Why Hulyen is the ‘komiks’ truth-teller for our times

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Julienne Dadivas aka Hulyen
Julienne Dadivas aka Hulyen

When Julienne Dadivas was in freshman year at St. Scholastica’s College Manila, she took a test to join the art club—and failed. She didn’t know how to use Cray-pas and actually thought of giving up art altogether.

But then she read the comic book “Ang Alamat ng Panget” by Apol Sta. Maria, and was inspired by the fact that it featured simple, doodle-like art but was being read. She was also a fan of Manix Abrera’s “Kikomachine Komix” comic strip, and so decided to just draw and post her strips online, the panels depicting scenes from her own life.

Thus was born her artistic alter ego Hulyen.

Since then, Hulyen has found a loyal following with her komiks, aptly dubbed “UGH,” about being, well, Hulyen. They are funny, sometimes cringey, but always so relatable because of their authenticity.

Hulyen began photocopying her strips into a zine, selling “UGH” # 1 for a mere P50. Today, Hulyen is regularly posting strips online and is now up to “UGH” # 7. She makes appearances at comic conventions where her readers flock to meet her and buy her merchandise.

“It’s fun being at events especially after the pandemic,” she said. “I like meeting my readers and fellow artists. I also get to introduce myself to a new and younger audience. Being an artist, I usually just work at home so I don’t get to socialize that much. People know the comics ‘Hulyen’ but they don’t usually know what I look like, so I don’t really get recognized randomly. Sometimes, those who visit my booth at comic conventions even have to ask, ‘Are you Hulyen?’ because they are not sure. I always feel thankful when someone approaches me and says they follow me online and they like my work.”

New platforms

She’s even finding new platforms, such as creating a TikTok account for her stuff. “I noticed I was able to tap a new audience, mostly Gen Z. My comics that feature LGBTQ topics are usually the ones that go viral on that platform. I am thankful that I found an audience on TikTok even though I think I am too old for that,” she said with a laugh.

She’s also working on something—gasp!—different from the “UGH” komiks she’s known for. “It’s too early to share it yet in detail, but I am working on a new comic that hopefully I can release on Komiket Pride this June. I’m trying something new so I wish I can actually do it.”

One of Hulyen’s goals has always been to break the stereotypes of women being portrayed in media: “I think I would like to depict different types of women and not only the usual that we see on mainstream media. Growing up, I found it difficult to relate to female characters I see on TV. Gusto ko kasi ‘yung makulit na art style tapos may weird humor. That’s why I create stories based on my own experiences. I try to make comics that I myself would like to read.”

The cover to “UGH” # 7
The cover to “UGH” # 7

One of Hulyen’s greatest achievements is being a pioneer. When she started, she was one of a few women in what was still a largely male-dominated field. But with her work, she has not only inspired more women to become comics creators, but also changed the narrative by proving they can tell stories about their own lives instead of what’s popular.

“I think my art style is quite simple and unpolished. It has this doodle-like quality that might make people go, ‘Hey, I can draw like that too!,’” she said. “If I got to inspire someone, especially more women, to create their own comics because they saw my work, I think I was able to accomplish something.”

Inspiring creators

That she has done, but she hesitates to call herself a role model, though she aspires to be one for aspiring women artists.

“I don’t think of myself as someone serious who people can look up to,” said Hulyen. “I met several artists before who introduced themselves to me. Then a few years later, I saw them at tables at cons as well. I feel proud for them because now they get to do what they were just planning before.”

Ultimately, Hulyen’s komiks are still trying to do what they did at the very beginning. Said its author: “I hope they get to laugh and relate to the topics of my comics. I feel touched when people tell me that my artwork was able to illustrate what they are feeling deep inside.”

Hulyen is a komiks truth-teller who has inspired an entire new generation of women comic creators and beyond. She has wonderful anecdotes about her work that prove this.


At a recent convention she attended, she met a 7-year-old girl, the daughter of artists who also had a table at the con. It turns out the daughter was curious about the Pinoy pastry called pan de regla—because she had read about it in one of Hulyen’s strips and had no idea what it looked like.

“So they bought her one from the bakery. Hopefully her parents did not have a hard time explaining why it is called pan de regla,” she said with a laugh. “It was just this cute and pure thing that happened because someone read my comic strip.”

Sometimes, older readers can find her art cathartic. Hulyen has a sticker that reads “Bahala kayo jan t_ng_n_ niyong lahat,” with a character who is fed up with everything. A female reader told her she could really relate to that drawing because she is so fed up with her boss. “She cannot say her feelings out loud because it’s in an office setting, so she just placed that sticker on the back of her laptop for her boss to see. I just found that story so funny, it’s almost like an ‘UGH’ comic.” INQ

Hulyen’s komiks can be read at facebook.com/hulyencomics, @hulyen on Instagram and Twitter, @hulyencomics on Tiktok.

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