Comics creator and storyteller Emmanuelle Chateauneuf did not need to look too far from home to find love and inspiration. She already found it in her mom, a Filipina immigrant who had to find her way around Canada with the help of extended family and friends.
Chateauneuf’s graphic novel Queen Street published in 2017 speaks of the adventures of a Filipina immigrant who left a law career in the Philippines to live in Canada and raise an only child, a seven-year-old daughter whose “big personality is only rivaled by her even bigger imagination.”
In an interview with Canadian Filipino Net (CFNet), Chateauneuf intimates that Queen Street is autobiographical, adding: “The whole of the story reflects my mother’s experience, at least in those early years before she found her footing and confidence within her community and new self in Canada.” The characters and places in the novel are based on real life. Growing up in Sault Ste. Marie Ontario, she notes that the novel is “a mixture of peoples and places that took center stage during a period of my childhood where women were my main source of education and protection.”
Chateauneuf adds that the novel also reflects her own journey as a young 19-year-old woman going in her twenties. “I grew up thinking my life would go exactly the way I planned, and like my mom in the book, really shot myself in the foot. The hardest lesson I’ve come across hasn’t been defeating injustices but really just learning to let go of control and trusting that life will bring me where I need to be in time.”
While writing Queen Street, Chateauneuf came to the revelation that racism exists and that she is actually a visible minority. She shares with CFNet, “Racism has been part of my life from before I could even understand what it was…and taking the time to learn and understand about just how it affected me, changed my entire worldview.”
She confesses to still being at a crossroads at age 25. “I’m only just turning 25 so my biggest hurdles in life so far, besides my education and career, have all been to do with the trauma around my place in society as a lower class woman of mixed race – how that affected me emotionally, mentally and personally.”
Chateauneuf’s newest offering reflects how much she has grown in the last few years. A webcomic that allows readers to pay into different levels of membership and access, Princess Bunyi is a feisty, erotic romantic comedy. Its title character is a sheltered young professional and over-the-top romantic raised in a traditional Catholic Filipino family in Toronto in the 21st century.
She says of her professional growth, “My work, at least the way I see it, is a reflection of me at the times in my life I create it. And I’ve changed a hell of a lot since I was 19. So yeah, Princess Bunyi is completely different. I’m always changing and so does my work.”
Chateauneuf describes how Princess Bunyi was inspired by her own romantic life. “I’ve had a rough start out of the gate in my romantic life, (leading up) to me being a pretty traumatized and ‘damaged’ woman by the time I was 23.”
She tells CFNet, “At that point, I had fallen pretty heavily back on my faith and spirituality as a way to heal and try to find myself again after years of completely losing sight of who I was. Then when I thought I was all good and perfect, I met someone who changed my life.” She was gifted the courage to “really be a better person for me, no one else.”
Access to Princess Bunyi’s stories are varied, ranging from access to a regular 10-page webcomic on the first of each month to role-playing participation in monthly cameos where the reader gets to appear as an extra.
Chateauneuf promises that, when the subscriptions reach a certain dollar amount, she will create a vlog containing the comic’s most erotic pages with her musings in “unlearning cultural and religious guilt around love, sex, and relationships”. To date, she is only $26 away from that target. Readers can access the webcomic through https://www.patreon.com/princessbunyi.
Chateauneuf’s works have been featured in The Feathertale Review, Captain Canuck, TO Comix Press’ ‘Wayward Sisters; An Anthology of Monstrous Women’. Dale River, a comic spin-off that promises “Archie and Veronica like you’ve never seen them before” was nominated for Canada’s National Magazine Award in 2017 in the Words and Pictures category.