I grew up the youngest of three, and the only girl, which meant I had no choice in anything and I was always left out of things. Being left to my own devices I decided to spend my time reading and drawing. I read as many books as I could as quickly as possible, I had to read. I drew cartoon characters, starting with Looney Tunes and classic American cartoon characters. Later I drew anime characters as that cartooning form came to America I got more interested in watching Japanese cartoons. I learned that Japanese cartoons had associated comic books, called manga. They were a combination of two of my favorite interests: reading and art and I soon spent a lot of my time reading manga and drawing the characters from these books.
What I liked about manga is that the stories told often had female characters leading the way as heroes. Regular girls got magical powers or in general were the focus of the narrative and they were often drawn by women so I felt welcomed in this world. They were books with engaging narratives and I didn’t feel like they were only directed at boys, like with western comics. There were manga directed at all audiences, it was not a one size fits most the way American comics are published and marketed. I spent a lot of time buying and reading manga, tracing the pages and sharing drawings with my friends.
I was reading and drawing a lot and had little idea of what I wanted to be when I grow up. My mom wanted me to have financial security and encouraged my interest for science and botany, which I had to the extent that I started growing lemon and grapefruit trees in the house. My senior year of high school, a month before I was to graduate from high school, my mother died and I was released into the world with no plans other than college. I had applied for both art and science to different universities and decided to be a biologist because it’s what my mother had wanted for me. Biology was great, I loved studying plants and taking care of them but in all of my spare time I was drawing. I drew comics and pin up pieces, I spent more time drawing than studying and everyone thought I was an art major. I kept saying I was going to be a botanist who did art on the side.
Summer 2008 the first Iron Man movie came out, I walked into my first comic shop and bought my first comic as a fan. I spent the money I had slowly stopped spending on manga to buy comic books and gave myself an education in comics history. I started with popular comics and the staples of any good comic collection before branching out following writers and artists I admired before I started reading independent comics. In the Independent comic world I was able to find more narratives by and about female characters but more important were the engaging narratives and comics that were about more than just men in tights. I changed majors with no regrets, I felt like I was doing what I should have been focused on the entire time. Whenever I tell people I was a biology major before transferring to an art major they tell me it’s a big change. I reply that both scientists and artists study the world; scientists to understand how it works and artists to show it to people. Both are doing the same means to different ends.