Today, Leigh Luna shares her experiences in cartooning.
It feels a little bit odd to be writing about myself as a cartoonist. I am 21 years old and well aware that some of the strips on GoComics have been running longer than I've been alive. In short, I'm extremely honored to have my work be featured on GoComics.
The way my mother tells it, I crawled out of the womb with a crayon in my hand and immediately started drawing. I can't remember a time in my last 21 years of being on this earth where I wasn't drawing. I made my first comic strip when I was probably around 6. I created three pages and then decided that it was too much work (it's still too much work).
My parents were always super supportive of me wanting to be a cartoonist. Both of my parents read comics and are ridiculously proud that I'm on GoComics now with all of their favorite artists. A wall of the kitchen that I grew up in is taken up by a gigantic painted panel from the comic Pogo. I literally grew up staring at comics every day.
I grew up in New Mexico and spent a lot of time in Colorado. A lot of the inspiration for Clementine Fox comes from my experiences there. Many of the characters in Clementine are loosely based on people and friends from my childhood. Clementine was also highly inspired by my older sister who is an extremely outdoor-oriented geologist.
The comics that influenced me the most growing up were definitely Calvin and Hobbes, Zits and Betty and Veronica. My dad has almost every single collection of all of those comics. I learned to read on them. When I got into middle school, I began to read a lot of manga. I also began drawing a lot of manga. My mom would buy me reams of printer paper, and I would come home from school and draw magical girl after magical girl. When I was a junior in high school, I attended a summer program at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, where I studied comics for two weeks. After that, it was a done deal. There was a school that existed in the world where I could major in comics.
I started at the MCAD in the fall of 2011 with my mind completely set on having a job as an inker for Batman in four years. That changed drastically in my first semester. When I got to MCAD, I was shown the indie comics. Craig Thompson's Blankets, Charles Burns' Black Hole and Emi Lenox's Emi Town were all extremely influential for me.
I started cartooning "professionally" when I started MCAD. I completed a 40-page comic called Banjo Girl the summer after my freshman year. The book went over better than I ever expected it to, and it led into the creation of Clementine Fox a few months later.
Clementine Fox debuted at the Toronto Comic Art Festival in 2013. I later brought it to the Small Press Expo in Baltimore, where it was picked up by my future editor, Shena Wolf. Shena later approached me about hosting it on GoComics. I almost threw up I was so excited. It's very strange to be receiving a job you didn't think you would get for about seven more years.
I am inspired by so many other artists and cartoonists. However, a lot of my inspiration for storytelling and writing actually comes from books and film. David Sedaris, JRR Tolkien and Diablo Cody are some of my biggest heroes. I am also inspired by biking, avocados and yoga. In addition to my comics, I do a lot of illustration and lettering. Lately, I have been very into sign painting.
I'm still learning a lot. My comics explore relationships between people, specifically friendships. Clementine is by far my most light-hearted work, but even Clementine is grounded in relationships I had as a kid. My aim with all of my work is to have it be relatable. I like making books about experiences that are very human and genuine. Clementine is my biggest, most fun project right now. I love being able to write adventure. The other work I'm making is pretty different and grounded purely in emotion and experience.