The Finding Wonderland blog interviews Svetlana Chmakova (link via Comics Reporter):

FW: How far back does your interest in comics and manga extend? When did you first start drawing comics?

I’ve always drawn comics in some form, I just didn’t realize it. I drew illustrations for the notes our family would leave for each other; I made up my own stories and drew illustrations for those, sometimes even in sequence. The book that really crystallized my yearning to make comics was ElfQuest, by Richard and Wendy Pini. I found the first issue (Russian translation) on a trip to Moscow, by chance, really. I read it until it started falling apart, I was so taken with it.