“Corinth is drawn to the ocean, but today it takes her under the crushing waves and into the grip of a deadly mermaid. It’s the start of a very strange friendship. “
I reached out to Jessi for an interview to learn more about her and her work.
Style Me Fantasy: Can you start with a bit about your comic, The Sea in You?
Jessi: A sweet goth girl, Corinth, is in a bad relationship with her emotionally abusive boyfriend Seth. One day she meets a deadly mermaid who turns her world upside down. They form a strong bond, and the mermaid Skylla is NOT too fond of Seth. It’s a story of loving someone different from yourself, leaving someone who you love and is cruel to you, and learning to love yourself as well. It’s also a story about communication. Things like words, and sign language play a big part in the narrative.
SMF: What was your inspiration for this comic?
Jessi: The inspiration for this comic was a lot of things. I just love the original fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson. I love mermaids in general because they are these great symbols of freedom and longing, and intense emotion, while being outsiders. Their shapes make them look like they don’t belong on land or sea, but then they belong both places. Mermaids are wonderful fantasy creatures, especially to a lot of us women; they are beautiful and mysterious without necessarily having anything to do with the male gaze. It’s a sort of power fantasy to me. This amazing creature you can’t tame, she loves herself the most.
SMF: I love the style of mermaid you chose for Skylla. Can you tell me a bit about her character design?
Jessi: Skylla in particular I wanted to be eerily beautiful, alien and familiar. She’s inspired a lot by real fish that I think are pretty, and i sort of tack together influences until i form something that speaks to me. I wanted the audience to feel what Corinth feels, immediately drawn in to this creature, who is also drawn to you. OH and since I get asked this a lot, she doesn’t have breasts because she’s more fish like than mammalian. My canon for the universe is that there are multiple “gods” of elements and they each sort of liked the “human” shape so made their favorite beings based on that model. So it’s like, she looks humanoid, but she isn’t at all warm blooded.
Some subtle notes on her designs – her “hair” is actuall long modified fish scales that she can control! It was sort of inspired by cockatoos and Miyazaki films, when characters feel intense and their hair “poofs up”. Also, she is lighter-colored on one side and darker on the other; that’s a real thing fish have, it makes you hard to see from top and bottom!
Jessi: A bit about me, I’m a full time artist who has done work for things like Barbie, Monster High, Ever After High, Shopkins and more. I’ve drawn graphic novels and picture books. I have a tiny rainbow parrot named Ivan, a cool motorcycle driving handy man husband. I love scary movies and fantasy stories. I have a huge sweet tooth and am trying to get into body building. I design weird dresses in my shop http://www.cowcow.com/creepycouture. I’m learning to paint, and sometimes I make tiny dioramas inside pocket watches. I also am trying to learn American Sign Language, slowly; I’m not very good at it!