A Slice Of Life From A Lifestyle Comic

A Slice Of Life From A Lifestyle Comic

How Hmong-American artist Duachaka Her is striving for relatable characters.
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With an art practice built on an unwavering work ethic, Duachaka Her has combined inspiration and personal experience to create characters that anyone can look upon a page and see themselves within.

“Growing up as a Hmong-­American kid, I never really saw any characters that I was able to personally relate to. Some of the stories I write today include characters of diverse backgrounds who go through similar experiences as I did growing up. I want readers to be able to pick up my books and see themselves in the characters.”

Though she’s creating consistently now, Her didn’t always like to draw because “it took too long.” In fact, it was her family who pushed her towards an interest in art so she could join them in it. Looking up to them, she felt they were better at drawing, driving her to improve to keep up.

“It wasn’t until my older sister and cousin forced me to draw with them that I eventually started to take an interest in art.”

As she grew up, she watched the Saturday morning cartoons and anime on the television and read manga from bookstores and libraries. Inspired by others creations, she decided she wanted to create her own characters and stories.

As she grew up, she began a series of developing projects. In 2006, originally titled Dorobo, the story featured a girl falling into an unknown world and adventuring within it. As her earliest major project, the story’s main function was its story.

“To this day, I look back at this project and am just amazed by how much I didn’t care about the art or layout of the book, but rather just getting the story out of my head!”

In 2008, "Dorobo" was re-told in a group of Her with her cousins and siblings. Across the span of three summers they wrote, storyboarded, animated, colored, voice dubbing, editing and final retouching the entire film. While the piece had the flaws of an early project, it was an important part in developing the ethic to stick to art as a career.

“Working on this project at a young age definitely contributed to my work habit today. I don’t know if I would’ve been this dedicated to making art had it not been for this project.”

Over time, those early projects led her current works. A comic book, "The Collection", featured the stories about growing up Hmong-American and how it felt with a culture different from the norm, being different, and learning to accept yourself a concept inspired by "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie.

“I was always embarrassed to talk about my culture, especially at school, because I feared I would be different and that other students would think of me weird. I wanted my story to convey to readers that it is okay to be different and that you would eventually learn to accept yourself.”

Today she is still creating, working on art that draws from multiple aspects of her own life: family, heritage, and day-to-day stories. Inspired by the lack of relatable characters and the content she strives to see in the world, Her keeps working to have characters with diverse backgrounds so readers back find themselves within the pages of a book.

“I think what keeps me creating is the fact that I don’t see enough work being created about what I want to see out in the world… Growing up as Hmong-American kid, I never really saw any characters that I was able to personally relate to.”

With Her creating, perhaps there’ll be less people able to say such a thing as they search for relatable and diverse stories in the future.

To see more of Her’s work, she’s online on her website and Facebook.



This profile feature is inspired by my recent experience with a plethora of artists from the Minnesota Comic Book Association's Spring Convention as ComiCon was such a vibrant place with so much talent in one space, the only way to fully capture a glimpse into it was to go more in depth with each artist personally because each one is skilled in their own way and their own origin. This is in a series hoping to bring more attention to artists and to expose the range of unique talent and backstories that led them to art. ComiCon was such a vibrant place with so much talent in one space, the only way to fully capture a glimpse into it was to go more in depth with each artist because each one is skilled in their own way and their own origin.
Cover Image Credit: Duachaka Her

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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