Spotlight

It Stems From Love – Literally. Ouch.

Soya S. Holm is a comic creator from Denmark. She spends most of her days hiding away from the sunlight and sitting in front of her Cintiq, drawing the gay content she craves to see more of in the world. She is the creator of It Stems From Love.

Synopsis: If heartbreak doesn’t kill you, then coughing up flowers will. When you’re trying to deal with one-sided love, the last thing you want are flowers growing in your lungs. It doesn’t help that they seem to multiply the more you see her smile at someone else.

Is your comic available in any other languages? If so, what language(s)?
I know there is a Spanish fan translation of ISFL done by universoyuri.com. Other than that, its only official publication language is English.

Did you go to school for either art or writing? If so, what school?
Nope! Most I did was learn some art history in my gymnasium years, haha.

What is the main genre of your comic? What appeals to you about that genre?
Romance! Specifically, WLW centered romance. I’ve always been a big fan of romance manga since I was a kid and to this day I’m still a sucker for a LOT of aspects of the genre. I can’t get enough of heart-pounding or heart-wrenching moments, no matter how many romance stories I read!

Are there any other genres that apply to your comic?
Drama! Since the entire plot centers on whether Charli (the main character) will survive her disease or not, the story is always a little on edge.

What was your inspiration for the story?
I’ve always liked the concept of the hanahaki disease, which the story is based off of. (A short explanation of the disease: Flowers start growing in your lungs when your love is unrequited. It will get worse over time and you will choke to death if your love isn’t requited). Back when I first created ISFL there were a couple of comics online that had the hanahaki disease but I couldn’t really find anything with a WLW couple. I also wanted to create a short story-driven comic before I started on my big dream project to learn the ropes of comic making a little more, and so It Stems From Love came to be!

Do you have any favorite artists or writers who influenced your style?
I think my style is such a mishmash of multiple styles that I can’t single out any particular artists/writers who influenced how I draw or write my stories. The best I can say is that I’m probably very influenced by a lot of mangaka and anime since that’s the media I mainly grew up with.

How long does it take you to complete one page?
I work in batches so I create approximately two pages a week. It takes me about 3 days to finish one page.

What is your process like for creating comic pages from start to finish? What tools do you use?
As mentioned before, I work in batches, so I do a bunch of thumbnails first and then I work in two to three page intervals per week. I do clean sketches, line art, and lettering for three days, then I flat colour everything, shading for two days, finishing up my lettering and preparing everything for posting. Working in batches has been the most optimal way for me to get more things done in a shorter amount of time! I also draw my entire comic in Clip Studio Paint with my Cintiq and laptop.

Is your comic a finished work? If not, how long do you think it’s going to be when it’s complete? Is there a definitive ending or will you just keep going for as long as possible?
The comic was officially completed in March 2020 this year!

How many pages do you have complete at the moment?
Every page, hehe.

How long did it take you to plan the comic before even beginning to physically create it?
Since this was supposed to be a “short” project, it took me about a month or so to write the script and do concept art for the characters. Though over time, I’ve edited the story many times to fit the new ideas I came up with as I worked on it.

What was the biggest hurdle you faced during the course of making your comic? If you could go back in time to the point where you just started making it and give yourself a pep talk, what would you say?
I don’t think I had any major hurdles with making this comic as I had already dabbled a little bit in comic making before, although it was my first story-driven work (I used to make gag strips before). I will say though, if I could go back and pep talk myself, I’d tell past Soya to draw the entire comic in traditional page format and convert it to scroll afterwards. After finishing the comic I really regret that the files aren’t big enough to be made into a printed book.

What is your favorite part about working on your comic?
It’s probably drawing and figuring out the expressions of the characters! I also enjoy writing dialogue a lot!

What is the most difficult part about working on your comic? How do you overcome it?
Probably not suffering under burnout since I am bad at not being a workaholic who thinks about their comic 24/7. I try to overcome it by taking days off, keeping a schedule throughout my workday with lots of breaks–since my hands easily start to hurt–and reminding myself that I did my best to get done what I could every day (even if I didn’t do as much as I wanted sometimes). In short, celebrate my successes and make sure I take breaks to take care of myself!

Do you have a favorite character to write for? If so, why? Tell us more about them!
My favorite character to write for is probably the main character Charli. She has a very awkward but cute charm to her, it’s very satisfying to write her interactions with her crush (Hana) when she’s trying to play it cool. SPOILER: I think especially for the end of the comic where Charli has gained more confidence, it was a joy to write her being more comfortable in being herself and showing the readers the more joking and teasing part of her personality that she has.

Which character gives you the most difficulty to write for?
Probably Charli’s mother. She needed to act as not only a sort of spiritual guide but also a loving and wise parent. Writing her dialogue and scenes was a little hard sometimes but I think I managed it pretty well in the end!

Do you have a favorite character to draw?
My favorite character to draw is Charli! I love drawing her hair especially!

Which character gives you the most difficulty to draw?
Hana is the most difficult to draw. I thought her bob cut would be easy but it turned out to not always be the case.

Where can we find you?
I’m most active on Twitter and Instagram where my handles are both @soyasholm. If you’re interested to see more of my work, I am currently creating a new WLW/GL comic called Susuhara Is A Demon! You can read it on Webtoons: https://www.webtoons.com/en/challenge/susuhara-is-a-demon-gl/list?title_no=382294 or Tapas: https://tapas.io/series/Susuhara-Is-A-Demon

Anything else you want the people to know about yourself or your comic?
I don’t think I have anything to add, no!

Shout out to ShadowBestie for helping me edit/format this interview!