Length:: 0:51 Mins
Alice, like many of us when we were kids, had a favorite pet. Hers is a dog named, “Charlie.”
Her family consists of her father, Lewis and Charlie and a home in the suburbs far away from the blight of urban living that her father muses is the result of greed and consumption, not that any such thing occurs on the country.
What would happen if the idyllic is turned upside down and Nature re-asserts itself over the mechanized, cultivated human world?
Alice and her family decide to take a camping trip, but when Charlie runs in to the woods and like a page out of the horror story, her life changes…
SEVEN YEARS…. is an expanded and printed version of the webcomic of the same name which is written, illustrated and published by Johny Tay.
Seven Years is not your typical graphic novel or a serial comic: it’s a social commentary and you’re invited into the other side of the industrial world.
*** Interview with the author, Mr. Johny Tan ***
Q1) I know that Seven Years... is a webcomic and the printed edition was culled from 2 years of work between 2009-11. But, as I came across the conversation with Lewis and his daughter Alice, I wondered how long was this story with you?
A) I'd say three years before I started making it. Before creating `Dog-Land' I was an editor at Reader's Digest, which exposed me to top-quality
writing. In addition my workplace was an hour's train ride away from home, and I used this time to read widely. I had lists of books which were
popularly regarded as the greatest English literature ever written, and
used my time on the train to read such books.
So all this exposure gave me ideas about what a great work of literature
should be like. In addition, I spent the last five years making a
children's comic titled `Anima'. Eventually I combined my knowledge of
good literature and knowledge of making comics to produce `Dog-Land'.
Q2) The story of Nature vs. (human) civilization is at the heart of this story and Alice, perhaps represents the future of where civilization should be, but what single event influenced you to challenge global industrialization?
A) I can't really pinpoint a single event that inspired Dog-Land. I'd say
it was a story that grew from a smaller idea. Initially I felt that humans
aren't really good at taking the perspective of animals, even our
supposedly `best friends' the dogs. Most people are blind to the reality
of puppy mills and the cruelty around the pet industry. I imagine that if
the dogs somehow realize the plight they're in, they'd rebel against us.
This expanded to an exploration of humans' relationship between nature and all animals, and also the nature of human society. Not only are humans blind to how they treat nature, but also to how they stagnate themselves -and this is revealed by the state of the Canine kingdom in the story.
So the elements of the finalized story are really a mesh of many years of
Q3) Who in the graphic novel industry inspires you and what kind of graphic novels speaks to you as a fan?
A) My favourite graphic novelists are Tezuka Osamu (hugely responsible for Japan's comic industry today), Will Eisner (a pioneer in American graphic novels), and Art Spiegelman (the only graphic novelist to have won a Pulitzer so far).
What makes them great is also what a graphic novel should ideally be. They are seminal creators because they don't see `comics' as limited to certain themes or genres. To them it is a medium that can be used to tell any story. There is nothing to stop a creator from crafting a story as complex as a novel. For examples, while Tezuka is most famous overseas for making `Astroboy' his most intelligent works included an autobiography of Buddha, and a lesser-known series titled `Phoenix', which explores humans' obsession with eternal life and power. Spiegelman won the Pulitzer for retelling his father's experience in Nazi concentration camps.
Q4) What's next from the pen of Johny Tay?
A) I recently finished a short story title `Shangri-La' ([...]) with a gifted Singapore painter, Kelvin Lim. It's a very different kind of comic - paintings melded with third-person narratives. The story has just been published in an anthology `Earth Dream' to commemorate Earth Day 2014
([...]). Shangri-La is originally based on the Boston Marathon bombing the year before.
Because I am now focused on just writing comics, I have several script
ideas in search of artists or established publishers. And because many
good artists ant to be paid, I am expanding my search for funding sources
as well. Two stories that should see light next year are: a short story on
that moment of Buddha's enlightenment, and a parody of a popular 80s
I'll update my website ([...]) and facebook
([...]) page as these projects progress.