Francesca Hause has always loved drawing, but it wasn’t until she became a mother that she turned her hobby into a full-blown comic.
Hause is the artist behind “Litterbox Comics” ― a hilarious series focused on the ups and downs of life with small children. She told HuffPost she felt inspired to launch the comic in May 2018 after a particular afternoon watching “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” with her two sons.
“I’d seen the episode a million times, so I was amusing myself thinking how funny it would be if something ‘real’ suddenly happened ― Mom Tiger losing her cool or Daniel dropping the F-bomb,” she said. “I wished I could watch a show like that. Then it hit me; I couldn’t make a show, but I could make a comic!”
Hause had been writing “all the weird stuff” her kids do in a notebook, so she had lots of material to get started. More than two years later, she’s created hundreds of funny strips on topics ranging from parenting message boards to paediatrician visits. She continues to find inspiration from her boys, who are now six and three.
“Their comic counterparts are very much based on them,” she said. “The eldest can be difficult, but he’s dangerously smart and lovable. The youngest is a little bumbling ray of sunshine ― until he isn’t. The 6-year-old is fascinated by the comics, although things have become more awkward now that he can actually read them!”
Hause, who is English but moved to Austin, Texas, 10 years ago, bounces ideas around with her husband, a fellow artist with a sense of humor. He’s also the basis of the character Dad Cat.
“People often ask, ‘Why cats?’” she noted. “In my first draft they were actually tigers, but I quickly realized drawing all those stripes would drive me mad! I considered other animals, but kept coming back to cats. There’s a lot of inner turmoil with parenting, and I love that cats let me show this visually with shirking pupils, bristling fur and tails! I’m not really sure why, but I’ve never enjoyed drawing humans.”
Hause hopes parents who read “Litterbox Comics” get “solidarity and a smile” from the relatable scenarios and funny illustrations.
“Motherhood hit me like a ton of bricks, and the only way I survived that first year was thanks to humor,” she said. “Parenthood can be a dark and lonely place, especially in 2020. I want people to feel seen and find relief in laughing at some of this nonsense.”
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hause wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with the “Litterverse” as she adjusted to life with remote learning and the “general 2020 despair” that began fogging up her brain.
“Eventually I decided the best thing I could do for the world (and my own mental health!) would be to focus on the funny,” she said. “I purposely keep my comics current affairs free, because although what’s been happening is important, it’s also important to take breaks and laugh.”