Erika Moen made her splash in comics with DAR, an autobiographical webcomic that was a smash hit with fans and critics alike. These days she’s drawing BUCKO, a hilariously entertaining webcomic written by Jeff Parker. BUCKO starts out as something of an odd crime story but has evolved into something more in the vein of a strange romance. I had the opportunity to chat with Erika at Emerald City Comic Con back in March. Special thanks to Chelsea Freund for transcription assistance.
Marc: This is Marc Mason from the Comics Waiting Room, I am with noted webcomics artist Ericka Moen.
M: Recently, you just started a new webcomic, “Bucko”. Tell us about it.
E: Well, it’s a dick and fart joke murder mystery, and written by Jeff Parker, which means it’s really well-written. He’s one of my favorite writers. I can’t believe he’s working with me, and I am just really having a good time doing something completely fictional, and I actually don’t know what is coming up with it. He gives me one page of script at a time, so it’s a surprise for me every single page. Like, what’s happening next? And for me to find out, I have to finish my current page so I can go on to the next one.
M: It’s also a little bit of a departure for you. You kind of made your name as an autobiographical comics artist. What sort of adjustments have you had to make artistically to do a murder mystery?
E: Well, I’m trying to draw better. I’m trying to be a better artist. ‘Cause now it’s not just, like, my story, like- shit, I’m working with somebody else, I’ve got to make this good. So I’m trying to improve my art and push myself artistically. It’s been challenging in a really good way, and I feel like I’m a stronger artist for it. Within the first 20 pages, I can look at it and see that my art is improved by the 20th page.
M: This weekend you’ve been selling a mini-comic, the first few installments of “Bucko.” How are people responding to it?
E: Really positively. I, honestly wasn’t really expecting people to buy a mini-comic of it, but they have been. I’m really impressed by how many people have bought the first chapter of “Bucko.” I mean, I’m really excited. Thanks, everyone.
M: Well, and they got a sneak peek ahead, because I know I took it home and I read it, and there are pages ahead of what’s been online, so that had to be an effective selling tool, right?
E: Yeah. I tell people, if you buy this, you get to see the future of the comic. Right now we’re up to page 12 online (Ed. Note: they’re past page 30 now!), and the comic gives the first whole chapter, so it’s 21 pages. So that’s quite a peek ahead. Although, there’s still something for the people that are online. If you put your mouse over the comic online, you get a little bit more. So you can still go read it online and get something out of that too.
M: Nice. I mentioned “Dar” earlier, your autobiographical comics. I bought those last summer, and I loved them a whole bunch.
E: Thank you.
M: Do you miss doing “Dar” at all?
E: Not really. I still have a couple auto-bio stories I want to tell eventually, but right now, I’m so happy to be doing fiction. I kind of… when you’re doing auto-bio, you’re really trapped your own brain, and everything is all about you, obviously, with your story, and your art. It’s very Erika, Erika, Erika, and I was really happy to have a chance to go outside of that. I feel like my skills always improve, and I feel more challenged and creative when I’m working with somebody else, because it’s an outside influence, and you have to think differently. So I really enjoy collaborating and working with another writer.
M: Was it difficult to put yourself out there in some of the ways that you did? I imagine that there’s a line that you have defined between talking about too much and not talking about enough, and keeping it real enough to keep your audience enthralled.
E: Yeah, it was an interesting balance. When I first started, I was not thinking in terms of that. I just thought, hey, this funny thing happened, I’ll do a comic about it. So things that I would have thought about doing a comic about before but not even thought twice about, suddenly, it’s like, you know, you don’t want to hurt peoples’ feelings. I was having to censor myself a lot towards the end of the comic, because you get in the public eye, which I could not have anticipated. Which sounds naïve to say now, but at the time, I didn’t know. So, yeah, it’s a delicate balance and I feel like in the 6 years that I did “Dar,” I got a nice, unexpected story arc to it. In the beginning I was very much a lesbian, identifying with that, and then I fell in love with a man, and had to kind of restructure my whole identity. And then in the end I get married to him, and that’s kind of a nice beginning, middle and end. So it’s like, you know what? I think this was a good place to end it.
M: You covered the three act structure pretty well on accident with your own life.
E: I know!
M: It’s more common than I think people realize; if they really look at their own lives it follows the rules pretty well.
E: Well, maybe that’s why we put it in literature so much.
M: Yes. We’re all universal stories.
E: There you go.
M: Well, thank you very much for your time, loving the comic. You’re doing a great job, and I look forward to seeing more of it.
E: Thank you. Yeah, and everybody else can go see us at buckocomics.com and follow along too!
M: Thank you. This is Marc Mason in the Comics Waiting Room with Erika Moen. See you next time.