(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…)