Sunday, July 14, 2013

Interview with the artist/ writer: "Jack Doe: Anonymous"

[Earlier post: Graphic novel review - Jack Doe: Anonymous]

This post is two years late.

In 2011, after I blogged about the graphic novel, the author/ artist, Shawn Yap, found my post and left this comment:
Hi Ivan! Shawn Yap here! Thanks for the review and feedback! My team and I appreciate it alot! I do have a second book out though – “Closets” (unrelated to Jack Doe though), if you happen to read that, let me know what you think.

That led to an email correspondence, where Shawn agreed to an email interview. The interview took a while because Shawn was busy at that time. And then I got busy and procrastination took over. I never published the interview.

I kept his emails in my inbox as a reminder. This week I finally got off my procrastinating behind, went to Shawn's website to find out what he's been up to (he's got a Facebook page now), then got in touch with him again to ask if he had any updates.

He did. And here's the interview with 2013 updates:

Shawn Yap -

[In 2011]
Q: How did 'Jack Doe' get started? I'm aware that it was part of the MDA First Time Publisher initiative. And that you had other collaborators like Gabriel Chua, Nathan Peng, Daniel Barrett Lee, Xander Lee, Regina Lee, Amanda Yap, Beryl Kwok.

It's quite a funny story actually. I had absolutely no idea of the First Time Publisher Initiative until my mother told me about it, after reading about it on the newspapers.

I was still serving my NS in the Navy at the time, and the deadline were about less than a week away, if I remember.

It was quite a rush to come up with a story for the pitch, so there was many stories I penned down and came up with while in camp. I ran the ideas through Daniel, who was my close friend from my BMT, and there was a lot of back and forth and eventually it led to "Jack Doe". I sent the draft out and we got the pitch.

From there I got a team to work on the project together with me: Daniel, of course; Gabe - who wrote most of the great script in the book; Nathan - who was a major blessing, script-wise, in the later chapters; Xander - who came up with the amazing cover concept; Regina, Beryl and my younger sister, Amanda, who provided help in the coloring/toning department for the covers and the main story.

2) Could you share some insights into the process of making "Jack Doe"? As a reader looking at the final product, I'm curious as to some of the thought processes and physical work involved.
Oh, it was a really long process!

But thankfully I wrote out most of the story before approaching Gabe, Nathan and Daniel with it, from there we had quite a lot of ideas and stuff thrown around to really spice up the story. The story evolved a little here and there while we were releasing it in issues, and that, while scary, was actually quite exciting because it still had room to grow and breathe.

The team hardly had time to meet altogether though, so it was always only 1 or 2 of us at a time.

The work itself, art-wise, was really one of the more taxing aspects of the book, due to deadlines and schedules. I was really thankful for the help I got from the colorists! I was really thankful for the prompt work on the script from the writers. Really helped to speed stuff up! :) I was also really grateful for the additional time given to improve on the trade paperback, there were quite a few improvements made from the story published in M.U.G.E.N.

3) I read from the blurb that Jack Doe contains six chapters published in M.U.G.E.N. I've to profess my ignorance about M.U.G.E.N. Isn't M.U.G.E.N a game?

Ah...It is! Well...I mean it is both the name of a game and a comic anthology (and a car modification company as well if i'm not wrong). I think the publishers didnt realise that when they came up with the name, but I guess the association helped us a little (well it worked both ways, haha).

4) What was the easiest part in producing Jack Doe?

Revisiting and revising the story for its paperback launch. That was much easier because the bulk of the story was done, it was also the most fun part, for me at least.

5) What's the hardest?

Definitely the deadlines. Towards chapter 5 and 6 the deadlines were getting tighter and tighter and it was really, really crazy.

6) What are your collaborators doing now? i.e. Gabriel Chua, Nathan Peng, Daniel Barrett Lee, Xander Lee, Regina Lee, Amanda Yap, Beryl Kwok.
[Interviewer's note: this was in 2011] Most of them are working at the moment. We've hardly had time to meet up, sadly. They're all working different jobs at the moment - teaching, advertising etc, with the exception of Beryl and I, who are in the process of finishing up our University education.

You can view some of their works online as well! - Xander has a site full of great works at

7) What are you up to lately, work wise? (or your creative pursuits)
[Interviewer's note: this was in 2011] I published a 2nd book - Closets, about a year or 2 back. Apart from that I have been working on a few games. I had a card game "Crisis!" tested at Sporecon early in 2011, and perhaps 2012 too. I am currently working on a 3rd book, titled "Letters", which would probably see a release this year or the next, if all goes well, haha.

Apart from that I have been freelancing and updating my site - - constantly with new works and old. So watch out for that! :)

I've also been working on some redesigns for comic book characters for leisure, which has been really fun as well.

8) Any other comments to add?

For those who have read the books - Thank you so much for your support! Feel free to let me know your thoughts and stuff, I'm always open to comments! Huge thank you to you, Ivan, as well for this interview! :)

[2013 July update]

9) Shawn, it's about two years later. How did those things you mentioned in the 2011 interview turn out?

"Closets" my 2nd book, had a limited print run and the reaction to it was really positive! It was my first time self-publishing so it was really scary. I had no idea how people were going to react to it, but I was so thankful that people liked it!

With my card game - "Crisis!" - the response to it at conventions thus far has been amazing and we are still looking to get it published. You know you've got something good when people are having fun playing it, so I'm really happy about that.

As for "Letters.", I am humbled and honored whenever I hear that the story has touched someone's life or that it was something they could relate to. It is really a story very close to my heart, and so to see people, no matter how many, get something out of it makes me really happy I shared it!

10) What keeps you busy these days?

Mainly my full-time job - i'm currently working as a game artist. Apart from that though, I've been doing commissions, fan art and attending the occasional event/convention - meeting fellow artists and art appreciators has been particularly mindblowing.

I published a new graphic novel - "Letters" (my 3rd and hopefully not the last book) digitally under, which unfortunately [the site] closed down recently. I am very close to finding a new home for the book, so watch out for it! This 3rd book really one of my proudest achievements to date and I really hope everyone will like it!

Apart from "Letters.", I am also looking to port my other 2 books - "Jack Doe" and "Closets" over digitally as well - to make it available worldwide.

Apart from that, I've been taking commissions and doing fan art whenever i can (it's great therapy!)

You can check out what i've been doing on my website - or my facebook page -

11) Do you have something to tell students/ young adults who are keen to pursue your line of work?

If you believe in what you want to do, then soldier on, no matter how difficult it may get, and never ever let someone else dictate your dreams, it is YOUR dream, you decide how far it goes.

Ramble: From his first comment in 2011 and our recent exchange, I have the impression that Shawn is a bright, passionate and steadfast kind of guy. He came across as being humble and open to critique of his work, and that impression has been consistent. I've never met Shawn. He's perhaps 20 years younger than me. I'm impressed with his attitude and work. I'm learning a few things from him.

Go visit Shawn's website or Facebook page.

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