For over a year now a heartfelt comic about an enchanting relationship has taken the webcomic waves by storm. Catana and John form the irresistibly charming duo behind Catana Comics. Catana has an ability to translate a few delicate lines into the giving power behind warm fuzzy feelings–the kind of feelings that make a dreary day bright and a dark room glisten. Her comic explores companionship in the best way possible: through little happy moments. Possibly the most admirable thing about her drawings is their indelible canny in convincing us to spur love in our own lives, and I for one can say I’m thankful.
This is an interview with Catana and John about their comic. It is insightful for followers, and very helpful for fellow webcomic creators. Please, enjoy.
All about Catana Comics
When did you start Catana Comics and why?
We started our comics on Thanksgiving of 2016. I was in school for psych at the time and was talking to John about the Mere Exposure Effect, which is the idea that by encountering someone more, you’re more likely to like them. John thought that would make a good comic – me following him around, trying to encounter him more… and that was that! That was the first ever comic i created, and it was really only supposed to be a little doodle for John.
What’s the inspiration behind your choice to start a webcomic?
We decided to keep going forward with the comic after we saw the response from the internet. I really do have to chalk it all up to John – not only is he the entire theme of the comic but he also was the one who suggested making a comic in the first place, he set up my entire website, AND he’s the one who posted the comics online!
That was the first ever comic i created, and it was really only supposed to be a little doodle for John.
When would you say was the point that it really started to take off, and what triggered it?
When John posted on Reddit about a week after making the comics. I think that people not only enjoyed the comics, but they liked the story behind the comics – that John had posted secretly without my permission (which was not true – he had my permission! I think people heard that he posted on my behalf because I was too nervous to post them myself, and just assumed he did so without my permission).
What’s your favorite thing about making your webcomic?
My favorite thing is just how much fun it is for both me AND John. It’s super awesome that it’s about both of us, and we can bond over all aspects of it. 🙂 I also love the emails and comments i get from our followers. We will spend hours just going through them!
On growing the webcomic
Can you recall your most successful comic in terms of views and engagement? Why do you think it was as successful as it was?
We think our most successful comic was this one (it’s the ‘charge your girlfriend’ comic).
It’s gotten a lot of shares, I think mostly because it’s so simple. I think people like that. Sometimes I think too hard about making a good comic, and I need to step back and remind myself that some of our best comics had no words, or were only one panel.
Sometimes I think too hard about making a good comic, and I need to step back and remind myself that some of our best comics had no words, or were only one panel.
How did you grow your following, and what’s your advice for others?
We wish we had more advice for people on this – we got really lucky with the amount of people that clicked our link on Reddit, which really is the sole reason we had any eyes on us when we first started the comic! Posting comics on Reddit is scary, because there can be rude commenters, but in my mind there really is no better way to start to generate traffic than /r/comics.
I would also say to get EVERY social media that you can and constantly link to it. I see a lot of blossoming comic artists linking back to their website when they post, which is great, but social media is where ALL of our following generates. I always link back to my Instagram over my website and I think that’s something everyone should consider doing. Like, if a website wants to do an article or post about my comics and wants a source – I alllllways provide a link to my social media instead of CatanaComics.com and because of this we get more long-term followers instead of just one-time viewers. Social media makes it easy for people to keep up with you. Not everyone does RSS or remembers to check up on their favorite comic sites every day!
Sharing viral original content puts your comics in front of millions of eyes. How do you handle trolls and negative commenters?
Well, we realize this: our comics are not for everyone, and we’re okay with that. We are a weirdly lovey couple, and that’s the entire premise of our comics, and if a reader doesn’t like that coupley stuff, they’re not gonna like our comics – and that’s okay! Even in addition to that, we get that not everyone will like our humor, not everyone will like our dynamic, and not everyone will like my art style. And we get it!
We think that for anyone starting a comic, it’s important to keep reminding yourself that it’s OKAY if not everyone likes you. There will be mean comments. But there will be kind comments. If your comic makes you happy, then keep making it. It’s important to give more weight to your kind comments so the negative commenters don’t get in your head.
A lot of mean commenters just kind of forget that the person reading their comment is a real person, with feelings, ambitions, dreams, that worked hard on that comic. Many of those commenters wouldn’t say those rude things to you in person, it’s the anonymity of the internet that fuels many of them. Just remember, a ton of people probably saw your comic and DID like it but just chuckled and moved on without commenting.
Another thing we get is people trying to analyze our relationship, and those are my least favorite comments, because i think those people forget that our comic is really an exaggerated depiction of our relationship. Just like how EVERY comic is an exaggerated depiction of things. We of course play up certain aspects of our relationship for laughs, but the message of our comic is real. But we’re confident in ourselves, our comic, and our relationship, so as much as we don’t LIKE those comments, we don’t let them bother us. 🙂
Do you think some social channels work better than others for your comic?
We love Instagram, but Facebook is also great because people can share posts. Just one share equals a LOT more views on your post, because now many of that person’s friends are going to see it on their timeline. We still prefer Instagram because I think the younger crowd is there, and they’re our biggest followers.
What is something you wish you knew about making a webcomic from the beginning?
This is straightforward, but i wish i knew to get EVERY social media handle out there. When i started, i was like “well i don’t really use twitter so i won’t make one.” But – i should’ve. And everyone should. Snapchat, reddit, facebook, tumblr – anything you can think of in which you get a unique handle – CLAIM your handle immediately so no one else does! Even if you don’t end up using the site, it will be good to have the username to yourself so no one else can misuse it.
CLAIM your handle immediately so no one else does!
Insight on the webcomic’s illustration
How did you develop your unique style?
I love big-eyed things, and ever since I was a child, I’ve always drawn cartoons with those little side-eyes. I don’t know why, I think they’re adorable. Other than that, because the first comic was just supposed to be for John, I just drew what came into my head first!
Tell us about your creative process. How do you come up with ideas?
I spend a lot of time poking John and telling him to do something cute. (just kidding). Usually, either something comic-worthy or inspiring will happen and I’ll write it down in a note on my phone, or I’ll weirdly stare into space for a while until an idea comes to me.
In what circumstances do you get absolutely no drawing done whatsoever?
Ha! Many. I honestly just get distracted very easily, so there are many days where I don’t get a lot of drawing done. My dog likes those days because he gets way more attention.
Which of your comics is your favorite?
My favorite is this one:
Making this into a living
You use Inprnt for your print shop. What about their service is good? Which of your prints is the best-seller?
I love Inprnt! I would highly recommend them to anyone who is starting a series and wants a store, and even beyond that, to any artist who wants to sell prints of their work. Their margin is great, their service is great, and the quality is amazing. Our best seller is me holding John’s face going “love me.” We have a framed one in our room 🙂
You use Redbubble for merch. Same question: what do you like and what has sold the best for you?
We love Redbubble and their quality is also great, even their prints. Our pocket shirt with both of us is our best seller there, and is also my favorite. Redbubble is a bit more confusing, not so much for the seller but for the buyer. It’s easy to accidentally leave a shop, and there are a LOT of counterfeit sellers. However, we love their quality and they have great customer service. Their clothes are also really comfy, which was really important to me.
You’re in the process of making a book! What have you learned that you can share with other creators about the process so far?
The process is LONG. It is not quick to make a book. I also assumed that the publisher would be telling me a lot of what to do – I was wrong. Turns out, I got an awesome amount of free reign. I think and hope a lot of other comic artists get the same kind of deal, which is just fantastic.
A lot of the work is on you to make the book the exact way you want it to be, right from the cover, to the intro, to the order the comics are in. I think it’s important to sit down and picture the book in your hands – how would it start? Would you enjoy it as a random person? Ask yourself those questions!
Have you participated in any Comic Cons? What was that like, or, do you plan to?
I have yet to go to a comic con, but i am REALLY excited for the day my first con comes (whenever that may be – no set plans yet). I absolutely love superheroes, and there will be a TON of things at the event that i will want to see! Beyond that, i’ve never done a meetup with fans, so I’m really looking forward to meeting some of them in person. 🙂
Questions about you, Catana (and John)
Where are you from and what has been a driving force in shaping your artistic abilities?
John is from a teenie tiny town called Granville, NY, and I am from Saratoga Springs, NY, where we both are now! I grew up drawing and loving art, and even considered going to school for Art Therapy. I ended up going to school for Psych. During that time, I discovered Chalk Art (like with crayola chalk) and spend a lot of time focusing on that. I still love Chalk Art, but since it’s outdoors, it’s a pretty seasonal hobby haha.
Who is your hero? Who are you inspired by?
Oh gosh. My Nana was one of the best people ever, and she really pushed my interest in art. She herself did a lot of drawing, and we even took lessons together. I think of her often and she has always been a huge inspiration to me. 🙂
You guys have a wonderful relationship. Would you ever reveal the tough love moments in your comic? Have you?
Thank you! 🙂 We certainly are open to putting some tough love moments in our comics. The thing is, I feel like people like how happy our comics are, and if we started delving into that side of things, it might change the ever-happy vibe of our strip. Plus, we really are pretty much every-happy. We disagree together well, and when we do not see eye to eye on something we always work it out easily. Which is great for us, but not exactly comic-worthy haha!
We really are pretty much every-happy. We disagree together well, and when we do not see eye to eye on something we always work it out easily.
How biographical of your true lives would you say your comics are? What themes would you steer clear of and why?
Our comics started as being 100% real. However, as time went on, I want to say it’s about a 50/50 split now. Many of my comics are BASED on real things, or things i can picture happening to us, or funny things we’ve talked about, but haven’t actually happened. I think that’s okay because if we stuck to entirely biographical strips, we would be very limited on what we could draw.
As i kind of said earlier, I think we have a very distinct reason people like our strip – because it’s happy! I will always steer clear of making a comic that isn’t happy, because I think it would really be a miss with our following.
What’s your favorite thing to do together that we might not gander from the comics?
We love beer. Is that a weird answer? We love trying new and weird beers together. Part of me wishes i could say something like “hiking” but really… it’s beer.
Part of me wishes i could say something like “hiking” but really… it’s beer.
What is your dream?
My dream is to be able to do this for a long time. I said to John the other day – I have a dog, I have a great little apartment, I love my city, I love my John – there’s not much more I would want. I am extremely lucky. If I could just keep going with what we have now for the rest of forever, that would be my dream 🙂 Plus maybe more dogs.
Deep time. Time for hypotheticals.
You get to play laser tag with one movie star, one music idol and one politician. Who would they be and which one of them would be on your team?
Catana: Emma Stone, Ezra Koenig, and Bernie Sanders. Bernie and I would kill it. But gently, so we could still hang out with Emma and Ezra afterwards.
John: Kurt Russell, Deadmau5, and Bernie Sanders. I would put pick Bernie if Catana didn’t already steal him, so Deadmau5 would be on my team.
The world is coming to an end. How do you spend your last 24 hours?
Catana: Get everyone we know together, drink, play board games, and play with our dog!
John: Get everyone together, drink, and reminisce on our favorite memories together. And also some naps!
Cats or dogs?
Catana: Dogs! Specifically our dog, Momo.
John: I love both equally but because Catana is deathly allergic to cats i have to say dogs.
You get to reshape reality according to the laws of a fictional universe of your choice. Which would it be?
Catana: La La Land, i would love if my life were a musical haha.
John: Harry Potter
You attain one magical power. What is it and why?
Catana: Teleportation! I would love to teleport to Chipotle and then back home every day. Also, instant vacation! Caribbean for the day, and back home for sleep time!
John: Flying. I wouldn’t get where i’m going as fast as Catana but it’s all about enjoying the trip!
You’re trapped on a desert island. You can take two things, two people and one foodstuff. Go.
Catana: I feel like I should bring two horrible people with me, so the rest of the world could be better without them. Maybe two people in politics………………..
I’d also bring my iPad and a chicken, so I could have an egg every day. And also cause chickens are fun. And for foodstuff, some bread, for my eggs. I really thought hard about this answer.
John: I’d bring Catana and MacGyver. For things, I’d bring a lifetime supply of insulin (i’m diabetic ☹) , and a lot of sunscreen because i’m pasty. For foodstuff, boneless wings.
If you could be any main character from any movie ever for the rest of time, which main character would that be?
Catana: Moana! She’s awesome.
John: The Dude from the Big Lebowski because he likes White Russians and hangs out in his bathrobe… to be honest doesn’t sound far off from me now…
You get to add one response to all Magical 8 Balls. What would it be?
Catana: “Only on Tuesdays”
John: “You better believe it!”
What is your ideal home?
Catana: I want a big house with a big yard for my dog, that is inexplicably located in a bustling city surrounded by food delivery places.
John: Considering Catana and I have talked about this a lot…. ditto! Emphasis on the big yard for more dogs.
The future of Catana Comics
Do you expect to keep up the comic indefinitely? Will we… see new characters?
Yes, i certainly plan to keep going with the comic for as long as i can. I like to think that even if the worst thing happened and the internet stopped existing and I couldn’t share my comics anymore, that I would still make the comics, just for John.
And if by “new characters” you mean dogs then DEFINITELY yes.
What are you dying to tell us? What’s something you really want us to know?
I’m DYING to tell everyone how happy I am for all of their support and love! I talk about it a lot in my posts but it’s difficult to really get across just how thankful I am.
And for those who actually make comics or artwork, I want to say good job and good luck. I hope there was at least a thing or two in this interview that helped you. We’re working in quite the niche profession, and it’s so great to see new artists popping up every week. 🙂
And as a final note, I’m sorry my answers were so incredibly long.
Thanks to Catana and John for this wonderful interview! And we all appreciate the depth of responses–the longer the better!
Buy “Little Moments of Love”
How to Follow Catana Comics
Support Catana Comics!
Buy Prints: https://www.inprnt.com/gallery/catanacomics/
Other interviews with webcomic artists
- Sarah of Sarah’s Scribbles
- Megan McKay: How to prepare for a comic con
- Nick Seluk of The Awkward Yeti
*Affiliate links may appear on this page