by Serhend Sirkecioglu
From her Tumblr all I know about Jen Lee is she’s a freelancer from Idaho, with a boyfriend, two dogs, two cats, and farmland critters. From all this plus her comics/illustrations on her tumblr, it makes up a gem of a cartoonist. The comic in particular I’m talking about is Thunderpaw: In the Ashes of Fire Mountain, a motion comic that updates weekly Tuesday Wednesday or Thursday and is so far about a three headed dog and two pups(one of them freaking out) stuck in a car as a thunderstorm approaches.
Her use of GIF is conscientious, subtle and one with her storytelling. Unlike other comics I’ve seen using GIF, this is not a gimmicky proof of concept; This is Jen using it no different than a pen or brush and with near mastery of it, knowing to limit the animation down to mostly one action or character per panel. I’ll admit there are times where I feel a tier of similar GIFs could be boiled down to a fewer panels, but this a nitpick that she seems to be taking care of as the animation gets better and more daring as of her latest update.
Her work is consist of a simple yet limber line(John K. and Gary Baseman come to mind) and mostly muted colors depicting anthro dogs and cats in a rural setting. The other stories I’ve read involve adolescent to twenty-something hi-jinks but a with recurring theme of the wilderness of adolescence; the abandoned houses and construction sites and the supernatural quality they had to us then of the “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” generation.
Though the story is just getting started, the technical quality in Jen’s frenetic animation(according to her twitter never took a animation class) and bewitching color palate is enough reason to recommend following Thunderpaw and her growing body of work.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.