Killing Me Softly


Spoiler Alert: If you are in the midst of watching or about to watch a certain show that stars Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer and Fiona Shaw, please note that I dive into a lot of spoilers about it in this “beautifully” written essay. 
In the early months of this shelter in place, I found myself doing things I never did before such as binge-watching tv shows that are not my usual light-hearted fare like Murder, She Wrote or mindless Bravo TV reality programming (Hello, Real Housewives of Miami). Somehow, I opened the door to more intense, heady and thought-provoking dramas usually reserved for Ken, my husband’s, viewing entertainment. One afternoon, I actually caught him in front of the tv which was strange because he usually watches his “stories” on his tablet. All I could make out from the show he was watching were scenes with a British guy named Kenny and phenomenal actress, Sandra Oh, whose character was living in a dump of an apartment in London. It didn’t really grab my attention until this Kenny person wound up dead 45 minutes later, falling from (or being thrown off of) an office building roof. That finally prompted me to ask Ken what the name of the show was, and he replied, “Killing Eve.” It happened to be the 1st episode of its new season. 
Still as Ken watched the second episode, I preoccupied myself with other tasks like drawing or straightening up random stuff around the house, only catching bits here and there such as a scene of an old, bearded Russian man name Konstantin talking to some young Russian blonde lady whose name I didn’t really know. They were having a discussion about the titular character, Eve, (who I figured out was Sandra Oh at this point) and how she was still miraculously alive. The Russian lady reacted strongly to this news and I had no idea why, but I was intrigued probably because of the swell of haunting music punctuating the end of the episode. 
I decided to sit down and pay the show my full attention when Ken started the third episode. Again, I had no clue who any of these characters were or what their connection was to each other. I saw what I could only assume was a pivotal scene where Eve and this Russian lady crash into each other (in various ways) on a double-decker bus. The song “Strange Effect” suddenly loomed large over that scene which delighted me in itself because I previously knew the song as a cover sung by my favorite Norwegian electro-pop group, Hooverphonic. Again, still had no clue what was really going on with this show but definitely wondered, “what the heck is up with this relationship between these two women?!” Soon after, I texted my sister who had been watching Killing Eve since it first premiered in 2018:
I guess I’m gonna have to go binge-watch season 1 and 2 this weekend…
She responded with an “LOL.” 

So I logged into the Hulu app and prepared myself for what definitely became a Lost Weekend. From the very first episode of the show, I quickly understood the origin of this relationship of these two women, an impulsive MI6 agent and a wiley assassin, and how it quickly evolved into something deeper especially towards the end of season 2…


Thank god I saw the first couple of episodes of season 3 before I saw season 2’s finale,
otherwise I would have shared the same fate as Eve (emotionally) in Rome.


In the space of just one month, I had become obsessed (very close to Dancing with the Stars level – get a copy of my book to understand what this means), reading recaps, viewing clips from twitter and instagram fans/stans, listening to the show’s soundtrack (which is amazing) and analyzing various scenes with MI6 precision to pick apart every layer of symbolism that this show possesses. I do want to make clear though that I made sure to refrain from any secret fandom groups. After my Dancing with the Stars mania, I do have some self-control now!


Killing Eve can break your heart (especially Season 1, Episode 3), but you
“get some nice clothes out of it” when seeing all the fashionable
 suits worn in this show.

Oh also, I binge-watched on both seasons of Phoebe Waller Bridge’s “Fleabag” (Here’s a wink to the 4th wall.) When I found out that she was the writer of both Fleabag and Killing Eve, two shows that explore ideas of being female but through very different genres (crime show thriller vs comedy sitcom), it pretty much rejuvenated new ideas of being a storyteller. It wasn’t so much about the genre confining how a storyteller approaches it, but really their ability to redefine it and make the genre their own. And also, I almost forgot, how amazing is it to finally have a leading character of a critically acclaimed and widely popular show be an Asian American woman, in her 40s who is messy and confused about her life, but sharp, funny and surprisingly nurturing — oh, sooo relatable to the writer of this blog post!

So fast forward 1 month later to the season 3 finale episode on the last day of May: somehow this show became a revelation of something bigger about myself. It brought out something more than what was intended just like how this blog post was only supposed to be a quick musing on the finale specifically on the following topics:

  • The ballroom scene. Of course a show scores 1000 points with me if they add a romantic slow-dance scene. It was so unexpected, and though this show always makes the viewer keep their guard up, this tender scene just cut the tension so perfectly. I wish it could have gone on forever. I feel like this scene was set up for Villanelle (aka The Russian Girl) to get that confirmation of acceptance from Eve, the one person whose opinion she really only cares about. Eve figures out right away that Villanelle is not her usual cocky and confident self. So she takes control of the situation and leads Villanelle to dance (something Villanelle has been uncomfortable doing all season.) Eve even goes so far as to declare that she’s done with wanting that perfect, idyllic relationship, and instead brings up her relationship with Villanelle which would be so different, passionate and all-consuming that they wouldn’t even have enough energy to live a long life. Gosh, that’s pretty intense, don’t ya think? And if that wasn’t enough, when Villanelle reminds Eve that she’s killed so many people, almost as a last warning that she’s no good, Eve responds simply with “I know.” Yup, they are pretty much engaged now.

    Meetings have biscuits.

  • Carolyn and Geraldine reading letters to each other as family therapy.  Geraldine lists all of the traumatizing moments that have happened up to that point: that Mo has died, Kenny has died and his murderer still hasn’t been found, and Konstantin has double-crossed both of them. This prompts Carolyn to demand in her usual stoic and reserve way that Geraldine move out of the house. Geraldine takes this is as a final schism between her and her mom (the only family she has left), but Caroline’s motives are more pragmatic in that she doesn’t want her daughter to be the victim of all the dangers that she just spouted a couple seconds before.
  • Eve finally gets back into the hunt as her new alter ego, Tallulah Shark, emerges from the deep. It took about 7.5 episodes, but thankfully Eve’s Season 1 mojo came back and just like in the past, she is in total denial that it’s all because of her fondness for our friendly, neighborhood psychopathic assassin. It’s okay, she’s a slow learner and that’s why we love her! The humorous scene in the betting office was so satisfying. (“Are you taking a piss?” Love it.). I hope we see more of that quirky Eve behavior in the new season.
  • The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts masterclass in Paul’s house. Finally all 4 characters we really care about in this show come together in one dramatic, intense scene. Carolyn and Konstantin have both played puppet-masters, mostly for selfish reasons, enabling Eve and Villanelle in their cat and mouse obsession with each other. Carolyn and Konstantin’s relationship comes full circle in this scene, slightly pulling back the curtain of their mysterious ties. My theory is that Konstantin in his own weird way protected Carolyn from Kenny learning more things about her, especially her shady relationship with The Twelve (even though Kenny has always been suspicious of her.) I have a feeling that Carolyn has used her position in MI6 to try get back at some people (Helene for one) who have wronged her, but we will see! I hope it becomes clearer next season, but not so much that it takes away screen time from the two leading ladies of this show.
  • That mother-effing bridge scene. And speaking of the two leading ladies, the final scene on the Tower Bridge has ruined me for over a month now. I am wreckage floating on a barge on the River Thames. It was haunting and heart-aching, and how dare the Killing Eve post-production team choose to play that song sung by Saoirse Ronan during this crucial moment to make me even more emotional! Saoirse is mah homeslice! Villanelle is now the one in control in this scene, making the adult decision for both of them to let Eve go and walk away.. but finally, finally — with that final turn back to Villanelle, Eve (finally, again!) admits that she can’t live without her and seems open to seeing how this relationship can evolve! That is a huge deal! In each previous finale in fact, she’s been fighting it. First she stabs Villanelle, then in season 2, she rejects her in the Roman ruins. This time around, when she walks away on the bridge, you see Eve’s face go from feelings of relief that she’s leaving Villanelle and all the mess behind, to a sudden realization, a feeling of self-discovery and then (with the turn back) acceptance of who she is and what kind of life she wants to have. It’s a puzzle that she’s been trying to solve for three seasons. She’s finally found the missing piece, and that’s pretty exciting! This episode has been a huge turning point for both Eve and Villanelle. They both finally say goodbye to their pasts and look toward their futures that dare I say, with that final shot, has them hopefully together in some way, shape, or form. 

But alas, time will tell what the next season has in store for the show and for all of us. Where will we all be in a year’s time? And HOW will we all be after this shelter-in-place? I have no clue and shutter to think about it, but I hope for only good things! One thing I do know though is that once again I have found strength and inspiration from a random tv show I never thought to watch before. Funny how this seems to be a running theme with me: finding things in unexpected places usually from the world of cheesy pop culture. As much as I try to reject it, I guess I should accept that this is the corny person I am, just how Eve finally needs to face who she really is too. 😉

So for the both of us, Eve, listen to your heart till we hopefully meet again. 💖

“Now we walk, and we never look back.”






Everyone’s Groovin’ to the Boogie!

Inspired by the visual richness and cinematic structure of the Hollywood Musical, Blame this on the Boogie chronicles the adventures of a Filipino American girl born in the decade of disco who escapes life’s hardships and mundanity through the genre’s feel good song and dance numbers. Ayuyang explores how the glowing charm of the silver screen can transform one’s reality, shaping their approach to childhood, relationships, sports, reality TV, and eventually politics, parenthood, and mortality.

Hear what they’re saying about the book:

Rina Ayuyang’s visuals are wonderfully musical, lilting across the pages with energy and movement. 
-Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review

Pajama party at Rina’s house! Stay up late dancing in front of the TV, maybe miss your mom and dad. Rina twirls you through moments big and small. The pain and bliss of being yourself. These stories make me feel at home. 
-Vanessa  Davis, Spaniel Rage, Make Me a Woman  

Blame This on the Boogie draws us in with effortless grace and weaves a sweetly compelling story of assimilation, ambition, and a 1980s childhood shaped by ‘Solid Gold,’ Duran Duran videos, and Fred Astaire. Rina’s gift for expressing her love of dance and her love for her family brings something new and refreshing to graphic memoirs that I want more of.
-Mimi Pond , Over Easy, The Customer is Always Wrong  

A delightful book. Love how Rina takes on childhood, motherhood and of course, the Solid Gold Dancers. Yes, and those colors. Oh, those colors…”
– Jaime Hernandez , Love and Rockets  

BLAME THIS ON THE BOOGIE is a freeform immersion via the Great American Songbook into memory, motherhood, Filipino culture, Pittsburgh, and Dancing With the Stars fan-fiction, told with delirious hand-made energy and big-hearted charm.
Daniel Clowes, Patience, Wilson  

Reviews for Boogie:

Book Riot

Publisher’s Weekly Interview

Paste Magazine

London Free Press

Seattle Review of Books


AV Club

Publisher’s Weekly – Starred Review

Comics Workbook

Boogie About Town!


Join me at events and comic shows to celebrate the new book. I’m very excited to share it with you!

Bethesda, Maryland
2018 Small Press Expo 
Saturday, September 15, 2018

Brooklyn, New York
Brooklyn Book Festival
Sunday, September 16, 2018

Seattle, Washington
Short Run Festival
Saturday, November 4, 2018

Seattle, Washington

Seattle Public Library
Conversation with Mimi Pond
Sunday, November 5, 2018, 1:00 – 3:00 PM

Berkeley, California
Pegasus Books, Shattuck Ave
Q&A with Thien Pham; book reading and signing
Thursday, November 8, 2018,  7:30 PM

Oakland, California
Boogie Bash!
End of the Year party and  book release celebration
Bar 355, 355 19th Street

Thursday, December 13, 2018, 5:00 – 8:00 PM

Oakland, California
Oakland Public Library – Temescal Branch
Presentation as a part of the library’s centennial celebration
Saturday, January 12, 2019, 1:00 PM

South San Francisco, California
2019 Comic Arts Fest
Saturday, February 2, 2019, 10:00 AM

Portland, Oregon
Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference 
Oregon Convention Center
Friday, March 29, 2019, 1:15 PM – 2:45 PM
Panel discussion with Peter Bagge, James Sturm and Craig Thompson

More events to be announced! Stay Tuned!

It’s Official!

This weekend at Comic Con, Drawn and Quarterly announced that it will include my book Blame This on the Boogie, in its list of Spring 2018 releases. I am insanely thrilled to be published by one of the powerhouse publishers of comics, and honored to be included with a roster of artists who have inspired me through the years with their skills and storytelling. I’m truly thankful and still so amazed.

Here is more info at the D+Q website>

Ignatz Nominated!

Ignatz drawn by Sophia Foster-Dimino

The 2016 Small Press Expo (SPX) is this weekend and yet again I will not be able to attend to buy some mini-comics, partake of the chocolate fondue fountain or revel with my fellow cartoonists and comics fans. Someday, SOMEDAY…but, wait! I’ll still be with you all in spirit through the guise of an Ignatz Award nominee. My “Cartoonist’s Diary” strip which was published by The Comics Journal on has been nominated for Best Online Comic.

I’m very excited and honored to be alongside so many brilliant and talented nominees. If you are there, and you like the comic, PLEASE VOTE! Only attendees of the show get to vote for the Ignatz Awards, so instead of going through with my plan to vote 50 times, I will be at home cleaning my house. I’m kidding.. I was only going to vote 35 times. Okay, this ends my Ignatz voting campaign, phew!

Above all else, make sure to get all the awesome mini-comics that SPX has to offer, and books that are debuting this weekend such as: