Martial Spirit

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 Our URLs are all out of date...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...!