Jessi Sheron makes comics blending fairy tale fantasy, deep personal relationships, and a dash of monstrosity, creating a fascinating fusion of story and art. I recently had a chance to sit down with Sheron and talk about her works “The Sea in You” and “The Evil Queen,” both well worth the read!
“The Sea in You” follows the story of Corinth, a young girl in a less-than-ideal relationship and a love for the beach. In fact, Corinth is out cleaning up the beach (set loosely in Ocean City, MD) when she has a chance run in with a striking, yet dangerous mermaid. “The Evil Queen” on the other hand, is a story best described by Sheron’s own words, “all evil queens were princesses once.” A new twist on an old tale, “The Evil Queen” tells a what used to be a tired story with a new voice and a few new twists.
Sheron explained that she drew her inspiration for “The Sea in You” from both a desire to see more girl relationships and a fascination with, and fear, of the ocean itself. “I really like mermaids, but I like their old, semi-terrifying origins,” Sheron said. “I wanted a story where a girl becomes friends with a monster, and stays friends.”
“The Evil Queen” comes from a more personal, angry place. Sheron admits to being self-conscious about her appearance, and while venting to a male friend about this, he suggested that girls should ignore it. “It’s hard when all of society is always trying to pressure you and tell you your only value is your appearance, and that if you don’t match those requirements you start feeling like you’re a bad person,” Sheron said, emphatically. This got her to thinking about the fairy tale trope of the beautiful princess and the jealous queen. “If you tell anybody that their only value is how beautiful they are then of course you’re going to have jealous people.” The twists in the story (not to be ruined here) come from that.
With her stories deeply rooted in female relationships, interactions, and growth, Sheron freely considers herself a feminist creator. “I really love women and women’s stories,” Sheron described herself as fascinated with women’s issues, including inter sectional feminism. “I really care about feminism, it’s one of my big passions.”
Sheron is not only the writer for her comics, but the artist, colorist, and letterer all at once – and all in her spare time, working around a full-time job as an illustrator. When asked if she received any help with the process, she said that her friends and husband read over the roughs to make sure they make sense, but other than that, she does it all herself. “I like all the aspects of making comics,” admits Sheron. “It’s pretty much a one woman show.”
As “The Evil Queen” is a completed work, I asked Sheron where she planned to go with the great start that is “The Sea in You,” and was not let down by her response. Corinth will return to the beach despite her fear after her first encounter, and as the story builds, she will meet her mermaid again, and a friendship will form from there. Corinth will also be forced to deal with her boyfriend who is, in Sheron’s words, “not a very nice person,” while her mermaid friend, named Skylla, is less than pleased about her new friends’ troubles. “The story’s a lot about communication, being friends with someone really different than yourself, learning to like yourself and how to understand other people,” said Sheron.
Both “The Sea in You” and “The Evil Queen” are available to read on Tumblr, and Sheron’s collected works, including two other series’ are available on Tapastic. Sheron occasionally frequents cons on the east coast, such as SPX, MoCCA, and Awesome-con, where she sells hard copies of her work. Sheron hopes to set up an Etsy this November and plans to sell hard copies there as well.