Ravaging Times

February 15, 2017

Abridged Interview about “The King”, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — merc @ 3:40 pm

https://www.ptt.cc/bbs/Chan_Mou/M.1393568920.A.62E.html
(from 2014’s 12th issue of New Youth comics magazine)

Abridged Interview about Wang Yi Xing and Chen Mou’s “The King”

Editor: A brief introduction please.
Chen: I am the comic artist and the original author of “The King.”
Wang: I am the writer of “The King.” My responsibility starts after the first chapter that is drawn by Cheren Mou.

E: A brief synopsis of the story please.
C: Besides focusing on “Ravages”, my brain kept coming up with new story and book ideas over the years, and “The King” was one of them. The inspiration came from the adventurous romanticism of JRPG, except that I didn’t like the story structure that’s trending right now. So I used my own style to tell a story about a king trying to restore his kingdom. An evil queen is still an attractive [idea] to me.
(the syntax of the last sentence is weird to me, so I might have misinterpreted it)
W: … It includes all things love and hate related (???). But Chen Mou has planted a detail at the end of book one that will make the readers flip out in delight. Once they reach that point, they will understand what kind of story “The King” is.

E: I heard that the novel “The King” will include a short comic drawn by Mr. Chen?
C: Yes. Prior to the summer of 2013, I squeezed in time to draw chapter one of “The King” between two chapters of “Ravages.” 39 pages took a lot out of me, but I was so excited when it was finished, because outside of my forte of all things Three Kingdoms, a new story and new characters were beginning to take shape.

E: Please share the way you collaborated on the project. How long was the planning stage?
W: It was about a year, starting with me finding out about Chen Mou’s idea for “The King”, to him showing me chapter one during the summer. I was really looking forward to chapter two, but then it became my job to turn the rest of it into a novel. It was all really fascinating. I remember our first serious discussion of the plot, it was near midnight in the cafeteria of the Disneyland Hotel when he asked me to write it. I said yes without much thought, since “we would die for those who truly understand us,” right? Even then I knew this collaboration will be different than the “Ravages” light novels, because it won’t be as complicated as “Ravages”- more room for creativity due to all the unknowns. Therefore I must figure out a new storytelling method to give the readers a fresh experience.

E: Would the collaboration be the same as the “Ravages” light novels?
C: There is some difference. With the light novels, Wang Yi Xing uses the comic as the blueprint, then adds his voice to a few key points in the story. Whereas I give Wang Yi Xing the plot outline of “The King” for him to turn into a work of art.

E: Mr. Wang, is the writing for “The King” different from that of “Ravages” light novels?
W: The light novels are centered around the character. The important thing is to make the characters three dimension and multi-layered. I spent a lot of energy trying to present a character’s full arc in one place. Whereas there is no such rush in “The King.” The character’s true color can seep out little by little. The King’s growth will be gradual, and so will his progress to reclaim all that he lost. Another important thing is that I had to find a way to make the readers believe “The King” is just “a normal story,” then find out by the end of book one that it’s “not a normal story.” To achieve that effect, I had to hide cleverness beneath awkwardness.

E: Did you have a specific intent for the title of “The King”? Or how did it come about?
C: The King refers to the one and only king of the world. He needs no name, because he is the king. The hanzi 王 can be interpreted as the one who mediates between the heaven and the earth (or harmonizes humans and nature), and the name symbolizes his greatness. The king will first appear as an exile who has lost his kingdom and people, however, and that creates the dichotomy.
(the top line of 王 represents heaven, the bottom the earth, and then all things in the middle with one connecting element)

E: This novel begins with a short comic before proceeding as a novel. Why did you plan it that way?
C: When I first finished chapter one of “The King,” countless ideas clammered for attention in my brain. I was then faced with a huge dilemma: I couldn’t carry the load of two high quality projects, but I didn’t want to abandon an already outlined story either, so I dragged Wang Yi Xing into it again. I kept thinking that combining the comic and novel format would give readers a “that’s so interesting” first impression.

E: Can you discuss how portraying the inner worlds of characters would be different between the two works?
C: “The King” is my new experiment after “Ravages.” I hope to give readers another story besides Three Kingdoms, especially to the readers who wanted a conclusion to my “The God Pretender.” Because I purposely made “The King” even more crazy and out there than “The God Pretender.” I hope that everyone will be shocked to realize what the real world behind the story actually is by the ending reveal of the first book.

E: Finally, please give the readers your pitch for “The King.”
W: The apocalpse depicted in “The King” may appear crude, but it’s filled with nuance. It’s about how to find oneself during a difficult situation. The theme will come through using new storytelling methods.
C: “The King” is a compelling comic as well as a mind-blowing novel. Its story has already begun in the land of the unknown. You may be shocked by unexpected plot twists and suddenly realize that your world is about to end!

============
(Mr. Chen likes B movies, if that explains anything…)

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10 Comments »

  1. Thanks a lot merc! I hope Chen Mou does not find King too exciting or anything, cause I really want him to finish the ravages. And Chen Mou mentions light novels. Is there anyplace where I could read those?

    Like

    Comment by Guest — February 16, 2017 @ 1:47 am

    • Haha. It can be helpful for the creator to have constructive procrastination though. And if he can get the “zaniness” out through another project, the craziness wouldn’t “mutate” Ravages.

      Someone else will have to help you with the second question. I actively avoid the light novel.

      Like

      Comment by merc — February 16, 2017 @ 8:02 am

      • Really? Why is that? Is it bad? I never really heard of the Light Novels before I read this.

        Like

        Comment by Guest — February 16, 2017 @ 9:09 am

        • I didn’t like what I read. It was too repetitive with some of the quotes. From my casual glance of the fandom response, those who liked the writing were already fans of that writer or read the light novel before reading the comic.

          So, YMMV

          Like

          Comment by merc — February 16, 2017 @ 9:53 am

          • Aah yes. I read the article you had posted “Rumour : LN affecting the comic”… Fine I won’t read it either. One question off topic: I read the comments and one of them was a bit unnerving. Did Zhang Fei really kidnap Xiahou Yuan’s niece/daughter? I did not read that in the novel. I thought Zhang Fei was a good guy?

            I wiki’id it. Zhang Fei really did that in 200 CE. And she was really 12-13 years old. 200 CE was Guandu right? Why didn’t Chen Mou show this in his work?? Zhang Fei is a bad man, but he’s shown in such positive light. I’m disappointed now.

            Like

            Comment by Guest — February 16, 2017 @ 11:59 pm

            • Heroes or villains, they all murdered countless innocent people. Most of them had gruesome deaths too, so maybe there’s some of that “what goes around comes around” thing.

              I can’t find my copy of “Zhang Fei” (the light novel) anymore. Maybe I never had it or got rid of it. I just remember the light novel depicts his family being slaughtered and his mouth slashed horizontally like Heath’s Joker and him turning half-mad because of the experience. Later on in that book there was a brief mention of the Xiahou girl, but IIRC she was aged up and it didn’t sound like an assault situation. This is not to refute possible truth. It’s just that the author(s) chose not to pursue that direction for their fiction.

              Like

              Comment by merc — February 17, 2017 @ 9:08 am

              • I guess I draw a line between killing enemy combatants in war and sexually assaulting children. People who do the latter are just plain beasts. Cannot even put them in a binary of heroes and villains, because that would be acknowledging them as humans in the first place.

                You mentioned that in the Light Novel post. Yuan Fang’s minions do that to Zhang Fei. And if Zhang Fei did turn half mad from that experience in the novel, Chen Mou clearly isn’t following that plot line. Yide still feels pretty sane to me, as of now. And has no scars on his face as far as I can see. Still good looking for a guy with no eyebrows.

                I know the authors have chosen not to follow that plot, but I still feel Chen Mou should have put that incident in his work. Because Zhang Fei is shown as an intelligent brute who can do underhanded things when the situation demands. But kidnapping and raping a child is far from being underhanded and there can be no situation that would ever demand sexual assault on a minor. Chen Mou’s depiction of Zhang Fei feels so flawed now. I can’t wait for him to be killed by his own underlings.

                Like

                Comment by Guest — February 17, 2017 @ 10:17 pm

                • If I recall, in some interviews Chen Mou (perhaps hyperbolically) states that he doesn’t trust what the historical records say, at least as far as the portrayal of personalities is concerned. So maybe there’s that motivation for ‘upgrading’ Zhang Fei’s profile. There’s also a Tumblr blog that featured translations of parts of the novels (including the encounter with lady Xiahou), you may want to check that out. One can say that part of the gimmick of the comic is that it turns many of the people into ‘inhuman’ calculators and schemers (something I really appreciate, since I’m more into the cerebral aspects of the series), while the light novels (for better of for worse) flesh out the more personal and emotional drives and traumas not clearly seen in the comic.

                  As far as monstrosity is concerned (if the records are to be believed), Zhang Fei is by no means exceptional, though his abduction of the little girl strikes us contemporary readers as particularly abhorrent. But overall I’m relatively fine with Chen Mou minimizing the appearance of petty and capricious and shallow acts of cruelty, in order to highlight ‘rationalized’, normalized, systemic, larger-scale, institutionalized, ideological violence…

                  Like

                  Comment by 'reader' — February 18, 2017 @ 6:10 am

                  • I can imagine being careful with the portrayal of historical personalities in the novel, because the characterization there can be exaggerated and misleading. But why be so distrustful of historical texts like sanguozhi??? After all Chen Shou was in the Shu courts, so why charge him with bias?

                    I’m not going to read the novel. Merc said it’s not good. And after reading that one line about Yuan Fang murdering Zhang Fei’s family, I’m definitely staying away. Why add unnecessary tragedy bombs to a time period which is tragic in and of itself?

                    I’m not ok with Chen Mou leaving out details of characters like that. Most of the characters are portrayed in a positive light and are more larger than life. I’m ok with that. But actions of such mindless violence is also a part of the character and of the historical personality. By not portraying the abhorrence of those characters, I feel Chen Mou betrays a bias in his work, which is quite ironic since he is wary of prejudice in historical works/records in the first place.

                    I just feel a bit let down is all.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    Comment by Guest — February 18, 2017 @ 11:25 pm

                    • Well… I don’t know the exact reasons for Chen Mou’s mistrust, but speaking for myself (and my own bias for ‘macro’ and ‘systemic’ approaches and methodologies) I tend to treat all records and documents with some suspicion (especially when they talk about the lives and deeds of personalities). Large-scale events and happenings (say, campaigns or massacres) at least are easier to corroborate even if the details we have left are lacking or open to interpretation. Again, it’s not about the motives of Chen Shou or any other historian for that matter, but the factors that make biographies and annals less trustworthy than, say, social analysis using some framework with more or less explicit assumptions.

                      Just to be clear, I’m not a big fan of the novel as well (and it’s too bad that Chen Mou decided to leave out the Yellow Turban rebellion and relegate it to the novel instead).

                      Part of Chen Mou’s bias I suppose is that he sees the crafting of sneaky schemers as a sort of intellectual wish-fulfillment (in a similar way we see stories of heroes with superhuman physical feats). He touched on that in volume 58: https://ravagingtimes.wordpress.com/ravages/volume58/

                      Perhaps if Ravages was advertised as a straight adaptation of the Records (and related documents) I’d be let down by the omission of such matters. But in the first place I was hooked into Ravages mainly because of the ‘epic’ cerebral aspects, not the purported accuracy or inaccuracy of the character portrayals relative to some ‘canonical’ text (if anything, I’m let down by the fact that the schemes aren’t more convoluted, that certain passages from classical texts are not quoted, that certain factions are given less time to unleash their schemes, that certain campaigns are off-paneled, etc.). I don’t know how many people who like Ravages share my interest in these aspects though…

                      Liked by 1 person

                      Comment by 'reader' — February 19, 2017 @ 2:13 am


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