Jessica F. Tolley is a stay at home mom of three who’s always had a passion for drawing. She prefers traditional media, particularly ink, watercolor, markers and colored pencils. She has long had a love for visual storytelling, especially animation and comics. She is the creator of Angels of the Fallen.
Synopsis: Angels of the Fallen is the story of Kayla, a 20-year-old woman with an aptitude for elemental magic. Angels of the Fallen is set in Aeradar, a world created by the Elementals. These ancient gods have long been thought to be myth, though the story of how they created the world is a common one. Magic and magical creatures are common-place on Aeradar.
This world has long been at war, with the evil Demons pitting the various races of Aeradar against one another for some unknown dark purpose.
The story begins with Kayla making a choice that soon changes her life and the lives of her friends, forever. They soon are gathered together by a mysterious old man named Alkus Trenan, learn the Demons’ true purpose, who they themselves really are, and what THEIR true purpose is. Among all this, they will come to learn just how much they mean to one another, and how much they NEED one another.
Did you go to school for either art or writing? If so, what school?
Only a few formal art classes here and there, so far.
What is the main genre of your comic? What appeals to you about that genre?
Fantasy. I love the possibilities that come with fantasy, and I’ve always been fascinated with magic, dragons and the like. I’m partial to urban fantasy, especially. The thought of a very realistic world where fairies and witchcraft are everyday things is very interesting to me.
What was your inspiration for the story?
It all started when I was 14. I drew a rather sketchy image of my friends and myself at the time, fighting a big green dragon-looking monster. From there sprung the idea of a young woman fighting to save her world.
Do you have any favorite artists or writers who influenced your style?
I have many different artists whom I admire and whose styles have influenced me! Among them are Jen Wang, Tracy JB, James Gurney, Jeff Smith…. There are dozens more that I can’t currently think of!
How long does it take you to complete one page?
Really depends on the level of detail but typically between 5-8 hours.
What is your process like for creating comic pages from start to finish? What tools do you use?
I usually start with a rough pencil sketch of the page on regular printer paper. Sometimes, for scenes I particularly want to get right, I will actually script out a conversation and/or do rough thumbnails. After the penciling is done I use a light pad to trace onto bristol board with ink. Then I do any shading and hatching the images need. After the inking is done I scan the image and get it cleaned up, along with adding the dialogue. After this, it’s ready for uploading!
Is your comic a finished work? If not, how long do you think it’s going to be when it’s complete? Is there a definitive ending or will you just keep going for as long as possible?
Angels of the Fallen is far from being finished! I have 7-9 books planned in all, and am currently working on part 1.
How long did it take you to plan the comic before even beginning to physically create it?
I would say well over a decade. I actually began the comic twice before, but my art and storytelling have greatly improved over the years so a restart was very much warranted.
What was the biggest hurdle you faced during the course of making your comic? If you could go back in time to the point where you just started making it and give yourself a pep talk, what would you say?
The distractions of daily life! Also, diagnosed ADHD and depression. If I could go back to my younger self, I would get diagnosed much sooner and set a regimen of working on art MUCH soooner.
What is the most difficult part about working on your comic? How do you overcome it?
The most difficult part is definitely just sitting down and FOCUSING on it. It’s hard having a family that needs my attention. I work with this by trying to set specific amounts of time for working on the comic.
Do you have a favorite character to write for? If so, why? Tell us more about them!
Honestly, I love writing for all of them! I’d have to say my particular favorite is one that hasn’t shown up yet, and I don’t want to give any spoilers…!
Which character gives you the most difficulty to write for?
Honestly, my villains. I want them to be dark and evil but not cliché. I love a really awesome villain, and not stepping into cheesey territory can be hard!
Do you have a favorite character to draw?
Again, it’s a character that hasn’t shown up yet. But I really enjoy a good, creepy character! After that I’d have to say Alex and Jessi are some of my favorites to draw.
Which character gives you the most difficulty to draw?
Alex! It’s gotten a lot better but I used to have SUCH a hard time getting him to look right!
Where can we find you?
I can be found over at http://angelsofthefallen.thecomicseries.com/comics/first/#comicimage.
Anything else you want the people to know about yourself or your comic?
Angels of the Fallen is my pride and joy. I’ve always loved stories about the elements, love and good vs evil. I think if people give it a chance, they’ll find something unique and entertaining and well worth a read. Some advice I once heard a long time ago was to create stories you yourself would want to read, and that’s what I’ve tried to do!
Have you read Angels of the Fallen yet? Let us know what you think in the comments!
Also, shout out to ShadowBestie for helping me format these interviews!