The following is an interview with writer David Choi regarding the recent release of the comic book series, The City. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Choi about his creative process in bringing the story and characters to life, what he hopes that readers will take away from the story, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the recent release of The City! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the series’ premise?
David Choi: Thank you! I’m so thrilled to be a part of Fanbase Press’ interview and to be able to introduce our comic book series, The City! Chapter 3 has just been released, and our team is beyond excited to share it with everyone.
Here is a brief synopsis of our indie project:
The City is a story of power and vengeance set in a dystopian mega city, where organized crime syndicates and terrorists clash for control. Our main protagonist is Jericho, an aging ex-militia general turned syndicate leader, who was once known for keeping the peace but now finds himself and his merits long forgotten. Meanwhile, a charismatic terrorist leader named ‘K’ rises from the slums seeking revenge against those who wronged him. Guerrilla warfare ignites, and unimaginable terror blazes through the city. Breaking free from Jericho’s grasp over the city, lesser organized crime families also begin to join the mayhem, and Jericho realizes that his reign over the city may not be as simple as it used to be.
The City has been funded through two successful rounds of Kickstarter, and all 3 chapters can be read for free on our website, www.serazard.com. Chapter 4 is on its way!
BD: What can you tell us about your shared creative process in working with artist Dicky Siregar, and colorist Dave Praetorius to bring the story to life, and what (or who) have been some of your creative influences?
DC: Working with illustrator Dicky Siregar and colorist Dave Praetorius has been an incredible journey so far. Although we are still learning to flow together more efficiently, it has been smooth sailing because of how open and respectful we are to each other’s processes. Currently, our team’s production process starts with the script, storyboard, pencil, ink, letters, and then colors. We experiment with different equipment, software, and mix up the process occasionally. Creative inputs are given freely during our weekly meetings. For example, while Dicky and I share a lot of reference pictures and mood boards to design characters and environments, sometimes, Dicky comes up with really cool ideas that works on the spot. The creation of the Legion soldiers in Chapter 2 and the design of the character, ‘Isis,’ in Chapter 3 are great examples of Dicky’s genius. Currently, we are entering the coloring stage for Chapter 4, and Dave has identified and provided solutions for continuity in my writing while buffing up certain scenes with fascinating cyberpunk environmental details. The guys really help bring what I write to life by incorporating creative concepts or details into the story.
My creative influences for writing come from Korean and Japanese comics, while Dicky is inspired by Western comics, mostly Marvel, and Dave is a mix of everything, including many indie projects. Despite our differences, we encourage each other to express ourselves freely within the project scope. In every issue, we remind each other to bend or break our traditional training. As a writer, I challenge myself to reduce exposition as much as possible, incorporate as many historic and cultural references, and write humorous dialogue that contrasts with what’s happening in the scene. Dicky and Dave frequently share illustration and coloring techniques and ideas for each issue. For Chapter 3 and 4, they used different equipment and software. Not having strict deadlines or page counts has been a double-edged sword. We embrace the contemporary nature of this project and can take our time channeling different inspirations for each issue, but this also affects the project timeline; however, it is an inevitable part of a passion project, and we believe readers will enjoy it as part of the beauty.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Jericho’s story will connect with and impact readers?
DC: There are 3 central characters to whom I hope readers can relate simultaneously. I am a big fan of ‘coming-of-age’ stories, and Tommy Lee Jones’ character in the movie, No Country for Old Men, was a big inspiration for creating Jericho. The realization of growing old, not being able to perform, and losing one’s sense of purpose in life is a loss of innocence not commonly discussed in young adult comics. When I first wrote this story, I was 21-22 years old, and initially, I was only interested in using Jericho as a thematic device to push the story forward. But now that I am halfway through 36, I am starting to relate more and more to Jericho.
As for ‘K’, the villain of the story, he is on the cusp of realizing his grand scheme – uniting and leading his people out of the slums. This is a character living in the moment, at the prime of his life, and doing absolutely everything to dethrone Jericho and ultimately reap the rewards. He represents all of us striving to succeed in our society, with the only difference being the perspective of a refugee stripped of all human rights. His affinity for survival of the fittest, capitalism, or whatever ruthless force that drives each and every one of us is just cranked up a little higher for our entertainment. Although he is a villain, K’s mission is a righteous one, and I wanted readers to root for him. His drive is on another level, and his antics are downright insane, but that’s what makes this story fun.
Lastly, ‘Comox,’ introduced in Chapter 4, is a teenage assassin gearing up to join the war for the city. I wanted to create a character who didn’t share the same brutal backgrounds [as] Jericho or K, but someone who is loved and patiently trained & groomed. He is a character dedicated to an aboriginal childhood friend of mine who grew up in a native American reserve.
Though these characters are set in an unbelievable situation in a made-up world waging war against each other, at the core, they are people we see and meet in our everyday lives. There will be moments where readers relate with Jericho’s outlook on how life might seem impossible, while on another day, they can feel invincible like K. I believe the world within The City is also a connecting point to readers because of all the cultural details we are implementing. Especially in our upcoming issue, Chapter 4, readers will be able to visit a district called ‘Neo-Seoul 5,’ a multi-cultural hub that I hope many readers from similar backgrounds as myself can relate to. All of the characters in The City come with their own unique backgrounds based on truths reflected from my experiences that I hope readers can identify with and feel connected to. Whether or not they face a wrathful death is another story!
BD: How many issues of the series do you have planned for its first story arc?
DC: At the moment, there is a total of 23 chapters planned, split into 4 parts. Part 1 includes chapters 1-5, and we are working to complete it by Q2, 2024.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like BD: to share with our readers?
DC: A 3D printable action figure of ‘K,’ the terrorist leader, will be available soon! We are thinking of doing a giveaway of printed figures when the project is complete. Eventually, we want to release the 3D files for free online, so stay tuned!
As for writing, I’m working on The City: Side Quests which is a spin-off mini-series set in the same world. I wanted to paint a bigger picture of the world that we are creating and write more perspectives – not just gangsters. We will be able to see The City’s world from the perspectives of a police officer, a refugee, members of a death metal band in Neo-Seoul 5, and more.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about The City and your other work?
DC: The City can be read for free on our website, www.serazard.com, and the PDF can be downloaded for free, as well! If you’d like to support us, please check out our online shop – every cent goes to the production of The City.
Following us on Instagram (@TheCityGraphicNovel) also helps us with social proof, and please share it with your friends.
If you’re in Toronto, we usually attend most of the conventions and events. I even sell them on the streets at Yonge-Dundas Square. This month, April 29-30, we will be at Toronto Comics & Arts Festival. Shoot us a message on Instagram, and we can even link up!
This year, we are also expanding our convention circuit internationally. We will be at Small Press Expo in Baltimore this September and possibly Glasgow if everything works out!