Leading Stories

by Jay O’Bryan, Staff Writer

It’s 10:15 a.m. and the doors have just opened for day two of Pensacon.  In the northeast corner of Artist Alley, Jenni Gregory is setting up her booth, which contains prints of characters such as Underdog and Casper, while waiting for the rush of the crowd to pour in.

“This is my fourth time being here.  I set up three years ago,” Jenni Gregory said.  “This is one of my favorite shows.”

Gregory began making her mark in the comic industry almost three decades ago.

“I’ve been doing comics for about 25 years,” Gregory said.  “I always loved it. I didn’t read comics growing up, then my husband introduced me to them. I didn’t know you could put together stories and words, and have it printed.  It was just fascinating to me.”

While working as a caricature artist at Disney, as well as inking comics, Gregory knew that she wanted to do more with her work.

“I realized what I wanted to do was tell my own stories,” said Gregory.  “I still do a lot of freelance, but whenever I can I try and tell my own stories.”

Gregory was one of the pioneers of web comics.  She created a web series called Abby’s Menagerie, which Warren Ellis called “one of the best webcomics I’ve seen.”

“I got my start doing some comics on the internet,” Gregory said.  “A couple years ago before webcomics were really a thing, we got to do a comic called Abby’s Menagerie.”

Drawing animals is one Gregory’s favorite things, which is where the idea of her series came from.

“It’s about extinct animals and the main character is a zookeeper,” said Gregory.  “These animals kept coming back. And so, drawing these extinct animals was really fun and so was drawing her as a character.  It’s kind of sad because we don’t have any backups of it, we lost the hard drive. I still got some of the original art. But I think that drawing animals, so drawing those extinct animals is probably my favorite things to draw.”

To get her inspiration to draw or paint, Gregory uses several different elements to put the images from her head onto paper.

“Probably one of my art inspirations, and you see his work everywhere is Mucha,” she said.  “It’s that art nouveau style. Everyone uses him and is inspired by him. I always liked art history.  I would come with a lot of art styles from that. Most of mine comes from art history and going to museums, which I love.”

Along with being a comic artist, Jenni Gregory explores other art-related hobbies.

“I love photography!” she said.

After Pensacon, Gregory will get back to work.  She has several different projects she’s is working on.

“I’m still doing sketch cards right now,” Gregory said.  “I want to work on romance novels. Part of me still wants to tell Dream Walker, so that’s still in the works.  And I want to go back to Abby’s Menagerie. It’s hard because there are so many projects, I want to do, and I want more time in the day.”