[Exclusive] Interview with Evacomics by Evangeline Neo

Bringing in the true essence of comic fiesta 2016 is comic artist Evangeline Neo who is popular in South East Asia for her books such as “Eva, Kopi & Matcha” and “Eva Goes Solo”. Evangeline Neo is a full time comic artist based in Singapore. She has been creating web comics for three years now and she used to pursue it part-time. Evangeline Neo stands strong inspiring budding comic artists in South East Asia. She will be releasing her third book soon. Her debut book titled “Eva, Kopi and Matcha” is a compilation of her comic strips that were viral on the internet. The second book, “Eva Goes Solo” which is a short story based comic book about her life in Japan and consists of a travel guide. The third upcoming book will also be a compilation of her comic strips with more countries added – US, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. The mascots will also be integrated in her upcoming third book.

She shares that her inspirations derive from the everyday life scenarios and stories she hears from her friends. For example, that she has a friend who works in a Japanese company and when they meet up for drinks, her friend would converse about his complaints to her. With her knowledge of Japanese people, they would discuss and Evangeline would then have material to work with. She mentioned that it feels like an interview with her friends but it’s just a casual chit-chat.

Q : Any plans to try more experiences to put in the book?
A : I would like to explore more countries if possible. Actually, I can go back to Yoga because I stopped for a bit. I’m actually exploring that right now because I’m no longer going back to Japan so I have to think of new subject matter. It’s actually quite a challenge for me because I have to force myself to post once a week. It’s important to keep on generating.

Q : What was the challenges when preparing to publish your books?
A : The first book was easier because it’s a compilation, all the materials has already been done. The second book was challenging because it was all new materials that I’ve not released online. I have to set aside time to do it, it took about 7-8 months to work on the second book. It was only possible when I have enough savings and support from Patreon. I have quite a number of pledges there. That was able to sustained me to work on the book full time. The second book is short story based and it was difficult to include commission work in between. That was the challenge I faced for my second book. The next challenge for all comic book writers is how to promote the book. We have to work closely to the publisher, conduct events and do a lot of marketing for the books.

Q :How does your typical work day goes?
A : Now it’s split between administrative work and drawing. The thing with social media now-a-days is if you don’t update, you sort of disappear. So, you have to keep on posting and generate content. It does take a lot of time and that’s the administrative time. I only have half the time to do the creative work.

When asked about taking in apprentices, she mentions that since it’s not a full time paying job,  her previous apprentices would look for a full-time job and would eventually leave. This is frustrating on her part, and hope to find a way to get an apprentice in a sustainable way.

Q : Between US and Japan, which one is memorable?
A : Both are very unforgettable, in US, it’s a happy moment because all I do is just draw. Everyday I’m just a happy art student in an art school surrounded by art students. It has a nice vibe to it because everybody is so passionate about art and the students come from all around the world. It’s like one big family and everyone is into drawing. When I went to Japan, it’s a different story, I had to learn how to survive after graduation. I studied Masters in Business Administration because I want to prepare myself to go into this full time. You have to think how to monetize and make business from it. It’s quite challenging but nonetheless, the Japanese experience broadens my knowledge for the cross-culture comic strips because Japan, US and Singapore are very different. Each country represents a different phase in my life. 

Her books became popular not just in South East Asia but in Japan as well. It’s a good guidebook to showcase cultural differences through comic strips that will appeal to all ages. Additionally, “Eva Goes Solo” and “Eva, Kopi & Matcha” would be a great gift to anybody that’s interested to travel to Japan or Singapore, it illustrates the cultural difference in a comedic manner.

Q : How did you create the characters in your book?
A : In my first book, the first page introduces the characters which are me, Kopi (the dog), Matcha (the cat), Kelvin, Mari and Joanne. Kelvin and Joanna is based off from my real friends in Singapore. I used to live in a dormitory and each level there would be a Japanese resident to help you. Mari was one of the RA. She’s the typical young Japanese college student, she represents that stereotype. And Kopi is based off my real friend who’s smart, savvy and sarcastic. She later knew that she was the inspiration for my dog. Matcha is not based off from anybody.

Q : What advice would you give to the budding South East Asia’s aspiring comic artists?
A : Because the market is small, it’s not as big as other countries but with social media we can reach beyond that. But after we reach beyond that, how do we get the money in? Book selling is quite difficult because the book distribution is limited to the local distributor. For my work to travel to Vietnam and Indonesia, I had to engage with my social media fans. Social media is very important to build our fan base, you need to know what you’re good, passionate, and experienced at. Because you can work content based and know who would be interested, once you identify you’re target group, you would know what they like and where they hang out. If you’re targeting the general public, it’s not targeting. The thing with aspiring artists is to have a targeted approach. The skills are also very important and to build up your knowledge. After that, you got to have the discipline to update consistently. If you don’t constantly update, you’ll just disappear.

Additionally, she shares that her role model is Charles M. Schulz (known for the comic strip Peanuts). Evangeline find it inspirational that Charles M.Schulz would create one comic strip per day.
If you are interested in EvaComics, make sure to check out her website store http://www.eva.sg/EN/shop.htmland like her on FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/evacomics