Comic Book Yeti contributor Alex Breen recently corresponded with A Liang Chan, cartoonist of the upcoming Bulgilhan Press comic Far Distant, to discuss their approach to pacing dream-centric comics, along with highlighting one of the films that inspired Far Distant. Far Distant is currently on Crowdfundr until May 25th and you can back it HERE.
COMIC BOOK YETI: A, thank you for joining me today. First, how would you describe Far Distant to those who haven't seen the campaign page yet?
A LIANG CHAN: Thanks for having me! Far Distant is partly a story about someone at a remote comms station having strange dreams, and partly a self-indulgent experiment in building up a hazy, dream-like mood.
CBY: Keeping things light with spoilers, with Far Distant, I appreciated the mundane being slowly intruded on by this "force" throughout the story. Can you describe your approach to pacing this particular story?
ALC: To start, I had a pretty rough idea for the general structure: alternating scenes of the mundane with dream scenes, with the intervals getting shorter as the comic moved on. I ended up writing down the specific actions or scenes on sticky notes and moving them around a lot to figure out the specific rhythm for that pacing, trying to get that slow, increasing progression you described.
"...The experience, along with getting into Weerasethakul's other films, started making me think more about duration, structure, and how people experience art, and how I could explore those in my own work."
CBY: One thing that stood out to me from the campaign page is the line, "They like stories that feel close to the kinds of emotions you experience when you’ve stayed up a little too late." Are there any movies, video games, or other media that had an impact on you by experiencing them while in that state of mind?
ALC: Early on, while developing this comic, I watched Tropical Malady, directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul. I went in without knowing anything about the director or the film—which accidentally became very resonant when I realized it also involved a strange tiger and how that played out. I also started watching it close to midnight. The second half of the film is essentially a long, mostly dialogue-free journey through a jungle, and it was strange feeling almost trapped with the character as I tried to stay awake. That ended up making the last few scenes feel much more impactful to me. The experience, along with getting into Weerasethakul's other films, started making me think more about duration, structure, and how people experience art, and how I could explore those in my own work.
CBY: As a cartoonist, how would you describe your creative process for Far Distant? Do you approach the visuals or script first?
ALC: I tend to start projects with a combination of writing and loosely gathering inspiration or doing research, which is exactly what happened here. Once I had a general outline, I did an early thumbnail pass to start thinking about what I needed to draw. From there, I jumped between refining the script, doing more detailed thumbnails, and general visual development as I figured out how exactly the story was going to go and how everything would look. Drawing the actual comic takes a while for me because I work slowly, but I definitely spend a lot of time on those development stages untangling the project before I even get to the pages.
CBY: Where can people order a copy of Far Distant? What is the deadline for the campaign?
CBY: Where can people find you on social media?
ALC: In the interest of trying to be less dependent on social media, I have a newsletter that updates roughly every other month. Otherwise, I'm on Twitter and Instagram (and everywhere else) as @formyths, and my personal site is formyths.com.
CBY: A, thank you for your time!