Humans of Parkland: Caressa Dillow
Caressa Dillow is a 19-year-old Parkland College student and comic artist who has been doing artwork since her childhood.
“When I was a kid, I was really lonely all the time,” she said. “I didn’t have the ability to go out and play with friends, and I was kind of shut in my room because I was the family’s social reject. There was a ton of paper because my dad was an AutoCAD professional, and he had to print out a bunch of designs constantly for work, so I used to steal all of his paper and draw on it because I thought I was being like my dad, even though my dad drew machine parts and I drew animals.”
She didn’t always think of art as a possible career.
“I started taking it seriously in high school. But I’ve been writing and making comics since about the fifth grade.”
“I like doing it because of the way it makes people happy,” she said. “Just the way that I draw is something that people find engaging, along with my sense of humor. When I was in high school, I didn’t have many friends. I was the only gay person at my school, and it caused a large rift between me and the other students. When they started reading my comics, though, it bridged the gap and made it less difficult to talk to me, because they could see that I had a similar sense of humor as they did.”
Her art has a few major inspirations, which come through in the unique style of her work.
“Mostly, my style has been derived from a mix of Jamie Hewlett’s Gorillaz and the original Walt Disney movies from the 1930s–50s, the original type of Disney animation before Pixar came in and changed the body proportions and facial proportions. That and Jamie Hewlett’s original Gorillaz, from Phase One in 1997 onward, are my biggest inspirations.”
Many of her projects are about herself and her friends in the real world, and the plots are presented as fictional fables similar to her real-life struggles.
“There’s ‘High School Not-Musical,’” she said. “In high school, I created this 350-page comic book that eventually got published in a hard-cover edition, and it became a senior memento for my friends and I, because it centered on our idiotic adventures through different pop-culture icons of the times, such as ‘Mean Girls,’ ‘White Chicks,’ and ‘Twilight.’”
“Also, a friend and I wrote this on-going short story series that is being developed into a comic. It was called ‘Hell, Pennsylvania,’ and it revolved around one demon that stuck out in a world of demons because she behaved like a normal, morally-balanced person, and was thus considered a bad kid. It’s a social commentary on the state of teenagers, as well as the way religion plays into people being naïve.”
She says people enjoy her sense of humor, even though some might see what she does as a niche thing.
“It’s really dark,” Dillow says. “But people seem to enjoy it. When I was writing ‘Hell, Pennsylvania,’ the other kids at my school actually turned ‘Ew, Charlene,’ into something they would say whenever they felt like they needed an insult.”
Dillow is currently working on another project, which may be released soon.
“Sorry, but I can’t give you any information on it,” she says. “At the stage it’s in now, anything about it could change, so releasing details could end up disappointing some people.”
Dillow is currently in her second semester at Parkland, and plans to transfer to Savannah College of Art and Design to major in sequential art.