The Q&A: Kris Mukai

By Peggy Roalf   Monday February 1, 2016

Q: Originally from Maryland what are some of your favorite things about living and working in Brooklyn?

A: All of my neighbors are cartoonists and it’s easy to do a lot of walking in Brooklyn. 

Q: Do you keep a sketchbook? What is the balance between the art you create on paper versus in the computer?

A: I keep a sketchbook but it’s mostly just loose pieces of paper held together with a binder clip. The sketchbook paper has a dot grid on it, which cuts down on that whole fear-of-the-blank-page thing and makes drawing comic panels a lot easier. Most of my work is inked on paper, so the computer side is just for clean up and coloring and refreshing twitter.

Q: What is the most important item in your studio?

A: This potholder and folded up T-shirt that I use as an elbow rest. About a year ago I pinched a nerve in my elbow from leaning it on a hard surface every day. It’s completely healed now because of the potholder, thank you potholder!

Q: What do you like best about your workspace?

A: The best part of my workspace is this standing desk that my partner’s dad made, it’s light, super sturdy, and the perfect height.   

Q: How do you know when the art is finished?

A: When the AD writes back to me, “looks good!” 

Q: What was your favorite book as a child?

I just sorted through all my childhood books and I could NOT find this one book that I really loved, it was called Germs Make Me Sick! by Melvin Berger and illustrated by Marylin Hafner. It had drawings of germs on the microscopic level. I think there’s a revised version of the book out right now, but I’m talking about the one published in the 1980’s, need to track it down on ebay or something. 

What is the best book you’ve recently read?

Recently I just finished reading Four Souls by Louise Erdrich, and Binti by Nnedi Okorafor. I binge-read audio books when I’m on assignment. Did you know you can get audiobooks online from the library? All of Toni Morrison’s books on audio! All of them!!! Free!!!!!!!

Q: If you had to choose one medium to work in for an entire year, eliminating all others, what medium would you choose?

A: A friend just turned me on to Sailor brush pens and I’ll never look back.

Q: If you could time travel to any era, any place, where would you go?

A: New York, 500 years into the future.

Q: What is preoccupying you at the moment?

A: I’m about move across country and start working at a new job, big changes!

Q: What are some of your favorite places/books/blogs/websites for inspiration?

A: I like this blog and also the classic

Q: What was the [Thunderbolt] painting or drawing or film or otherwise that most affected your approach to art?

A: In high school I had a group of pen-pals that self-published a 200 page perfect-bound comic anthology called Doujisoup. (They now publish under the name Love Love Hill) They taught me a lot about Doing The Work and Getting It Done Yourself, and inspired me to self-publish my own comics.




Kris Mukai is an illustrator and cartoonist working in Brooklyn, NY. Kris’s work has been published in the New Yorker, The New York Times, and Bloomberg Businessweek.  Most recently, Kris has storyboarded for the Cartoon Network show Adventure Time, and is wrapping up a 5-part comic, Angels’ Share, on 





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