Humor, after the apocalypse
An interview with Rhine, author of EvaComics.com
Author: Aaron Clark
Dated: June 3, 2004
Evangelion is a popular topic of fan fiction, one look at the three thousand plus Evangelion fics over at FanFiction.net will tell you better than I can. But wait, it doesn't stop there. Groups of authors have even branched off of sites like FF.net and produced their own communities within which to share fiction based around the world of Neon Genesis Evangelion. Sites like EvaFics.org, the Evangelion dominated DarkScribes.org, and even smaller sites like the Tales of Apartment 402, that go so far as to focus on specific characters and themes.
Why so much fan fiction you might ask? Some say its because of the dynamic characters, some say they just wanted to explore what the show could have been, but mainly, I think most do it just because its fun to tell a story with your favorite characters. When it comes to creating a fan work, fan fiction is pretty easy to jump into. Fan art, fan parodies, fan sites, and anime music videos all have their own distinct learning curves, and aren't that easy to simply jump into. Fan fiction on the other hand requires very little to create, though many would argue that it takes as much skill to do well as any other fan medium.
What could one fan fic author do to go completely against the grain? Switch feet, and tell a story in a comic format instead. Despite the plethora of online comics, online manga/doujinshi is fairly few and far between. Aside from that of Eva-R there is a distinct lack of Eva doujinshi in western Evangelion fandom. One fan fic author turned from writing fan fiction, to drawing doujinshi, and in so doing, went against the convention of Eva story-telling. I had the opportunity and pleasure to interview Rhine, author or Eva Comics, someone who I believe will be one to keep an eye out for in the future.
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Q: Do you do all the writing, art, and web work youself? Do you have anyone else working on it with you?
A: Yes, I do all the writing, drawing, inking, ink wash, scanning, lettering, and touch-ups for the strip. I update the site, and built the site (though some would say it hardly qualifies as a website) by hand. Being the anachronism that I am, I use Notepad. Though I do bounce ideas off of several friends, and that often helps fine-tune the jokes in the strip. Rion, Random1377, Ryoma, Hotwire and others have been sounding boards for my rambling.
Q: How did EvaComics come about, at what point did you decide to create it, and why?
A: That's a rather difficult question. I guess part of it was me wanting to do more comedy in Eva. Another part was trying to produce something comic/manga-wise in English since the Sadamoto manga was slowing down in production. It's also a way to get some practice in, my first 100 horrible pages and all that.
Q: Is this your first time doing a project like this? What projects have you worked on previously?
A: Well, I've done some comics on my own, 6-page stories and the like, but this is my first attempt to hammer something out on a regular basis, as well as keep up a continuity. Most of the other stuff I've done isn't worth the effort of scanning, though I am rather proud of my short strip "Bob the Headless Torso".
Q: Have you scripted this comic out in advance, or are you writing as you go? And if you are writing as you go, do you have a desired destination for the comic in mind?
A: I have certain points scripted out, but I've found that as I change some detail, to make the comic funnier, that a whole new idea for where to go opens up. So it's half scripted, half seat of my pants. As for a destination, well... I do have an idea on where I intend to end the strip.
Q: Can we expect to see any other characters besides Shinji, Asuka, and Rei's, ummm.... head?
A: If I told you, that'd be cheating!
Q: How do you make the comics? About how long does a strip take you to make, and what software and hardware do you use?
A: Well, I start with script. With that, I craft a layout for the panels, and what they should look like. I then draw the strip in non-photo blue pencil, and then ink it. After the ink dries, I go through and add the inkwash for the shadows and tones. Once everything is done, I scan it into Photoshop 6.0 and clean up the artwork. After that, I add the borders, the text, and the word bubbles. I then resize (I try to keep the size small) and upload it to the site.
Q: Do you have any goals for the comic, or anywhere you yourself would like to arrive at through the process of doing this comic?
A: My only aim is for the strip to be funny. My aim is to reach 100 strips, but my main concern is being funny. Everything else is gravy, and practice for getting my own original ideas in order and onto paper.
Q: What is the overall tone of the comic? Will it continue to be slapstick, or can we expect to see some serious scenes in the future, once the situation Shinji and Asuka are in has been well defined?
A: Well, considering the nature of Eva, I'm pretty sure I'll have to broach some serious subjects. After all, there are things that happened in The End of Evangelion that you just don't forget. But it's my intent to always try to make the strip funny. Whether or not I'll be able to... well, that's the hazard of writing a humor strip set after the apocalypse.
Q: In what facets are you trying to keep the comic faithful, and what ways will you be diverging?
A: Well, this obviously isn't Anno's Vision (tm). But I'm trying to keep the characters in line with their pre-nervous breakdown personalities with a few minor tweaks. Shinji's a bit more willing to retort, but no more so than in some episodes of the series, and especially not more than in the manga. The only real departure, I think, was keeping Rei's head in one piece. If you'll remember, at the end of EoE, it was splitting in half. I'll just plead artistic license.
Q: How has the response been thus far?
A: Overall, pretty positive. Not that there's a lot of response, but the people who've been vocal seem to enjoy it for what it is, rather than a pure continuation of the story.
Q: Is there any additional content you'll be adding to the site in the future?
A: It was my intention to have quite a bit more fanart up there, but work and family obligations have eaten up a good deal of my time. It's my intention to host Eva fanart from others, and I've been working with Random1377 about drawing something of an illustrated fanfic. So yeah, I'd love to expand what's on the site. I'm not nearly so arrogant as to think a weekly strip is all that's needed to hold an audience's attention. ;-)
Q: How has fan fiction, whether your own or others in the community, influenced the comic's writing?
A: When I started writing down the ideas for EvaComics, I tried to keep some of the fan fics that dealt with post Third Impact in mind, largely so that I could avoid repeating them. As much fun as it would be to illustrate some of Hotwire's 'Wake,' I prefer to tread new ground. Hopefully I'll manage to explore things that no one's considered yet. Admittedly, I've gotten (what I consider) a good grasp of the characters through reading and writing fan fiction. I think that's helped a bit, being familiar with the characters and how I think their minds work, when starting the strip.
Q: How has doing a comic rather than a fic been? How and what are you finding different or challenging, working with a different medium?
A: Well, I've been drawing for years, and only really started trying to write in the past few, so I've been a bit more comfortable with drawing. I'd like to think that fan fiction helped give me some of the tools for story-telling and I've been working on integrating those ideas with artwork. One of the biggest challenges, really, is working with ink. I've primarily been a pencil and paper guy, but I'm trying to branch out. The inkwash is meant to be a stepping stone for watercolor, but I found I like working in grays more than color. Says a lot about me, doesn't it?
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Q: How did you first come across Eva, and is there anything interesting to be shared about your first encounters with the show?
A: I'd heard about Evangelion in anime magazines and the like but never had the opportunity to actually find it anyway. Ironically enough, though, I was studying with some friends on a translation, and ended up watching the final episode of the TV series raw with them. It was a couple years later, when I finally found a place to rent the series that I realized that I'd already seen the final episode.
Q: Is your interest in Eva casual, or more obsessive like some Eva geeks (myself included), and how does it compare to other things you are interested in?
A: Eva is a series I've seen numerous times, enjoy discussing, and enjoywriting/drawing fanworks about. I'd say my interest is more than casual, but I don't get obsessive about it. I can enjoy it on many levels, but Anno was right, in the end, it's just a TV show.
Q: Which do you prefer, the series ending, or the movie ending? (considering the belief that they are divergent)
A: Hmmm. I'd say the movie ending.
Q: Would that have been the ending you would have chosen, if you were in Shinji's position, to reject instrumentality, rather than accept it, as was the case of the series ending?
A: I can't really say, since Shinji was put through a veritable emotional wringer from episode one. However, given what I remember about myself at 14 - 15, I don't think I would've made the same decisions (or lack of) as Shinji that led to either ending. But all things being equal, I think I would've returned to reality. I don't think I would've been comfortable sharing a group mind with the clone of my mom.
Q: What is your favorite aspect of Evangelion?
A: My favorite aspect of Eva would have to be the father/son dynamic between Gendou and Shinji, and Shinji's thinly veiled rage.
Q: Do you have a favorite character in particular?
A: Eh, favorite out of all the characters? Not really. I like most of the characters, but each for different reasons. Pretty much the only characters I never cared for were Maya and Kaworu. They just never struck a cord with me like some ofthe others did.
Q: What about Evangelion has appealed to you enough to dedicate the majority of your fan works to it?
A: I suppose that Eva, while being a great show, also left a lot of untapped potential. So much about the series could be explored further. So many puzzle pieces were left out, that providing you're willing to put some thought into the characters, you can do almost anything with it. That, and the show had me invested enough in these characters, that I enjoy giving them a bit more story than what's in the series and movies.
Q: Finally, if you could recommend a piece of fan fiction you have written, either as a favorite, or as a show of what you are capable of, which would you suggest readers sit down and take some time to read?
A: Hmm. I'd say "WhiteNoise" is probably my favorite and best piece of writing. And it's actually complete! I think it's a pretty good story that hits a range of moods. For someone just wanting a laugh, though, I'd like to think that "Conventional Madness" is pretty funny.