Laia Garcia: When did you first get into comics?
Lisa Hanawalt: I've always been into comics. I grew up reading the Sunday funnies. Me and my dad would read them together. My parents had comic books lying around. I was recently going through some old childhood artwork, and I was making comics when I was six, seven years old.
LG: You studied art and originally wanted to be more of a traditional artist. Did you make a conscious decision to choose comics, or did it just happen naturally?
LH: I didn't really have a plan. I thought, maybe because I was making large paintings in college, that I would continue to do that, but it just didn't seem practical. After I graduated, I got a secretary job that I worked at for a few years, and I was doing a web comic with my friend. Then I started making my own comic because it was what I was interested in doing, how I wanted to express myself. Then I happened to build a career on that; I started getting illustration jobs based on my comics. I started doing comics for Vice Magazine, and there was this paper called Arthur Magazine that I had a monthly strip in. Then I started doing comics for The Believer. It just kind of built from there.
LG: At what point did you decide to quit your job and devote yourself full-time to your art?
LH: I'd made this mini-comic, I had a publisher interested in doing some comics with me, and I went to Comic-Con. My boss was really unhappy about that, even though he paid me under the table and it wasn't even like I was a real employee. He still was really mad that I warned him three months in advance that I was going to Comic-Con for a week, so I was like, "You know what? I've got to quit this job, because it's holding me back at this point." Even though I did learn a lot about running a business when I was working for him.
I saved up before I quit, then I celebrated by going to New York for a week to stay with my friend Raphael [Bob-Waksberg, creator of BoJack Horseman ]. That's when I met my boyfriend, Adam, because he was roommates with Raphael. I fell in love with him, and then six months later, I moved to New York.
I started doing these animal portraits with animals wearing people clothing because it was really fun and I thought it looked cute. Then I started getting paid to do pet portraits, and eventually that really turned into BoJack Horseman. It was part of what inspired Raphael to write BoJack, mixed in with his own experiences of living in LA.
LG: Do you think that your process of doing your personal work has changed since you started working on BoJack Horseman?
LH: Not really. In Hot Dog Taste Test, I did sort of a more diaristic piece, "My Argentina Travel Diary," which I don't usually do. I don't draw myself that much. I usually take my personal stories, my experiences, and I disguise myself as an animal, and then I embed that story in a fictional story. I really love reading diary comics, so I thought I'd experiment with being a little more vulnerable and showing myself and my family more.
LG: How long did you live in New York? You moved back to California when BoJack started, right?