When I was paired with Elvin to work on Unstable Foundations, I was really impressed with his work as a designer and with big labels like Marvel. What I was more impressed with was what a joy it was to work with him. Also known as Zero-Point-Five (his Facebook), here’s a look at the artist behind our (and my) first work of partnership in comics.
P/S - I told him to say whatever he needed to say for this interview, given how the both of us have worked together quite a bit for this project.
Congratulations on the launch of Unstable Foundations! We both know that you were recommended to draw for this comic - what was is about the story that drew you to it?
Thank you, I’m happy with another milestone achieved! Funnily enough, I wanted to work on this story because it’s not something I usually do. I’m more familiar with the superhero genre and Unstable Foundations was more of a drama with a historical background and I was interested in doing something different.
How is this different or similar to the previous projects you’ve worked on?
I’m used to the flashier and more action-packed comics of the superhero genre, so when it came to my quieter comics, those were my own stories and it was faster to make decisions on how to tell them. With Unstable Foundations, it was about interpreting the writer’s vision, and knowing how I could add to that vision. I loved the collaboration. It allowed me to question: How could I add to it? How do I respect the author’s perspective and put my own sensibility into it as well? I’d like to think that to some positive extent, the final work was nothing either of us expected and it’s a good thing we has some level of surprising ourselves in spite of being the creators.
What would you say was the main challenge with Unstable Foundation and why?
I think the main challenge for me was time (haha). Not that there wasn’t enough time given to finish the work, but I had a terrible schedule when it started and there were areas where I wish I had more time to explore and improve upon with the comic's writer. That being said, I’m still very proud of the final work. I think we worked on it as best as we could and still pulled off a great story in spite of the obstacles.
We’ve seen your illustrations, comics, and designs in various comics, webpages, and artbooks - is there a particular type of art you find yourself being drawn to?
I’m drawn to anything with a graphic edge… I know that sounds generic so I guess to be specific, the kind of art that really grabs me usually goes from one extreme of minimalism to the other of highly-detailed drawings. It’s all technical but I’m obsessed with silhouettes and tiny details at the same time. So you can see from my illustrations that my focus is usually on a strong shape with intricacy within. I find drawing details very interesting, it really feels like I’m building a little world from scratch. Other than the technical aspect, it’s usually whether the style suits the story that it’s telling. Stories that are personal to me will usually make me attracted to the art.
And who are your influences on them?
Mike Mignola and Leinel Yu for their strong graphic silhouettes and details. There are simply too many artists that inspire me because I love many genres of comics. Adrian Tomine is another writer/artist that I feel I will be influenced by soon.
How has working with comic writers worked for you so far?
Pretty great! Honestly, I still feel like my education is at its infancy but thus far, I’ve been really lucky to be able to work with writers who are highly cooperative and trust me with what I do. I’m looking forward to working with more writers.
What are some tips you have for freelancers or artists working with writers or other creatives?
I would say choose your projects wisely. If it’s a comic, it’s for the long haul so you need to identify with the aspect of the project that attracts you. It sounds silly but you’ll be amazed at how many times I walk into a project without thinking and regretted it later. Haha… If there’s nothing to work with, be it a good writer, a story you’re interested in offering a visual opinion on, or anything something to fuel your interest for the duration of the project, then you’re going to end up with a painful process. And if it’s just for the money, it’s not worth it.
Aside from that, be professional and communicate always. It can seem tiring or minor, but checking with your team member on any concerns or brilliant ideas as often as possible really makes the project smoother. You have to remember it’s a collaboration.
You have fewer than 30 words to promote anything you want - go!
Check out Unstable Foundations now! Haha… Seriously, check it out and give us your thoughts. We would love to hear them. And check out the other titles of COSH studios too!
And finally, any clue on what’s next for you?
Not for the long haul yet… but I’ve been thinking of cleaning up my house, it’s a mess…
… and after that, work on a long overdue personal comic project of mine haha.. Can’t really talk much about it except that it’s a fantasy story and there’s going to be lots of bloodshed (cue dramatic music). Other than that, keep my cats fed.
Drawing on his experiences in film, storyboarding, and cinematic art, Elvin has had work featured in Liquid City (Image Comics) and the comic book miniseries The Drift. You can find his work on Instagram (@elvching) and Facebook (Elvin Ching a.k.a. Zeropointfive)
Unstable Foundations can be found in any major bookstore in Singapore. To find out more about Elvin and the amazing work he does, click here. For more information on COSH Studios and the other comics they’ve published, click here.
When I sit down with a book by Wena, I’m sure that I’ll end up with a bunch of laughs.
My first encounter with “The Adventures of Snow Fox & Sword Girl” was during a performance reading by the author, Wena Poon, herself. Intrigued, I bought the book (together with her other novels out by that time), excited by the prospect of a story rich with adventures and swordfighting.
I was not disappointed.
If there’s one thing I love about Wena’s writing, it’s that it’s bound to entertain.
The first novel of her Hoshimaruhon series (loosely translated to “The Book of the Star Ball”), Snow Fox & Sword Girl introduces us to the Jing and Noh Empires, where the masked Emperor Taliesin of Jing tries to bring the constant war between Jing and Noh to an end with the help of his bodyguard and childhood friend, Sei Shonagon - the best but also the most mysterious swordswoman in all of Jing.
It’s not difficult to like Wena’s storytelling, especially if you’re in to know what happens next. Set up like the liberetto of an opera, each Episode represents a Chapter happening in the midst of the story’s chaotic worlds (physical or spiritual). Wena combines contemporary language with mythical tales to paint a vivid landscape that serves as the background to the hilarious banter between our two main characters.
Be prepared to see the sounds of swords clashing, bells sounding, and waves crashing throughout the voyage. Laugh at (or with) the antics of the young Emperor and his reactions to his dear Sei-kun, with dialogue that wouldn’t feel out of place in an Adults-only Disney Animation Party.
That being said, I’m grateful for my retained fundamental Simple Mandarin reading skills in this book. If anything, the Episode titles and their umm… “Mandarin translation” will set you up for a journey filled with laughs, smiles, tears, and most definitely, adventure.
So now, if you’d excuse me, 我正在修生, 别烦我. (Or translated on Wena’s terms: Self-Cultivation).
For more information on Wena or the Hoshimaruhon, click here.
It’s finally done!
A bit of background - A couple of years back, some veteran comic artists decided to bring in a group of comic artists and writers of various backgrounds to create comics inspired by local heritage. I was partnered with the amazing Elvin Ching, and we both created a comic named, Unstable Foundations - an urban fiction piece about two cousins and one of them testing their brother-sister relationship over the possible map to Yamashita’s Gold, rumoured (at best) to be where the National Gallery of Singapore sits today.
Elv was a total sweetheart to work with, so it gives us great pleasure to give all of you a preview of what this comic has in store:
Our launch happened last week, so stay tuned for my post on the launch and for more tidbits into this collaboration.
Kicking off one of the busiest months on my calendar with a Noir writing challenge. When I got the prompts for this - I immediately went to a piece the Tiger saved for me and decided to enhance it a little more.
Prompts: The Photographer, The Other View
The Perfect Opportunity
The door clicks. The bell rings. You ignore the roar of the teenage wave crashing into the café. Picking at your pastry, you keep the corner of your eye across the road – you waited for the predator.
His wife came to your office when you were closing early.
“Are you Inspector Vass?” she asked.
“Call me ‘Tania’,” you said. You hadn’t heard ‘Inspector’ in a long time.
“How may I help you?” you asked.
“My husband…” she started, and you knew. Contrary to popular belief, there were many uses for people like us in Singapore – background checks, surveillance, missing people – and domestic cases were the necessary evil PIs had to take for survival.
She went on about the messages on his phone, the pictures he did not bother hiding, and the unfamiliar clothes he did not bother explaining anymore. He is influential, she repeated.
“He will leave me destitute if he wants to,” she said. You comforted her, and went through what she brought for you. You skimmed through his schedule, his license plate, and took a long, hard look at his photograph.
He appears. You take care not to look up too eagerly. Surveying, you watch him swagger on the opposite side. Hyenas had no need for appearances, they just hunt, bite, and snatch. With a face and name like that, you don’t need to check your photos to know this was the one.
“Dr. Shaun Tan,” your supervisor said.
That name etched itself as deep as his alleged actions were long. You scoffed at his plea when you opened his file.
“We were in love,” he claimed then.
The professor was caught with his A-Star student and pants down. With nothing to go on then, you snooped around. You spoke – to the university, to his colleagues, to the IT dude, to the girl’s friends, to the girl.
“I don’t see the fuss,” the girl had said, “And we’re not together anymore, please don’t bother me.”
You ignore the messages buzzing in your pocket, your eyes glued as he approaches his prey. You fish your phone out in case it was new information. Nothing. You sneer.
When you got that anonymous tip, you jumped.
‘I can’t say who I am,’ the message said then, ‘But I have something that can help you. I saw something. I hope this helps.’
The letter from Mr. Anonymous made it to court, but it also signed your permanent resignation from civil service. Your source came into question, and Tan countersued for evidence fabrication. You swore seeing a smirk at the corner of his mouth in court. And when you surrendered your badge, news of Tan’s IT serviceman’s death came in. Fell off a bridge after a night of drinking, they said. You knew better.
His prey looks no older than the one you questioned before. Predators hardly change their tastes. However, hands gripping elbows do not speak excitement - she knows she is prey. Regardless, he approaches her, you start snapping.
She backs away, a bruised gazelle. He charges forward, jaws wide, she steps, her face turned away to not show the tears. You click, click, and click. The intervals between each push reducing. You glare - hunting is meant to be swift.
When he reaches for her, you know what will come next. You slip your camera into your pocket, and your ankles are primed for action. Adrenaline courses through your veins as he sinks his claws. She screams. No one reacts.
You remember promising yourself that you would never run head-first into a situation like this the moment they took your badge. You slink out of your seat and sprint, horns pointed and forward.
Some promises are meant to be broken.
Got you, you son of a bitch.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this piece, and stay tuned for more pieces from writing challenges in the upcoming months!
My adventures with in urban speculative fiction.