In the underground, parties and prize fights share space with body mods and mind-altering substances. Here, one girl finds a cure for her loneliness. “Metamorphosis – Chrysalis” is a short comic inside the Becoming Anthology. It was written by Missy, an aspiring therapist from Germany. We talked with Missy about her background in fanfic, her current obsession with k-pop, and writing a short comic based in a well-developed world.
Tell our readers about yourself, Missy! How did you get into writing comics?
I’ve always loved storytelling. This has mostly expressed itself in prose writing so far, but I’ve also dabbled in poetry and theatre plays. When I connected with the art community a couple years back, it seemed like a logical leap to team up with an artist friend to work on a visual medium.
Can you tell us about the inspiration behind “Metamorphosis – Chrysalis,” the short comic you created with Eldkrind?
Eldkrind and I created the characters and the world during a three-hours-long brainstorming session for a creative exercise. We knew immediately we wanted to use them in a story! The world has since evolved from that initial concept into the story we’re presenting in the Becoming Anthology.
There’s a lot of influence from my late childhood in these first pages, too. When I was around fifteen, I really wanted to make a comic about a butterfly after one landed on my shoulder. The concept I’d created for that was the basis I built the script for Metamorphosis on, and strongly informs its vibe. The guardian angel motif is another such vestige.
“Metamorphosis” incorporates world-building and character development, but the story is relatively simple. How did you weigh these elements while writing the script?
I had a strong creative vision for what I wanted the story to look like, especially visually. Luckily, Eldkrind was very supportive and immediately on board with my suggestions! I wanted a story that could stand on visuals alone, where the text only added another layer of spice rather than explaining the story. This, on top of the page limit, set the boundaries of the story I could tell.
I ended up writing the script in three parts: one where I focused on the environmental descriptions, another for the internal monologue and thematic questions, and the last for the dialogue. Then I stitched them together and smoothed out the rough edges. This is pretty typical for my prose writing process as well—I can rarely focus on dialogue and description in the same session!
The most important fact for me was that all elements needed to support the main story, whether thematically or narratively. At its core, the comic is about the main character’s loneliness, so I went about emphasizing that wherever I could: starting with her parents’ divorce, the overarching guardian angel motif, the ephemeral company of false friends, and ending with a meeting that will change everything for her. Eldkrind did a great job bringing those ideas to life!
Who are your writing heroes?
There are many talented people out there whose skill with words I admire. From published authors to fanfic writers, there are too many to list them all and the influence they’ve had on my writing. I’ve recently been reading up on N.K. Jemisin’s work, and her experimentation with style and prose has me inspired. Another example is Sam Starbuck (copperbadge), author of The Dead Isle, and his way to convey characterization with actions.
What fictional character do you identify most with, and why?
A well-written character will always be relatable on some level—even if they act in a way you wouldn’t or reach different conclusions, a good writer will show you what led them there. I can easily get lost in a character’s head. I don’t need to see myself in them to be able to relate, if the writer gives me someone to emotionally connect with and invest in.
A good example is one of the villains in The Untamed (陈情令), Jin Guangyao. The deeds he commits over the course of the series are atrocious, but he is introduced to us before he is
corrupted. His narrative arc is still in character, and you can see how he is slowly pushed into a position where he feels he’s long since past the point of no return and fully commits to evil acts in the name of holding on to power. And despite his deeds, he’s one of my favourite characters of the show, simply because I understand where he’s coming from and how he got there.
What are you currently reading, listening to, and/or watching?
I am absolutely obsessed with c-dramas right now. I’ve just finished Guardian (镇魂) and Nirvana In Fire (琅琊榜), and am in the middle of the rom-com The Romance of Tiger and Rose (传闻中的陈芊芊) and the detective story The Imperial Coroner (御赐小仵作). It’s a fun experience to delve into another culture with different tropes and narrative expectations.
I’ve also been listening to a lot of k-pop, mostly 마마무 Mamamoo (their voices are killer!) and 드림캐쳐 Dreamcatcher (ever wonder what metal influence would sound like in Korean?). I plan to learn the choreos to all their songs by heart!
What’s important to you in a book or comic, as a reader? As a writer?
I need either a character or a plot I can sink my teeth into. If it has both, even better! As a writer, I love delving into the plot-relevant pieces of world-building and working out a character’s backstory, even if it only shines through occasionally in their actions or words.
You’ve been writing for a while, primarily fanfiction! Can you tell us more how fanfic prepared you (or didn’t) for comics?
It’s definitely grown my confidence in my prose skills! Which aren’t really as applicable to comics as I would’ve hoped, haha. The advantage of fanfiction for me was that fandom is very happy to experiment with style and structure, so script-writing didn’t feel as alien as it might’ve otherwise.
The hardest part for me was nailing down a multi-faceted character, and introducing them in a way that’s not overwhelming but sympathetic. With fanfiction, you don’t need to worry about a character being likeable – the readers are already invested in them! But with original characters, you need to convince your audience first. I think I did a decent enough job at the latter, though the characters remain a little one-dimensional in the short. Hopefully I’ll be able to develop them further on the page in the future!
Are you working on anything new that our readers can keep their eyes on?
I have a couple original novels on the back burner I’m hoping to get published at some point, but between learning Korean choreographies and my recent obsession with the Guardian fandom, I haven’t gotten as far as I planned. A short Guardian story of mine will be published in the fanzine Hallowzine, of which there will be a free epub early next year. And of course, Eldkrind and I plan to continue Metamorphosis and have already plotted out the rough storyline!
The space between origin and destination, as imagined by 37 diverse creators in 16 short comics.
A comics anthology by Oneshi Press, launching October 18th on Kickstarter.
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