The Role-Playing Games (RPG) market has been on the incline over the past couple of years - thanks to series like Tabletop, Titansgrave, and Critical Role, the spotlight has returned to the gamers who sit around a table, living out the fantastical lives of their created characters.
Let's start from the top - what triggered the creation of Roleplayers, one of your more prominent titles?
It is all sorts of reasons combined. Firstly, I wanted to make a comic that was interesting to draw. A comic about roleplay gamers had many themes and genres that I could play with. I could draw slice-of-life scenes as well as fantastical scenes. Secondly, I was also into tabletop RPG and board games then so it helped that I was drawing something I was excited about. Thirdly, there isn't much comic content revolving around tabletop RPG so I decided to make a comic about roleplaying and based it on a premise that I myself would've wanted to read - The Big Bang Theory meets Dungeons and Dragons. Whether I had succeeded in capturing or conveying my original vision or not is another discussion.
Roleplayers was released before a surge in popularity of Tabletop games and RPGs in Singapore - How was reception different in the later issues when they were released during a time where analog gaming started to pick up again?
I was not aware that there was a surge in popularity for tabletop gaming between the production and release of Roleplayers. I knew the 5th edition of Dungeons and Dragons came out before Roleplayers but I didn't think many people in Singapore would pick up the game.I still don't think tabletop gaming is popular in Singapore today. I may be wrong and ignorant. Overall, the sales of the title is actually pretty consistent since the release of the first issue. This is especially encouraging for me to learn that units are moving despite a 2 year hiatus for the title with little to no promotion in the 2nd and 3rd year of Irrational Comics. The consistency in sales is a major reason why I decided to work on the title again. In fact, I've just completed issue 7 of the series as of this writing.
After a story arc with Roleplayers, you decided to create Kitsune (another Irrational Comics title) - what prompted the shift?
To be more accurate, after a story arc with Roleplayers, I decided to create two titles, Kitsune: Assassin For Hire and Socute the Corgi, primarily to experiment and test the market/platforms that I am selling my digital comics on. With one title, I would have no other statistics to compare in order to learn how well Roleplayers is actually doing or if there was really a market for the title. I wanted to test what works and what doesn't. Kitsune: Assassin For Hire is a comic for an adult audience while Socute the Corgi is family friendly. Two extremes of the target audience spectrum. I made 5 issues of each title over the course of the year and analysed the results. Roleplayers went on hiatus for me to do this.
I've stopped production of Socute the Corgi and focused on Kitsune: Assassin For Hire to confirm the results. The reality of the situation is that sales will always dictate whether a series survives or not. It costs time and money to make a comic series. If a series isn't selling, there is no way I can keep it in production. Also, it is important for me to state that although a family-friendly kids title such as Socute the Corgi did not work for me, that does not mean family-friendly titles don't sell. There are plenty of family-friendly titles such as Kazu Kibushi's Amulet and Raina Telgemeier's Drama that make hugely wonderful sales.
Now, I am working on Roleplayers and Kitsune: Assassin For Hire.
Roleplayers and Kitsune are rather different comics under Irrational Comics - what were your favourite and most challenging aspects of both?
My favorite aspect of both Roleplayers and Kitsune: Assassin For Hire is drawing the sexy girls! The most challenging aspect for both comics is in the storytelling. It is always a negotiation between sacrificing dynamism for clarity, exposition for fun moments, navigating between plot points, selecting and trimming scenes etc in order to tell a compelling yet visually arresting story. Visual storytelling, the craft of it, is so frustrating but so fulfilling at the same time. I just love it so much.
What would you rather have happen to you? A revenge-filled Dungeon Master or a friendly kill done out of the player's spite?
A friendly kill done out of player's spite. You never asked why so I'm not explaining. (Jo’s Note: DARNIT!)
If anything, what's your go-to race, class, and land in the realms of RPG?
Anything new we can expect from you soon?
Issue 7 of Roleplayers and Issue 11 of Kitsune: Assassin For Hire.
I have 50 words for you to go and promote yourself - Go!
I am Derek Chua. I make comics. You can check them out here: https://irrationalcomics.wordpress.com/comics/. If you want need advice on, or want to talk about the craft of making comics, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you all once again for coming down to take a look. Stay tuned for more talks with storytellers from the APAC region, and do check out Derek’s comics here!
When I first got into the indie publishing / storytelling scene in Singapore, I was bombarded with many new comic titles - Roleplayers (by Derek Chua), Dimsum Warriors (by Colin Goh and Woo YenYen), Charsiew Space series (by Benjamin Chee), just to name a few.
This title, however, got me when I was helping out at one of the first few sales tables during a 24-Hour Comics Day session at LASALLE.
What drew me to this comic was the notion that there was no dialogue throughout the entire book. Good comics often balanced the use of images, colours, characters, settings, and dialogue to tell the full story, so I was intrigued.
The first aspect I noticed was how immersive the comic felt - the details, the clean art, and the panelling all played a part in giving you a glimpse of how the setting was like. After all, the artist had no choice but to show, you can’t “tell the story” with words this time.
With that said, S!LENCE lets you dive into the world Tanky has created - a science fiction, survivalist landscape - with the cover’s character as your guide. A simple story that sets you up with a twist or two, what the artist has done in this case was to keep you flipping to the next page, while letting your imagination fill in the gaps that would otherwise be indicated through text.
Tanky’s S!LENCE is just one of his many works in this particular world, do give this a read if you ever have the chance to purchase any of his works.
Note: S!LENCE is read manga style - the front cover flips right instead of left.
Based in Singapore, Tanky is an illustrator and comic artist. Check out more of his works here.
This is out a little late, mostly thanks to some new stresses from the day job. Nonetheless, we’re pushing on! This month’s writing challenge - ghost stories. Not a huge fan of in-your-face horror, which seems to be the go-to whenever someone mentions ‘ghosts stories’, but let’s see how this goes.
Also, this short piece is for my good friends - Lyn and Raven - thank you for inspiring this story. LOL.
Prompts: Lilies to say goodbye, a needed conversation
Welcome, welcome! You must be here for the open house. You’re five minutes early, so why don’t you have a seat by the flowers while we get you come water.
Allow me to introduce our team - I’m Lily, and my partner here, is Lilly - yes, two Ls. People keep getting us confused, so that’s why she doesn’t talk to interested buyers. But not to worry, you are in safe hands here. Shall we start?
Now, what we have here is a newly-renovated, three-storey, semi-detached unit with a modern facade. The owners are rather keen to sell this place off, something along the lines of needing to find themselves after working to death in the city. Nevertheless, you’ll find that this property will be well worth your money.
This place boasts seven separate rooms, including the balcony with an open bar. Starting here, past the vast living area, you can see the outdoor patio and pool, that can be used for your morning swims and a nightly soak at the jacuzzi corner - the dark marble pool floors and lights do make this area rather romantic in the evenings.
The kitchen is outfitted with your usual fixings - stovetop, oven, microwave oven, a wine cooler, and yes, a walk-in fridge and freezer for all your needs. Huh? What floor entrance? Nah, that’s nothing - probably a floor cooler for more storage. Why is it locked? Well, you have people coming in all the time, you’d want to keep some privacy to yourself, right?
So this is level one, with a guest bathroom, a guest bedroom, and another smaller room at the corner that doubles as a library. You don’t have to fill this place up with books, but that was how the previous owners did up this room - you can also exit from this room, with a hidden door built in just for fun!
Any questions so far? No? Alright then, let’s head up to the upper levels, you can take a look at what the previous owners did to make this place a livable masterpiece.
Starting from the top, here’s their rooftop patio with an open bar and barbeque grill - great for your outdoor parties and such. Hmm? The deadbolt and security cameras? Those are for your safety, can’t have burglars taking advantage of this entrance, can we?
Here’s the Master Bedroom, you have the entire third storey to yourself - great for privacy and space to unwind. That being said, you have to admire the creativity of these owners, building a walk-in on such a small space! They even have a sliding door at the end of the corner for your laundry - convenient, ain’t it?
What do you mean you didn’t recall a laundry area? It’s clearly downstairs, you’ll see.
The second level boasts another two rather spacious bedrooms - for kids, or for entertainment. Hmm? More cameras? Might be a security thing - you can always remove them once you move in. And here… huh? What sound? What murmuring and muffled shouting? It must be your imagination, or the neighbours turning up the TV volume a bit too loudly.
Come on, let me show you the backyard, put your mind at ease.
There, you see? There’s nothing to worry about.
What’s wrong now? That door? That door leads to the library, remember where we saw it first? Huh? What do you mean the library was on the other side of the house?
Oh, you need to go now? Alright then.
Just remember to call us - it’s Lily and Lilly - and this place is getting offers, so remember to contact us soon! You don’t want to be that person.
I hope you’ve enjoyed what I managed to churn out this time - until next month!
My adventures with in urban speculative fiction.