On 10/11/16, we interviewed artist and author Natruya Uesugi about his grydscaen series for our second annual Graphic Novel / Web Comic week. More info about Natsuya and grydscaen at the end.
See it on FB here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/qsfdiscussions/permalink/568569936623288/
Angel Martinez Hi all! We’re here today with Natsuya Uesugi – author and illustrator of the grydscaen series – Natsuya, why don’t you start by telling us how long you’ve been working on the grydscaen world and stories?
Natsuya Uesugi Hi Angel, thank you for having me. The first cyberpunk grydscaen novel was published in 2010 but I had been writing stories in high school with some of the characters so I was familiar with the world when I started publishing the books. There are currently 7 books in the series with a 8th out by the end of this month
Angel Martinez Can you tell us a bit about the world? Is there a dystopian/ post apoc feel to your cyberpunk?
Natsuya Uesugi This is a dystopian world set in a metropolis after a nuclear bomb has been dropped. Fallout claimed many lives and those that did not die of radiation sickness had to eek out a meager existance in what remained standing. It is high tech, low life and some people due to the fallout developed psychic powers instead of getting radiation sickness
Angel Martinez Oooh, cool stuff! Humans, being who they are, tend to rebuild societies one way or another. What does the social hierarchy look like?
Natsuya Uesugi There are two warring nations, the autocratic Atlantea Federation which dropped the bomb on the insurrgent Pacific Territories which is a group of islands and nation states. The Story mainly takes place in the Pacific Territories in a specific area called The City, the Echelons and the Zone. The Zone is where the bomb was dropped and it is a devastated wasteland. The Echelons is right next to it and was left battered by the fallout. The City is a pristine metropolis to the north of the Echelons and the Zone where citizens live. People in the Echelons and the Zone are not citizens and they suffer. The City has a fabulous culture, high rises, art, glamour, money, wonderful health care, and medications that can cure radiation sickness – none of this is available in the Echelons where people are starving and have to dumpster dive, sell their bodies or steal data/credits to survive
Angel Martinez Sounds like good territory for social commentary. :) On to the graphic novel part. Can you tell us about your new graphic novel “A Storm’s Coming”? And is this a new story or one of the original seven?
Natsuya Uesugi The graphic novel “A Storm’s Coming” is one of the short stories that was in the novel grydscaen: tribute. I liked the story and the particular character, Rom the gay homeless teenager trying to survive on the streets of the Echelons so I decided to do a graphic novel of the story because I wanted to explore the world more. I am making a commentary about LGBT homeless youth in the story.
Ben Brock *waves*
Angel Martinez Hi Ben!
Natsuya Uesugi And I wanted to make the story a tech noir thriller along with the cyberpunk and that is where the idea of Rom getting stalked by the killer comes in
Natsuya Uesugi Hi Ben Brock
Ben Brock Sorry! Getting ready for work, so I’ll be popping in and out!
Natsuya Uesugi Thanks for stopping by. Have a good day at work.
Angel Martinez What made you decide on a graphic novel format for this story?
Natsuya Uesugi So I have always wanted to do a graphic novel of grydscaen. I initially went to art school once I got out of college because I wanted to learn how to animate. I studied animation and game design for 3 years was able to improve my drawing skills The original character Rom I had done 4 comic book pages with him in the 9th grade so I knew what he looked like and doing “A Storm’s Coming” I just used flushed out that first idea I had. I have always wanted to do a graphic novel for the grydscaen story. “A Storm’s Coming” is just the first, there will be others.
Angel Martinez Has it been mainly a matter of having the time, getting the stories into graphic novel format?
Angel Martinez (I imagine being writer, illustrator and colorist would take a lot of time :o )
Natsuya Uesugi Timing is part of the equation, some of the other graphic novels I am working now are taking a lot longer like “The Seer of Grace and Fire” which is dark fantasy and will be a trilogy as well as a manga.
Natsuya Uesugi I drew “A Storm’s Coming” in three weeks 50 pages total. I had to take the story and write a script first and do the character designs for the Zone Police officer and the killer then started work on the drawing. In the end “A Storm’s Coming” only took 3 weeks to draw, and 2 days to format for print, 1 day to format for ebook and about 3 more days to get the ebook for sale on Amazon.
J. Scott Coatsworth I didn’t reslize you did the art too!
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Natsuya Uesugi That is also why it is in black and white like a manga. Colour would have taken a lot more time
Angel Martinez Do you have plans to go back and color later, or do you want to keep the black and white noir-ish feel you have here?
Natsuya Uesugi I would like to go back and colour/redesign the cover but I think I will keep the black and white the interior pages. I colour the covers of the grydscaen books and some of them have illustrations inside like grydscaen: tribute which are black and white. I want to keep the interior “feel” consistent. The black and white fits more with the culture of where grydscaen is coming from.
Angel Martinez Excellent – I do love black and white illustrations for stories.
Angel Martinez For our graphics geeks, what do you use to draw?
Natsuya Uesugi I draw with a 0.5 mechanical pencil (H/2H/B) on manga art boards 10×14.25. Then I have that reduced to 8.5×11, then scan the page into my Mac. After the initial scan I transfer the pages to another computer I have and ink in Photoshop, add word bubbles and narration, and I format the book in InDesign place the individual drawings add front/backmatter and page numbers and export to PDF for printing
J. Scott Coatsworth old school. I like it.
Natsuya Uesugi I just downloaded Manga Studio 5 and I heard that is easier to use so I have a new tool with a wacom tablet to play with and learn now – I might use it for my next graphic novel “The Seer of Grace and Fire.” then I will move on to doing the graphic novel for grydscaen: Rogue another story about Rom
Natsuya Uesugi I like giving visibility to Rom as an LGBT homeless because I think we need more stories about that
Angel Martinez I agree – homeless queer youth is a very important topic.
Angel Martinez Just saw this week that you have cards starts for a deck/game. Will this be a full 78 card Tarot deck?
Natsuya Uesugi Yes it wil be a full 78 card Tarot Deck. Character cards from the series will be the Major Arcana and some policital orgaization. The Suit cards will be helper cards. If you want to read more about it you check check out: http://www.grydscaen.com/grydscaen-rpg-update/
J. Scott Coatsworth that’s so cool
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Natsuya Uesugi I like having multiple channels for grydscaen including the novels, book trailers, graphic novels, card game, anime, and short stories.
Angel Martinez It’s very smart, marketing wise :D Do you see all of the stories ending up as anime at some point?
Natsuya Uesugi grydscaen is an epic. In an ideal world it would be a multi episode anime which may not be possible. The “A Storm’s Coming” anime is the only one we have now. I think it will come down to picking and choosing individual short stories for turning into anime to take into consideration length, cost, and resonance with an audience.
Natsuya Uesugi The next grydscaen graphic novel “Rogue” will feature technology and Rom as a hacker who had his memory wiped by the government. I will start working on that in early 2017 with possible mid 2017 release date in ebook.
J. Scott Coatsworth I love that you are branching out into manga!
Angel Martinez That sounds exciting! We’re getting close to time here and we want to be sure people know where to find you – where can people best find your work?
Natsuya Uesugi I love working in the graphic medium, and since I draw all my own book covers it kind of makes sense to just finish the task.
Natsuya Uesugi Thanks J. Scott Coatsworth
Natsuya Uesugi The best place to find all my published work is on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00J6EDQQ6
Natsuya Uesugi And you can read about grydscaen, other works, blog posts and see all the grydscaen book trailers at http://www.grydscaen.com
Angel Martinez Thank you so much for spending time with us today and sharing your work and your process! QSF’ers, we’ll leave the interview up, of course, please feel free to ask questions whenever! Talk amongst yourselves! :D
Natsuya Uesugi Thank you Angel Martinez for allowing me to participate. It was fun.
J. Scott Coatsworth Yup thanks so much Natsuya! And thanks to Angel for the great interview. We will also post it in the interviews section of our website.
Kari Trenten Thank you so much, Natsuya Uesugi, by coming by and introducing yourself and your work!
Natsuya Uesugi Thanks Kari. I enjoyed being able to participate in a Queer SciFi event.
Natsuya uesugi is a systems analyst and has worked in the design of aerospace, semiconductor and financial systems. With a Master’s Degree in International Management and a minor in Japanese, Natsuya has been around computers most of his life. He also studied animation and game design in art school where he finalized the character designs and personalities for the main characters of grydscaen. He enjoys skydiving, cosplay, anime and writing poetry. He would like to make a graphic novel of grydscaen some day.
Amazon author page
“grydscaen A Storm’s Coming” Summary
Rom is a gay homeless youth living on the streets of the Echelons in the Pacific Territories. His every day life includes loitering, panhandling, dumpster diving for food, searching for a safe place to sleep and trying to stay warm in the Red Light District of Haven 15. Rom is befriended by Zone Police officer Xander Storm who tries to encourage him. But one day a psychic killer who has his eyes set on hurting Rom comes to Haven.
Xander patrols the streets of the Echelons hunting for the man who killed his wife and son. Rom reminds Xander of his son who died when he was 16 years old, the same as Rom. Can Xander find the killer as he stalks Rom through the streets or will Rom end up just another target on this killer’s rounds? Find out in the grydscaen scifi short story, and also available as a manga, “A Storm’s Coming.”