Tell us about your art background, and how you started creating your cartoons of Mochi, 157 of Gemma. Doesn't Spain have a vibrant tradition of alternative or underground comics? It's nice to see a woman cartoonist in this traditionally male dominated medium …
I’ve always like comics and cartoons growing up. I loved Garfield, Mafalda, the Simpsons, amongst others. Spain does have a big tradition of comics, we not only read Spanish comic artists but also French and Argentinian, amongst others. Growing up I drew all the time and I used comics as a journal. Drawing was always very easy and natural to me, so I never considered it a career. I ended up going from major to major until I landed in architecture. I stopped drawing for many years. It wasn’t until I was working on my final thesis project that I took up drawing comics again.
One of the great things about social media and the internet is that it has made comics accessible to everyone, so easily. It has allowed women to carve a place for themselves in this world, and that’s so inspiring. It’s also humbling to be a part of that. There are so many female comic artists now and I hope to see even more. I would have loved to have had access to all this when I was growing up.
Are you finding that "dog love" is a universal concept? How has your cartoon, 157 of Gemma, translated to the U.S. and globally?
I believe dog love is a universal concept. Of course, different cultures have different conceptions about dogs, but one of the most satisfying things about 157 of Gemma has been witnessing the outpour of love people from all over the world have for their four-legged companions. Dogs love everyone and for this reason they touch people in the same way. So, a dog lover is a dog lover anywhere!
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This is also why we publish our comics in English and Spanish. Not only are Mochi and I bilingual, but we want to spread the love, so to speak. We have very big audiences in the United States and Latin America, but we also have followers from all over the world. The beauty about posting on social media is that everyone can see it!
It is funny seeing how our sense of humor resonates in each country.
Gemma, tell us how you and Mochi came together, and a little about Mochi's personality, persona and name.
I was obsessed with Pugs since the first pug I ever met when I was a kid. My parents didn’t let me have one, so I had been plotting to get one ever since. Fast forward to many years later, my husband and I moved into an apartment owned by my in-laws. Guess what? Dogs weren’t allowed either, but I was still hopeful that one day I’d get my pug. At my wedding, my Godmother surprised me with a note saying that I was finally getting a pug. She knew it would blow my mind. And she did.
The first time I saw Mochi, the world stopped! I was initially going to get a black pug because that’s what I always wanted. We even had to go to a different city only to get a black pug because we couldn’t find one in Barcelona. But Mochi just stole my heart. I lifted him up and he immediately fell asleep in my arms. Even as a tiny pug, Mochi was a cuddler. I knew he was the one. He loved his name since the beginning. We wanted to give him a Japanese name because we were in Japan when we were expecting him. Mochi is a Japanese dessert that is round, sweet, fluffy, just like Mochi!
Mochi is the most loving, laid back loyal drama queen you’ll ever meet. He has more personality in one eyelash than a country full of people. His sass has no limits. He is just hilarious.
What has been the response among the Pug community?
The pug community has been very welcoming! A lot of our fans see their adventures with their own pugs reflected in our life with Mochi. People relate to our comics very much. I guess all pugs are very unique in the same exact way.
We go to a lot of pug meet ups and we love meeting pugs. We’ve also been incredibly lucky to meet and collaborate with other pug influencers like The Pug Queen and Sos Carlinos. They are both so generous and doing great things for pets and pet lovers. It’s good to have friends who share your pug-obsession.
What's in the future for Mochi and your cartoon? Has fame changed Mochi?
Comics and more comics, of course, and hopefully one day, in the not-so-distant future an animated cartoon! For now, we have two more books in the making and are already cooking up ideas for other books. We also want to make comics of Mochi’s rescued twin brothers, @theTwinchis. They are two different and independent characters unto themselves, and people have been requesting more about them.
Not sure if fame has changed Mochi because he has always been a little diva. He loooves the attention. And when I say love, I mean it! He gets very confused when someone takes photos of other dogs in front of him.