This week—uh, last week—I was supposed to let the characters answer questions posed to them by readers. So below, the two sims I’ve had the most practice drawing got to answer questions from me, the null reader. What’s fun about these comics is that you can easily tell what order I drew them in.

It’s hard to have these two in a room together and have zero theater/musical theater/classical music references come up, so they—the references—are explained in the captions. I promise Haunted will not have this much theater. Pinky swear.

(EXPLAINING THE JOKE 1: In La La Land, which is a modern-day homage to Hollywood musicals, Ryan Gosling’s character keeps talking about jazz being a dying art and wanting to revive it. Ryan Gosling’s character is the only white jazz musician in the movie, IIRC. Esperanza Spalding is an actual jazz musician who won Best New Artist at the Grammys against Justin Bieber. ‘Morning rolls around and it’s another day of sun’ is a lyric from La La Land.)
(EXPLAINING THE JOKE 2: Shi Pei Pu was a male opera singer and spy for the Chinese government who seduced Bernard Boursicot, a French diplomat, by pretending to be a woman. M. Butterfly is a play by David Henry Hwang that draws inspiration from this story. The title references Madame Butterfly, a 1904 opera by Puccini that, despite attempting to portray the American as a jerk, is nevertheless notorious for exemplifying the garbage narrative in which a white man develops a romantic relationship with a childlike, submissive Asian woman—in this case, Butterfly is Japanese, but we’ll learn in the next caption that some people don’t make that distinction, possibly because this BS extends to other cultures—before leaving her for a “real” relationship with a white woman. God, I need a shower after typing that. Also, Butterfly is FIFTEEN, YIKES)
(EXPLAINING THE JOKE 3: “Are you my Butterfly?” is a line from M. Butterfly that is intentionally supposed to make the audience uncomfortable because of how cringey and racist it is. How it happens in the movie is, the two leads meet when John Lone’s character performs excerpts from Madame Butterfly. Lone’s character complains about having to play a Japanese woman because Chinese and Japanese culture aren’t interchangeable. Jeremy Irons’s character, for whatever reason, then decides asking “Are you my Butterfly?” is an acceptable way of flirting with Lone’s character. Lone is hilarious pretty much the entire time; he gives Irons a look that says “boy, did you leave your brain in the key bowl before you left for work,” before responding “Yes, I am your Butterfly.” Anyway you know you killed a role when the photo-still captions say, “oh yeah, Jeremy Irons was also in this”)
(Digital) Inktober: Q & A with the Shallot-Lius
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11 thoughts on “(Digital) Inktober: Q & A with the Shallot-Lius

  • October 24, 2020 at 8:19 pm

    I love these!

    There is obviously so much more to explore about the Shallot-Lius, so I’m excited Haunted is happening. I doubt I’m the only one who’s been wondering what it is about their histories/lived experiences (especially Xiyuan’s) that makes both these fellows such a perfect match.

    We were both deeply unhappy for years, and it was never clear how culpable we were, versus our surroundings, for our feelings of isolation. We expect that to resonate with some people.

    Yeah perhaps. I, for one, am looking forward to how you explore this theme. Expecting a mic-drop moment or two. Or three.

    Xiyuan getting irritated about La La Land is hilarious. And I think my favorite face of his here is from the fourth panel in the first comic. That expression is perfect!

    Really, really impressive progress with the art all-around.

    • October 24, 2020 at 8:41 pm

      I LOVE YOU.

      It’s a real problem; Xiyuan is the character I understand on the deepest level but I never get to write him. You know he has eight billion mic drops. You know there’s a bunch of writerly shit going on in the first chapter. You know it’s gonna be mostly flashbacks—ah, shit, I wrote SAtS again. My bad.

      As for the face, I just said this in response to another comment elsewhere: in this couple, it is always Xiyuan’s turn for the emotions. IN MY DEFENSE.

  • October 25, 2020 at 1:18 am

    These are so good! I love their expressions, and you draw drapery! I also adore the words and font (can hand-drawn letters be called font? I don’t think so…) I also adore the lettering and the words rambling behind the characters! I’d buy this graphic novel.

    • October 25, 2020 at 4:50 pm

      Turns out it’s both! Handwriting and font. You can make your own handwriting font on It says to print out the sheets, write, and scan them, but of course it’s easier to do everything digitally.

      And you get a whole graphic novel for free! Glad you’re on board!

  • October 25, 2020 at 4:05 am

    Ooof! I hope you do more of these! XiYuan and Bernard are so adorable! Is there an Inkvember? 😄
    Ah, I also have extremely bad astigmatism. The blue is too glaring for me. But I loved them anyway.

    • October 25, 2020 at 5:24 pm

      Oh no, sorry about the colors! I’ll fix it.

      November is NaNoWriMo, but because I’ve already written the equivalent of two novels here, it’s just gonna be more comics leading up to the release of Haunted at the end of the month. So there’s an Inkvember here, at least.


      • October 28, 2020 at 12:26 am

        That’s okay my eyesight is worse than most people so you wouldn’t have been able to predict that. 😄 Thanks for taking it into account.

  • November 1, 2020 at 9:49 am

    How can I even begin to write a comment that makes sense because this post contains sooooo mmannnnnyyyyy gifts!


    Deep breaths.

    The water sleeves. I can talk about these for approximately a million hours. The moment when Bernard pulls one over his head and says he is a ghost. My HEART. Do you understand? Are you trying to kill me?

    The artwork on these panels is just…I don’t even have words. I know that I’ve got a good sense of their personality from the story but even if I didn’t, it is conveyed to me here with their body language.

    Of course, I will be very pleased if there is this much musical theater. I am HERE for the TED talk about La La Land. “Thank you white guy for saving jazz” indeed.

    Speaking of their banter, this is A+ banter. Like, you know I love some banter and my heart is so full. Again, are you trying to kill me? The way they pick up on each other’s sentences and tease but also clearly adore each other, ugh….I’m such a sucker.

    Madame Butterfly. WHAT THE @$#$$#@

    Don’t even need white wine to go off on a rant that nobody asked for about that.

    I just…I’m counting down and waiting on pins and needles for Haunted. It’s gonna be so good. YAASSSSSS!!!!!!!!!

    • November 1, 2020 at 11:49 pm

      I SWEAR I’m not trying to kill you! Ahimsa forever, and I’m doing what I can, over the internet, to ensure Vlad STEALS THAT CHILD.

      D’aww, this is such a good community to learn a new skill in. You and everyone else are just the best. Everyone’s so supportive here, my heart is full of rainbows (in this one particular area but not 2020 in general).

      And did I hear “throw a musical theater Easter egg into Haunted every once in a while”? Loud and clear.

      Bahahaha! You know—you know, even if you’ve never met these characters before, that they have the same debate about Webber every week. And you know who’s on which side. And that they both still know all the words to “The Phantom of the Opera” anyway.

      Yes, what is WITH Madame Butterfly indeed? Dear All Women In Musicals and Operas: Stop killing yourselves over fuckboys.


      • November 2, 2020 at 10:40 pm

        You heard correctly YES. Also, this is the wrong comment thread but “does Carmen. Hip Hopera even exist” is the only Schrödinger’s cat joke I want this year.

  • November 1, 2020 at 9:50 am

    Oh, sorry, just back again to say that line about not agreeing over what qualifies as a nice char? A PLUS.

    A PLUS.


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