Let’s take a moment and step away from the standard of long-form comics into the world of the more personal. Miranda Harmon is an artist with a cute, distinct style, and rather than use comics as a way to tell a long story, she uses them as a way to express herself emotionally. This is the world of journal comics; personal little snippets from every day life made visual.
“I think a lot of artists do journal comics, especially when they’re starting out,” Harmon began. “it’s really – I don’t want to say easy – but its easier to find that material, and it’s also sort of a nice way of making sense of your world.” She explains that the comics also serve as a form of communication – a visual representation of how she is at the time.
Harmon credits other webcomic artists for her introduction to journal comics. Following artists on blog sites like Tumblr or LiveJournal, she would see them post journal comics, read them, and realize that she could contribute. “That was the first time I read comics and thought ‘oh I can do this too,'” Harmon said. “It just seemed like a natural first step.”
Despite the personal nature of journal comics, Harmon usually manages to keep each one as a slice of life. However, there are times when the comics touch on deeper issues, and Harmon has taken to adding a layer of magical surrealism to both protect the identity of those involved and make it easier to face the subject. She occasionally draws herself as a bird, or her friends as different animals when drawing comics about mental or emotional difficulties. “I have one comic where I was talking to a friend over breakfast and we were just talking about depression and both of our experiences with depression, and I didn’t really want to put that persons name or face out there so I drew that person as a koala bear,” explained Harmon. “I really enjoy magical realism, I feel like if it doesn’t take away from the integrity of the story or it doesn’t hurt anyone, I don’t really see a problem with fluffing things or drawing a dragon where there was not a dragon.”
In addition to journal comics, Harmon also occasionally draws short story comics – fairly brief one shot issues with a fun yet finite story – such as her comic “The Wizards Garden.” She attempted a long form story in the past, but prefers the shorter format. “I don’t think I’m quite there yet – I think eventually I would like to make something longer, but I really enjoy short stories and just things that I can do quickly,” said Harmon. “I’d like to make more short stories about the same world. I feel like I’m just really getting started and I’m just sort of figuring out my place in comics.”
Usually with webcomics, as readership grows, so too does acclaim for the work. Harmon, who grew up reading and admiring the work of some webcomic creators, tries to take a more personal approach. “As I started to go to more conventions and meet people, I really started to talk to them,” began Harmon. “I feel like it’s important for me to not look at people as heroes to be worshiped, and not look at people as peers either but just to look at people I admire as people who have worked really hard and to not freak out when I get a chance to meet them,” Harmon added with a little laugh.
Harmon’s comics are available on her Tumblr page, as well as other miscellaneous art by her, but you can also occasionally catch her selling zines, art and other work at small press conventions like CAKE in Chicago, IL; SPX in Bethesda, MD; and MICE in Cambridge, MA. Her last convention of the year is CALA in Los Angeles, CA, so if you happen to be in the area, stop by, say hi, and support a great artist.