The following is an interview with Jenn Woodall regarding the recent release of the graphic novel, Space Trash, through Oni Press. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Woodall about the creative process of bringing the story to life, what she hopes that readers will take away from the story, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the recent release of Space Trash! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the book’s premise, and what (or who) was its inspiration?
Jenn Woodall: Thanks so much! Space Trash is a dystopian sci-fi comic set in the future where Earth is abandoned, and those with wealth and without wealth inhabit different planets. The comic follows three teenage girls – Stab, Yuki, and Una – as they attend an incredibly run-down high school on the moon. So, the comic touches on class, social hierarchy, and capitalism, but it’s also a story about being a teenager, growing pains, fighting with other students, and crushes. I’ve always loved sci-fi since I was a kid, and it’s a genre where you see a lot of commentary on classism and social issues, so that was definitely part of what inspired the idea. I also absolutely love Akira and Tank Girl, and I think those influences are very apparent looking at the aesthetics and setting of the book. One of my favourite movies is Alien which was a big influence, as I love the mix of cyberpunk with a run-down, blue-collar working facility. That’s the vibe I’m crying to capture here, where we have high-tech mixed with low-tech stuff salvaged from trash piles. I also grew up reading a ton of manga, and I think the “teens come together to battle evil and fight for each other” is such an eternally great concept that resonates with everyone to a degree.
BD: What can you tell us about your creative process of bringing this story to life, especially given that you balanced the writing and illustrative duties?
JW: Well, the idea for the book started just with an illustration I did for a show in 2013. I drew a punky teen girl astronaut and, from there, I decided I wanted to write a comic around this character. The idea marinated in the back of my mind while I went through university and worked on other comic projects. In 2017, I sat down to actually create a pitch document for Space Trash which is when I fully designed the characters and decided on what the book itself would be about. Once I signed my contract with Oni in 2018, that was when I started to write drafts of the script for Volume 1. We went through a few rounds of revisions and once we got to a place where the script was pretty polished, I began to do thumbnails. From there, thumbnails became pencils, pencils became inks, inks got coloured with the help of Jason Fischer who was really a life saver for me. But things change every step of the way through the process, because you’ll be inking a panel and realize that you can convey something better by changing a page up. So, lots of things that were finalized early on got changed later when a better solution presented itself. The entire project was really rewarding but completely exhausting, as writing and illustrating an entire book really takes a huge amount of time, effort and dedication. I typically dedicated 3-5 days a week towards the book, and my other days were spent working at my part-time job, doing freelance illustration, or taking a day off to rest.
BD: What makes Oni Press the perfect home for Space Trash?
JW: I really love the type of books Oni Press puts out, and they were one of my earliest exposures to alternative comics. I remember a friend showing me Scott Pilgrim in high school, and I really loved that style of illustration; it had a big manga influence but was still recognizably a western comic. I grew up reading manga and Sunday comics and watching superhero animated shows, so this was a really cool mix to me. Some of my other favourite Oni Press publications are Wet Moon, No Dead Zone, Local, and Tea Dragon Society. I thought they’d be a great home for Space Trash, because it seemed they weren’t afraid to publish series and they had such a great catalogue of great alternative comics.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Stab, Yuki, and Una’s story will connect with and impact readers?
JW: I hope that people can really relate to the characters and that they resonate with people, specifically teens and young adults. I loved reading comics growing up, especially manga, and I remember how important it was to relate to characters who I felt made me understand a part of myself more. Sometimes, you’re struggling with stuff you don’t even realize until you see it in a story, and it can give you a lot of comfort and clarity. And I think beyond relatability, I tried to write a story about community power and the power from friendship. People have the power to change so much when we work together towards a common goal. I feel so excited to see younger people taking up causes like climate change and supporting people’s revolutionary efforts across the world, and that is what I tried to make Space Trash about. Young people are capable of so much and especially young girls.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
JW: At this moment, I’m in the preliminary stages of a few projects, but I do have a new comic coming out in stores in December. It’s volume 3 of my Magical Beatdown series, published by Silver Sprocket. So it’ll be available at your local comic shop, or you can order it online from Silver Sprocket directly. That series is a magical girl street harassment revenge fantasy, with tons of violence in hot pink ink.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Space Trash and your other work?
JW: You can find more information about Space Trash on the Oni Press website, or through my socials. I’m on Instagram / Tiktok (@funeralbeat), and my twitter is @jenn_woodall. I post a lot of progress work, as well as additional material that went into the creation of the series. I definitely have some plans to do some additional work in the new year that’ll expand the universe so I hope people are excited for that.