I always wanted to create my own graphic novel from the time I was young. I really wanted it to be personal to me, so I pulled a lot of inspiration from my teenage years. When I was fourteen, my entire family moved to the United States. It was a turbulent time, full of adjustments to new places, new people, and new cultures.
During my first few months at an American middle school, I realized that my teachers and classmates belonged to different ethnicities. Each one of them had their own habits and cultures. This was incredible to me at the time because I was used to only Filipino classmates before I came to New York. I immediately found it extremely challenging to navigate social interactions.
I was always scared of the possibility that I might offend someone because I wasn’t sure what was acceptable to each unique individual. Almost every day, I couldn’t help feeling anxious, uncertain, and neurotic. The feelings carried on through my adult years. My visual thesis project You’re Earth conveys those same emotions, amplified on a much larger scale, in a science fiction and fantasy graphic novel.
I grew up watching mostly Japanese Anime and manga in the 1990s. Naturally, they became my earliest art influences. My more recent influences include the concept artists of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse movie, and Rebecca Sugar, the creator of Steven Universe. The final, full-color comic spreads of You’re Earth were digitally painted in Adobe Photoshop. The planning stage, on the other hand, involved the use of Procreate in the iPad and Tilt Brush, a VR modeling software.
I built most of the story’s world in Virtual Reality. It then occurred to me that there were many ways that I could more efficiently approach the project. I illustrated the first chapter of my graphic novel by combining and rearranging hand-drawn sketches with elements from 360-degree environments I created in VR. You’re Earth shows a story that jars one’s senses and, at the same time, portrays characters who persevere in chaotic worlds.