Erika Moen’s no longer publishing a weekly strip online, but there are years of her hilarious and moving comics available in her archive, and she’s working on new projects. Erika answered my questions (I’m Dan Copulsky) in August 2010, by email.
After six years creating a weekly strip, DAR: A Super Girly Top Secret Comic Diary, you stopped the project at the end of last year. What are you working on now?
I’m working with two different authors on two different graphic novels! One is a dick-and-fart-joke murder-mystery with my studiomate Jeff Parker and the other is a young adult fantasy story with Brendan Adkins. I’m hoping to start serializing one of them in the winter of this year, but I’m probably jinxing that by acknowledging it aloud.
How do you schedule your time and organize your projects? What determines what you work on and when you work on it?
Scheduling is something I struggle with very much. The level of importance and the immediacy of the due date is what determines when I work on something. I try to block out specific days and times when I’m working on a certain project, but that rarely goes according to plan because I’m also running my own business and when things come up (which they do every day) they need to be taken care of NOW. The one thing that has helped me schedule enormously was setting aside Fridays as my day to fulfill the orders that come in through my online shop, that frees up a LOT of time during the rest of the week for me.
In Drawn to You, you described creating comics as a way to process your life. Does changing the pace at which you create and share comics have an affect on how you understand the events that are happening to you?
No, it hasn’t really changed that. I feel like my process of perceiving and interpreting life is always evolving, so the stage in which I had to document my life into comics is something I’m ready to move on from for the moment. I will come back to it, as I still have some autobiographic stories I want to turn into books (my relationship with my family, the process Matthew and I went through for immigration, etc.), but for right now it’s not what I need in my life. I’m really enjoying just experiencing life without constantly picking it apart to turn it into a comic.
Drawn to You was created collaboratively with Lucy Knisely. Is collaboration something you’d want to do again? Is there anything you’d do differently if you did?
Oh yes, I looooove collaboration! The times when I’ve collaborated are when my art and storytelling have improved the most. When I’m working on my own projects, I’m doing what I’m already comfortable creating—but when I work with someone else suddenly I have to push myself to think outside my normal box and interpret somebody else’s work and make mine work with theirs. It’s challenging in a really great way and I ALWAYS come away from those projects a better comicker. There’s so many ways in which to collaborate, too, and I’m open to trying them all. Drawing and writing with a cartoonist who is drawing and writing simultaneously (Lucy Knisley), drawing from someone else’s script (Sara Ryan, Jeff Parker), coming up with a concept and working with a writer to create the script for it and then drwing it (Brendan Adkins), writing a script and then having someone else draw it for me (haven’t done that one yet)… so many options!
As a queer women who has settled down with a man, and written a lot about your life before and through doing so, do you feel like you still have things to write about being queer?
I think I still have a few more comics left in me about that subject, but overall I feel like I’ve presented the meat-and-potatoes of my personal experience. If I never had the opportunity to do another comic on that subject, I could die feeling happy with what I did share.