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Interview with Derek Chua, creator of "Roleplayers" tabletop RPG comic
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Interview with Derek Chua, creator of Roleplayers comics series

20 August 2015
JF Koh

Roleplayers, tabletop RPG comic

What is "Roleplayers" all about?

Roleplayers is an original comic series about a group of tabletop roleplay gamers and their misadventures in game and in life. Elliot, Mordecai, Wei and Ben are college students in a roleplay gaming club who shun campus life, mostly keeping to themselves and their game campaign. When Cassie, an attractive girl joins their club, the group finds their campaign and lives taking a dramatic turn through a winding pathway of emotional highs and lows.

Why did you decide to create a comics series about roleplaying board gamers?

I enjoy playing tabletop roleplaying games and board games in general. As a comic artist, I realize that there isn't a lot of comic content specific for this genre of gaming. I myself would love to read a comic about RPG gamers so I thought I'll just create the comic I'd like to read.

Could you describe the main characters, and why you set them up like that?

As the title of the series suggests, the main characters are the players in the club itself and that includes the two new female members, Cassie and Sally in addition to the group of 4 boys, Elliot, Mordecai, Wei and Ben. The characters are inspired by people that I've interacted with in life and at the gaming table. I wanted to capture authenticity of the tabletop roleplay experience in my comic, so my characters have to embody certain qualities of real life players. In some ways, they fit into certain player archetypes but I like to think of them as more than that. Hopefully as more issues come out, readers will be able to learn that there is more to the characters than their perceived stereotypical molds.

Who would "Roleplayers" appeal to?

I made the comic series for people like myself, a person who would like to read and enjoy entertaining content about tabletop roleplaying, a very specific genre of gaming. But I do think that the comic series is casual, entertaining and light enough for the general audience of comic book readers to receive and enjoy it.

How did you get acquire the skills to write and draw comic books?

Making comics wise, I attribute my development from a hobbyist to a serious comic creator to my schooling years in art college and the time thereafter. Besides honing my craft in drawing and storytelling, I was a student of Sonny Liew, a renowned comic artist, when he taught a visual storytelling class in my school. After graduation, I went on to be taught by another well known comic artist, Troy Chin, where I was mentored by him through Noise Singapore's apprenticeship program. Both veteran professional comic artists were instrumental in my formative years as a visual storyteller. To summarize, I was taught by pros. I am still learning though and working towards becoming a better visual storyteller everyday.

What was your personal experience with roleplaying games?

I consider myself a new player, having played only a few systems. I find that I enjoy playing as a game/dungeon master as well as a player at the table. It is difficult to find time and a group here in Singapore to play regularly. Some players prefer combat but for myself, I've always enjoyed the narrative aspects of a roleplay game, perhaps mostly because I've always thought of myself as a storyteller. Finding like-minded players to play with can be tough but the times when I do, the stories that we tell and the character developments that happen with the dice rolls are like finding gold.

What was involved in the research for the stories?

Since the comic series revolves around tabletop roleplaying and geek culture in general, I've spent time researching relevant topics reading articles, watching videos and playing actual games with people. For the 3rd issue of the series, a cosplay special issue that focuses on the topic of bullying within the cosplay community, I enlisted the help of 2 local cosplayers who shared their experiences, gave me valuable insights and advice to help me with lending authenticity to the story.

What is important to you when you tell these stories?

It is important to me that I entertain my readers first and foremost.

How do you juggle creating comics with other commitments?

Simply put, I have no life. Making comics is time consuming. Most of my free time goes into making my comics and I have very little time for other social activities. In a way, I'm very grateful to people like JF who organizes gatherings and social meetups, giving me an excuse to leave my work station to come out and meet people.

What other comics are you working on?

Currently, at the time of this interview, I'm developing another mini comic series set in pre-modern Japan about a female assassin for hire.

Where can we read or buy "Roleplayers"?

Readers can read the first few issues for free online or purchase the digital comic pdfs via the links on my website:

"Roleplayers" is also featured in the online comics anthology Panelgraph.