This isn’t related to my yokai comic, Rika and the Hundred Demon March (first few pages of that coming soon) but my mini-comic on recent adventures in rat ownership and vet care.
I’ve been sleep-deprived for about 2 weeks, fearful and paranoid and unsure how to go forward. So much has been out of my control. But with time being so precious for rats, the only thing to do is to move forward.
I’ve got in the works a comic about a young woman about self-discovery.
Rika Kasugai is lost in life, caught in between her Asian and Western identity and fitting in nowhere. She’s got a Japanese name that doesn’t match her looks — she’s tall (175cm), big-boned, pale-skinned, freckled, red-haired, and nobody really believes she’s born and raised in Japan.
Now living in Canada, she’s socially anxious and has no friends, but needs money to get to college so has taken on a summer job guiding Japanese tourists around Vancouver.
Her life is irrevocably changed when one day, she gets a tour bus for 100 VIPs from across Japan who are actually ghosts, sprites and demons — 妖怪，or Yokai — in disguise. Once a year in midsummer, they go on a demonic tour at night, and this time, they’ve chosen to take their visit overseas to Canada.
In dealing with her terrifying and mysterious clients, Rika ends up learning a lot about them, and about her own personality and past.
I’m making a new comic and I hope it’s going to be a good one. Rika is shown here meeting Kurako, the fox demon, in her demon fox form. Kurako is a bake-kitsune (化け狐） or a type of supernatural demon-spirit that has magical powers including transforming into people and deceiving people for decades. While the vast majority of demon foxes are evil/semi-evil manipulators, Kurako’s intentions are a bit more unclear, as she takes on a kind of mentor role to Rika — an awkward, clumsy, low-self-esteem young woman with a strong sense of cultural displacement (she grew up during her formative years in Japan, and despite never really fitting in or being accepted, she still identifies strongly with Japanese culture and struggles when she comes back ‘home’ to Canada).
When I was a kid, I grew up with legends and stories from Japanese folklore. My childhood was imbued with it: my mother told me about how people’s souls turned into beautiful blue-green flame when they died, and that she saw these herself when she was a child on her way to the outdoors toilet (homes in Okinawa didn’t have toilets back then if you weren’t wealthy).
“Everyone around me said the hino tama (flame of people’s souls) was scary, that it was frightening to come across, but when I saw them I wasn’t freaked out at all. I thought they were so pretty,” my mom told me.
This is a work in progress of some of the demons who enter my story, Rika and the Hundred Demon Tour (still debating if it should be “March” instead, as per 百鬼夜行。The Japanese version of my text would be 百鬼旅行、or Hundred Demon Tour)..
My partner (Monkey) revealed to me that my attempts at…caressing? fondling? him when he comes to bed at night is not quite romantic, but actually rather creepy. All this time I’d been trying to be affectionate, and it turns out I’d been making him feel like a groping victim of the Sloth from Hell.
We were missing a few players last night at Dungeons and Dragons, namely the two people playing archetypal hero characters. As a result, all three of our characters were slightly scummy, morally questionable heroes who would think of all kinds of dirty tricks to a) not fight b) trick the enemy c) inflict cruel and unusual punishment on the enemy. Worse, all three characters were unsympathetic to children.
We got into a lot of dumb conversations around dirty tactics to get the upper hand. One of them was about charming a monster so we don’t have to fight it head-on.
Monkey is a giant, lifelong Dungeons & Dragons player and DM (dungeon master). He’s a gifted storyteller, and never misses an episode of Critical Role with Matt Mercer. I never got into it until he showed me how to play. There’s an awful lot of planning that goes into DM-ing: reading the story, creating the world, playing the characters.
I asked him what he and other DMs get out of it. Is it the feeling of calling the shots? Is it the friendship? This was our convo.