20 Questions with Comic Creators: Donna McKay of Once Upon a Donna

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     We are here once again True Believers with an all new installment of your favorite segment 20 Questions!  Today we have a special guest with us, I have been summoned to the Royal Palace of the vast Root Beer Party Estates to meet with the Supreme Overlord herself Donna McKay!  Donna does two comics, Her original comic is called Once Upon a Donna and focuses on her life while the second one Jacques & Kay focus more on a overview of life in general.  You can find her comics on her site here:  http://onceuponadonna.blogspot.com/  

     It is not everyday we get to travel to the palace, a small army of Root Beer Warriors guard the palace and are the most feared warriors in all the land.  Led by Captain Akela, they keep the vast Root Beer Party Estates safe from the mechanizations of the outside world. 

     She has arrived in all her royal glory, wearing the royal sweatshirt with the lightning emblem, it is truly an awe inspiring sight.  Now let us respectfully get to know, the Supreme Overlord Donna McKay:  

Happy Swales

Question 1: What got you started in doing a comic series?
I have a very long-winded answer for this one:
I had just finished Animation College, and getting into the actual field of animation can take a long time, especially in my Province. One of the things that successful animators recommend to newcomers is to get a website going and just keep posting your work and promoting yourself, and eventually it will get seen.
I tried posting some drawings I had (you can see this in my website if you go to the very beginning) but I didn’t really have a direction for it beyond “Hey look what I drew!” and for me that is a hard thing to keep up.
I ended up posting some really crummy comics of how I reacted to certain products, and then started throwing in comics about my siblings, and then one thing lead to another and I found myself posting comics tri-weekly!
I also have to give credit to Kim Belding, who was the first cartoonist I ever met. Until we met at Redhouse College of Animation, the only web comics I had encountered were the more “main stream” web comics. Like “Least I Could Do”, “Questionable Content”, and “Sam and Fuzzy”. Creators who had quite literally made a living from doing web comics. Until I met Kim, I didn’t think it was something I could just start doing.

Question 2: Who was you greatest influence?
I take influence from a lot of different places, for each art medium I work with. Brian Froud for when I’m just “venting” Hayao Miyazaki when I’m painting, but for my comics I’ve been told my style is like a mix between Calvin and Hobbes and For Better or Worse, and I definitely feel influence from them.

Question 3: What is your favorite root beer and why?
A&W, cus it’s delicious.

Question 4: What do you hope to accomplish with your comic?
Hmmm, I suppose I want what most cartoonists want, to be able to make enough money from my comic to live off of. Unfortunately I don’t make ANY money off it due to the algorithm of the website I’m on. So I guess I’d like to be able to gain enough notoriety that I can someday switch to a website that allows ads and not lose a bunch of readers in the process 😛
I also take great joy from knowing that someone read my comic and got a kick out of it.

J&K- Fire in the Kitchen

Question 5: Do you have any other artistic interests outside of comics?
I’ve always loved art, it’s been my outlet throughout my entire life. I enjoy painting with acrylics and I used to love charcoal, though I haven’t worked with it for some time now. When I want to draw for myself I have a long list of characters from many different stories I’ve made up, going as far back as my early childhood that I doodle and rework. I’m also an Animator and right now am working on a kids show called Robotik that should be airing on tv sometime next year I think. (not my creation, I just animate and design faces)

Question 6: Do you see yourself as a professional cartoonist, or is this just something you do for yourself?
It’s kinda both. I started Once Upon a Donna to showcase my art work so I could do Freelance art, and animation professionally. And that is what I do professionally. Once Upon a Donna is kinda my calling card, I guess? But it’s also just me doing it because I enjoy it.

Question 7: What type of subject or humor do you consider out of bounds for your strips and why?
I usually won’t do bathroom humour. No sex or full nudity. Once Upon a Donna is based off my life and the interaction I have with my family, so that would be incredibly awkward and unsettling for many.
I also try to avoid swears.

Banana etiquette
Question 8: What kind of equiptment or style of drawing do you use?
Majority of my comic has been this set up: Idea, Thumbnail on paper (often multiple thumbnails), Pencil rough, Clean up in Ink (Pigma Micron .05), Scan into computer, Color and shade in Photoshop. Post.
But lately I haven’t had time to do all that, so I’ve just been doing it all in Photoshop.

Question 9: what sort of training or academic program did you pursue to become a cartoonist?
Well, I took a three year course at Redhouse College of Animation to become an animator. Otherwise it’s been an ongoing affair of constantly drawing, sketching and doodling, and absorbing comics from childhood to adulthood. If you wanna draw, then draw. Then draw some more.
Question 10: What has been the highlight of your cartooning career?
Probably when I realized that real people who I didn’t know, or who don’t know someone in my family was reading my comics and enjoying it!
Question 11: What has been the lowest point in your cartooning career?
Whoo boy.
There was one comic I posted that one of my siblings took offense to.
The downside to making a comic based on your life, that features other real people in it, is that you run the very real risk of hurting their feelings if you don’t get the point across clearly. That was the case with this one particular comic. It was received well by my audience, but I hurt my sibling so bad that they stopped talking to me for a couple days, and I was 99.9% ready to never post another comic again. Fortunately things smoothed over and we talked. But I still remember that incident and it colors a lot of what I post, and probably always will.

Question 12: Are collections of your work available beyond the web? If So where?
Afraid not, though I often contemplate seeing if there would be any interest in a printed collection.

Little Sister

Question 13: Are there any other web comic artists that you really admire?
Too many to count. At least in the root beer party community anyway, they’re all just such amazing and awesome people, I kid you not, I have trouble not admiring all of them for different reasons.

Question 14: What kind of impact has cartooning had on your life and could you ever see yourself not doing it?
Cartooning was the start of my Freelance work, and it helped me learn a lot. I also have met a lot of cartoonists online as a result. I have a hard time not picturing myself doing it, even if it was just for myself.

Question 15: Do you have any advice for the Trolls out there who harass content creators? (no need to keep this answer clean.)
Honey, you gotta love yourself more. And I mean really love yourself. You’re a cool person, you don’t need to put others down to make yourself feel better. Look at you! You. Are. A. Good. Person. I know that, I bet you any money others know that. It’s about time you started to see that maybe we’re all on to something.
Question 16: Do you set yourself any deadlines or other tricks to keep yourself motivated?
When I don’t feel very motivated, I will often play the first half of the Hamilton soundtrack. That usually kicks me into gear, even if I’m not being particularly speedy in my process.

Pre-Halloween Candy
Question 17: Apart from root beer, what is your favorite drink?
Hmmm, I like Coffee, Tea, and a few other pops. Like Grape Pop, and Cream Soda.

Question 18: Are you already a member of the root beer party and if not, what is the matter with you?
Uhhhh, It’s complicated. For a while I was the only Official Non-Official Member, and then I think I executed a hostile takeover during a Twitter battle that was going on in my feed. So now I’m the Supreme Overlord. I think my full title was “Supreme High-Warlord Empress-Destructo”. Soooo that’s a thing.
Question 19: What is the most challenging aspect of cartooning for you?
Right now it’s the schedule. Until very recently I was working two jobs, one that was becoming more and more stressful, but now I’m switching to fulltime at the animation company. This is awesome, but takes a lot of time. I also have a young, high energy dog that requires a lot of attention, and other daily life routines. So right now just trying to keep the tri-weekly update is tricky, and I didn’t enjoy doing bi-weekly.

Question 20: What are your future plans involving web comics or anything else going on in your life?
As far as the comic goes, I think one of these days I’d like to print them out and see if I could sell them or take them to the local comic con. It would be fun to meet readers in an environment where I’m expecting that kind of conversation. Thus far when people I know say they really enjoy my comic I kinda just…smile and nod and thank them and slowly back away, because I wasn’t expecting them to say that and don’t know what to say in return. XD
As for the other goings on in my life, as I mentioned above; the kids tv show. I’d also love it if my puppy learned how to behave himself around the little kids in this family and didn’t scream every time they visit. Seriously! He reaches a whiney pitch that hurts my ears, just because he’s so excited. He’s such a brat.

Banana etiquette

So there you have it True Believers, The Supreme High-Warlord Empress-Destructo herself Donna McKay!  We follow royal etiquette and bow our heads as she leaves the room followed by a contingent of Root Beer Party Warriors.  It is a life changing experience to sit down and speak with the Supreme Overlord of the Root Beer Party.  So there you have it True Believers, a rare peek behind the curtains of your favorite comics, and as always True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your Root Beer always foamy.  

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