Jen Lee is an illustrator and author who holds a BFA in Visual Arts from NYU. Intensely interested in comics and graphic design as well as writing, Jen Lee published her debut graphic comic novel, “Vacancy,” with Nobrow press in 2016. She is now working on her second novel titled “Garbage Night” while freelancing from a farmhouse in Idaho. Jen’s talent has been widely recognized and she counts Boom! Studios, Drop Dead Clothing, Burton, and Nickelodeon among her clients. Jen recently talked about her career, specifically her experiences as a published author and illustrator.


Blasting News (BN): How did you become and establish yourself as an author/illustrator?

Jen Lee (JL): Just posting my work online. “Thunderpaw” was my first web-based comic and luckily people love stories about dogs so I got a lot of great opportunities thanks to that.

BN: How many books have you published, how did you find Nobrow and what was the process of publishing with them like?

JL: At this point two books; “Vacancy” and “Garbage Night” with Nobrow. I first became aware of them back in college, and loved everything they published so it's a dream come true that I get to work with Nobrow now. This is still a new process for me, but I really love working with an editor and still having plenty of freedom.

Having someone else looking at your story and parsing things for you, what works and what doesn't, has been really fruitful for me.

BN: How did you come up with the idea for "Vacancy" and how long did it take to complete?

JL: I'm fascinated by the struggle between us and our animal neighbors, especially how some critters have become dependent on us.

I've had these animal characters since I was 13 years old, so their dynamics together feel natural to work with at this point. So, letting my characters react to this crisis of disappearing human civilization has been a fun foundation for me to build a lot of stories on. I can't quite remember how long it took, but I definitely do like to take my time if there's enough cushion to do so.


BN: To date, what has been the most rewarding part of being a published author and illustrator?

JL: Seeing how people respond to my work, I get a lot of reviews that sound really personal and I love that sense of connection.

BN: Are there any upcoming books, drawings, or other projects that you would like to mention?

JL: I have a continuation story with the same “Vacancy” characters coming out very soon with Nobrow called “Garbage Night.” This time the trio meets another dog who's skilled in survival, so they're better equipped in dealing with whatever's out there in the wild as they're guided to the town over that may still have humans.

BN: What do you hope to be ten years from now and what advice can you give to people who are just starting out in this competitive field?

JL: I'd be happy if I got to be involved in making a video game in ten years! As per advice, I would say to post your work online, and try not to get so hung up on the stuff you like to draw -- there are so many people out there with similar tastes.