• Equestria Daily Interview Series: Interview with IDW MLP Artist Jenn Blake

    Last weekend, those of you who attended the very wet—but from the sounds of it very fun—Nightmare Nights Dallas had a chance to get to know IDW MLP Artist Jenn Blake. Well, now it's the readers of Equestria Daily turn to get to know the new addition to the comic staff!

    Jenn is only one of a handful of IDW MLP Comic Staff who I haven't had a chance to meet in person  yet. And what Jenn has revealed in the interview below—not to mention her bubbling personality showcased on her Twitter account—has me really looking forward to meeting her in person one day.

    Check out the full interview after the break to see just what it is about Jenn that has me looking forward to meeting her. Perhaps it might get you excited to meet her too.

    1) I ask this to everyone, so I might as well continue the tradition, who is your favorite pony? And is that pony the same one your favorite to draw?

    Rarity is definitely my favorite pony, and was the reason I really got into the show. I've never been shy to say that the first time I watched FiM I could not get past the first couple minutes. Part of that may have been from my growing up with G1—the show was so different design wise and all that—and at that moment I sorta was "OK not the show for me." I did go back some time later and decided to re-watch it, and the moment I saw Rarity was the moment I was hooked!

    A lot of that comes from her being a fashion designer—which is something i spent a lot of my adult life doing. She is definitely my favorite to draw as well! I could draw nothing but a Rarity ongoing and be completely happy. Because with Rarity I get the added bonus of getting to constantly design new outfits! It would be the best of both worlds for me.

    2) If you can remember how did you first get interested in comics and drawing?

    Comics have been a life long thing in my world. I was pretty much raised with comics around me for as long I can remember. I'm a DC girl through and through though, with the Green Lantern Hal Jordan being my all time favorite superhero.

    Drawing was just there from the beginning. I have artistic parents, so I can't remember a time I didn't have crayons or something to draw on. Sometimes that was a wall... but my mural of the Sistine Chapel ceiling with Looney Tunes characters was breathtaking.

    3) What was the first comic you remember reading? Did it involve Archie and his two on again/off again girlfriends?

    As far as the first comic I remember reading, I'm not really sure what that was. There were always a lot of books around me! I always credit the first real comic I bought myself as my first book, and it was a very odd DC book called Captain Carrot and the Amazing Zoo Crew—which always remained a huge favorite of mine growing up.

    4) Speaking of those two, are you a Betty or a Veronica?

    Veronica. Very much a Veronica. Not sure what that says about me… probably also a bit of a Biskit Twin… so all things that make me look really good.

    5) Did you attend art school? And if you did or didn't, what were some of the most important lessons you took away from your journey to becoming a professional artist?

    I went to school for Fashion Design, so my background is very different then a lot of the others. I didn't really have the education that would prepare me for working in comics. I had to learn that myself by reading them and trying to understand how the process of putting panels together while telling a story in a way that it's clear what is happening minus the words.

    In a way, fashion taught me more about character design. But fashion taught me how important deadlines are, and that just because you will have delays doesn't that mean your deadline will change. You have to be ready to work long hours to still meet an original deadline. It has made me more of a workaholic than is probably healthy. I put a lot on myself at times.

    6) How did you get the gig to work for IDW Limited on their Red/Black/Blue Label editions of the Return of Queen Chrysalis?

    Luck. Though really this was around the early days when the title had just started. I had sent some samples to IDW—at the time i was not really that strong with the art yet—but what I had sent was seen by the IDW Limited team. They were looking to do the red/black/blue label stuff and asked if I would be interested in doing some sketch cards for the project. I, of course, lept at the chance.

    Jenn Blake's Sketch Art Card featured in this set.

    7) Back when you were first starting to pop up on the MLP convention circuit, you were often credited as an artist on the My Little Pony Comic Series. Which left me completely baffled since prior to the announcement of the Four Color Grails variant for MLP: FiM #30 you hadn't worked on anything related to either of the monthly comic series. Of course, that's probably just my definition being a little more literal than the rest of the fandom, but it does bring this question: how does it feel to be so far the only IDW My Little Pony Artist embraced almost a year before your official debut on the series?

    This was one of those odd things that baffled me as well!

    Perhaps a lot of it was that some cons didn't really get what IDW Limited was. You see MLP. You see IDW. And not everyone reads the rest. I spent alot of time in the first year repeating that I worked for IDW Limited—though honestly it was not the oddest thing I was apparently credited with. At one point, I was the creator of My Little Pony. No not FiM, but the entirity of the MLP Franchise. So apparently I was a prodigy when I was 4!

    At one point I was also the entire voice cast for the show. Basically the Mel Blanc of MLP. So Tara [Strong] and the rest owe me a lot of back pay for 5 seasons.

    As far as being embraced earlier then my actual first issue, I'm very lucky to have had this following in the beginning that liked my earlier work. For me, it has just been a joy to draw something—whatever that might be—that has made even one person smile or even say "you inspired me". That is what I love the most. Creating even one piece of art that makes just one person happy.

    8) Which convention has been your favorite to attend?

    I don't think there has been just one that is a favorite. Each one I have done had something about it has been unique and amazing! BABScon was the first big MLP con that took a shot with me before FF #16 was released, which put BABScon in a special place in my dark black heart. I got to meet Heather Breckel who colored my issue and the FCG cover. It was a huge pleasure to meet someone that worked on the same issue I did! Meeting Heather Nuhfer, and Tony [Fleecs] were high points because these were both creators I had been reading and admiring the work they had done on both titles. I didn't think I'd spend an evening with Peter New at a party, or—thanks to EQLA—getting to meet Tabitha [St. Germain] who we can all credit for voicing Rarity and therefore bringing me into this fandom!

    The biggest thing though has been at each con you meet these wonderful fans that something you drew impacted them. Even little old Sappho has helped a few LGBT youth come out or even have more strength to be who they are. That right there is the high point of any con. To meet these fans where MLP in some way has helped them, has given them a voice, or a group they can finally feel apart of. I feel very honored to get to meet these people, hear their stories, and see how big a smile will show up on their faces when they talk about why they love the show or the comics or who their favorite pony is.

    9) Have there been any moments while attending the cons that have stood out as something that you either really liked or disliked? If so, may you please share?

    I don't think there have been any moments at cons that have been things I've disliked. There have been odd things that have happened though. I've been shown a guy's Derpy bra. That was one of the more interesting things that happened to me early on. You don't really expect that to be the first thing you see at your table when you hear "hey check this out." I have had more of those odd totally out of left field moments.

    Doing cons is something I'm still getting use to. How they work when your on the other side of the table is different, but it's always fun.

    Best thing at a con was this young girl I met that Sappho impacted. This girl was in a very dark place and sappho really helped her through coming out, being proud, and not afraid to be who she is in a school and area that's not a very LGBT friendly place. Maybe in some way that comes from me being as openly gay and out as I am, but I will credit the adorable pony.

    10) How did you end up working on the Four Color Grails cover for MLP: FiM #30?

    Four Color Grails wanted to do something for the Avengers sequel and they were putting #30 into the box that month. I believe Bobby [Curnow] just has one of those little bingo ball things and just turns it until a name pops out, but honestly I think things like that come down to who is available at the moment. They needed a fairly quick turn around, and I'd like to think it was really more the ponies and superheroes aspect of the cover and that Bobby knew that Jenn's got this.

    11) Which leads to my next question, how did you end up working on Friends Forever #16?

    Friends Forever came about pretty fast. I had done a little fan comic featuring Doctor Whooves—and I was in that weird limbo place career wise where I was pondering returning to fashion full time and putting the whole comics dream behind me—when i thought "let's take one more stab at this" and I sent IDW some of the pencil pages from the Dr. Whooves comic. It had been a couple years since the IDW Limited project and my style had changed a lot. I knew I had gotten better at panel to panel story structure, and I think that shined through Bobby. He contacted me about the possibility of working on issue #16. I initially did the cover art for that issue—which went through the approval process—and everything sorta went from there.

    12) Friends Forever #16 is a very different type of MLP story. What sort of considerations did you have when it came to drawing this issue since Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon are the stars of the show?

    I didn't really think of the issue any differently from other issues since it was my first real published comic. I just tried to tackle it the best I could and more then anything make sure I was bringing Jeremy's words to life in a way that fit and visually made the book my own. There are things I would go back and maybe make stronger, but no one is the greatest their first time out. I've learned things since the book has been out that I would do differently in next issue or comic I do.

    13) To you, what was the highlight of working on that issue?

    Just getting to do an issue for one was a huge highlight! Real highlight was the little mermaid joke i did with Pinkie Pie. I loved the freedom in that script where it just said Pinkie does something strange in the background. Something about the fact she flooded the store with chocolate just said to me she'd do the little mermaid splash.

    14) Can we expect to see you return to the comics working on either a cover or a comic interior?

    There's always a possibility I'll show up again somewhere! I'll leave that to IDW first or another publisher to announce when or where, but I'm always happy to do what they need of me.

    15) Is there anything else you wanted to talk about?

    I'd really just like to say "Thank You!" to each and everyone of you that have supported my art! Whether you bought the issues, a print at a con, or just have left a nice comment on a piece of my artwork. I wouldn't be where I am right now if not for all of you out there that have liked what I draw. I truly feel blessed to have all of you in this fandom support my work in some way big or small. And a thank you to Bobby Curnow for taking the chance on me.

    You can find Jenn Blake:

    On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/1trurarity
    On Twitter: https://twitter.com/JennBlake616
    On Deviant Art: http://ponygoddess.deviantart.com/
    On Instagram: https://instagram.com/jenniferblake2814/