Pugs are funny. I think we can all agree that this is a universal truth. Whether it’s because of their put-upon facial expressions, waddling way of walking, or seeming need to always play the entertainer, Pugs are guaranteed to raise a smile.
Naturally, then, a Pug would make a great foil for a comic strip — which is just what the artist Gemma Gené has done with her own fawn pooch, Mochi, who now takes a leading role in a series of online adventures via her Instagram page.
With Mochi and Gemma’s star on the rise, I spoke to the artist about the inspiration behind turning her Pug into a cartoon character, his superhero side gigs as SpiderPug and BatPug, and how she reacts now that fans are getting their own Mochi tattoos.
Dogster: What do you think makes Pugs so funny?
Gemma Gené: I have no idea, but they really are very funny! I think because of how they look, it’s like a mix between a pig and a panda bear, with the face of a flat-faced cat and a sassy old human lady’s personality. I think because they are very smart and at the same time they do whatever comes to their mind, they are very funny dogs.
Was there one moment or incident that inspired you to start the comic strip?
The comic strip actually started before Mochi came into my life. I started it as a way to escape from my undergraduate final thesis project. At the beginning, it was about my life, so that is why it is called 157ofgemma. But when Mochi came into my life, he stole the show.
I stopped drawing the cartoon when I moved to New York. When I was doing my masters at Columbia, I had so much work and there was so much going on that I decided to stop it for good. It wasn’t until I started working that I retook it. I missed Mochi so much while I was at work that I would draw him on the subway, and I started posting the drawings on Instagram.
What’s Mochi like? How would you sum up his real-life personality?
Mochi is actually a very calm dog. It was very easy to train him because he was very willing to learn. He is very sweet, he always wants to cuddle and never leaves your side. Of course, he also has a temper, and sometimes he just wants to be on his own in a little nest he’s built under the bed. I think he really has a strong personality, and it’s hilarious.
What do you think appeals to people about the comic strip?
I think people really relate to it, and that is why they like it. They don’t see Mochi and me — they see themselves and their dogs and cats.
Which of the cartoons has had the best reaction so far?
People really like the most daily-life cartoons. Also, if it is somehow scatological, people like those cartoons even more!
Sometimes you have Mochi transforming into SpiderPug. What sort of adventures does he get up to? And what does he use his powers for?
SpiderPug always tries to save the world — starting with himself — but his appetite and laziness usually get in the way. Most of the time he just uses his powers to get yummy food.
The cartoons also feature BatPug. Who’d win in a showdown between SpiderPug and BatPug?
I would say neither, because it is very difficult to catch BatPug awake, and SpiderPug is pretty much just into eating. I think the showdown would start as a competition to see who is the bravest, but it would pretty likely end up with both of them cuddling so they can sleep comfortably. They would probably wake up fighting for the most comfortable spot. I think it would be an ongoing battle for life.
I’ve noticed you’ve posted some pictures of fans with tattoos of Mochi. How do you feel when you see them?
That is something that I still can’t wrap my head around! I never imagined someone would get a tattoo of one of my drawings. It is very flattering, and it kind of makes me want to get a tattoo, which is something I have never considered before.
Check out more of Mochi and Gemma’s comic strip adventures over at her Instagram account.