Spotlight

Kate Blast! Guardian of the Burning Heart!

Renie Jesanis is a writer, illustrator and editor from Boston, Massachusetts. She makes webcomics and anthologies, including the Prism-Award Nominated “Being True”, and she is currently editing a Sci-Fi anthology for the Boston Comics Roundtable. By day, she’s a civil engineer in the water/wastewater sector. She is the creator of Kate Blast!

Synopsis: An ancient alien relic called The Burning Heart has crash landed on earth and has chosen Kate Blast, a transwoman in her mid-30s, to be its next Guardian. Kate has to deal with this new responsibility with very little information about the very thing she is protecting, all while managing to live a balanced adult life, alongside her new vigilante friends.

Did you go to school for either art or writing? If so, what school?
Nope! I got my bachelors in Environmental Engineering from Clarkson University.

What is the main genre of your comic? What appeals to you about that genre?
Science Fiction. I have always really loved epic sci-fi and space operas, my favorite being Dune. I love the grand drama and the sense that the universe is more complex and wild than any of us can imagine and there’s always something unexpected coming. I am really drawn to the sci-fi stories that don’t rely on horror to get their points across, mostly because those stories tend to prey on people’s fear of the unknown, rather than embracing it and going into the unknown.

Are there any other genres that apply to your comic?
Urban fantasy, with a hearty dash of monster-of-the-week supernatural.

What was your inspiration for the story?
The story itself started as an Inktober prompt for a 30-page zine that ballooned into a much larger project. A lot of the story aspects are inspired by 90’s anime and I had been listening to a ton of “Cygnus X-1” by Rush.

Do you have any favorite artists or writers who influenced your style?
Stylistically, I draw a ton of my artistic inspiration from classic manga (Chrono Crusade, Sailor Moon, etc.) and Studio Trigger (Kill La Kill, Promare). There are also SO MANY artists online for other webcomics that constantly inspire me that it’d be a disservice to only name a few. The webcomics community is amazing.

How long does it take you to complete one page?
This has really changed as I’ve progressed through the comic. When I started, it would take me a whole week to finish a page, but now I can finish one page from thumbs to letters in about two days of working.

What is your process like for creating comic pages from start to finish? What tools do you use?
Writing is a process. The benefit of being the writer and the artist is it lets me really adapt and make large script changes on the fly, so the scripts are a bit of a living document until very late in the actual drawing of the chapter. I currently do thumbnails very loosely in a sketchbook, followed by pencils traditionally on B4 Manga Paper with a non-photo blue pencil, then I import the pages into Clip Studio Pro where I do inks, colors, and letters.

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?
It’s not even close to finished yet! I have a definitive ending planned out there a few years from now, but I think it will probably be a five year project or so. I tend to prefer stories with definitive starts and ends, rather than the endless mega-series out there.

How long did it take you to plan the comic before even beginning to physically create it?
Like I mentioned before, this started as an Inktober prompt in 2018, so I started a lot of the early pages of chapter one within weeks of writing the first draft of the script.

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?
My biggest challenge was taking already drawn and posted pages clearly written for a one-shot and turning that into a feasible plot for a graphic novel sized project. I really was dead set back then on “just post it, stop getting caught in a cycle of redrawing,” but if I could go back I’d tell myself to take a deep breath, flesh out the script a little more, and chase it.

What is your favorite part about working on your comic?
I LOVE coloring. I find it super relaxing and playful, where I can just try new ways of expressing the mood or effects.

What is the most difficult part about working on your comic? How do you overcome it?
For me, practically speaking, it’s working on the comic while having a full-time career outside of comics. I am able to get most of my work done in the evenings, but it has come with a ton of sacrifices from my personal life to be able to manage both. I try to have at least two nights and one day set aside each week where I don’t draw or, if I do, it’s something personal and fun, just to relax. I’m lucky I can get by on six hours of sleep though, haha.

Do you have a favorite character to write for? If so, why? Tell us more about them!
Oh gosh, this is like trying to pick your favorite child! I’d say that my favorites change, but right now I’m really excited for Pyxis, who is a character whose arc is about to be explored a little more soon in the comic, so while I can’t say much, he’s a very fun character to write for.

Which character gives you the most difficulty to write for?
Cam, since he isn’t a magical-boy, trying to make sure he still fits as a werewolf in a magical-girl story has been a bit of a struggle, but I am very excited for his arcs and his impact on the later story. So, it’s just been trying to make sure he actually belongs in the early chapters that’s been hard.

Do you have a favorite character to draw?
Sonya is super fun to draw, given their wide range of emotions and body language.

Which character gives you the most difficulty to draw?
I mean, not one in particular, but each character has one thing that is difficult to make look right (Kate’s hair, Sonya’s wings, Cam in dog form).

Where can we find you?
Comic Site: www.kateblast.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/renieplayerone

Anything else you want the people to know about yourself or your comic?
I’m really excited for what is to come! This is my first webcomic, so I’m glad that I’ve been able to play around and try and find my style on the job. ^_^

Have you read Kate Blast yet? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Also, shout out to ShadowBestie for helping me format these interviews!