Hemlock is one of the most beautifully drawn webcomics that I’ve had the pleasure of coming across. I just recently stumbled upon Josceline Fenton’s work and was blown away by her incredibly unique style and endearing storyline. Joscleine was kind of ennough to take the time out to answer some questions about her webcomic for us.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I’m a second year graphic and media design student based in London. I’ve had some short comics published in a few anthologies (like The Girly Comic, BD Zine and a few pages in the new SEQUENCE Zine which is coming out soon), but my self-published stories tend to be very long! My first comic, “Circle”, came to about 200 pages in the end. At the moment I’m working on a webcomic and my degree.
You’ve recently started a webcomic called Hemlock, can you give us a synopsis of your story?
Oh dear, I’m really not very good at synopses, but here goes. Hemlock is about a witch named Lumi who lives in a giant snail. When a human boy called Tristan accidentally winds up in the body of a frog as her new familiar, he finds out that Lumi has been married to a monster for the last 800 years. I could say more, but I don’t want to spoil it! It’s a little bit ”Beauty and the Beast”, but without a beauty, and a lot of influences from other fairy tales like the Baba Yaga stories.
What inspired you to create this story? You have a very unique art style, what are your inspirations there? Are there elements of you or your experiences in your story?
I think I always put elements of me and my experiences into my stories, but for Hemlock, it’s much more removed from reality. Anything that I have put in is probably exaggerated beyond all recognition. I don’t take experiences so much as specific feelings - for example, Lumi is in a marriage she can’t get out of. But it’s not about marriage (I’ve never been married, I’m too young!), it’s about feeling stuck in a position that you can’t do anything about.
Hemlock actually started with just the character of Lumi. I made her for a four page comic called “Starvation Soup”, but I loved drawing her so much that I gave her a new comic, which became the idea for Hemlock. The hardest part was actually giving her a name - she was just ”the witch” for a long time, but eventually “Lumi” stuck.
My art style is always difficult to explain! I used to draw manga, but I’ve been trying to move away from it for years now, because I wanted my work to look more original. There’s a bit of Tim Burton, some Aubrey Beardsley, some 80s cartoons…I have a huge list of people that have inspired my style. Recently I’ve been trying to learn more from animation. I think there’s a lot of crossover between comics and animation.
What made you choose the webcomic platform? Are you going to print your work or keep it in an online format?
I prefer printed formats, but as I said above, my stories are always pretty long. There were these big gaps between the books I was putting out, so I decided to make Hemlock a webcomic to keep the momentum going. Having weekly updates also forces me to keep at it, despite university workloads - now that there are people reading it and following the story as I make it, I don’t want to disappoint them!
I’m printing Hemlock in one-chapter issues. The first chapter was released October 2010, and I’m aiming to release the second one in time for either April or May.