When the pandemic hit, I suddenly had a lot of free time on the weekends that I normally would have used to go on dates and visit friends and family. It was a pretty bleak time, especially as a single woman living and working alone. I was completely isolated. For some reason, I felt compelled to find some humor in the situation by drawing comics in an attempt to fight the despair of quarantining alone (a bunch of my early, very rough comics on my Instagram account, @zenacomics, are about this theme specifically). I just wanted to make myself laugh, which I've found to be a helpful mental health tool (it's hard to feel too down when you're distracted laughing about something). Then I started sharing these comics with friends and family in hopes they might also get a laugh too. They were incredibly supportive and encouraged me to share my work with more people. So I started doing Zena Comics as a more regular series.
I grew up reading newspaper comics pretty obsessively, and then as a teenager got very into anime and manga. Being a comic book artist was my dream job, and though I drew a lot, I knew I didn't have the skills. In high school and college, I got into R. Crumb and started drawing my own comics a little more (which were basically rip-offs of his). The idea of adult-themed gag, alternative, and long-form comics appealed to me, but I didn't have the time to develop my own work much further as my life got taken up in college with more "serious" classes and then later grad school. But I never stopped reading comics, whether they were classic gag strips, manga, graphic novels, or webcomics. I think if you read them a lot, it's hard not to see your own life and ideas framed in a similar medium, especially if you're visually inclined. It becomes almost second nature.
I was one of those kids who loved my art classes above everything else and drew for fun in my free time. My grandmother was an artist and always gave me her old art supplies to mess around with. Drawing was just something I could always kind-of do, though I knew my limitations. Sometimes I wish I had pursued it more seriously and learned more fundamentals (especially more life drawing), but I hated the one art class I took in college (very basic still-life drawing) and kind of walked away from it for a while. But I doodled on and off for years, and never stopped reading comics. Then fairly recently (maybe 2-3 years ago) I heard Roz Chast (the New Yorker cartoonist) give a great talk at a convention and she mentioned how much she loved her Apple pencil. That gave me the push I needed to get my own and try digital art on an iPad using the program Procreate—and I absolutely fell in love with it. It's such a great medium, especially for cartooning.
I like to make jokes about what the world sometimes feels like to a single, 30-something-year-old woman. The absurdity of the internet and particularly how it overlaps with sex is another topic I keep finding myself going back to. The ridiculousness of the single life! In general, I like making jokes about love and sex, especially from a woman's perspective, which is pretty lacking in the webcomics sphere. I want to make people laugh about real things in their lives. If I'm feeling like something is absurd, maybe other people are having those thoughts too? It's a fun way to connect with others.