Hello! I’m a Filipino-American woman raised in Rock Island, Illinois. My love of illustration and literature goes back to my freshmen year in high school.
I was that moody emo girl that sat in the corner, doodling all over my class notes. Back then, my teachers and classmates liked my art-style and would encourage me to make poster-art and short-comics for my projects as well as group ones. At home, my father was an adamant comic book reader. Every other week he would buy his DC and Marvel favorites. Then my Dad and I would spend our Saturday sitting in the living room to catch up on 30 issues worth of stories. I loved it. Superhero series like The Birds of Prey, Teen Titans, X-men, and Spider-man began to define my knowledge of storytelling.
Once I graduated in 2008, I started studying art history, illustration, and water coloring at Black Hawk Community College. Two years later, I enrolled at Northern Illinois University to learn digital media, Photoshop, and Clips Studio. It was at NIU that I joined the sci-fiction club, philosophy club, and hung out with the theater groups. It was from these groups that I learned a more enriched use of narrative. In 2013, I graduated with a Bachelors in Fine Arts with a minor in English.
Starting my career right out of college was difficult. I almost got a full-time job doing concept art at Bethany Lo, but I didn’t get a callback because I lacked work experience. I took a deal doing cartoon captions for a book on how to learn English for Russian speaking people but the author decided to make it an unpaid intern position and I dropped out. Then the student loan bills began to start and I took a retail cleric position at Family Dollar and my career took a backseat for three years.
During those three years on hiatus, I befriended Jim and Lee, my local comic book store owners at the ComiQ RaCk. Jim was a part-time pencil sketcher and Lee was an editor and marketer, but the wealth of comic book history between them was scholastic. Their constructive criticism was gold. I love nothing more than to go to their comic book club so I can hear them discuss cinematic and writer techniques. I used their advise for my comics.
In 2016, my husband started working at a factory to pay the bills, which allowed me to relaunch my illustration career. I used UpWorks to find art gigs and was eventually hired by a start-up company called 1602 Enterprises LLC. It was there I was given my first big comic project, Adder’s Kiss. I wrote, illustrated, colored, and lettered the entire graphic novel by myself. Little did I know the founder was a scam artist. Every month for two years, he promised me a stipend, $500 a month, so long as I showed that I was working on the project. I showed my work every month. He never paid me. I wrote him a stand alone issue, which he published without paying me. I designed his company’s logo, which, again, he did not pay me. Finally, I realized that he wouldn’t pay me for my two years of hard work. So, once I finished Adder’s Kiss, I hired a intellectual properties lawyer and retained my rights to Adder’s Kiss and severed all ties with 1602 Enterprises.
By 2019, I was back doing gigs for UpWorks while I submitted Adder’s Kiss to every publishing company accepting new submissions. I illustrated an issue for Red Stylo for their anthology A Soul Divided/Caged in Flesh. I completed an entire graphic novel called Felixberita about an Filipino woman moving to the United States and raising her daughter (that story really touched my heart because my mother went through the same life-change). By November, I had submitted Adder’s Kiss to fifteen publishers. All of them gave me the same sincere rejection, stating, “as interesting as your crime drama is, we cannot publish your material due to how mature the content is.” Not gonna lie, that hit me like a ton of bricks.
After two months of binge drinking out of self-loathing and holiday festivities, I vowed to myself that 2020 was going to be different. I swore that my failures wouldn’t fade into the dusty drawers of my workplace. And so, as I continue forward finding my place among the comic creators and innovators, I launched Bright Abyss, the home to all of my project rejects! A place where readers and artists can enjoy my work for free and give me critique on what I post to make me a better author tomorrow.
Welcome to the Bright Abyss. Try not to blink.