When Kelly Kincaid was a little girl growing up in Redmond, she used cartooning as a way to express herself. She never imagined that her cartoons would one day be seen by people around the world.
Kincaid grew up in the airline industry – her mother is an Alaska Airlines flight attendant – and in 2007 she followed in her mom’s footsteps.
“I really never intended to be one. As a kid, seeing my mom as one, it never crossed my mind to even consider the idea. Not because I thought it a bad occupation, I just had other ideas in mind. But the travel bug was always in my blood,” she said.
While she loves her job, her real passion is cartooning, and last summer she merged the two and launched Jetlagged Comic, where she draws on her observations and experiences as a flight attendant, both on and off the job.
“There's another world no one really knows about,” she said. “This is the world of a life on the go, of eating standing up and not knowing the day, week, month or even year. It's forgetting your own birthday and waking up at 3 a.m. unable to remember what city you're in.”
People who fly with Kincaid refer to her as that “cartooning girl." She says her ideas come from a deeper understanding of the aviation world.
“My day as a flight attendant can be extremely awesome or totally crazy,” she said.
“It can be an exhausting, frustrating world at times, but then that's the best time to laugh at it,” she said.
New cartoons are posted on the Jetlagged Facebook page every Tuesday and Wednesday.
From spoofing the flight attendant’s mechanical “buh by,” to equating the TSA body scan to the board game “Operation,” Kincaid pokes fun at the flying experience from multiple angles.
“I try to avoid the stereotypical jokes about long security lines and ordering lobster in coach - and may I suggest never making that joke to a flight attendant!” she said with a chuckle.
The Facebook page, which now has more than 3,700 followers, has become somewhat of a gathering place for flight attendants.
Writes one fan: “You rock...what millions of flight attendants were thinking has now been put on a comic!”
“I needed this comic!!” said another.
Kincaid says the cartoons are shared hundreds of times around the world by people from dozens of different airlines.
“I get pictures from friends at other airlines that see my cartoons printed out and hung up somewhere,” she said. “I never thought these little gags would resonate so well with flight crews across the board. It's extremely exciting and motivating.”
Kincaid says she doesn't remember a time when she wasn't drawing. When she was very young, every day she would come home from school and draw something on a big poster.
“My family is pretty goofy, so I always had something to make fun of,” she said. “We also had a lot of cats and I would draw cat cartoons.”
She continued drawing when she was at Redmond High School, and later wanted to major in art, but was rejected from the art department (she still has no idea why).
“Needless to say I’m mostly self-taught,” she said. “I'm kind of a quiet, hermit type and don't like confrontation. Cartooning let me be objective, but in a funny way, it gave me a bigger voice.”
When she decided to pursue cartooning, there were two topics she didn't want to touch: cats and flight attendants.
“Cats because I had done that as a kid and it felt childish, and flight attendants because I am one and I didn’t think there’d be an audience,” she said.
How wrong she was.
In addition to the Jetlagged strip, Kincaid is now selling Jetlagged merchandise and has illustrated two books.
"I will be starting my own Jetlagged Comic Book as well," she said. "I'm selling more of my cartoons online than I ever have before."
"I advertise with social media, which helps others find me for custom cartoons and other illustration requests."
So despite her initial perception that nobody would be interested in flight attendants or the airline industry, her decision to take on a subject she knows very well has paid off.
And by the way, she says, "I now love to cartoon about cats too."