Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: As a US Editor at Tapas Media, what drew you to the organization and its progress in digital publishing?
Lindsey Li: I was firstly attracted by Tapas Media because there are so many great comics and novels presented by it. But what really kept me here is that Tapas' people are sincerely trying to help all the talented authors in the outside world to bring their own ideas alive. I had been a creator myself, and I understand how hard it is to live as an independent artist, especially when what you're creating is not the mainstream. Many people only know about superhero stories when discussing comics, but there are definitely more styles to explore and more stories to tell in the comic fields. A real fan of comics would look for all different kinds, and a comic artist would continue to expand the boundaries of art. I think Tapas is a place for comic fans to explore all different types of series, both western and Asian, and for artists to find inspiration, community support, and potentially financial support. Our team is still small, but everyone gets together often for sharing how to cooperate with artists, what they need, what resources we can provide. The idea of helping artists makes me love this place.
Regarding digital publishing, I believe there's a massive need for it. And as the demand grows more prominently, the market for it will become more significant. The reasons are simple. First, it provides equal opportunities and the easiest way for everyone to access good content. Second, many artists turned to use digital devices for creation. It’s easier for them to publish their works on a digital platform. And publishing on a platform like Tapas is for free! Based on the immediate feedback of the readers, they'd be able to define success and failure early and/or make adjustments on the content. If their works become popular on the Internet, they may gain reputation and living expenses soon, which is crucial for an artist trying to make a living out of his creation. Third, some digital publications have been developed and innovated into something which is entirely different from traditional publishing. For example, the appearance of comics in vertical format, light novels and interactive story/game in which readers can make choices. That being said, I think digital publications may create new forms of arts followed by its unique audiences.
BD: Tapas recently announced an exclusive American and Western Market release of the digital Asian comic book saga, Blue Wings, which was previously published by U17. What was the impetus for taking on this publication as a part of Tapas, and what most intrigued you about the project as an editor?
LL: Blue Wings had good performance in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese mainstream comic platforms. We think a story supported by people from 3 different countries with 3 different cultural backgrounds may have a universally appealing.
I find the most intriguing part of the work to be the character design. Skye is a cute, young girl who has been adopted into a family with two brothers. She's quiet because she had experienced an abnormal and miserable childhood before she joined the family. The mother lost a daughter four years ago and in her mind Skye, her adopted daughter, is not only her daughter’s replacement but also, she thinks of her as her real daughter who died. The younger brother doesn't want a new sister to compete for the mother's love, so he treated Skye very badly, but gradually he comes to care about Skye. The older brother seems nice to Skye but all he really cared about is the younger brother. How could those characters live together and become a family? The story will gradually reveal the complicated characteristics of each character, which makes you feel each one of them are real and alive, so you would want to know about what happened to them like knowing a new friend. Besides, as the story goes, the characters change enough to give you surprises and refreshing moments.
Until now, Blue Wings has produced up to hundreds of episodes. The first season is about Skye's childhood and young teenage life. The second season is about Skye's high school life. In China, many readers who had pursued this series from the beginning had a feeling that the characters are growing together with them. They commented how they felt they had become a brother, a sister, or a friend of Skye, which I find interesting, too.
BD: What can readers anticipate from this new release?
LL: They can anticipate a relatable story about family and friendship, exploring multiple kinds of love with intriguing characters. They can witness how Skye changes from a stranger of the world to someone who knows how to care and who are cared by the others.
BD: What are the best ways for interested readers to access Tapas and the growing catalog of titles from U17, including Blue Wings?
LL: We have both Tapas website and a mobile app you can download from the Apple Store or Google Play. I would suggest readers to download the Tapas app not only for easy access to Blue Wings but also to many more great comics in vertical format. (Blue Wings is produced in traditional format unfortunately.)
To find other U17 titles, you can search for U17’s account on Tapas and check its library. There are 9 titles from U17 for now. They are Blue Wings, Death My Love, Hate You Love You, Honey Catch, Cocoon of the Heart, A Couple of Handsome Men, My Ancestor is a Witch, Spores, and Black Pupil.
BD: Are there any other developments that you have in the works at Tapas for 2018?
LL: Besides helping original artists based in the U.S. and all over the world, Tapas is trying to bring in more great works from Asia to expand the library for our readers. We have more than 20 titles from China and 70 titles from Korea. I will continue to work with Chinese publishers including U17, Tencent A.C., and more to bring well-localized series for our native English readers.
We are also helping novel authors in adapting their novels to comics. I am working on two novel-to comic projects. They are The Princess is a Gangster and Speak the Truth. The Princess is a Gangster is an entertaining series about a girl reincarnated into a magical world. The non-stop action, mysteries, and twists will always have you on the edge of your seat. Speak the Truth is a tasty Yaoi (BL) about Prince Aron Vaughn and Quinton Underwood. Both comic series were launched at the beginning of June.
If you haven’t heard about the Tapas Creator Incubator program, it was first started back in August 2017 for creators who have fantastic ideas and want to develop and bring them to live together with Tapas. I am working on 5 incubator projects with a few great artists. Besides helping them have what they need for production, an editor like me also put efforts into pursuing opportunities such as print publishing or TV/online series deals under artist's consent.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell readers who want to learn more about Blue Wings and Tapas?
LL: I would borrow something the author said, “I hope you and Skye become best friends!”