Interview with Marissa Luna by Natalye Childress for Silver Sprocket
In your comic, you share different jobs you’ve had and how they all required you to act like things were OK even when they weren’t. Can you tell us more about this?
I think the reason I decided to show a variety of jobs I’ve had is because I feel sort of like all the jobs I’ve had have sucked in various ways. It was hard to pick just one. I’ve had so many part-time, minimum wage, manual labor jobs and there seems to be one constant with all of them, and that is that they are all incredibly depleting. I was always treated like I was stupid for asking too many questions or questions my bosses thought had obvious answers, or if I made a mistake I’d have bosses/managers subtly threaten me with being fired or reprimanding.
The last job in the comic wasn’t minimum wage or part-time or anything like that. It paid really well but destroyed my mental health, which is why I’m not working there anymore. Now I’m a house cleaner for a super ethical local company that actually pays me a living wage! I do have a plan for my dream job, but for the time being, this place actually doesn’t suck!
Because my current job treats me like a real person from the get-go, I am not constantly terrified of making a mistake or asking questions. So I suppose it’s an issue I’ll be working through for a while. Having your entire working life treat you like you can’t do anything right is gonna leave a few mental scars, but I’m in a good place now and I’m working on it. I think it’s getting better.
What advice would you give to people in situations like what your comic addresses?
I don’t really know what to say in terms of advice, because it’s not always possible for people to leave the jobs that make them feel terrible. I would say to people in these types of situations that your value is not determined by your job. You always always always deserve to be happy and respected and treated fairly. If it’s possible to find a different job or line of work, you absolutely should! You are capable and worth it!
What is your dream job?
I’ve been thinking about my dream job a lot lately and how I can make it happen. I’m part of a comics/illustration collective, called Plus Dog Collective, which was started by some friends of mine here in Minneapolis, and I’d like us to turn it into a publishing and distro company. I’d get to work with my friends all day and help put some of my favorite art out into the world. I’m sure it will have its challenges and sometimes it won’t be as ideal, but I’m the kind of person who, when I care about something, I care about it A LOT. I can see this being a job I would be proud of and all the struggles would ultimately feel like they matter.
What is the value or purpose in making art? Are there any downsides?
For me anyway, I think it just comes down to sharing — like sharing experiences and thoughts and hypothetical scenarios that maybe someone else has experienced or is curious about. I love reading work that feels personal, so that’s the kind of stuff I like to make. Making things, for me, is part stress relief, part showing others that they aren’t alone (or maybe showing them what’s possible?), and IDK, also a little bit trying to be their friend, if that makes sense.
Downsides? Well, I don’t know if there are any for me, but there certainly are areas of art-making that can be tricky — like with making autobio content, there’s always a line of privacy, for myself and others I mention in the story. What is OK with this person to say and what isn’t OK? What can I do or say and still be as honest as possible? These things are complicated, but I wouldn’t call them a downside. I hate drawing backgrounds, but IDK if that counts.
Do you think artists have a social responsibility?
Ahhh, I’ve had to think about this one a long time. I think everyone has a social responsibility, so that would include artists. But more specifically, I think artists have a unique and unconventional way to communicate ideas that can help marginalized folks (after all, many of us ARE marginalized folks), and so they should absolutely use that ability to help whenever they can. Maybe I’m sounding too stern. I don’t think it’s realistic for everything someone makes to be socio-politically poignant, but like, we should definitely not shy away from doing that thing.
What are you working on now?
Right now I’m working on an ongoing comic series called Collision Course, which is a collaboration with my friend Melissa Kieselburg (we co-write, I do pencils, and she inks). It’s about roller derby and queer romance and it’s maybe my favorite thing I’ve ever helped make. As I’m writing this, we’re about to print our third volume, and as far as we’ve planned, there are at least nine more volumes to come.
I’m also working on a few different autobiographical comics. One is older, from 2014, and I’m just trying to finish up a few stories in it. The other is about being a teenage Green Day fan and starting to realize my gender fluidity but not having words for it yet.
And then I’m doing an anthology with Plus Dog Collective. We try to make two anthologies a year, and all the profits go toward printing our books and tabling conventions for the year. Each collective member submits a short comic or some illustrations, and since I came up with the theme this time (“future”), I’m in charge of the book. That one should be out in September, I think? I’m trying to make sure it doesn’t get too bleak, but with a theme like that right now it’s kind of tough to avoid.
If someone liked your comic in As You Were, what would you recommend they check out next?
Of my work, I’d say check out Collision Course, especially if you like sports manga, roller derby, comics by and about queer folks, or all of those things. Or check out some of my autobio mini comics, especially Bleed and Mansion Party. I also have a very lengthy autobio comic made between 2011 and 2012 called Blue-ish Colors. It’s about art school, mental health, and long-distance relationships, and is currently only available as a PDF on Gumroad (because it’s so lengthy and expensive to print).
Of other people’s work, I’d say please please please read anything by Liz Suburbia, John Porcellino, the Hernandez Bros., Rosemary Valero-Connell, and Maddi Gonzalez (especially her zines!). Yes, those last two are friends from art school, but I very genuinely am inspired by both of their work respectively, and you should look them up!
For more from Marissa Luna, check out their portfolio, art blog, and Gumroad shop.