Who is Annie Mok? A trans woman? An artist? A writer? A musician? Also a movie producer?
It’s difficult to summarize what she does into only a few words. But if you ask me to use one word to describe her, I would say she’s a creator.
On February 13, along with several other students, I met Annie at the Penn LGBT center, one of the most colorfully decorated places on campus. This event is part of the “Trans Creative” series sponsored by Penn Non–Cis and Wharton Alliance. Annie Mok was invited to kick off this series by talking about her experiences in the creative world.
Annie's mission is to recreate joyful experiences. She mentioned that her interest in comic books derives from her high school hobby of reading independent comics. These books inspired Annie to produce her own comics later in life. Through storytelling, Annie feels empowered and able to pass down the love and joy she experiences when creating.
When describing the rejection of her works from the comic book publisher Vertigo, Annie had a peaceful tone in her voice, which surprised me a bit. She wondered whether it was due to her identity as a trans woman, or simply because she didn’t have the artistic talents they were looking for. “I’d be interested to know,” she commented.
“Resilience has been a defining theme in my work,” Annie confessed during the talk. Her experience of being a trans woman and going through mental health problems has shaped her works and identities. In the wake of struggles and challenges, some people give up and become cynical. Annie is definitely not one of them. The sorrows ingrained in her heart have been remodeled into a sense of resilience, demonstrated repeatedly in her illustrations, writings, and movies. Therapy and medication have alleviated her pain, but what’s more helpful for her is to talk with different people. She said, “It is important to accept help when you need it.”
Communities are the recharge stations for Annie. Her collaborators, her comics circle, her friends in the video game industry, and her agents have helped her through difficult times. Maybe it's because of the love Annie has received that she didn’t believe in any “solo–genius myth.”
On Annie’s website, there’s a piece of writing called “Stars in Your Pocket,” in which she explores why some people lose creativity in their works. This writing reminds me of the time when I was little, lots of my friends talked about their dreams of becoming an artist or a musician in the future. However, only a few of them end up working in that area. Realities sometimes keep us from our hopes and dreams. Our attention shifts, and it becomes increasingly difficult to find that passion again.
Annie worries about her unstable income too. But she knows how much she needs to earn and how much she typically spends. More importantly, she stays in the artistic field, passionately working with various media.
Annie’s creative world is similar to a walking simulator game, which also happens to be her favorite type of video games—she embarks onto the unknown and explores all kinds of opportunities, not with guns or spears, but with love and joy.
You can find out more about Annie Mok through the followings: