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Discover the story behind Jetlagged comics – Part 1 | WOC

Discover the story behind Jetlagged comics – Part 1 | WOC

It will not be an exaggeration to say that Jetlagged comic is every cabin crew’s favorite comic and something that all the flight attendants in the world can resonate with and laugh at. While all of us have laughed because of her comics many times, we don’t really know who is she? We don’t know the story behind Jetlagged comics, we don’t know anything about the blood and sweat that goes behind creating the comics which always manage to bring a smile on all our faces.

WOC introduction

Cabin crews have a very unique job. Unlike other professions, you don’t work in the same office everyday, you don’t work with the same people, you meet hundreds of new people on a routine day and you are working thousands of feet above the ground in rather special and idiosyncratic situations.  It is one of the professions where so many things, so many situations just can’t be understood by non-crew people, but those same situations unify cabin crew from any part of the globe. No matter which country or which airline you work with you all can resonate with certain situations. And, some time ago we found these amazing comics which capture the idiosyncrasies of cabin crew life with amazing perfection.

If I had a nickle for every time a cabin crew has looked at the Jetlagged comics and said, “oh, that’s so me!”, I would be flying in my own personal gold plated chartered plane. Ok, that’s a lil bit of exaggeration, but you know what I mean.

So, we bring to you completely unedited version of our interview with Kelly. Let’s start by knowing the story behind Jetlagged comics.

About Jetlagged Comic

Tell us about the day you got the idea to start Jetlagged comic?

In 2008 I was furloughed (temporarily laid off) from my airline. I knew it was coming, so to soften the financial blow, I started a cleaning business. At the time I was living in Anchorage. After four months my airline took me back, but I continued cleaning.  For two years my airline didn’t hire. My seniority moved like a pair of boots through thick mud.  I feared a second furlough. Surprisingly, I hated cleaning houses. The money was good but the work wasn’t fulfilling. Yet the experience taught me how to start and manage a business, and that helped immensely when I began cartooning.

Once my airline was stable, I quit cleaning. I liked the taste of owning my own business, but could I do something I loved that would fit with flying? I went for a lot of long walks. I thought back to my childhood. What was it I loved to do? I remembered loving to write and draw.

It was 2011. My boyfriend (now husband) helped me devise a system for thinking up, sketching and publishing my cartoons. In the mornings before work, I would think of 5-10 cartoons (these were pre-Jetlagged days. Jetlagged would emerge two years later). Of those terrible ideas I chose three to finish. It would take me ten hours, start to finish, for just one. I used my computer exclusively (now I hand draw then color with Photoshop). During this baby stage I learned to think creatively and develop my own style. Learning the computer programs and devising ways to exploit it online were challenging too. But nothing prepared me for the emotional roller coaster of instant reader feedback.

I was constantly nervous about criticism. Online, people are brutally honest (which can actually be very useful). On one site I began entering cartoon contests and started to win. It really helped my ego. But my cartoons had no theme. No characters. Soon no criticism was criticism in itself.  Something was missing but I didn’t know what. I knew cartooning was it.  I loved it and I was making some headway. The audience of my dreams was still very far off though.

I didn’t want to write about being a flight attendant.  I didn’t think I could make it funny without offending someone. There was already too much negative energy on the internet. But I became desperate for a theme, and all the cartooning gurus said “write what you know.” After much resistance I gave it a go.



​Tell us more about the first Jetlagged cartoon.

Above is the first Jetlagged cartoon. Like all my other cartoons, I posted it on social media. Only this time I got a bigger response. It was encouraging. So I drew a few more. Then a bigger response. The more of them I drew, the more people liked and shared.

Soon, all other cartoon ideas disintegrated by the onslaught of flight attendant gags. My days flying were framed in a single black box. Every situation was a possible cartoon. I jotted down ideas wherever I could: on the cart, on the jump seat, on take off, on landing, in the lavatory, on all-nighters, sits, layovers, days off, on hotel stationary, in the margins of final paperwork, you name it. If I came off a flight angry, I quickly channeled the energy in my sketch book, hoping to perform a kind of cartooning alchemy. It helped me cope. It was my therapy.

My magnum opus was growing rapidly, but still lacked a title and characters. I must have tossed around a couple of names, but I honestly can’t remember how I came up with Jetlagged. I suppose it simply came to me while taking a walk, after weeks of pondering the dilemma.

What was your first comic? How did that feel?

Above I’ve shared the first Jetlagged comic. Below are a few more examples of my early attempts at flight attendant cartoons. These were created using a Wacom bamboo drawing board and Photoshop.


This was around the time Snakes on a Plane came out in theaters.​



​Here’s an early example of the Jetlagged “boobs”. People often like to point them out.


​Slowly I started using color, but reluctantly at first.


​A glimpse into my dirty mind.

Writing my first Jetlagged comic was nerve wracking. I had low expectations for it. I was anxious about coming up with new material. Would I run out of ideas? Would I offend someone? Would I go crazy having to think about my job on my days off?

How has the Jetlagged Comic journey been since then? How has it evolved?

Hitting my first 1,000 likes on Facebook took me by complete surprise. Now the number it’s around 53,000. Did I foresee this? I had hopes it would grow, but I never thought it would climb so high so fast.

I plan to keep Jetlagged growing. Writing my first book Airplane Mode was a big step in it’s infancy. A few local Seattle TV broadcasters got wind that a flight attendant cartoonist wrote a book.  I’m very grateful to Evening Magazine, King5 and KOMO, as well as various news websites for running stories. The exposure helped boost Jetlagged to a wider audience.  But fans sharing on the social networks help the most. I am so grateful to them.

Tell us more about the characters in Jetlagged comic.

Jetlagged’s characters evolved on their own. After drawing a few hundred cartoons, some recurring faces would pop up. It seemed I had no conscious control over it. Wanda, for instance, with her big hair and giant lips, is always fun to draw. I seem to insert her into ridiculous situations, making her the unfortunate victim of some crazy passenger.

Then Rob showed up, with his flip up hair and kind of a side kick to Wanda. He’s loosely based off of my husband, Robert. Kitty (the red head with the pony tail in the example below) is a newer character. I’m still finding her voice, but I plop her in from time to time.


​Here’s Kitty on the right, horrifying Wanda and Rob.


Here’s Wanda restraining Rob, who’s just come off reserve, but still has some healing to do.

And, who is Bev?

Three years ago I was on a layover in Maui. One of my crew mentioned how much he loved Bev. At that time, Bev wasn’t a true character. I’d drawn her maybe once or twice. But already my friend championed her. I took his enthusiasm as a sign I should develop her voice.


Above is the first sighting of her. I really like this drawing. When I finished it, I went back and gave her a name: Bev, short for beverage.

This cartoon portrays her personality best. Her stoop and pinched red lips, her covered eyes and down turned mouth scream “I don’t give a damn anymore.” She’s mysterious and unpredictable. She’s also a major senior mama, outranking all the other characters. But unlike wine that ripens with age, she’s more like vinegar that’s soured. I think people like her because she doesn’t take any crap. She has the luxury of being a cartoon character and can say whatever she wants.


The Bev Service (example above) is a dedicated gag for Bev. It’s a side project and still developing.

Stay tuned for more…

Kelly and WOC have a lot more to say about Jetlagged comics. So, stay tuned in coming weeks when you will get more insight into the process of creating Jetlagged comics and obviously about Kelly herself.

See you next week!

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