That Time I Wrote a Short Comic for a Chinese Children's Magazine

Holding this beautiful magazine in my hands hits me with all the feels… 

When the magazine first arrived and I shared a spread on IG stories, Cheryl (creator of Little Picnic Magazine) joked, “Not going to mention you wrote [this feature]? ;)”

It’s strange how much I struggle with talking about my work.

Luckily, the thing about using my Chinese name, is that it’s not immediately obvious I wrote it haha. So I can let my thoughts & feelings percolate a bit, and talk about it in my own time, which… I am going to do now.

Yep — I did write the comic strip in the magazine ❤️

I still remember when Cheryl first shared this project with me. Her vision was to create a beautiful, captivating, and educational children’s magazine for that budding reader who is just beyond most Chinese “levelled readers” (Sage/Greenfield), but before the aspirational “bridge book” level.

That awkward reading level BOTH our kids happen to be at lol. Needless to say, I was quite excited to see her fill this gap!

So when she invited me to write a nature-themed comic feature for the magazine mid way through the project… cue allll the emotions!

I felt incredibly honoured. But also, so much imposter syndrome (!!) Is my Chinese even good enough? Am I a writer? What will I write about?!

With support & encouragement from Cheryl though, I finally dove into it.

The feature was very open ended. I didn’t have existing characters, or topics I’m required to cover. Just that it’s something about nature, in comic strip format.

There was quite a bit of creative freedom.

After spending some time on character design (there were plenty of ideas thrown away btw, including inanimate things that spoke 😝), I ultimately landed on a pair of brothers, whose interactions are very much inspired by my own kids.

I’ve learned a lot in this process, from studying features of my favourite comics, to figuring out how to communicate “scenes/panels” in my writing, to experimenting with how to develop “plot” in something so short, to finessing dialogue for this reading level (I agonized over every word — still agonizing over it tbh even though it’s printed and out in the world now 😬)

I want to thank Cheryl for trusting me with this feature ❤️ And Awan for bringing it to life with her gorgeous illustrations!

This is truly a labour of love, designed with my kids in mind.

I’m still learning of course, and there’s room for improvement. Luckily, there’s opportunity for that, as 野趣兄弟 will be back!

They will be a recurring feature in Little Picnic Magazine 小野餐幼兒雜誌, so readers will continue to see these familiar faces while learning interesting nature tidbits in each of the country we travel to, in each issue!

You can get the debut issue of Little Picnic Magazine on Little Kozzi now!

I recently added a more accessible lettermail 💌 shipping option if you just want to get this (there’s no tracking with lettermail though, so use at your own risk!)

Hope your little readers enjoy the comic strip as much as I enjoyed working on it ❤️

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