Spotlight

A Young Woman Searches for Her Missing Mother – KEYSPACE: A Winged Tale

eli (ellie) is a scientist by day and an artist by night in the land of the maple trees (Vancouver, BC). When not studying how the human body works, they can be found dreaming about stories involving forgotten magic, machine worlds, and unexpected monsters. They are the creator of KEYSPACE: A Winged Tale.

Synopsis: Florence loves hanging out with her winged friends: beautiful creatures with wings for hair and an unquenchable thirst for adventure. However, when her mother disappears from a mysterious expedition, she fears for the worst. Through exploring hidden laboratory tunnels beneath the forest, facing Machines from a century-long war against humans, and seeking guidance from the Lost people from a civilization gone by, Flo and her friends must piece together the past in order to save all those they love.

What is the main genre of your comic? What appeals to you about that genre?
YA Science Fantasy! I love combining science and magic and using literal metaphors to depict everyday living from the mundane to the surreal. I believe this genre offers a lot of creative space to explore the different ways others experience the world.

Are there any other genres that apply to your comic?
It is also LGBTQ+ and classifies nicely under drama and adventure!

What was your inspiration for the story?
A Winged Tale is my love letter to the Ghibli films, Shinsekai Yori, Oryx and Crake and other dystopian science fiction novels. I want to combine all the things I’ve watched/read in my childhood that made me laugh, cry and feel for the characters and their stories.

Do you have any favorite artists or writers who influenced your style?
Yes! I am forever indebted to @ruistyfles (Twitter and Instagram) for inspiring me with her art since 2003. I also very much enjoyed @heatpenn (Twitter and Instagram), @loika (Twitter), @ameizhao (Twitter) and @rawrgyle (Twitter)’s art growing up!

How long does it take you to complete one page?
Roughly 2-3 hours (from sketch to colour); longer with feedback and editing.

What is your process like for creating comic pages from start to finish? What tools do you use?
I work entirely in Procreate on the iPad. I start out with composition planning then progress to gesture sketching. Once the lines are checked with my lovely beta readers, I colour and go through another feedback session. Afterwards, the pages are compiled and double-checked before uploading!

Is your comic a finished work? If not, how long do you think 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?
We are just in the midst of season 1/4! The script is finished with a fixed ending, with an anticipated completion time by 2024.

How long did it take you to plan the comic before even beginning to physically create it?
This comic started in November 2018 from the National Novel Writing Contest. It was originally shelved until I was invited to table at VanCAF in 2019 and I got the first draft finished in April. It went through several alpha and beta feedback before launching August 1, 2019!

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 think the biggest hurdle is figuring out a streamlined way to produce the comics given my busy schedule. If I could go back in time, I would go over what to troubleshoot in terms of canvas size/panel layouts, colouring and lighting, and strategies to refuel the motivation. It is so important to be in love with your own work, especially for a longform comic.

What is your favorite part about working on your comic?
My favourite part is the reader interaction (with my betas and commenters)! It is so rewarding to interact with people who are following the story, seeing what they theorize, and see what they take out of the narrative and characters. I read and reread every comment and even now, months later, I still feel so touched by everyone’s support.

What is the most difficult part about working on your comic? How do you overcome it?
The most difficult part is learning the ropes of effective story execution and layout planning! There are still a lot of things I need to learn to draw the comic effectively and I’m fortunate to have fellow comic creators who love to help and libraries/internet with helpful books and tips!

Do you have a favorite character to write for? If so, why? Tell us more about them!
I honestly love writing Ice the most. They are very dynamic and I think best reflect my own reaction to telling the story!

Which character gives you the most difficulty to write for?
I think overall, Flo went through the most changes and I initially found it hard to make a seemingly passive character interesting until I found her motivation. Writing characters who are lost can be a tricky balance to have the readers identify with them but at the same time, not be led astray!

Do you have a favorite character to draw?
Ice and Bell are my favourite to draw and their interactions are also very fun!

Which character gives you the most difficulty to draw?
The Conductor has given me the most trouble. There is something about beards that my hands seem to be very allergic to.

Where can we find you?
I am on Twitter (@eliushi), Instagram (@eliushi.draws) and also more info on the overall world of Keyspace can be found on my website (https://eliushi.weebly.com/about.html)

Anything else you want the people to know about yourself or your comic?
I am also on discord in various comic and writing channels and if you spot me, feel free to say hi!