An Interview with Meghan Murphy, Creator of Kawaii Not
What can you tell us about yourself?
I'm 29 and was born, raised and still live in Rochester, NY. I received a bachelor's degree in Visual Arts from SUNY New Paltz (a fun little town that smelt of patchouli and pot), and a master's degree in Computer Graphic Design from RIT (a brick campus that smelt of snow and slightly burnt ozone). Of course, now I spend large amounts of time drawing adorable little farts and other weirdness, so I'm thinking maybe all that higher education stuff was a bit of overkill.
Kawaii Not is taking up more and more of my time, especially since I am about to take it from a very laid back update-when-I-can-usually-once-a-week strip, to a super organized twice-weekly strip(Mondays and Thursdays). I might be getting in over my head, but I love it, so what is one to do?
Where did the notion for Kawaii Not come from? How easy/hard is it for you to come up with the individual comics?
Kawaii Not originally started as a way just to see if I could come up with something every week, kind of a comic strip test drive. The title is actually what came to me first, which seems like an ass-backwards way to start a comic, but there you go. As for how hard it is coming up with individual strips, that varies greatly. Sometimes an idea will pop into my brain almost fully formed and ready to publish; other times the process is like giving a cat a bath -- just with less scratches. That's why I usually have two or three strip in the works, odds are at least one of them will come together in time.
How do you create the art for Kawaii Not? What influences do you have generally?
I start a Kawaii Not by going to one of my sketchbooks o' weird stuff -- where I draw out any stupid/strange/ridiculous ideas I get for possible strips. Usually one or two of these raw ideas will pop out at me, and with a little spit and shine will be ready to be scanned and brought into Adobe Illustrator. There I refine the look of the strip, and sometimes play around with the timing of the punchline and other various elements I might want to change. Influence-wise, obviously the visual look of Kawaii Not is heavily inspired by Asian "kawaii" culture, particularly companies that puts cute faces on anything and everything (Sanrio, San-X, Q-Lia, Kamio, Crux -- just to name a few). Then I just add my natural weirdness to the mix.
Do you hope to make a living from Kawaii Not?
Not really, at least, not as my sole means of support. I am still surprised I make enough to pay for Kawaii Not's web-hosting. Of course, I wouldn't complain if I did end up living off of my bizarre creation -- if for no other reason than the look on people's faces when I tried to explain to them what I did all day. Awesome.
Your comic seems tailor-made to go on buttons, t-shirts, etc. Have you had a lot of success with that?
I was pleasantly surprised when I invested in my handy dandy one-inch button maker, those little guys are pretty popular and rather fun to design. I'd recommend making your own buttons to anyone. I also opened a Cafepress shop for t-shirts and such, but at some point I'd like to find another way to produce them, since trying to keep the prices low but also make at least some profit is a little difficult currently. The big news, which I haven't really announced yet, is that if all goes well there will be a Kawaii Not book on bookstore shelves in the near future. How cool is that? Whether it will be successful, though, remains to be seen.
At one point you announced that you would be part of Warren Ellis' Rocket Pirates anthology site. (At last check) The site is not up yet - do you know what's going on with that? Do you still expect that to debut sometime in the future?
As far as I know Rocket Pirates is definitely going forward, it just has unfortunately been the victim of a combination of technical problems and a very busy schedule on the part of Mr. Ellis. I am still just crazy excited to have been invited to be a part of it, and I can't wait for it to come together.