I came to comics late, as an adult. I had just finished graduate school, was living in New York City and working full-time in academic administration. I walked into my first comic book store and I haven't looked back since. Comics opened up my world, and reading them made me want to make my own. I always liked to draw and write, but I separated the two. Comics showed me a way to put them together.
But it was hard. I had a lot to learn (and I'm still learning). I started doing a daily web comic for an immediate creative outlet, and also because part of me knew I wasn't going to learn cartooning if I didn't try and allow myself to be bad at it.
The first year of cartooning felt like doing battle with myself: all my fears, doubts, insecurities on top of learning new skills -- basically, it's the artistic process in a nutshell.
I draw a lot from personal experience in my cartoons. I keep a running notebook of ideas. Typically, I get up in the morning, make tea, check in with how I'm feeling and try to tease it out on the page. Since it’s my mandate, I have to finish and post a cartoon before I leave for work in the morning. Having a deadline is really critical, I find.
I grew up with Calvin and Hobbes, Peanuts, For Better or For Worse, Baby Blues and Zits, so those comic strips are firmly embedded in my psyche. I also loved children’s books and the illustrations of Maurice Sendak, Norman Rockwell, Quentin Blake and Lisbeth Zwerger. More recently, I'm really enjoying autobiographical comics by Lewis Trondheim, Boulet and Gabrielle Bell, to name just a few -- there’s a lot to be inspired by.
I also draw a lot of inspiration from stand-up comedy, which I started exploring around the same time that I started reading comics. Both taught me to look at the world in different ways, the power of reframe, humor in processing things that happen in life. Inspiration comes from who and what I encounter in my day-to-day and what is emotionally immediate to me. I’m often trying to get myself to the other side of a feeling. If I can find humor in something, then somehow it’s more bearable. Being able to laugh at myself is the closest thing I can think of to a superpower in life.
I don't have a special studio space. I just work in the same room I sleep in. I need a laptop, a tablet, a scanner and an Internet connection, but besides that, I like to think I can work anywhere. For the daily comics, I draw on paper with pencil and brush pens, scan the line work, and color it digitally with a Wacom tablet and Photoshop. Lately, I'm trying new materials and experimenting with applying color to paper directly. I've always wanted to do more with watercolor -- it's challenging, but I'm having a lot of fun with it!