Name: Queenie Chan
Town/State: Sydney, NSW
- The Dreaming v1-3 – TOKYOPOP
- In Odd We Trust (illustrator) – Del Rey, Randomhouse
- Boys Book of Positive Quotations (illustrator) – Fairview Press
- Odd is on Our Side (illustrator) – Del Rey, Randomhouse
- House of Odd (illustrator) – Del Rey, Randomhouse
- Forget Me Not (short story) – Yen Press, Hachiette
- Queenie Chan: Short Stories 2000-2010 – Bento Comics (self-published)
- Small Shen (illustrator) – Voyager, Harper Collins Australia
- Short Ghost Stories: The Man with the Axe in his Back – Bento Comics (self-published)
- Fabled Kingdom v1-3 – Bento Comics (self-published)
- The Book That Made Me – Walker Books Australia
What comics formats do you work in?
I started off drawing manga-style comics, both in long-form and short stories that I post on the Internet. I started my career with TOKYOPOP, which published in a black-and-white, left-to-right reading “western manga” style, so for a long time I adhered to that format. This continued for my work as an illustrator, until Small Shen came along, which gave me the opportunity to experiment and work in a mix of prose and comics.
Due to my manga background, I predominantly worked in black and white, but that is starting to change. I’m interested in exploring new ideas and acquiring new skills, so I’m starting to move into colour comics, and as such, I’m altering my style to look more western as so to suit the fact that the pages are now in colour.
What is your skill area and role as a creator?
I’m a writer-artist who also self-publishes, so I pretty much do everything in terms of writing, drawing, editing, design, layouts, lettering, printing, distribution, and sales. The only thing I don’t do is copy-editing and other more general aspects of editing, because I obviously can’t do these things by myself.
Most of my work is aimed at teenage girls, so I guess that’s what my writing and art aims to appeal to. I have noticed that a lot of my readers are women in their early 20s as well, so I assume my work appeals to that demographic.
What are your major comics publishing credits so far?
I would say I’m best known for The Dreaming, probably because TOKYOPOP was such an influential comics publisher. The Dreaming was done from 2004-2007, when I was in my early twenties, so it’s a big surprise when it still sells in 2017.
My other series Fabled Kingdom has also done surprisingly well. It’s a YA fairytale fantasy that was done in 2015-2017 in a comics-prose format, and being a self-published title, I didn’t expect it to sell at all because it’s a niche thing in a weird style. However, it’s sold consistently at cons, which has surprised me.
What is a favourite example of your own work? Why is it your favourite and what does it mean to you as a creator?
I don’t really have a favourite example. I generally dislike my work the moment I get it finished – I always think I can do better in my next project. However, if I had to choose one, it would probably be either Fabled Kingdom or Short Ghost Stories: The Man with the Axe in his Back, because it’s in a weird comics-prose mix format. These are conventional stories told in an unusual way, and so I like it purely because of that.
Why do you make comics?
I like visual story-telling, and I like to see it on a page. I read prose fiction, watch movies, and play video games (and enjoy all these things immensely), but I prefer comics as my chosen form of storytelling. It’s partly because of the control and freedom you have when you work on a blank sheet of paper, and also because I think comics is a more flexible form of story-telling than most people realise. For example, I think the comics-prose format is comics, not prose (and definitely not illustrated prose).
What do you think is the one reason you create?
I started off because I just liked to tell stories. I have stories in my head, and want to get them out. There’s not necessarily any grand messages behind my work, and I don’t think you need to have an over-arching message for your work to be enjoyable. Sometimes, bringing a smile to one’s face and entertaining people is enough. I’m starting to look for other reasons to create though, mostly because I’m itching for a change. For example, I’m looking at doing non-fiction or educational work, because the process and end results will be very different to fiction and I’m curious about that process.
What other Australian comics have you recently enjoyed?
I haven’t read much comics recently! I stopped reading a lot of comics when I started creating comics, because I feel that a creator should also find inspiration outside of their chosen medium lest the start cannibalising the work of their peers. I have seen a number of Australian small press comics that bring a smile to my face though, recently. I like to see young creators developing their work, so the anthologies of the Sydney Comics Guild, Silence and Fairytale Apocalypse was fun. It’s not necessarily polished work, but like I said, I like looking at young people finding their voice.
What project/book are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on a non-fiction education project next. It’s going to a series of biographies on History’s Greatest Queens. It’s going to be in colour and aimed at a teen and older market, so drastically different to anything I’ve done before. I’ve always been a history buff, so finally a moment where I get to indulge my two hobbies together.
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Credits from the top:
Feature image and top: the artist, Queenie Chan.
A page from Small Shen, written by Kylie Chan.
The Dreaming Collection cover artwork.
A page from Fabled Kingdom.