We meant to hold off on releasing this until closer to TCAF, but my fellow contributors Ittybeatty and Powerswithin were very hype about the fact that it is Majima Goro's birthday today (May 14), so here's the FREE digital version!

92p b/w comics, illustration, and writing. Autobio x yakuza headcanons!

Hope it makes you laugh and gives you good feelings (and makes you want to play more Yakuza). We had a really good time making it. It could've been so much longer, but space time continuum is a thing. We talk about Yakuza so much in private conversations, so some of those moments are aired out in the zine.

A small handful of the printed copies will still be available at TCAF 2022! These ones are lovingly printed and handbound by the always skilled Wai/belugachop. I tried to get her to play Yakuza too but I think her computer was dying ;_;

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On the topic of Yakuza, Bea found a wholesome video about ex-Yakuza starting an udon noodle shop from NHK World ;_;. Same essence.

Yakuzine WIP

About the upcoming Yakuzine (Yakuza/Ryu ga Gotoku zine) feat. Dirchansky, Powerswithin, and Ittybeatty.

Yakuzine! Our Yakuza / Ryu ga Gotoku (game) fanzine—it's coming along!

Here's a bit of a preview.

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It's a monster at ~90 pages and still a lot of placeholders that need to be replaced/refined. Will feature myself, Powerswithin, and Ittybeatty. It's an interesting project because it's both autobio / not autobio and varying degrees of scrappy. There are a lot of short silly comics. WEIRD stuff. Regardless, it really demonstrates our feelings and love for the characters/series!

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The digital version will be free to read while the printed version will be super limited (it's the Kiwami / Kami-edition) and available at TCAF/Love Love Hill for a short period. Release date is mid-June, in time for TCAF!

Been posting some personal previews on Masto with #yakuzine tag!

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Today's music post: Fang Marked Viper from Yakuza 4 OST.

I mentioned back in Oct 2021 (6 months ago) that I uploaded HWA to Webtoons and Tapas, so I thought I'd revisit and share the "fruits" of those labours, or accurately, the lack of fruits, haha—BUT I put zero effort into promoting/driving traffic to either of these places, since I rather people read on my website. So the stats are 99% based on people stumbling finding my comic on their own via the webtoon/tapas websites.

Webtoons

  • Views (across 12 chapters): 1055
  • Hearts (across 12 chapters): 44
  • Subscribers: 30
  • Comments: 5 ( Webtoon's lack of comment notification is a grand oversight)
  • Rating: 10 (IDK what this means since the rating is out of 5 stars)

Tapas

  • Views (across 12 chapters): 119
  • Hearts (across 12 chapters): 11, but I consider this to be outlier data because I'm 99% certain someone did it because I answered their question on the forum
  • Subscribers: 3
  • Comments: 0

My website itself has no stats so IDK how this compares, but I'm ultimately fine with this. I didn't want to get mega popular, just wanted to maybe find a small handful of people at most!

Itch / Tie the Knot

Itch isn't comparable to webtoon/tapas at all, but the closest comparison I have is my 18+ short comic that's up on there, Tie the Knot, which also features HWA characters. It's also not something I promote much at all, so majority of the traffic is through itch itself.

  • Page views: ~228
  • Downloads: ~90

Itch / Come for a Drink

Come for a Drink (the game) gets a bunch of mysterious traffic and has been around for wayyy longer (4 years). I do link to the game directly from my main website. My eyeballs always want to fall out of their sockets when I think of anyone dedicating hard drive space to this silly game and/or the zine.

  • Page views: ~1465
  • Downloads (across game/zine): ~288

Just some notes for anyone who is interested in these platforms, which already have a lot of great stuff on them! Tagging makes a big difference and so does being free (on itch). I personally have a lot of weird internalized issues with tagging my creations. I know the tags that will make people interested and/or make the stuff findable, but sometimes I feel like I don't want to use them as labels for my own stuff.

All these platforms' SEO game is stronger than my personal website too. I can't see myself expanding beyond these platforms unless one of them does something terrible. Basking in my weird little corner on the internet.

I scrounged up the courage to apply to Sloane Leong's Inkshrines webring! You can find some other comic creators on there too~


Today's music post: Someone already did a mashup ofr 4*Town's Nobody Like U x Ariana Grande's Focus

Edited these from some forum replies I wrote.

On starting creating original work

  • I'm self-indulgent⁠—I make stuff for myself, first and foremost (e.g., include possums in everything).
  • Making is hard, so I try make it worthwhile⁠—I include stuff that I look forward to writing/drawing that has some mental/emotional pay off (e.g., chance to draw a really funny scene or reaction).
  • I'm ok if nobody reads/sees my work, because the desire/need came from a place of satisfying myself⁠—not everything has to be seen by others, nor do I require my work to go viral or be monetized (this isn't true of everyone!).
  • I mostly look at my own website as record keeping/archive of my own work that is superior to just files on my hard drive—I post stuff online in the odd chance that someone else might appreciate/enjoy or be inspired to take the plunge and start making for themselves too.
  • Not every story has to be mega awesome innovative unique new amazing earth-shattering groundbreaking⁠—my most "popular" comics seem to be the extremely poorly drawn autobio ones.
  • I consider every piece and the process of creating it, to be practice—they'll never be perfect, and aren't meant to be anyway.

IMO it's healthy to not strive for best/perfection based on some vague, external standard—especially in comics (in an artwork context), where an average reader is going to look at a panel for a few seconds and move on. Folks talk about only having one or two "really good" panels on a page, and having mediocre panels as filler. Mediocrity can be great and wonderful. Mediocrity will save you from carpal tunnel. I do my best given the time/energy/effort that I have. When I was working full time, I did my best in the little hours I had left, but ultimately my goal was to complete the story, rather than to perfect every drawing in every panel.

I sometimes use the analogy of "levelling up stats in a RPG"—you can put all your points into a single attribute, or spread them across different attributes! Both are valuable in different contexts. Time/energy is finite, and I will never be the person who is going to be the most amazing at only X, because I'm also spending time developing A, B, C, and D (for me, ABCD are not even comics related).

On being your own worst critic

I like to share Ira Glass's words about the "taste gap" (the gap between your taste, and your skill) because it rings true for me. I've been drawing/making comics (spotily!) for 20+ years and only now is the taste/skill gap starting to become smaller. Though as one improves in skill, your taste also inevitably improves, so it's always a moving target.

I'm fairly neutral about my art (specifically, what's drawn in panels)—well, unless it's animal comics (which I love)—but I'm passionate about my characters, story, communication, and the medium. Art is only one facet of a comic. My focus for the past few years has been how to communicate clearly instead of how do I try to make {art/drawing in panel} looks {arbitrarily good with regards to whatever standard you're deciding upon}.

These days, I can usually find something I like about my art. Being nice to myself and complimenting myself is a deliberate action that I have to build into my life—it's way too easy to get trapped in only having negative feelings about my own work.

On plot point churn

Again, this is written from the my POV where my objectives are to balance the time/energy that I have to put towards getting my creative work out the door.

IMO as long as the choice made serves the plot or drives the characters forward in some way, it's a good choice. Sometimes choice A and B can lead me to the same impact/result. I personally don't think a perfect choice exists. Nobody will see my choices unless I make the comic!

Choices worth getting stuck on

It's easy to get stuck on choices/plot points that don't necessarily have a huge bearing on the character/plot line, so I spend my time on the ones that do. Philip Pullman has a series of essays compiled in Daemon Voices (on stories and storytelling). He uses an analogy that every possibility (phase space) within a story is the forest and it's the creator's duty to create and stay on a path. I like the analogy because its reminds me to not spend too much time off in the forest, unless it's part of my path.

PS: I sometimes make some story choices for totally shallow, non-plot-relevant reasons, and build rationale from there, haha.

Exploring choices

My first writing passes are always unrestricted/unedited/unfiltered—pen to paper flow of consciousness. After the first pass of what I'd describe as absolute word vomit I take the stuff that seems interesting or that dovetails well with what I'm trying to communicate, and continue to select and then pare down. It's OK to have divergent thinking (good practice to at least explore a few options), but at some point, I need to converge and commit.

Sometimes I put a constraint on myself to make choices less daunting—for example:

  • Explore 3 different types of choices/paths for {this point in the story}.
  • Explore these paths at an overview/outline level (e.g., what are the key actions/events that trickle down from this choice/path that I'm exploring), not at a detailed level.

As long as the choice works in the context of the story/characters and there is some rationale for the choice, then it's good. IMO, bad choices are the ones that takes a reader out of the world I've created. Ones that seem awkward/odd/inconceivable given the context, that a reader notices it.

On romance

HWA arc 1 was ROMANCE so indeed I think a lot about romance. Sometimes it can be totally shallow and indulgent, and other times it can be very deep and meaningful. Everyone has different combinations of tastes.

HWA's romance required believable chemistry and some emotional connection and commitment in a relationship. To build that, I thought about:

  • Who are these characters and why would they even be interested in a relationship/romance? What are they hoping to get out of a relationship?
  • How do they first notice their feelings? Is it sudden and strong, or slow and gradual?
  • What are their opinions/beliefs about friendship vs. romantic vs. physical relationships?
  • How are they different? How do they complement each other?
  • What do they like about each other?
  • What do they like (less) or dislike about each other?
  • Why would these character get together and/or stay together (in the short and/or long run)?
  • How will they grow/change as individuals and as a unit?
  • What happens to the rest of their social circle(s)? Do they combine/never overlap?
  • Are they the kind of couple that neglects their friends to hang out with just each other?
  • Etc.

Within HWA I have only scratched the surface of J/A romance and I have 1000129019012901283 other stories underneath that dig into their relationship deeper.


When creating stories, the thing that I ask myself the most is why over and over again re: what I'm doing, what my characters are doing, etc. This form of investigation of actions/behaviours/mental model, borrows from Five Whys and Ladders of Inference. Indeed, if you asked me "why did your character do X" I could probably give you a deeply rooted rationale for it—however, that doesn't mean that anything I make is necessarily better than anyone else's stories or characters. It's just my own way of understand who my characters are and why they show up in the worlds I make, the way they do.


Today's music post: nine lives by maassai

I am tickled by the fact that the western world is getting mass exposure to chinese fantasy through xianxia/仙俠! For a long time I had no idea why people were all suddenly drawing a lot of characters with hanfu. Though I still haven't read/watched any of the stuff that's popular right now. Xian/仙-wise, the closest thing I've probably touched is...Houshin Engi/封神演義 (or Investiture of the Gods/封神榜) and Journey to the West/西遊記.

Most of my exposure is to Wuxia genre instead, which is why we made Martial Spirit in 2017. Book design is something I do every now and then for Love Love Hill, but I extra enjoyed it for Martial Spirit in particular. Adding in crumpled tracing/rice paper (until I ran out) as interior accent, thread stitch binding (until I ran out again), Wai's lovely screenprint of the cover, red risograph ink emulating red chop/stamp seal, the mutual inspiration from multiple generations of Condor Heroes and Bao Ching Tien between Wai/myself/Kage...chef's kiss.

And so, a trip down memory lane...

Rough digital sketch Very rough digital sketch for the cover of Martial Spirit

Somewhat more refined digital sketch. This was printed and then inked IRL with a lightbox. Rough digital sketch for the cover of Martial Spirit

Scanned image of the main lines, inked with brush pen. Inked cover of Martial Spirit.

At some point I must've scanned in other brush/wash-related textures. It's definitely a mix of scanned analog and digital textures. Washes and inks for cover of Martial Spirit.

Wai suggested that the cover would be screen printed on a gray/brown textured stock, so figuring out ink separation and effects here. Image description

Added title and book information text. Image description

The IRL screenprinted version Wai did amazing~ Photo of the screenprinted cover of Martial Spirit by Wai

Some interior touches~a rooster for 2017. Our URLs are all out of date... Photo of some of the interior design elements of Martial Spirit pages, showing red risograph ink, etc.


Today's music rec: 神話.情話 by 周華健/Wakin Chau and 齊豫/Chyi Yu. This song is from the 1995 神鵰俠侶 Return of the condor heroes (cantonese version). There's also a mandarin version (天下有情人). I always feel mind boggled at how the lyrics are changed between canto/mando and still performed equally flawlessly.

I get goosebumps every time I hear this song. Something about the magical-ness and perfect male/female vocal harmonies that I feel go really well with the taboo relationship in condor heroes between the main characters. ALSO WTF THERE IS A 2021 LIVE VERSION!!!!!!! Though I don't think it sounds as ancient/magical as the original hahaha. More modern instrumentation and less reverb. ALSO just found this cover by Hacken Lee (李克勤) and Zhou Shen 周深 with shocked Wakin Chau in the judge seat...!