I sat down with Jay Kell – an aspiring web comic creator behind the webtoon The Hero & The Rockstar and founder of WebKom – an online community and organization of Filipino web comic creators. She wanted to ask me some questions about RaveForce and INKD Comics as well, so I said why not feature it in this website. This is the second part of a 2-part interview.

JAY KELLY: Considering most webkoms are in English for a wider, international audience, why did you choose Tagalog/Filipino as the language for RaveForce?

GN OCHOA: The original RaveForce was written in English, oh God I wish I still have those old pages but they’re probably out there in our old house’s rotting away or something. Anyway. I decided to use Filipino this time around because first, the setting is in the Philippines and as you can see, its not pure deep Tagalog as it has a more casual tone and has English speaking parts. The intended audience are Filipinos first and you can always translate to English later. Have you ever seen a pure Japanese manga that is written in English first? It’s kind of like the same thing, English is an easy way out but it’s way more challenging and most of all more engaging to write a webkom in our native language.

JK: What are your similarities with your protagonist Irene? Differences? How much do you relate with her?

GNO: Irene is Hearts’ real name, the thing is, Hearts didn’t have a real name in the original story I wrote (she was just called Hearts and her identity was shrouded in mystery). Irene’s character is based on my ex-girlfriend so that’s the difference between me and her. Similarity-wise I can say we’re both the type you really don’t want to make mad.

JK: Who’s your favorite character?

GNO: Obviously its Irene A.K.A. Hearts. She’s the one who stuck around my imagination through all this years.

JK: How do you promote your comics? Do you do any special techniques?

GNO: Nothing really special, I use social media as a leverage. Coming from an industry that helped me build a large network of friends and acquaintances from various walks of life helped me get my ventures be recognized. Of course promoting comics is much more different from promoting a nightclub or event but there’s that big likelihood that these people who party are also people who may take interest in your work, especially some people in the clubs and events are artists in their own right as well.

JK: Is RaveForce your first webkom? Are there any other past projects? How about in the future?

GNO: Yes RaveForce is my first webkom, the first to be released exclusively on digital. I had past projects that was fantasy-themed although I cringe at the thought of having monsters from Filipino folklore landing on my pages. In the future I may bring a more light-hearted webkom, something along the lines of such titles like Pugad Baboy or Beerkada.

JK: Do you plan on publishing RaveForce? What are your plans/thoughts for the future of the webkom/komiks?

GNO: If you mean publish it in print well, I’m a bit mixed on that as digital is becoming more of the norm while print is becoming a novelty or a premium. I will publish a collected edition of RaveForce soon either as per chapter or per story arc.

I can say webkomiks are in the early stages of becoming mainstream. Soon, more and more will be jumping the bandwagon, people will just make a webkom for the sake of it and will last like a trend. We will see who’s really serious or not. Thankfully most of our audiences are readers who don’t have short attention spans, they actually engage more on the stuff we produce.

JK: Tell us about INKD. Did the creation of RaveForce inspire it?

GNO: Last October 2018 I was planning to reboot my other startup GimikZone and have it become a platform for web comics and digital art along with being blog for nightlife and events. However plans have changed as me and my partner aren’t as active on events as we used to be though we still have remaining obligations to fulfill. It doesn’t make sense if I use the GimikZone brand for promoting comics and digital art exclusively so I created a separate brand. INKD is the first ever online startup I created that had nothing to do with events entertainment as it is a comic brand to begin with. As for GimikZone, we have relegated it as INKD Comics’ lifestyle and events entertainment brand.

Did RaveForce’s creation inspire it? Since RaveForce was created in 1996, the publishing name I originally used was GN Comics. When I brought it back, GimikZone was supposed to be the brand that will serve as its publishing platform but I already told how that turned out. So INKD Comics makes more sense as a publishing brand because of its namesake.

JK: If you can spend one day with a character in your story, in one setting from your story, who and where would it be? What would you tell/him/her? Why?

GNO: Spoiler alert here if you haven’t read RaveForce. I’d spend one day with Irene of course, in the flashback events of episode 1 and 2 where she’s playing at an event and learns her then-boyfriend is cheating on her with another guy. I would have saved her from “disappearing” after walking out and passing out.