justJENN is a stationary designer, popular recipe blogger and all-around creative lady with a penchant for Star Wars birthday parties and comic character-themed treats. This year, she'll be at San Diego Comic-Con in the Small Press section of the exhibit hall, armed with copies of her comic book-styled cookbook, O.G.– Favorite Recipes, and an assortment of cute accessories for nerds who still love to write with pen and paper.
We emailed Jenn a few questions about San Diego Comic-Con and her times in the Small Press area.
How many years have you been attending San Diego Comic-Con? How long have you had a booth there?
I've been attending Comic-Con off and on for over ten years and have had a booth for four. When I started creating my own things I realized how much more fun I had sitting at my table and having my friends come visit me, rather than roaming the halls. Even if it meant missing some great panels, I enjoy being a part of the Con creatively.
How would you describe your own nerd interests? Are you more into comic books or sci-fi or something else?
I love comic books, I'm a fan of superhero stories and books with beautiful art. I will also pretty much buy anything Darwyn Cooke puts out. I also love animation and toys and am a huge Star Wars fan. It makes me happy that all these things are well represented at Comic-Con.
What's the story behind justJENN Designs? What attracted you to creating stationary?
My 'day job' was being an architect and I started designing stationery after work as an outlet for my own creative endeavors. I started using my own interests as inspiration: baking, nerdy things, and it took off and started doing really well. Now I sell online and am in brick and mortar stores across the country.
What inspired you to do a comic book/cookbook?
I incorporate so many geeky food things into my recipe blog, www.justjennrecipes.com, from superheroes like Batman and Phoenix – Jean Grey cupcakes to Star Wars buffets that it seemed like writing down recipes in a comic book form was a good fit.
My blog readers had been asking me for years when I was going to write a cookbook, and a comic book seemed simple and small enough that I could self-publish.
I also had the benefit of telling stories/drawing strips about my 90-year old Grandmother as part of the blog, so readers were already familiar with her as a character: O.G. – Original Grandma. By retelling our crazy conversations along with her personal recipes – I think people could really relate to old skool, easy recipes in a humorous form.
The comic/cookbook was so popular, O.G. and I did a book signing together at Royal T in Culver City and I'm already in the third printing of the comic book.
How have you seen SDCC change over the years?
It's definitely bigger, noisier and insanely crowded – all things everyone complains about, and yes there are parts of the Con that are not about comics. But that doesn't mean it isn't a great event. As a creator there is no other place where everyone from all industries come together and you can meet people from big name publishers, to someone who's trying to start their own web series.
Despite being massive, at Comic-Con you can almost feed off the creativity in the air. And if it's too crazy or overwhelming you can always take a break and visit a cooler, calmer area…like Small Press.
A change from past comic cons is that there are also a lot more women who go as attendees and creators. The Geek Girls and the League of Ladies presence at SDCC shows that women are great supporters of comics, sci-fi and especially of each other.
How have you seen the Small Press section of the exhibit hall change over the years?
In the past Small Press was mostly artists trying to promote their indie comics. Now with Twitter and Facebook the promotion part is pretty much done for you – so Small Press is now a place where you can get those followers to come meet you in person, see all the things you've been promoting on those social networks and hopefully they will make purchases and continue to support you along with new fans as well.
What do you like about being in the Small Press section?
Small Press almost like a mini-con within the Con. While I kind of like the crazy glitz and noise of the big booths, when it gets to be too much it's nice to have a smaller, quieter place to go to.
There is so much opportunity with a Small Press table. Not only can you sell and promote your creations but I've established business relationships and friendships that have continued on for years.
And because so many great people come to Comic-Con the potential to do business deals and interviews right across your table is an unbelievable asset.
There are some amazing artists in Small Press and you can tell from their work that they love creating. From comics, paintings, to stationery and plush – there's so much fresh creativity going on in Small Press, it's very exciting!
Find justJENN in the Small Press section of the exhibit hall at booth N-10. Follow @justjenndesigns on Twitter for updates.
For more from San Diego Comic-Con, follow @lizohanesian on Twitter.