Jeanine-Jonee talks about SEAFOAM A FRIEND FOR MADISON

Jeanine-Jonee Keith self-publish two comic book series and sell them at comic conventions. Her work hours are filled with projects from illustrating and providing print layouts for children’s books to turning around pitch boards for a company’s presentation at the drop of a hat because she has the reputation of being reliable. When Jenjo’s not working, she enjoys a bucket of home-made popcorn and a good horror movie, watching cartoons, or venturing out to find another addition to her modest Plastic Man collection. She is also a proud, registered tribe member of the Cherokee Nation. She was nice enough to stop by First Comics News and let our readers know all about Seafoam, a Friend for Madison

First Comics News: Who is Madison O’Brien?

Jeanine-Jonee Keith: Madison O’Brien is an adventurous, and creative 9-year-old girl who is also the main protagonist of the Seafoam series. She’s a positive thinker, using creativity and empathy to help Blue solve problems on the island.

1st: Who is Blue?

Jenjo: Blue is a resident of the island Madison visits, and her best friend. He has a few secrets of his own. He reveals in issue #2, “A Devious Djinn”, that he didn’t want to be her friend, because he “ruins everything”. Though he is stand-offish at first, the walls he’s built around himself slowly melt at the kindness Madison shows him and he lets his true personality out. Not much is known about what he is, and although readers have their speculations, I can assure them of two things… were he a vampire, he would not be out in broad daylight, and a few hints are sprinkled throughout the first arc of the story, with a few questions being answered in issue #4 “Island Shadows”.

1st: Who is Seafoam?

Jenjo: Seafoam is the magical narwhal that brings Madison to and from the island.

1st: What makes Seafoam a good friend for Madison?

Jenjo: While Seafoam, would consider herself Madison’s friend, the real friend for Madison is Blue, and as the story progresses, more creatures on the island.

1st: How does she find herself on a magical island?

Jenjo: One day at the beach, Madison came across a beached narwhal and helped her back into the water by tickling her. Madison named the narwhal Seafoam, as that’s where she found her. For her kind deed and pure heart, Seafoam offered Madison a wish. For Madison, a friend to go on adventures with, much like the many books she read, was the only thing she’d ever wanted. Seafoam set out to find Madison such a friend, and did so in the lonely hermit boy who lived on a small enchanted island.

1st: Is she able to travel back and forth from the real world?

Jenjo: This concept will be explored more in the series, but yes, Madison can travel back and forth, as long as Seafoam is able to take her.

1st: Is this an actual place or is this more like Puff the Magic Dragon?

Jenjo: This is an actual place she goes to, however it is not one that can typically be reached by non-magical beings.

1st: Who is Alabaster?

Jenjo: Alabaster is a small crab that is always by Blue’s side. He is suspiciously intelligent for a crab and is identified by being the only crab shown with green eyes.

1st: Who is Turtle?

Jenjo: Turtle, who will appear much later, is an ancient source of information. He loves to babble stories to whoever is near, listening or not.

1st: What is a Hypnoctopus?

Jenjo: The Hypnoctopus is one-of-a-kind. She’s able to spin in the water, using her spiral pattern to hypnotize whoever sees it into a stupor. As seen in issue #1 “The Hypnoctopus”, she can also attach herself to people’s heads and control their body. This allows her to leave the water for a short time, till the sun dries her out.

1st: Who are the ornery island natives?

Jenjo: The Island natives, which appear in issue #3 “The Natives Aren’t So Friendly” are creatures that live on the island. They don’t take kindly to all the other creatures moving into their home and disturbing their way of life. Not much is known about them right now, but arc two will explore the Natives’ lives a little more.

1st: Are the ornery island natives friends or foes for Madison and Blue?

Jenjo: They are definitely not very friendly and have no interest in being friends with Blue or Madison… for now.

1st: Who is Matir?

Jenjo: Matir is a djinn, a supernatural creature more commonly referred to as a genie. He is capable of granting any wish he hears but is most likely going to twist your words so you get the worst possible outcome of whatever it is you desire. He’s introduced in issue #2 “A Devious Djinn” when Madison breaks the bottle Blue had trapped him in. A fast-talking, smarmy, trouble making being, Matir isn’t above picking on kids, though clearly, any threat of actual harm is just talk (but most don’t know that).

1st: How does he twist their words?

Jenjo: With his ability to interpret the wish however he likes, even a simple wish can be twisted and turned around to the wisher’s misfortune. For example, should Madison wish for a candy bar… he could very likely give her one, but because she didn’t specify the flavor it may taste like old shoes.

1st: If you wouldn’t mind taking me through the progression of this project from self-published with Indyplanet, to Line Webtoon, to Action Lab?

Jenjo: Wow, you’ve done your research!
This project has definitely been a journey! Seafoam was the first book I completed as a sort of personal goal and, believe it or not, that was in late 2011. I wanted to create something fun and colorful, in contrast to the gritty makeovers everything around me seemed to be getting. Something my 90’s kid self would have liked to watch on TV. I didn’t know where it was going to go or whether anyone would even like it, but I completed it. My apartment was flooded by a sprinkler incident in 2013, which resulted in me losing many of the original page files for the book, but luckily I had a very high res PDF. After many years of wondering if I was ready, and being discouraged by losing much of my original work, I picked myself up, and printed and sold the books at my first convention experience, Wondercon 2015.
It wasn’t until the following year of Wondercon that I realized there were people who did actually like it when they came back looking for the next issue. During this time, I was working a full time job that was physically exhausting, completing freelance work to build my resume, and trying to complete comic pages in my free time for two different series, so it took a while to complete the second book. I self-published in small quantities, waiting till the third book was in production to start posting on Webtoon. While the book was available online through IndyPlanet, fans of the books always preferred to pick up their copy in-person at conventions, to chat, and get it signed. I will say, it always makes my day to see the same faces every year at WonderCon and catch up on what they’ve been doing.
It wasn’t until Comic-Con San Diego 2018 that the book found a pair of eyes that saw some potential in it. I initially met with Nicole D’Andria, Action Lab’s submissions editor at the portfolio review, for a possible colorist gig in their motion comics division and was instead asked to submit Seafoam. Issue #4 was completed in the winter of 2018 so the series could go out during the summer of 2019.

1st: This story is also on Patreon?

Jenjo: There were some sample pages on my Patreon, but per my contract, I had to remove them. There is however some concept art, T-shirt designs, and other assets I’ve created for the online ads on there. As books come out, I do plan to post a few pencil pages for my patrons. Most of the work that goes up there is related to some of my other, currently self-published books, and artworks I’m allowed to share from productions I’ve worked on.

1st: How did you get together with Kyle Holland?

Jenjo: Kyle and I met in college and stayed in touch afterward for the most part. We had lost touch for a bit and then reconnected back in 2015 when we started dating. Kyle is a very supportive and talented person, who I am ever grateful to have in my life.

1st: What made Kyle the right artist for this project?

Jenjo: Well, first off, he’s my boyfriend so he has to do what I say. Haha! I’m just kidding. What made Kyle perfect for the job was the fact that he genuinely loves the project and I trust him to produce quality work. Before the book was picked up, he’d come to every convention with me to help set-up, tear down, and pitch the book to new potential readers.

1st: Is this an ongoing series or a mini-series?

Jenjo: The series is intended to be ongoing. There are still more characters and overarching plot points to be explored on the island. Volume two of the series would expand on the history of Blue and Alabaster while introducing some new nautical creatures. As I broke down a little bit earlier, there were YEARS between the issues just due to the fact I wasn’t able to work on them full-time. My hope is to see the series completed now that I am fully self-employed and consistently working on my books.

1st: When does the Trade Paperback come out?

Jenjo: The Trade paperback is set to be released in September 2019. Right now, Previews has said it will release the first week, but I’m more inclined to believe it will be out the second week like the first couple of books have.

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