“Cheer Up, Emo Kid” by Enzo
Enzo has created an exceptional and popular webcomic with Cheer Up, Emo Kid. It has a large Facebook following, has adorned the front page of Reddit, and at least one fan left a “lol” comment in response to it. Imagine xkcd with more of an emphasis on relationships and cuter characters to get the flavor of the strip. And here’s Enzo himself to give us more insight into it.
Q. How did you get started in webcomics?
When I discovered webcomics, the first ones I read were PvP, Checkerboard Nightmare, Schoolbooks & Brimstone, and Penny Arcade. I was 14 during dial-up era internet and I thought it was the most amazing thing ever, being able to read a comic someone from across the world had just made and put on their website. I instantly knew it was what I wanted to do. So I got a copy of Photoshop, learned how to use it, and used my new-found skills to become a world -famous comic book artist! …Well that was the dream, anyway. What actually happened was that I started making fake IDs for everyone at my high school.
And that’s how I got my start… as a graphic designer.
Q. Your bio says that you lived in the Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Boston, California, and Vancouver. What were you running from?
A. Hitmen from the nude mafia, mainly. I was born in the Philippines, and had to move to Hong Kong and then Taiwan because of my dad’s job. I’m like 27% sure he moonlighted as a secret agent, but by day he worked as a higher-up at some international toothpaste corporation, which y’know is just as cool.
I graduated high school in Taipei, went to San Francisco for college, moved to Boston for a girl, and then settled in Vancouver, Canada where my parents decided they wanted to retire. I gained my Canadian citizenship and I’ve been eating poutine and saying sorry ever since.
In seriousness I’ve always been kind of stuck in a cultural limbo, being a Filipino raised in Taiwan while attending American schools. Canada is the first place I’ve really felt at home because everyone here is considered Canadian no matter what your cultural background is. I mean there’s a freaking criminal gang in Vancouver called the United Nations Gang because the ethnicities of their members are just so diverse. It’s crazy.
Q. What got you started on Cheer Up, Emo Kid?
A. I went through a break-up after high school that messed me up really badly. I started making CUEK comics half as an attempt to channel all my sadness, hate and anger into something productive, half to try to make myself laugh, and half as a sort of public service announcement for things you should never do during a relationship. Oh wait that’s three halfs. Oh well.
Q. How would you describe the strip as it exists now?
A. Nowadays, I like to think the strip is a little less mean-spirited, a little less depressing and violent, and a little more actually uplifting and humorous. It’s still occasionally a PSA on how not to be in a relationship but I’ve been trying to add more characters and depth so it’s not just a one-sided relationship comic anymore.
Q. Was there a breakout strip that convinced you there was a career in CUEK?
A. I wrote a series of comics about my dog (#121-129) and it completely blew up in a way I would have never imagined. Someone stuck all the pages together and it got shared on Reddit and everywhere and it became the #4 most viewed image on Imgur in 2010, which absolutely blew my mind. While my end goal has always been to try to make a career out of drawing comics, that was the first time I ever felt like I was actually getting somewhere. It was very validating and uplifting.
A. One day! I have always had an ending planned for the comic as a whole. Not anytime soon though!
Q. Do you have a favorite strip? If so, why that one?
A. Oh man it’s like picking a favourite child. Every time I make a new one I love the last one I did. I guess in terms of actual storytelling and imagery I would go with the Paths series (#300-304). It’s the most personal story I’ve ever shared and it’s supposed to explain the motivations of all the main characters of the comic — and by extension, my motivations behind making my comics.
Q. Do you have a strip you feel is most under-appreciated?
A. #91 from 2009 is a personal favorite of mine that seems to be buried quite deep in the comic stack.
It’s a little wordy for my taste today, but I still love the last two panels of conversation between Frank and his father. It’s something straight out of an “almost politically-correct redneck” meme and I didn’t even realize it.
Q. Are there any strips you now regret doing or would like to redo if there are any?
A. A lot of the comics I made before the #110-ish mark were very personal but not in a good way. While I never mentioned names, I made it blatantly obvious who I was bitching about in a comic, and it was a very petty and passive-aggressive of me to make comics with the sole intent of having the subject of the comic see it and be hurt or annoyed by it. I was not in a good place during those earlier years and it really shows. I like to think I’m better now, but it’s still a learning experience after all.
Q. What can your fans look forward to from you in the future?
A. Webcomic & web design tutorials. Graphic/Web design comics. High fantasy comics. Enzo doing comics full-time. Actual freaking merchandise. Oh yeah it’s happening very very soon.
Cheer up and be less emo by following Enzo at one of the following sites: