Talking With Jamie Rotante And Craig Cermak About ‘Jinx’s Grim Fairy Tales’ Plus Exclusive Preview
by Rachel Bellwoar
Move over Sabrina. It’s Jinx’s time to shine in Jinx’s Grim Fairy Tales, a new special coming out from Archie Comics next month. Babysitting duty is no joke, and in order to keep the youths under her care distracted Jinx decides to tell them some dark fairy tales. One of those tales (as well as the framing story for this issue) is by writer, Magdalene Visaggio, and artist, Craig Cermak, and, far from being grim, it was an absolute pleasure to ask Craig and Archie Comics’ Senior Director of Editorial, Jamie Rotante, some questions over email.
Rachel Bellwoar: The framing story for this special is that Jinx is trying to keep her two charges occupied by telling them stories. Have either of you ever had a bad babysitting experience?
Craig Cermak: Thankfully no, unless you count trying to keep two cats away from each other’s food!
Jamie Rotante: I never actually did the whole babysitting thing! Which is strange, because growing up I totally thought babysitting was a part of every teen’s life—two of my favorite movies of all-time are Adventures in Babysitting and Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead. But it wasn’t an occupation I ever had, and as a single child with no siblings, I didn’t have anyone to babysit even if not for a job. I think that’s what makes babysitting stories so appealing to me: they’re such a universal topic when it comes to teens, but it’s also something that always exists in this fictional, “anything weird, wacky, wild that can happen will happen” space.
RB: Before Jinx can distract Tess and Milo (the youngsters in question) they manage to make a mess of their parent’s kitchen. What’s the best part about getting to destroy a kitchen that doesn’t have to be cleaned up afterwards?
JR: There’s always a little bit of delight in making a mess — that’s why those places where people can just bash stuff to let out aggression exist. The best part is allowing the artist the space to really go wild and make as big of a mess as possible!
CC: Honestly it wounded me to draw food wasted away like that. And a cake burning in the oven? How are these kids not just going ham on the cake? They chose violence that day.
RB: In “The True Story of Kevnetella” Cheryl is determined to become queen, even if it means subjecting herself to a painful spell. When did you know you wanted to make the spell as stomach churning as possible?
CC: For the drawing side of this, I saw a note in Magdalene’s script that said to make it as grotesque as possible, so I happily went along. I liked the juxtaposition of the horror with the largely playful story.
JR: Craig’s art continually blew us away with every page he’d turn in. Everything was so gorgeous we, especially our art director Vincent Lovallo, seldom had any notes. But that was one panel where we gave one note—amp it up to make it as gruesome as possible! (And Mags’s art notes in her script also emphasized that — I think my only note for her directives in that scene was “YES!”). Craig certainly delivered!
RB: Which is more fun – getting to channel your inner, dramatic child or the babysitter who’s messing with them and using words they can’t understand?
CC: For drawing, I had the most fun drawing Jinx being sassy but drawing the kids’ responses were a hoot, too.
RB: Of the stories in this special, Jinx’s look is the most different in “Kevnetella.” How did you approach Jinx’s character design?
CC: I mostly took direction from Editorial on making her appear devilish with little horns, which was pretty fun to build from. I researched some medieval-era dresses and found some that had sharper features, particularly that piece around her neck. I went ahead, put it mostly in black, and now you can really tell she’s up to no good.
RB: There’s a wonderful moment where Kevin’s father, the reigning king, breaks character and forgets to speak in his usual, haughty manner. What was it like figuring out the comedic tone for this story?
CC: The tone was very well established in the script, so it was easy for me to jump in and sort of just accentuate what was there. I loved figuring out all the expressions and gestures — the script really provided lots of great opportunities to play with acting. I tried to loosen my artwork a bit, add some more bounce, to push the comedic aspects.
JR: I wasn’t surprised by Mags’s ability to easily float between these characters and their voices/moods, but even for that I was impressed. I LOVE how she deftly injects humor right when things are about to get REALLY gruesome, adding that much needed levity. All good horror should have a bit of comedy, too, in my opinion. Every character’s voice brings them vividly to life, giving each one a unique personality — quite a feat to accomplish in a short story!
RB: Thanks for agreeing to this interview, Jamie and Craig!
Jinx’s Grim Fairy Tales goes on sale August 17th from Archie Comics. Colors will be by Matt Herms and letters by Jack Morelli. FOC date is July 25th.