Cartoonist Lela Lee is celebrating 25 years of Angry Little Asian Girl.
“As a female of color, I grew up with a lack of representation, and I felt like my voice did not matter,” Lee explains in a video on her Kickstarter campaign where she is fundraising for her commemorative gift line.
“Growing up, I saw a lot of unfair things, but like all good little girls are raised to do, I kept quiet, and I suppressed my feelings.”
Lee took an Asian American studies class in college that talked about the lack of representation for Asian Americans, and she thought to herself, “it would be really neat if there was a doll for sale that looked like us,” Lee said in an interview with Spectrum News.
And so she drew her frustrations out into a drawing, and made video shorts.
“When I first drew the Angry Little Asian Girl, I hid it in a drawer for many years because I was afraid of what people would think of me if I expressed anger,” she says in the Kickstarter video. But years later she showed her videos to friends, and they encouraged her to screen them publicly. She did, and got positive reviews in the LA Times and LA Weekly. Lee then turned the cartoon into a comic script that she pitched, unsuccessfully, to comic syndicates before self-publishing them online, where Angry Little Asian Girl thrived.
“The most important feedback was from the many women who told me they were angry too, and wanted to be included in my comic strip.” Lee added a cast of other angry girls to her comic and expanded the name to Angry Little Girls, publishing her first comic book in 2005 that spurred a growingly popular line of tote bags and other merchandise, according to the Angry Little Girls website.
“I feel that my work has helped give women a piece of art to use as a talisman to say they are also angry and to speak up for what is bothering them,” Lee told Spectrum News.
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