Like a benign invasive species, Christina Poag has taken root here in Toronto and isn’t letting go.
In less than a year of arriving in Canada and starting webcomics, she’s attracting hundreds of visitors to her site. Not only is Poag fitting in to her new environment, she’s thriving.
“There were no comics there!”
“Oh my God, I love this city,” she exclaimed. “Don’t ever make me leave!” While fond of Canadian weather, what Poag can’t get enough of is the Toronto art scene.
It’s a far cry from Reseda, Los Angeles County where she grew up. “Oh man, it was so dry,” she said referring to Reseda’s art scene. “There were no comics there! There was more street art, which is really cool, but I don’t work on a giant scale, I work on digital and on paper.”
You can find some of her digital work on Social Hangover where Poag turns her personal ups and downs into a weekly webcomic. “At first I didn’t want to do it,” she explained. “It was just in my sketch books at first. I was just trying to make myself feel better by making comics about (life).” After some encouragement from her husband, the online response to her comics was immediate.
She has just debuted Press Start, a collection of comics inspired by people’s interactions with video games, as well as her own experiences. “I got the idea ‘cause I was playing Super Mario 2 one day,” she recalled smiling. “I was just cursing at it and getting mad at the game and I turned to my husband and I said, ‘this is so much fun! I miss cursing like this!’”
At 30 years old, Poag is having the time of her life drawing. In addition to the weekly webcomic, she’s editing and redrawing a previous work Gardenia, “lesbian zombie romance comic”,and crafting her next comic, Ashes and Coffee Stains. Then there’s the Elements Anthology that she pitched. It’s hard to reconcile the image of this prolific artist with the anxiety prone person depicted in her webcomic.
“I like to do a lot of things,” she explained without boasting. “I like to say that there’s not enough time in the day for all of the things that I want to get done. There’s no limit of ideas.” In one of Poag’s recent comics she elucidated that the anxiety is still there, but she’s getting better at focusing on herself and trying to worry less about everyone else’s pace or their success.
“I wish I had this when I first started making art because really it makes it that much easier.”
But while the Poag is trying not to be distracted by others, artists can take a page from her book and start a Patreon. “I think it’s a great way to start,” Poag enthused. “I wish I had this when I first started making art because really it makes it that much easier.”
With Patreon, fans set an amount of money to give artists every time they make a work of art from which the company takes a 5%. Unlike crowd-funding a specific project with large goals, it’s a like a monthly subscription that Poag says is helping her “continue to make comics as a day job.”
Interview by David Bragnon. Originally published in the Toronto Comic Jam Book. Edited for Sequential.