Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year 2017!

2016 has been a very tough year for me because I underestimated the time required to finish my second book and the financial stress affected my health greatly. I am glad the book was done and conventions were over, so I have some vitamin M to feel less stressed and improve my health. I also finally cleared the debt I took to self-publish my first book 3 years ago and resumed taking in commission work again. Therefore I am very sorry that I don't have time to do the colorful weekly comic strips and kept on uploading the black and white ones...

I am now planning for the 3rd book: Eva, Kopi and Matcha 2, which is a compilation of the comparison comic strips with more countries: US, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia. I was debating if I should do a kickstarter because the current arrangment with my publisher is to contra my rotalties (in depreicating Malaysian ringgit) and use it to buy back books at a discount to sell by myself in Singapore. It's quite troublesome with more and more books to lug around and I don't have a car nor partner to help me (uber, grab, gogovan and lalamove all costs money). I do sell online but orders were bleh because of the high postage cost and I cannot list below the bookstore retail price. The returns don't quite justify the 7-8 months of hardwork, though I did use the books to get a few commercial deals.

I am not sure if you noticed, but I'm running out of comparisons. After all, I have been drawing this topic for 4 years and no longer living in Japan. So I am also stopping this series after I finish 3-4 more strips for the book. I'm currently uncertain what will continue, it could be daily life, yoga , artist life or about business setting (cross cultural communication). I am always inspired by Peanuts (Snoopy and Charlie Brown) and Dilbert, so the new comic strips could be along this line, or trial and error on a wide range of topics to see which one is more popular. I was even thinking of doing a non-fiction book about my cursed publishing experience, and see if it will do better than my comic books (because many bookstores don't support comic books that are not their own brand).

Anyway whatever happen, I am very thankful to you who are still sticking around and to fans who bought my books and supporting me on Patreon!

Last but not least, wishing everyone "pecked" with good luck, wealth, love and good heath (very important) in the year of the rooster 2017!!!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Evacomics as VIP at Comic Fiesta, KL 2016

It was my privilege to be invited as guest speaker for Comic Fiesta! I had an event on Saturday so I could only join the convention on Sunday.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Visit Tohoku Japan seminar: the Four Seasons and Driving

I was invited back to the Japan Rail Cafe last Saturday (17th Dec) to learn more about Tohoku region and car rental! This time the speaker is a very well-travelled lady, Jane Tsuchihashi, from Malaysia but married to a Japanese. She travels frequently between Singapore and Japan, and often drives around herself, so she is very knowledgeable about Tohoku and driving routes.

Tohoku literally means North-east and it consists of 6 prefectures: Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Akita, Yamagata and Fukushima. Niigata is commonly regarded as part of Chubu (Central region) but is closely linked to Tohoku transportation system. For my full introduction of Tohoku, you can read my earlier blog post here.

JR TOMATO LAND Live Tour (sponsored by Norinchukin Bank)
The seminar started off with an introduction of JR Tomatoland at Iwaki city, Fukushima prefecture. We connected with them via live video to watch how they pick tomatoes. Unlike other farms, you can just drop in anytime to pick tomatoes yourself!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Comics: Arguments

There are many people who are arrogant and rude that no matter what you say is useless (for example gathering what they read online VS what a doctor told you...). I used to argue back when I was younger but now that I'm so busy, I no longer bother anymore and just walk away, after all it's a waste of time arguing with these people.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Cheap and scenic travel to Tohoku region, Japan

I was invited to attend Tohoku Japan seminar organised by Tohoku Tourism x JAPAN RAIL CAFE. The seminar was shared by Hungry Bird (on my left) on her travel experience to Tohoku held at the newly opened cafe last saturday. Despite living in Japan for 3.5 years, I have never visited Tohoku because when my scholarship wanted to do a study trip there, I fell ill and couldn't go 😭...

About Tohoku
Tohoku literally means North-east and it consists of 6 prefectures: Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Akita, Yamagata and Fukushima. Although Niigata is commonly regarded as part of Chubu (central) region, its transportation is closely tied to Tohoku so I will introduce it as well.

Getting There

There is no direct flight from Singapore to this region, so the best way is to fly to Tokyo and then take the Shinkansen (bullet train) up. Foreigners can purchase a JR East (Tohoku) pass for SG$250 that allows unlimited rides on JR lines and Shinkansen for any 5 days within 14 days of purchase. However to travel to Niigata, a separate JR East (Nagano+Niigata) pass is required. You can purchase these passes from Japan Rail Cafe!

Why Tohoku?

  • CHEAP! According to Hungry Bird, Tohoku is not as densely populated as other regions so this means everything is not as expensive as Tokyo!😍
  • PEACEFUL! Less populated means you don't have to compete with anyone to get your best scenic shot like other tourist locations! Yes you know what I mean when you want to take a photo of that beautiful temple or scenery but people just kept on flooding into the picture...
  • BEAUTIFUL NATURE! Because of the sparse population, much of the natural landscape is untouched.
  • RICH CULTURE! There are some spectacular festivals held annually with its tradition passed down for many generations.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Comics: Getting old...er....

I'm not sure if it's different with people at the other side of the globe... But I can no longer drink cold drinks because it irritates my sensitive nose and makes recovery from cold/flu impossible. How about you, is there something that you can no longer eat/drink as much?

Evacomics at EOY Cosplay Festival 2016

Because I thought I wasn't getting a booth at AFA, I applied for a booth at EOY. When I first came back from Japan, I was offered a table to sell my artwork so I was interested to know if it's going to be different after 3 years. (Blogged about it here)

Monday, December 5, 2016

Comics: Using Wet Napkins

Something I noticed when I was living in Japan is the way people use wet napkins. In Japan, they use it before a meal to kill of germs and bacteria before eating but in Singapore, we use it after a meal to clean off food remnants. So how about you? Do you use it before or after or not at all?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Monday, November 28, 2016

Comics: Behind the scenes part 3

Some people asked me if I earn more from selling books myself or at bookstores. Although I earn less selling at bookstores per book, but if it sells well, there is a chance of getting it recognised and moved to better shelf locations where more people will notice it. There's also a misunderstanding that once a book is published, it can be found all over the world, but it really depends on the foreign bookstore's order and whether or not the distributor can send the books overseas. At the end of the day somebody has to pay for the shipping first...

Monday, November 21, 2016

Comics: Behind the scenes part 2

So actually when I first made them, there were 100 pcs only and it was easy to clear. I also found them adorable. But when the second batch of 500pcs came I went crazy and didn't want to see them anymore... It was a storage and logistics nightmare. I had to collect them from my fan's office, then consolidate with the books from another place before transporting them over to the retail shop warehouse. Each trip had to be well-coordinated to save on the uber/grabtaxi ride and reduce the number of cats I had to keep in my room (my sister/owner doesn't like me put anything outside of my room). The cats were stored in those dubious looking rucksacks that makes the drivers suspicious if I was transporting a dead body or something heavy and illegal...

Finally after more than a year... they are getting sold out on my side and left with stock at the retail stores :))))
One of the frustration was when I had plenty of stock, I had to beg people to buy... but once I was left with a few or sold out, many people would come and wonder if they could buy it... ... This happens every single time when I have booth...  (=___________=);;



It has been tough doing books but whenever I see people excited or happy reading them I feel satisfied. Unfortunately bookstores big and small had not been supportive due to priorities given to their own in-house exclusive comic books. So although I have many fans telling me they liked the second book better, the sales return had not been great to pay off for the 7-8 months of hard work.

The  traditional sales route is hindered by bookstore politics and I can't be buying back hundreds of books for each new release and trolleying them around to sell... Both my mind and body will be drained and this not only affects my health, but also my creative work. Therefore the 3rd book will be done differently to minimise the financial risk. Yes, I'm planning it to be done via crowd-funding and will start working on the book early next year, hope everyone will support!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Monday, November 14, 2016

Comics: Difference between Presidential elections


Actually I don't care about the race or religion of our president, as long as he is kind, sincere, respects all people, knowledgeable and a gentleman that can represent our country well in foreign affairs.

Sorry for anyone from other races who were intending to run for president...

Monday, November 7, 2016

Comics: Behind the scenes part 1

Here are a few comic strips to let readers understand what actually goes behind the scenes. Like other Asian parents, mine also discourages me from doing my comics seeing how unstable my income is and hope that I quit soon and go back to a full-time job...

When I had a full-time job, I always buy branded leather bags and could afford to go high tea. But as an entrepreneur selling own books and goods, I had to take a huge pay cut and buy plastic bags for my booths. Frankly speaking I don't miss the branded bags because the cost of maintainence (from the mold) is too high!

A certain frustration I shared with other comic artists is that when our "fans" requested us to make certain goods, we thought that they will buy when we make it. But after we make it, they DON'T! Then we have to spend a lot of time and effort (not forgetting storage too) to sell the products. So it's likely I won't be having anymore toys and shirts in the future unless a retail store is willing to partner with me to take care of the storage and logistics.

So yes, that is the end of part1. Hope you sort of get the idea about the behind of scenes of what we do so please support my upcoming events and online shop, thank you! (Oh yes and Patreon too for exclusive look at my sketches)

Monday, October 24, 2016

Comics: Networking Parties

It's common that whenever you go to a Japanese networking party, people will be busy bowing and exchanging name cards instead of touching the food. That's because Japanese feel obliged to work first as they represent their companies. However for Singaporeans, we usually don't care about work and dive straight into the buffet first. We only network with a plate full of food in our hands :)

Monday, October 17, 2016

Comics: Toilets

The toilets are always wet in Malaysia and there's always no toilet papers. I wonder when bidets can be installed...

Monday, October 10, 2016

Comics: VAT/GST on Books

I was surprised to learn that books are tax-free in Malaysia. I think this is a very good policy to encourage more people to buy and read books, so authors can earn more. When authors earn more, they can create more books that people can learn and enjoy. I wonder if Singapore can adopt this policy too to encourage more people to read because as you know, most people nowadays prefer playing games or simply visiting you-know-which-blogs for gossips. What happened to the book-reading culture (if any) in Singapore? So how is your book reading culture in your country? Are people still buying books?

P.S. This comic was conceptualised together with last week's comic, I'm very fair ok! ;)

Monday, October 3, 2016

Comics: Immigration Customs

I'm not sure why but whenever I enter or leave Malaysia, the custom is always slack at one point. The custom officer was either playing mobile game and ignoring me when I was standing in front of her to check my passport (I could totally just walk through without people stopping me), or a bunch of officers were eating snacks while baggages went through the scan (I could put Samsung Note7 inside!).

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Book Talk and Signing at Kinokuniya, Takashimaya (24 Sep 2016)

I was very happy to return to Kinokuniya again after 2 years at its new location! I reached there early to display my prize giveaway: Matcha cat cushion and sticker sheets. Some of my friends reached there early so I asked them to help me take some photos and do FB Live video broadcast later.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Comics: Haircut

Seriously it's really difficult to maintain a neat hairdo with natural curls. It always look nice after a haircut but it will totally mess up the next day...

Monday, September 19, 2016

Comics: Seven Wonders of Japanese

1. Spend 2 hours on Natural Makeup.
The end result usually looks effortless, from makeup to neat curls on the hair... I wonder what time they have to wake up to do all that before going to work or shop...

2. Not appear sweaty in suits during summer.
Maybe that's why they are likely to get heat stroke during summer because they sweat less? You never hear people from South East Asia fainting or dying from heat in Japan.

3. Drink lots of beer but not look fat.
Maybe because they need to climb a lot of stairs at the train station? Or it could be the small servings or less oil in cooking? Hmm...

4. Look like 30s in their 40s.
Must be something in the skincare and UV protection suit gear.

5. Means "No" even when they said "Yes".
Based on true story from an air stewardess fan who tried to get a Japanese girl's phone number. In the end she did not answer his calls or said she's busy all the time.

6. Always in orderly manner.
Even during disaster, they always queue up to get their rations.

7. Provide good service without charging for it.
Unlike many countries who charge for service and doesn't provide any...

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Should you self-publish or sign on with a publisher

(Left: My first book that I self-published, right: my second book with a publisher)

Many budding authors feedback to me that they found my article: "9 Important Lessons learnt on self-publishing in Singapore" very useful, so I am writing another one for authors who are wondering if they should self-publish or sign a contract with a publisher. After experiencing both sides, I would like to put together the pro and con of each side and share with you what I went through so you can decide for yourself which path to take.

Self Publishing
Pro:

  • You can control everything from the content to the pricing of your book.
  • Higher profit margin if your book cost is low.
  • Retain full copyright to sell to other publishers in various countries, including selling on Amazon.com and publish in any eBook format.

Con:

  • You bear the cost of all production, including reprints.
  • You have to store the rest of the books that your distributor did not take and try your blardy best to clear them.
  • Distributor may under-estimate your sales and it is up to you to check stock at each bookstore chain and pester them relentlessly for payment. Yes, that includes countless emails, messages and phone calls over several months before they give in and have your money back (usually more than a year had passed).
  • Unless you are a celebrity or have a proven track record of darn good sales, your book will most likely be placed somewhere at the bottom of a god-knows-where shelf.


Signing with a Publisher
Pro:

  • You do not have to pay for anything to get your book published.
  • You do not have to store any books, unless you buy back at a discounted rate from publisher to sell on your own.
  • You may receive an advance royalty so you can stop starving...
  • Someone will chase the distributor for payment so you can stop hunting them down on your own.
  • A better image because publishers do not take in any work. Your work has to be good enough for them to invest in the time and money.
  • Your book may have a better shelf placement if your publisher has a good relationship with the bookstore. There are cases where books just flew off the shelf because they were placed in prime locations (such as cover facing up at eye-level, or at the "Top Recommendation" shelves).
  • Somebody to blame if there is a spelling or grammar mistake...

Con:

  • Depending on your publisher, you may have very little say over what to include or exclude in your book. 
  • Surrender of partial/full rights (depending on contract and negotiation). Most publishers will demand worldwide or exclusive rights to your book whenever they can. Sometimes exclusive contracts work well as the publisher and bookstore do their best to sell your books by placing them at prime locations, which means a higher chance of selling out. However sometimes it may backfire if there is a foreign publisher interested to translate your work but you already signed off all the rights to your original publisher. 
  • Low returns per book sold. Royalty rate can be anywhere between 6-10%. This means if your book is priced at $15, you only earn $1.50 when a book is sold. So if you sold 2,000 copies, you only get back $3,000 for that several months of hard work. Payout of royalties only happen once a year so remember to get an Advance before you turn into a skeleton.

Conclusion
We usually choose self-publish if no publishers are interested, or we want to retain full rights and control over our creative work. Some publishers are well connected and may get you to appear at certain fairs or festivals. But if you are equally well-connected, this will not matter much.

The main advantage of going into an exclusive contract with a publisher is that they and the bookstores will work together to place your books in extremely good shelf locations. I have seen many authors with lesser FB Likes than mine but sold more than 10,000 copies (yes, much more than mine), just because their books are placed at eye-catching places.

However, if you are expecting future growth to global audience, this contract will backfire because you won't be able to sign contracts with foreign publishers yourself and publish eBooks in Kindle or iBook format. You will also be unable to sell your own books during conventions. Therefore you might want to negotiate with your publisher to sign into a non-exclusive contract whereby they have exclusive rights to certain countries/region and you have the freedom to sell to the rest of the world or in other eBook format. Of course, if you don't intend to sell your own goods (together with your book), or if you don't mind giving up your creative freedom and don't want to deal with any book sales, then going exclusive may be right for you.

I hope my article had been useful to any aspiring and budding authors/artists out there. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below and I will usually reply within a day or two. Good luck! :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Eva Goes Solo book signing trip to KL 10-11 Sep 2016

Day One: 
Cooler Lumpur Festival
I was honoured to be invited to this independent literature festival for a panel discussion with famous Malaysian comic artist and doodler Chee Ming Boey. I also got to meet my publisher and editor for the first time!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Comics: Travel Woes

I'm one of those who cannot sleep well on another bed so it's quite a torture at night when I'm on a holiday or work trip... But I never have any problems with passing motion every morning unlike whoever was sharing room with me... XD

How about you, do you have any difficulties that only happen when you travel?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Designing the book cover

After a few rounds of brainstorming for the title, my publisher narrowed down to this one: "EVA GOES SOLO". No, not the Solo in Indonesia but solo as in alone because this book contains short stories about me adapting to life in Japan a few years ago when the pets were not born yet. They liked idea no.4.

So the next step was to ink and colour it. So here were some ideas on how to treat the plain white background.

Ali from my Patreon (now it's like my mini fan club) suggested to have a table and my publisher liked the idea initially...

Yes, I meant "initially" because after speaking to retailers, they changed their mind and wanted a white background so the cover can pop up from the shelves.

It looked rather plain to me like a novel instead of a comic book, so I suggested 2 different treatments: drawings in the background or spot UV the bamboos. Spot UV is a special treatment whereby the surface is coated with a glossy finish. I preferred spot UV on my drawings but I didn't want to redraw everything as the treatment required certain line thickness in order to have the UV coated properly.

Turned out that the printer can auto-adjust to print just the thicker lines and the result was pretty ok. Except that it had to be kept off the edges and folds so I had to go back to adjust the drawings and thicken some lines.

After nearly 2 weeks of ding-dong to and fro adjustments, and another 1 week of printing, we finally saw the end product! Well sort of... because I haven't got the chance to see it personally yet so I'll be seeing it together with my fans in Malaysia for the first time at Kuala Lumpur this weekend (10-11 Sep)!

I'll be having a panel discussion with the famous Malaysian doodle and comic artist, Chee Ming Boey, to talk about the Art of Biography at the Cooler Lumpur Festival @ Publika (yeah, we love to draw and talk about ourselves :P ), followed by a brief talk and demo at MPH Mid Valley. On Sunday, I'll be heading to Koncent at Petaling Jaya, followed by Borders at The Curve.

I'd also be giving away 1 Matcha cushion at each location (except Cooler Lumpur) ! Will you be that lucky fan? See you!!!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Comics: SLR and photography skill


When I travel and want to ask someone to help me take a photo, I always target those who are holding a SLR camera because I believed they have very good photography skill. Unfortunately, that's not the case now because SLR cameras are getting more portable and lighter, so anybody with extra cash can buy without knowing how to frame the composition and adjust the settings...

My family seldom travel together especially with my Dad's weak legs now. Sadly, a photo of all of us at Disneyland 4 years ago was ruined because the guy couldn't aim properly... And yes, he was holding a SLR... (-_-)

Monday, August 29, 2016

Comics: Changing Rooms in Japan

I always dislike to try clothes during winter time because of the many layers of clothes you have to remove as well as the boots.

PS. I did not sit down to try the clothes...

Monday, August 22, 2016

Comics: Kids in Trains

I always think they are like monkeys, stepping on the seats, swinging around with the hangers, running around and making lots of noises... On the other hand, Japanese kids are very well-behaved and their parents would scold them if they disturb others.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Comics: The Real Kitty

I was at Sanrio Puroland last year and saw a trio of girls getting super excited when they saw My Melody mascot. They hugged and kissed the mascot while taking photos... so I was wondering... what if it's a guy beneath the mascot... will they still hug? HMMM....

Monday, August 8, 2016

Comics: Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go was finally released in Singapore last Saturday (6th Aug) but I haven't catch anything yet... Maybe I should light up some incenses and use some lures too.

But maybe I will become tanned and muscular after a month. After all, I had never walked so much continuously in Singapore before... I walked a lot in Japan because the weather was cool, but no... not in Singapore... until this game...

While everybody caught normal pokemons, I caught this... on my desktop, HA~

Happy Birthday Singapore!
Since my Telco will be providing free data tomorrow, guess what I'd be doing :P

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