Bulgilhan Press (Stray by Molly Mendoza) recently announced the first book of its 2023 publication season, A Liang Chan‘s Far Distant, a 56-page full-color comic that explores solitude and dreams, currently collecting pledges on Crowdfundr.
Chan’s previous work includes Viscera, Everything You Will Forget, as well as ShortBox’s Interim, one of 2020’s best comics. And Far Distant is illustrated in the methodical paneling and uncanny, symbolic artwork characteristic of their art style. It follows a researcher, known as a “Keeper,” living independently in a remote region as their dreams become stranger and stranger, slowly creating a sublime dissonance and ambivalence.
According to the publisher’s description of the comic, “while wrapping up their second cycle conducting research in isolation, this Keeper contemplates an anomalous transmission that describes something unknown until their dreams begin to change, and soon, a choice must be made: repeat the same cycle over and over or transform.”
Bulgihan Press recently posted the first printer proof on social media. Check it out below!
We got our first printer proof of FAR DISTANT by @formyths!
We’ve got a little more than halfway to go, both to our funding goal as well as the campaign itself!
Don’t worry about the red title text, that’s the indication of embossing.https://t.co/44WOXVZGmn pic.twitter.com/z7yqoZHsJR
— Bulgilhan Press @ VanCAF & Far Distant Crowdfundr (@bulgilhan) May 8, 2023
The Beat chatted with Chan about the genesis of Far Distant, their creative process, and more. Read on.
Rebecca Oliver Kaplan: How did you become interested in dreamscapes and their meaning?
A Liang Chan: Most people across millennia have had dreams, so I don’t think it’s a particularly unique urge. I’m also personally more into capturing the strangeness of the feeling, an experience of some other version of the way things could be, than any direct “meaning.” That being said, I am pretty interested in the ways people have tried to interpret dreams, especially as a form of divination. The world is very large, and it’s very relatable to try to find some patterns in it.
Check out colored pencil drawings of Chan’s dreams in their Dream Journal 2022.
Kaplan: The protagonist is a Keeper who conducts research in isolation. How did you come up with this concept? What inspired you to explore the impact of living in isolation?
Chan: I don’t actually have any specific term for them in my notes—I was thinking of them as some hybrid radio station operator/data collector. Originally, I was going to have the character more explicitly be a researcher doing observational work, and I also considered having them be a caretaker for a shrine or natural feature. In general, though, it was inspired by the sorts of jobs people have done throughout history that required them to be in remote or inaccessible places for periods of time—lighthouse keepers, for example.
To a certain degree, I was less focused on physical isolation than self-imposed seclusion, part losing yourself in your work and part using your work as an excuse. The character’s background is kept fairly vague in the comic, but I’m interested in the choices of those people at those isolating jobs. Obviously, not everyone has options, and to a certain point, it’s just pure necessity—but what’s beyond that?
As a bonus, it’s also faster to draw one person than a bunch of them.
Kaplan: How did you begin working with Bulgilhan Press?
Chan: Zach [Clemente] actually reached out to me and asked if I wanted to pitch something! It took a little while to get started, but I tried to figure out an idea that I would most likely not be able to pitch to traditional publishing, and here we are.
Kaplan: What’s your creative process?
Chan: My personal work usually starts from something that’s been rattling around in my brain for a while, sometimes years. Maybe it’s a sentence I thought of that I wrote down or a concept I found interesting while researching. Even beyond the specific subject matter, a lot of my inspiration comes from things that aren’t necessarily comics or illustrations. I started getting really into film a year or two ago, for example, and what I was watching definitely helped me start thinking more about structure and experience.
Usually, I have an idea of what form I want to work in—single illustration, a couple of comic pages, whatever—so once I have an idea to poke around at, I’ll start trying to see how that could fit. Sometimes it doesn’t work, and I have a scribble in a sketchbook that I’ll rediscover later or transform into part of another project. Time is important, though it’s not so much waiting for inspiration as it is making sure I’m giving my brain enough new info, experiences, and references that I’ll be able to pull from.
Kaplan: How close are you to befriending a murder of crows?
Chan: Unfortunately, not very far. I will persevere.
Far Distant by A Liang Chan is currently crowdfunding on Crowdfundr.