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The life of a college student is filled with boundless adventure, spirit, and creativity, especially if you peek inside the mind of 23-year-old Megan McKay.
McKay is a student at the University of North Texas and the comic artist behind Doodle for Food, home to bubbly illustrations that capture the subtleties of her teenage years and her adulthood angst.
“Something random will happen and it’ll trigger a funny memory or a ‘what if’ thought in my head,” McKay said in an email interview regarding her sources of inspiration. “Then I write the idea down as fast as possible. For me, I’ve found that I come up with a lot of my ideas during class. Which I’m sure looks strange to the teacher when I suddenly snap out of my dazed state and start writing something frantically. Or worse, when I laugh out loud suddenly in a quiet room.”
Like many other emerging comic artists, McKay has found a home on Tumblr, where she’s hosted her work since February 2013.
Her earliest illustrations focused on animals such as these cute rhinoceroses, an homage to her high school years growing up in Round Rock, Texas, when she doodled “goofy animal comics for fun.”
In early 2013 McKay’s comics collected, on average, 20 notes (Tumblr’s internal system for measuring engagement). Today, her comics average thousands of notes each, including the following one with 17,000 and counting.
Many of these Tumblr notes have come from fellow comic artist and friend Jeremy Kaye, the man behind the plucky “UP and OUT” series.
“Visually, I love her strong use of color, her super-clean line work and the lack of clutter in the panels,” Kaye told me via Facebook. “The combination of those three elements means that my eyes never stumble on their way to the punchline. That sorta thing can absolutely ruin the flow of the joke being told! Additionally her writing is superb. She’s a wonderful storyteller, always pushing herself to tell different types of jokes, never content to be a one-trick pony.”
The following is more from my interview with McKay discussing her comic life.
Is there a particular comic that you’re proud of or that has gotten more attention that you expected?
If you were to ask my grandma, she’d say that my best work was a comic I drew of her and my grandfather when I was about 10. It was a comic about them arguing over how to get somewhere in the car. She still has that comic and brings it up whenever we talk about my art.
Out of my comics for Doodle for Food, I think my favorites are the ones I drew out of stress and frustration. Like the “Life is a mess” one. It was during a busy period in school, and I barely had enough time to eat let alone keep my house clean. So one day I walked into my room and tripped on a pile of junk that was on the floor. I started crying (I’m melodramatic) and I think somewhere during that point I muttered “My life is such a mess.” Then, BOOM! Comic idea. I shared that on my site and it was one of the first ones to really get a lot of traction. People messaged me saying how much they could relate to it and how it brightened their day. When I make a joke out of the really bad times I go through it makes it a lot easier on me. Plus, I always feel awesome knowing I could help somebody else get out of a funk too.
Why the name “Doodle for Food”?
I will never not laugh when I’m asked this question! It’s so dumb, but I find it hilarious. When I was trying to buy a URL for my site I couldn’t find anything that I liked. I mentioned it to my dad and he called me the next day with a few site names that were available. He mentioned doodleforfood.com was available and I laughed because I thought it was a really dumb name. After the call I kept going through name options, but I kept coming back to Doodle for Food. At the time I wasn’t making comics, and I liked the tongue-in-cheek shout out to starving artists concept, so I decided to go with it. And here we are today!
I noticed you dabble with some GIF elements in your work; have you seen these sorts of comics get more attention?
I did make a few GIFs, but I didn’t notice any difference between them and the regular comics in terms of audience response. It might be because I haven’t kept up with them regularly. I posted those for a short time because I figured out how to make them in Photoshop and I was so proud! For right now I think I enjoy the still comics the most because they can be shared easier across more platforms. In the future, I’d love to be able to make some actual animations. I’m hoping that during the summer I’ll get a bit more free time to work on one or two shorts.
All comics and illustrations by Megan McKay