Merel Barends, born 29 January 1980, grew up in a small town on the Veluwe. In 1999 she attended the Utrecht School of the Arts to study Theatre Writing For Performance and Illustrational Design. In creating comics she found the perfect way to merge her two greatest passions, writing and drawing. She combined both disciplines in her graduation project, a graphic short story called 'The Difference Between Hard and Dark'.
Barends now lives and works in Amsterdam as freelance illustrator, comic artist and scriptwriter. Her comics and illustrations have been published in magazines like De Inktpot, Zone5300, De Lijn and Eisner. She also participated in several exhibitions and contributed to the book 'Verbeelde Gedichten' (Atlas, 2009) with an adaptation of the Slauerhoff poem 'De Vluchtelinge'. Her work is often qualified as being somewhat disturbing or even morbid, as she intersperses her stories with imagery of sex and violence. Influences on Barends' comics reach from Art Nouveau and Art Brut to Suehiro Maruo, Mike Diana and Jim Woodring.
In April 2017, Merel Barends participated in Wasco's art project at the WGKunst Gallery in Amsterdam. She and nine other artists worked side by side, both collectively and solo, on the creation of monsters and other gruesome and weird creatures. The result was several paintings, murals, collage artworks, illustrations and comic strips, which were on exhibit at the gallery afterwards. An overview magazine was published as well. The other participating artists were Ge Wasco, Anne Stalinski, Jeroen Funke, Tommy A, Peter de Wit, René Windig, Dace Sietina, Lae Schäfer and Eliane Gerrits.