In an era where the concept of connection and happiness is becoming a blur, people rely on what the online space can offer in order to redeem even a glimpse of the fun they’ve had when everything was arguably okay. The pandemic has brought about a much-needed period of rebirth. Despite the physical isolation, it has forced people to reconcile with themselves—with their long-lost dreams and passions.

Justin Leong, a man who was swayed by the demands of life, has found the very chance to face his fugly side: making a lot of excuses to remain in his comfort zone. Finally, he overcame this last June 2020 by simply taking a pencil to begin his comics called The Fugly Dumpling which now has a whopping 19,000+ readers.

Creating comics is his childhood dream and being stuck at home during quarantine made him run out of excuses to get started. He wanted to render something that can make him laugh as he faces his fair share of negativity. Yes, he just wants to be happy like the rest of us. The tale of pursuing one’s dreams to achieve this is indeed cliché but true. Look at Justin who must be smiling right now.

The initial hurdle, which was man versus himself, is already done so what could have possibly kept him going?

Don’t let this get into your head but it’s you—someone who’s interested in his story and has been following the adventures of The Fugly Dumpling. “Once other people seemed to start to appreciate what I was doing, it just snowballed from there,” Justin said. He is also proud to be working towards being another Asian American representative in the comic creation space. Strangers rooting for a person is certainly one of the most wholesome and heartwarming events that could happen. Perhaps, the discreet magic of the Asian American community lies in unknowingly supporting one another. Though, of course, the support should come from yourself first like what Justin did.

It was not an easy-peasy task for Justin as he admittedly lacks the technical skills and inherent talent to chase his dream.  In this episode of self-doubt, his stubbornness which he warmly calls dedicated focus, allowed him to better himself as an artist and devote all his free time and energy towards learning how to accelerate the growth of the comic in the short 7 months that it's existed.

Such dedication has put him in a unique situation where he uses his strength of intense prioritization to make a meaningful, positive impact in both his life and in a fair amount of other people's lives as well. “It's not going to be life-changing for anyone, but it makes me really happy,” he said. Well, it looks like The Fugly Dumpling is not fugly at all.

The comic strip has attracted thousands of readers with its dry and clever humor, appealing art style, and relatability of the content. Justin also disclosed that his readers have started to message him with personal struggles, and he has been making an active effort to make sure they feel welcomed whenever they interact.

More than a comic that offers a quick laugh every week, it's slowly becoming a safe space for others to let go of the unwanted weight in their life even for just a while. You know when they say that it’s art when it makes you feel something? The Fugly Dumpling is one.

Justin has plotted big plans which include additional marketing channels such as webtoon and tapas, and to look for business partners who can help him sustain the comics. Who wouldn’t want to partner with someone who has dedicated focus? If you’re interested, the best way to reach out to him is via @thefuglydumpling or @justinwleong on Instagram.

The Fugly Dumpling has become a virtual avenue to connect and be happy. Justin is more than grateful for its impact that it’s having in his life and in a good handful of other people's lives. As someone who is obviously thoughtful, he is also willing to mentor those who want to establish their footing in the industry like him. This interesting stage of rebirth for most has paved the way for the online space to make isolation less lonely. The sense of community persists even in the direst of times and having The Fugly Dumpling as company is but a pleasant windfall.


P.S. If you want to be featured in our #WeCANMakeIt Campaign like Justin, answer our form now! Have a good day ahead.

Feb 10, 2021

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