Salume's take on Scott Pilgrim's worldWhile some of us may be delighted by the biggest and the most popular in the world of comics, we all realize that for every popular book, writer or artist there has to be a beginning. While there are many ways to success with each story finding its own route, there is one attribute that can be found in each one: talent. Up & Coming is a regular feature at Newsarama.com that seeks out the next generation of comic creators and profiles them today.
Meet Jemma Salume. The California-based art student is priming herself for a career in comics – and she's off to a good start.She's currently underway with a guest stint on Dean Trippe's webcomic series Butterfly, and she recently put out a minicomic at the Alternative Press Expo (APE). Moonlighting in comics while going to college full-time, we caught up with her between class and comics for this brief chat.
Newsarama: Jemma, what are you working on now comic-wise?
Jemma Salume: You know, it's killing me, I promised Dean Trippe I'd keep my mouth shut about the main one! Otherwise I'm mostly expanding on the dream comic I started on 24-hour comic day, trying to stay afloat in four studio art classes and kicking around ideas in whatever free time I get. There might be another Butterfly arc or two in the pipeline.
NRAMA:At APE you did a minicomic called Unicorn. What's it about, and are there any left to get?
JS: The full title is Unicorn Life Cycle, and it's the life cycle and history of the universe's noblest creatures, nested within a weird conversation I had with my roomie when I really should have been doing homework. I do have a good number left that I'll probably trade and sell and give away with commissions until I run out.
NRAMA: What kind of comics do you want to do?
JS: Fantasy, sci-fi, superheroes, horror... But with a kids/teens bent, I guess. I like drawing fun, weird things and stretching my imagination.
NRAMA: Do you have a dream project in comics you want to do?
Unicorn Life CycleJS: The project I'm working on with Dean is pretty dreamy, can I list that if it's already happening? Blue Beetle would also rock. (Jaime will never be canceled in my heart.) And I really wish I had time to do something for Flight or Popgun or something.
NRAMA: What led you to start doing comics?
JS: I always liked manga and cartoons, and wanted to get into illustration since I was fourteen. It took finding scans_daily (and the dearly departed fullscans_daily), and tracking down the things that looked cool there, to actually make me think comics would be worth getting into.
NRAMA: If you weren't doing art, what would you be doing?
JS: I would probably be writing. I have this crazy-person compulsion to tell stories and get things down on paper. Or editing (comics, prose, whatever), because it's really gratifying to help someone make their dream project even better.
NRAMA: You're currently attending the Academy of Art University in San Francisco; what are you majoring in?
JS: Traditional illustration, the coolest of majors.
NRAMA: And how do your studies help your comics work?
JS: Technically (perspective, color/design theory, life drawing/anatomy) I've gotten way better. It's like I'm a completely different artist compared to my first semester! And the workload is crazy, it's really forced me to get more organized and manage my time better. (I wouldn't say I've mastered that, cough cough, but I do manage to get everything done on time somehow.) A lot of it is confidence, enthusiasm, blah blah, self-esteem stuff you can't write about without sounding like a Hallmark card.
NRAMA: You've been known to collaborate with Dean Trippe, most recently on some strips of his series Butterfly. How'd the collaboration come about, and what else are you two working on?
JS: I was aware of Butterfly first, then found Project:Rooftop somehow and thought "Oh this is a fun idea! I'll be a huge nerd and submit something!" And after a few submissions he sent me an email to the effect of, "Hi you are perfect for this project I've been working on, plz to be in on it?" So that started the whole collaboration. And something that branched off of that was me writing and drawing "Butterfly and the Icecream Dimension." So things kind of came full circle there.
NRAMA: What comics do you read for fun?
JS: I really like massive short-story anthologies. And weird, experimental minicomics/zines. And webcomics, lots of webcomics. I'm really picky and vicious about manga lately but I used to read it a lot. I'm also a sucker for self-contained superhero story arcs with great art that feels like they're happening in their own little universes. (Doctor Strange: The Oath, anyone? Batman Year 100?) When fun teen hero titles aren't getting canceled or sent through the big event blender, I read those too. And Osamu Tezuka's huge Phoenix series is just amazing, I haven't read them all yet but the ones I have, I love rereading. Basically, anything I can get my hands on that doesn't make my brains feel like jaded mush, I read.
NRAMA: And finally, I have to ask about your art heritage. Your mother Marina is an artist too – she hosts some of your art on her site. How do you think growing up in an artistic household fostered your own art aspirations?
JS: You know, I was talking to a friend of mine just this morning, whose mom is a really, heartbreakingly fantastic painter. She could be in galleries, this woman, but she never went to art school or pursued an art career because her mom and dad told her from square one that she would starve as an artist. So she did different things. And I thought, how many times have I heard that? It feels like every other time I tell an adult that I'm an art student, I hear about, oh, they loved to draw/paint/write when they were young but their parents told them there was nothing in it. Every day I'm thankful that I was born to parents who support me in my art, and fight for me if comes to that, because every day I meet people who weren't so lucky.