Ravaging Times

March 7, 2012

Chen Mou Interview, by ACG-EX, March 2012

Filed under: Ravages of Time — Tags: — merc @ 10:07 am

original post

(NOT translating everything, just mostly stuff with new information than earlier interviews)

Chen Mou Never Takes Photographs: “I don’t want to be famous!”

Overnight Success! It all began with “Unhuman”

{Even now Chen Mou likes to create by himself. Only two assistants are responsible for the background and patterns (???). Panel composition and closeups are still done by him alone (that’s why it’s so slow…).}

The Classics will not be edited; the reason for the Collector’s Edition

He said Tong Li (the publisher) didn’t limit his creativity – “shockingly free” to do whatever he wants. Fortunately the individualistic Chen Mou is good at working alone. “Ravages” has long been an important brand/title for Tong Li. “I was given charge of every aspect of the Collector’s Edition. I said OK and did it. The publisher didn’t require me to follow through with all plans. Basically whatever I rejected stays rejected. Thus I was serious about the editing work – something I wanted to do anyway; fixing some stuff I didn’t like.” Does that mean he was unsatisfied with many aspects of “Ravages” before? “No. I was seldom unhappy with the older ‘Ravages’, but certain phrases or speaker’s tone could be done better. Now’s the chance to improve them.” The editor next to him says those phrases on the “black pages” will not be modified, since many of them have become classic catch-phrases to the readers.

{Compared to “Ravages” in the early days, one can easily see the more detailed linework in the recent art. Not only because he had assistant to help, he’s also maturing as an artist}

Chen Mou’s modern day game fable: Why Three Kingdoms?
As a cursory note we asked about salary. Chen Mou, awkwardly, said it is better than when he was working at the advertising company, but it depends mainly on the sales of his book. We changed the topic and asked him why he loved “Three Kingdoms” as much as our editor KANA. His answer wasn’t surprising: “I was influenced by KOEI, by the games. I began to play “Romance of the Three Kingdoms” back when computer terminals were still black and white, and in English too. You know, ‘Cao Cao’!” After which he began to read books on Three Kingdoms. “And it ruined my only hobby… Nowadays I rarely play games, not even ‘Romance of the Three Kingdoms'”. So he reads game magazines to quench the thirst. “Do you think ‘God Pretenders’ (his comic project prior to “Ravages”) is kind of similar to ‘Ashura’s Wrath’? Similar settings, and the subject matter appeals to me too. You guys did well with that side edition in your current issue…” … But I want to add one thing, Chen Mou said “God Pretenders” is not likely to be “continued”, because it is not well received by readers, so he doesn’t dare to risk drawing it even if he wants to. If you like “God Pretenders” as I do, you can only hope that someday Tong Li would make it into a hardback edited version (???).

The Shocking Truth Revealed! “The Ravages of Time” already has the completed script?
…”I’ve already thought through everything ten years ago – the outline and the details. So I drew the ending in the first issue. If I have super speed, I’ll be able to keep drawing. I’m just not able to draw very fast right now.” … “Sometimes I would make changes, but mostly to make certain characters show up earlier, nothing fundamental. I “bridge” scenes quickly.” He doesn’t react to reader response much. “I never tried to write more scenes for popular characters.” The editor chimes in again, saying he knew when Lü Bu was going to die when they were still working on Volume 4. Those fated to die will die, so says Chen Mou from the start.

Not Cao Pi! Revealing Yuan Fang’s true mission!
The “Light Novel” series came about as a natural extension because I’ve thought through the plot. “Thus when Wang Yi Xing wanted relevant information from me, I could give to him, since I’ve thought through the story.” Chen Mou didn’t say outright, but he’s trying to defend/explain for Wang Yi Xing, who received a ton of criticism for his writing. “It was my idea to write the way it is. I wanted the series to be biographies, each character with his own. Who it is per book depends on the progress of the comic syndication. I’m still the project lead.” Maybe people just didn’t like Wang Yi Xing; bias being human nature, like how readers equate Yuan Fang to Cao Pi for so many years… “Many people wanted Yuan Fang to be Cao Pi, I know, [lost in translation], that struck me too once. But it was a transient thought, and quickly dismissed. Because it’s impossible to make it logical/plausible. Unless we involve aliens, or Cao Cao loses his mind while practicing some martial art thing…” Then he explains Yuan Fang’s reason for being, “Because the battle of Guandu is boring. Readers said so too, that the pace is slow and delays the plot. It’s actually faster than I had anticipated. Guandu is really boring. So I had to resolve it my way, by creating Yuan Fang.” Yes, he means he knows Guandu will be boring before putting pen to paper… Those who read Three Kingdoms will agree that we’re all interested in Red Cliff. Of course I’ve began to work on it, and it will be more entertaining than Guandu.”

(I guess I just don’t like the novel version, even if it’s his “idea”. It’s not a problem with the biography format. Oh Well. No big deal, I don’t enjoy “B-rated” movies or Heavy Metal music like he does either. There is also a contradiction in whether the light novel is his story or not. He gives Wang Yi Xing canon information, but allows Wang to deviate from it. So WHO KNOWS WHAT IS CANON AND WHAT ISN’T IN THE NOVEL? I choose to treat light novels as fan-speculation.)

The Last Genius, Zhuge Liang, Liu Shan… Heard it here first!
Whenever Eight Geniuses is brought up, be it at work or in a private meeting, people will always ask him who the last Genius is. This time he gave an official reply, so pay attention. “The Eight Genius won’t be appearing for a while. Though technically speaking he made an appearance in ‘Yuan Fang’, the light novel. I won’t throw him onto the stage just to push the story to a climax. I can only say that he’s young (???)…” … “Actually I’ve been paving the way for Zhuge Liang. Everyone thinks that he’s a loyal man, but my version of him will be more ambitious… In addition, my Liu Shan will be very smart too. Shu Kingdom was weak during his time, and he made many wise choices, easily construed by us as shirking responsibilities…” Even though this is blasphemy (“turning things upside down”), like I said before, he’s not going to care how readers react. “If everyone has been accepting of the work so far, I can of course be more free. I’m a Three Kingdoms fan myself; I know what a Three Kingdoms fan wants. They want to read everything I want to write.”

From father to son; will finishing the finale of “Ravages” be a possibility!?
… Finally we asked him how much of “Ravages” is done. He said even though he planned it all out, that’s still an unknown, “I have to answer to the readers as much as to myself.” The phone rang, and it was a call from his son – wanting a little daddy time (“act like a spoiled child”). After the call ends, we asked whether his son might continue his work if the story’s end is not within sight? He laughed wryly, “I hoped so too, but he has no affinity/talent for this, nor any interest. Much better at soccer though.” … “I believe that I can do it, and it’s my greatest wish right now… I should be able to in another decade or more… Haha, just write that, don’t delete anything. And add, ‘the greatest swindler of a comic artist’, so long as I have the readers’ support. Hahaha…”


  1. I see. so the 8th will be Lu Su and after comparing liu bei with gaozu (contrary to popular belief as peng yue), master chen mou will place liu shan as duke huan of qi and gou jian of yue (wo xing shang tan) hegemon of chun-qiu period. impressive.


    Comment by por — March 8, 2012 @ 4:28 am

    • Long live Mr. Chen and the readers! :P


      Comment by merc — March 8, 2012 @ 7:18 am

  2. Thanks,
    God… Mr.Chen already have plan for Liu Shan, which mean the ROT wont be just ended after chibi…


    Comment by Anonymous — March 8, 2012 @ 10:33 am

    • Why do some people believe that the story must end after Chibi?
      We’ve seen the final chapter already (i.e. chapter 1) and the place and the characters shown in it denote that the end of the series is to be much later than 208-209 AD.


      Comment by nokibanoogi — March 14, 2012 @ 1:54 pm

      • My guess is:

        1. Chibi feels like Helms Deep or the battle of the Pelennor Fields. We don’t even care about the ring to be dumped in Mount Doom anymore, because the battles are so epic. :P

        2. Chen Mou’s mortality is always on our minds. We’ll be mostly satisfied if he can make it to Chibi (see #1).

        3. If Chen Mou decides to retire (due to health reasons) we’ll mostly be satisfied if he can make it to Chibi (see #1).

        4. The ending is already depicted, so what’s the point getting there again? :P But this reasoning is moot now, after his recent interview.


        Comment by merc — March 15, 2012 @ 6:36 am

        • I see… Still, taking everything that is Cao Cao’s is Sima Yi’s major goal, isn’t it? Aren’t we going to enjoy the process? We must see how Sima Yi is gaining power and how Zhao Yun’s hatred towards Sima Yi is growing, otherwise the ending depicted in the 1st chapter seems to be alienated from the story. That’s how I feel.


          Comment by nokibanoogi — March 16, 2012 @ 1:59 pm

          • LYH’s hatred has already been shown once when Sima Yi met him at the mass grave. LYH put on the cloak, and SMY saw his dream (an illusion projected from his own guilt). I’d say that’s enough foreshadowing.


            Comment by merc — March 21, 2012 @ 10:14 am

            • You’re right then. Concerning LH’s feelings that could be enough. Still we should see how he rises to power so as we can enjoy his downfall. And Cao Cao’s downfall shall also be shown. (Remember volume 25?)


              Comment by nokibanoogi — March 26, 2012 @ 1:30 pm

  3. This line: “I never tried to write more scenes for popular characters.”
    has aroused my interest.
    Who are the most popular characters? Or who tends to be most popular?
    (Any character popularity poll conducted?)


    Comment by nokibanoogi — March 14, 2012 @ 1:44 pm

    • must be about guan yunchang. the lack of 1000 li journey made it lacked something.


      Comment by por — March 15, 2012 @ 5:12 am

      • I see, he meant popular characters in general, like Zhuge Liang or Guan Yu, not popular characters of the RoT. (Still absence of the journey was unexpected, this journey is kind of epic after all).


        Comment by nokibanoogi — March 16, 2012 @ 1:45 pm

    • And Xiao Meng.


      Comment by merc — March 15, 2012 @ 6:39 am

      • Is this emo boy popular? No way!


        Comment by nokibanoogi — March 16, 2012 @ 1:49 pm

        • Are you being sarcastic? :P


          Comment by merc — March 21, 2012 @ 10:14 am

          • No, I’m deadly serious. His attitude is hellishly irritating. Nothing to sympathize with.

            Except for… the readers may see him as a pretty girl to drool over. (But it’s not like that, is it?)


            Comment by nokibanoogi — March 26, 2012 @ 1:13 pm

            • Aww. But no worries, to each their own. I thought bringing up “drug abuse” was kind of drama overboard, but other than that his depression was reasonable. A “thing” of no future.


              Comment by merc — March 26, 2012 @ 4:06 pm

              • I’d say, his life was even easier that that of others. Besides, he was bestowed with a couple of great things, but he proffered to neglect all the good and to highlight a little problem instead. He was pathetic.


                Comment by nokibanoogi — April 6, 2012 @ 5:11 am

                • It’s called being human. But meh. I’m pathetic too in life, so I’m biased. XD


                  Comment by merc — April 6, 2012 @ 6:05 am

                  • You’re not a feeble eunuch living in the 2nd century A.D. in a world where a penis means everything, thus I presume you can’t be pathetic. (And a person who knows Chinese can’t be pathetic by default.)

                    Back to the popularity issue… I really want to know whom fans love the most. No information, really?


                    Comment by nokibanoogi — April 14, 2012 @ 10:59 am

                    • The Ravages editor conducts polls for popular characters of each volume, example:
                      volume 44 top 3: Yuan Fang, Guo Jia, Zhang Liao
                      volume 43: Guo Jia, Sima Yi, Yuan Fang
                      volume 42: Guo Jia, Zhao Yun or Yuan Fang, Zhang Liao
                      volume 41: Zhang Liao, Guo Jia, Sima Yi

                      Although its original purpose was “guess who will be on the upcoming volume cover”… So, the cause and effect is probably flipped.


                      Comment by merc — April 16, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

  4. Huh. A more ambitious Zhuge Liang? That’s going to be interesting to see, especially compared with the recent TK2010 (in which ZGL was ALL ABOUT the loyalty), and it’s starting to sound like Shu’s going to have a lot more infighting between ZGL and Liu Shan.

    Now hurry up and actually show his face plz :<


    Comment by Nazne — March 15, 2012 @ 11:17 pm

  5. Sooo…. Guo Jia and Zhang Liao are the most popular characters of late… How interesting.


    Comment by nokibanoogi — April 19, 2012 @ 4:30 am

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