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 Our URLs are all out of date...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


Intro to Love Love Hill's 2020 comic anthology: BLTease!

Cover Image

Love Love Hill has a fun new comic anthology out called BLTease. This time Linda came up with the concept and did a bang-up job of putting together a fun anthology with an awesome cover! We had a lot of fun discussion about "amazing" tropes that we could write/draw stories about. All the stories are pure in their glasses love and are very happy and feel-good! Linda asked if she could draw my characters on the cover and I said "sure" but I didn't realize that meant they were the ONLY ones on the cover, hahaha. I'm extremely flattered!!!!!!!!!!

I ended up submitting a series of short gag comics that each contained at least 1 trope (if not more). I also wrote about what I left on the cutting room floor here.

Both BLTease and HWA are up for preorder on the Love Love Hill store! Both books were meant to debut at TCAF 2020. It wasn't intentional but our table would've been very full books/comics of guys wear glasses...

Today's music post: With the weather turning for the better, I've kept my window open and have been listening to ambient air and bird sounds :)

Messy story/comic progress

Example of how I come up with story flow and ideas for comics.

Cover Image

I left a whole bunch of story stuff on the cutting room floor for the upcoming BLT anthology. This is likely the most work I've scrapped (30+ pages) in my comic-making life. I have a tendency to just go with my gut on stories pretty quickly.

Some people are really consistent with their story dev process, but I'd say that mine is extremely inconsistent with regards to the format that the very first thoughts/outlines come out as. Sometimes it is purely written, sometimes it is purely thumbnailed, sometimes it's a combination of both. One day I came up with a weird hybrid (below) that is more like a flowchart of plot points (but images are not representative of any panels/layouts). The nice thing about working solo is that you can do whatever seems most natural and least inhibiting of creative flow.

What is consistent however, is that it's generally done at more of an "outline" level, and I don't get into the weeds of details/specifics unless they are extremely relevant.

The setting for the story was heavily inspired by my recent stint living on an island. That's why you see some Princess Sally Island (PSI) and Sam of Few Fables (haha) things at the very top. On the right, I wrote down the tropes that folks suggested to me. Then I drew whatever came to mind; let the story flow from logic and whatever could check off more trope boxes. This was done on an airplane.

Is this considered "visual note taking"? I don't plan things out spatially in a coherent way, so I rely on arrows (often criss-crossing) to tie flow/logic together. Trying to keep my thoughts neat, likely inhibits my creativity.

I also tend to not edit the first iteration over and over again. I move on to the next iteration and make changes there. Below is the rough panel layout and script pass. I went straight from the previous image, on to this.

The story above expands on the first rough flow. There was some strange half-office-drama-half-fantasy-demon plot, where you could unlock demon memories from the past by touching moles and kissing. Completely ridiculous! It took way too many pages to properly set up all the things I needed to for it to be coherent, and I didn't have enough time to finish it before the deadlines, which is why this concept was ultimately scrapped!

I took the existing character designs and repurposed most them for my actual submission. The character designs were also heavily inspired by the island's coat of arms. It's nice having character designs in the same CSP file for quick reference!

Today's music post: LOST ON YOU by Scott Hoying & Mario Jose (LP x HANS ZIMMER Cover). I also like the original by LP a lot as well, but I heard the cover before the original!

Also What Kinda Music by Tom Misch and Yussef Dayes is finally out and it's a great album!

Tropes galore

WIP of my contribution to BLTease.

Cover Image

I drew 12 pages of comic for Love Love Hill's upcoming comic anthology, tentatively named BLT, which could stand for a lot of different things, but to me it signified BL tropes.

Officially I think the anthology is BL and glasses themed! I drew 8-panel comic shorts that when read together, ties the many tropes that I included...together!

All of these characters are very very dum dum. It was fun to draw a lot of funny and weird faces (things I didn't get to do in HWA until Fake appeared). I don't have release information about the anthology yet! TCAF was cancelled, and I'm not sure if FlameCon will still go ahead in August.

Today's music post: Bakamitai [lo-fi remix] by Seventh Sage. This is a karaoke song from the game Yakuza 0, officially sung by Kuroda Takaya (who voices Kiryu Kazama). I'm very proud of myself for convincing 3 different friends to play Yakuza, hahahaha.