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!
My adventures with in urban speculative fiction.