Let me tell you guys about Erika Moen.
I started reading Erika’s autobio series DAR long before I’d ever considered drawing comics for a living. Her hilarious, honest snapshots of life encompassed the struggles of being a creative person, the joy and humor of sex, and the complexities of personal identity. The comics were brave and open and unlike anything else I’d read on the web or in print. They inspired me. I remember attending the Portland Zine Symposium in 2009 and being too embarrassed to go up and talk to her. Other shows followed, and eventually I managed to say hi a few times. She started to recognize me vaguely from show to show. I bought a lot of books. One year I unthinkingly set a punnet of strawberries down on her display and felt so mortified when she asked me to move them that I fled the convention, convinced I would live in infamy as That Horrible Strawberry Lady. Anyway, point being, I thought Erika was the best, but I was pretty sure we’d never be friends.
Fast forward six years. Since finding out about Periscope through Erika getting a position there, I’d finally worked up the courage to apply for their internship. After working at the Studio for several months, I was asked to stay on as an assistant. During that time, I found myself working alongside one of my original inspirations for getting into making comics in the first place. I was starstruck and terrified at times, but everyone was so welcoming and helpful that soon I began to feel like I belonged.
Erika recently launched a new project called Oh Joy, Sex Toy, a weekly webcomic reviewing — you guessed it — instruments of pleasure. I’ve always been impressed by her openness when it comes to talking about sex, and the comic has been a delight so far. (It is, of course, very not safe for work, so click that link at your own risk.)
When we were flying back from the Toronto Comic Arts Festival a few weeks ago, Erika mentioned that she was swamped with work this month and concerned about finding time to draw enough. Screwing up my courage, I dared to volunteer my services as a guest artist. “Oh my gosh, would you?”
UH, YES. YES I WOULD.
So here we are, ten days later. I managed to tie my boat-loving tendencies into a beginner’s guide to rope bondage (again, obviously NSFW). I crammed in extra hours of inking in cars and on bar counters during VanCAF this weekend. I scrambled for reference materials and resources to create the best comic I possibly could. I panicked about putting something out with my name on it that departed from my usual, family-friendly fare.
And then I showed it to Erika.
And she was thrilled.
This person I’ve admired for six years, this person who inspired me to start down the crazy life path I’m suddenly blazing along — this person thinks I’ve done something cool.
It’s been a wild year — from funding True Believer last May to starting at Periscope to publishing new comics to tabling at conventions far and wide — but this just about takes the cake. I’m so happy and proud to be doing the work I’m doing, I’m excited for all the projects I have coming up in the next few months, and I’m insanely grateful to all the people who have supported me thus far.
Of course, I’m also an absolute wreck from doing shows every other weekend for the past month, and from pushing myself on all these deadlines, but I’m very, very glad to be where I am. Which is in bed. Preparing to sleep for as long as I possibly can.
(Thanks for reading my mush, you guys. I’ve got the warm fuzzies pretty hardcore right now.)