every second week, Comicosity is picking the brains of a pro who is killing it in the comics industry, and this week I was lucky enough to talk to Jen Bartel! Even if you’ve been living under a rock, chances are, you’ve seen a cover by Jen on shelves in the past few years. Her unique style is eye catching to put it mildly, and this fall, her series Blackbird will be coming out through Image Comics. You can also find her work in the pages of America, Femme Magnifique and more! Check out how she makes comics below:

What does a typical day in the life of Jen Bartel look like?

Usually my dogs wake me up earlier than I’d like to get out of bed, I’ll have some coffee, respond to emails and handle any admin work in the AM, then I take the dogs for a walk, have lunch, and then work on art in the afternoon through the evening. I generally try to work less on weekends and if my schedule will allow it, take weekends off.

What time of day do you do your best work?

Definitely at night when the house is quiet and most people are asleep. I don’t WANT to be a night owl, but it’s the most distraction-free time, so it seems I’ve become one.

Comics is a collaborative medium. How do you work with your teammates on your projects?

Lots of communication! Keeping people looped in on schedules, progress, and road blocks is paramount to a successful collaboration.

How do you manage your to-do list?

I actually still write a daily to do list on paper. There’s something about the act of hand writing it that helps me stay organized.

What is your workspace like?

My office is set up mostly for digital art, but I do have a separate work area if I ever want to work traditionally. I still need to get a bunch of art up on the walls though… Maybe this year I’ll finally make some time for that!

What tools are essential to your creative process?

Definitely my Wacom Cintiq 22” HD, and these days because I’m traveling so much for work, my mobile studio pro.

What do you love most about creating comics?

I love drawing singular illustrations, but being able to tell a full story in comic form is so much more gratifying longterm.

What is your favourite phase of a project?

Probably the brainstorming up front where you’re making all the decisions about character design, environments, storytelling… but also I like inking. It’s tedious but I can turn my brain off and just go into autopilot mode!

What do you listen to or watch while you work?

Lots of podcasts—I really like This American Life, Criminal, Reply All, and I love David Harper’s comics podcast, Off-Panel.

When you aren’t creating comics, how do you like to spend your time?

I love watching movies, so I try to get as much of that in as possible 🙂 Any free time I have is spent with my husband and dogs.

Networking and meeting other creators is an important part of the business. What is your preferred way to network?

I think chatting with people online is easier because you can click through a profile link and immediately get an idea of what kind of work they do, but nothing beats the personal connection of chatting with people in person at conventions.

What comics are you reading right now?

Saga, Wic+Div, The Runaways.

What do you hope to see in the industry in the future?

More opportunities for women and other marginalized groups to tell stories that appeal to a wider range of audiences. I think the industry has been steadily moving in that direction for a long time now, but there’s always room for more growth.

Check out Jen’s work here and check back in 2 weeks for a new #MakeComics interview!


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