Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Joanne Kwan Interview

Photo Content from Joanne Kwan

Joanne Kwan is a freelance graphic artist and illustrator who also makes her own webcomics.
Greatest thing you learned at school.
How to use Photoshop! It’s been my primary drawing program for over 10 years!

When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
I’ve always told stories for as long as I could remember, even when I was a little kid, with my stuffed animals or with my rudimentary drawing skills. It was not until I graduated college and had trouble finding a job that I decided to make my foray into having an online presence and producing content for the public.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Honestly it’s just been reading the reader comments that show their genuine interest and excitement in my work.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
Right now I have a few projects going on, Demon House, Heavy Horns, Sarota Springs, and a new webnovel Secunda. Those only comprise the tip of the iceberg however as I have plenty more in development! Each project has a unique flavor and is unlike the one before it. It keeps my mind from getting bored. But if I go in and talk about each of them we will be here for a while, haha!

If you could work for anyone you choose, who would it be?
I actually don’t think I could work exclusively for one employer. I enjoy the freedom of freelancing. My dream would be to get some contracted work for small side projects from companies that produce work I admire.

What is the first job you have had? 
I was an extra in a cancelled TV show called Trauma. I played a waitress and in the episode you could see my back and my tiny head peering from a crowd that gathered around an emergency.

What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning? 
What time is it? Haha!

What is your most memorable travel experience? 
I have a lot as I used to travel a lot with my family! But I think the trip that stuck out most was one I took with my professor and the class assistant to Dimen, China on a research grant. It was the first trip I ever took without having a family member with me and to a rural village in the mountains of a country where I can’t speak the language no less! I was there for three weeks and it was entirely removed from all the things I’m used to at home and amenities I would have from my usual vacations. 

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before? 
To me heart break can mean death and I wouldn’t want to wish that on anyone, so I would rather have never loved before. I can get by with the support of friends and family.

What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager? 
I’m quite happy to have been a teen in the 2000’s. I feel like it was the perfect time to still be connected to physical in-world experiences as well as the emerging internet. 

What do you usually think about right before falling asleep? 
Mostly I think about my stories, if I’m stuck developing a scene I try and think about that scene after I’ve left my computer. Sometimes solutions come to me.

If you had to go back in time and change one thing, if you HAD to, even if you had “no regrets” what would it be? 
I would start posting my work online earlier, at the start of college. Many successful artists establish themselves fairly early on. I wonder how far I could have made it if I just started earlier.

I must say that my favorite scenes are those that hint at something deeper about a character. I enjoy sprinkling them into my works. Since I’m not writing total exposés on each character, these moments can reveal that there is definitely more to a character than I have time to delve into. I think readers appreciate that. 

  • 1. The protagonist Tula is based on a personal friend of mine. I admire her general positivity and optimism and sought to capture that in Tula.
  • 2. I actually started this series with doodles of the two big demons, Fawn and Haxan. It was around October years ago and lots of people had demon drawings up. I thought I’d make my own. So initially I only had characters, the plot and story premise came a few months after.
  • 3. The first comics I made when I began investing in my internet presence were short Dragon Age fan-comics.
  • 4. Growing up in the Bay Area of Northern California, I was exposed to a diverse population. I try to get that across with my stories set in contemporary times.
  • 5. The first iteration I drew of Tula had long hair. I decided to trim it because I thought it fit her bouncy personality better.
  • 6. For their second semester in college, there was supposed to be a threat of a school shooting, but I thought that was too heavy and real what with the times we’re living in so I scrapped it.
  • 7. Tula is pansexual and Lux is nonbinary and prefers they/them pronouns. Thought I’d get that out there since a lot of people ask, haha.
  • 8. My angel designs were inspired by Peter Mohrbacher’s angelarium and Hiroyuki Takei’s angels in Shaman King. Also wanted to get that out there since a lot of people ask.
  • 9. Trey is un-ironically a dumb blonde.
  • 10. Each demon in the house is based on a deadly sin. Haxan: wrath, Fawn: envy, Rasmus: greed, Nimmy: gluttony, Padda: sloth, Lux: lust, Kitty: pride.
Tula Ocampo, the Filipina protagonist of the story is an optimistic, bubbly girl. Even demons can’t get her down. She’s a bit of a bigger girl, with a flouncy bob cut and winning smile. She’s going through her senior year of college and renting out a one bed, one bath house. She has to put up with her demonic roommates but rises to the occasion.

Haxan, one of the main demons of the house, he’s your typical stand-offish tough guy. Imposing with his snake-headed tail, gray skin, pointed bone jaw, open spinal column, fiery gold eyes and red sclera, searing red hair, and a single large horn sprouting from his forehead. Less imposing with his black feathered bottom half and red avian legs. He’s the most mysterious of the bunch of demons as no one, not even himself know of his origins (just yet!). 

Fawn, the other main demon, is aloof, cold, but genuinely caring. Her red skin (covered with a fine red fuzz) contrasts with her long bright silver hair tied to one of her jaw horns. Her gaze is intimidating with icy blue irises and black sclera, but she is softened by the splashes of white freckles over her nose and collarbone. Black bony protrusions accent areas of her body, in particular her jawed breasts. She oversees the weaker demons like a big sister.

I first started posting Demon House on tumblr in 2015 and then I remembered a webcomic site (Tapastic at the time) my friend had told me about a few years before in college. So I started mirroring there a couple months after. And then it just went off I suppose. My family and friends were generally supportive, but not overly so; webcomics aren’t quite there thing so I don’t hold anything against them. But the best part about posting on a week to week basis is getting the immediate feedback from readers through likes and comments. It makes my day to know people are enjoying my work.

I get a lot of inspiration from things I come across every day, be they movies, interesting people on the street, or a neat town I pass through. They often evoke feelings I find pleasant and want to capture in my work. But overall I tend to gravitate to stories that focus more on character development than say action or grand plots. It’s easier for me to write for one so most of my series end up being slice-of-lifes, romances, or dramas primarily. Settings are secondary to my story development after themes, but you can usually expect either contemporary or historical settings with zero or light fantasy elements.

About historical settings, I quite enjoy doing research for them; even if they are in a fantasy world I always base them in reality. As a history minor I delight in learning random tidbits, and I’m always on the lookout for anachronisms. So you can find me looking up the origin of a colloquial phrase to know if my characters would have actually used it. Contemporary settings are easy enough, so the challenge of historical stories keep my brain in shape.

Lastly one of my quirks is I have a folded towel on my desk that I rest my left elbow on. Before, my elbow would rest on the wooden surface and ache after an hour of drawing or typing. So I improvised this pad.
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1 comment:

  1. Great interview. It was nice to take a peek at the "art behind the scenes." Best of luck to Ms. Kwan in her publishing journey!