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Kelsey Choo’s comics draw from her Hawaiian upbringing 

click to enlarge KELSEY CHOO
  • Kelsey Choo
Comic artist Kelsey Choo has a style, one that’s hard to miss. It’s present when she strolls into the Indy offices for our interview, decked out in a pink jumpsuit and an artsy beanie covered with embroidered eyes, which she says was designed by a UK artist. Like her fashion sense, Choo’s art tends to be very expressive, apparently simple but effective and carefully crafted, with a definite bent toward cuteness.

Choo, a 27-year-old graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s BFA program, makes zines and miniature comics. Locals may have seen her work at Mountain Fold Books before its closure in late 2016. She’s always loved comics and cartoons, and she’s been drawing since her childhood in Hawaii.

“I used to do little webcomics for my friends, and I was active a little bit online on, like, DeviantArt, because that was really popular in high school,” she says. Choo draws particular influence from manga, or Japanese comic books, which were a big part of her life due in part to Hawaii’s proximity to Japan, and in part to her own half-Japanese heritage. She works in a variety of mediums, from colored pencil to highlighter ink, though she tends to do less digital art.

Topically, Choo explores her life and experiences, tending to filter them through narratives in her earlier work. “Fluffy,” for instance, follows the daily struggles of a bunny girl who’s sick of being casually demeaned because of her size, species and “cuteness.” More recently, Choo’s made directly autobiographical and personal pieces, like “Kau Kau Time!” a tribute to her favorite foods growing up in Hawaii. That one in particular was a hit with locals at a recent pop-up market, Womxn of the Future.

Long-term, Choo plans to work on a longer narrative, such as a serialized story or graphic novel. For now, she’ll continue to work on establishing herself in the area and displaying her work. Visit kelseychoo.com for more.

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