I never got around to posting about this, here on my main website!
For two years, from 2013 to 2015, I worked as an ALT (assistant language teacher) at a senior high school in Utsunomiya, Japan. During that time, I put a lot of extra hours into creating illustrated worksheets, games, and other lesson materials for my classes. I shared some with other teachers and got some enthusiastic feedback, so I started compiling and formatting the materials into PDFs, with full instructions so that any teacher could download and use them.
(At the time of writing, there are still some materials yet to be formatted and uploaded. I’ve been busy!)
These lesson materials represent two years of my work as a cartoonist and creator, and include some of the best and most worthwhile illustration I’ve ever done. I even made a board game! So even though it’s not comics, I’d encourage you to take a look, if you follow my work. I feel like this is my humble equivalent of Will Eisner’s army manuals — those actually useful things he made, in between The Spirit and helping to invent the graphic novel.
And along with creating lesson materials, it was also a part of my job to do… The Morning Speech. (Again: Volume 2 yet to come!)
From February 2016, I worked for one year with Square Enix as the English localisation editor for Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius, one of those smartphone gacha RPGs. How about that!
The game is continuing — the story is serialised, and there are regular events, etc. — but I’ve finished working on it as of the end of January 2017.
My job was, basically, to take the initial English translation and make it prettier. The work ranged from straight proofreading to heavy rewriting, depending on the needs (and priority) of the material. Unfortunately, due to technical and organisational issues beyond my control, not all of the game text was even seen by me, let alone edited, so if you play the game, you’ll find that the text, in places, switches back and forth between professional quality and, uh, less-than-professional quality, with no apparent pattern — a fact that will always nag at me, but oh well. The parts I worked on, I improved, and I’m proud of that.
With a tiny few exceptions, I didn’t have the foresight to take screenshots of Patrick’s Greatest Edits as I played through the game. Happily, however, some players were so pleased with the dialogue in the game that they did. So I’ve gathered some bits and pieces from social media, reassembled complete conversations where possible, and plopped them into a gallery for you here. I don’t know how representative it is, but anyway, it’s a taste. Naturally, I’ve only included text that I edited heavily enough that I feel I can reasonably take some credit (or blame) for it, but remember that all of it is the product of a kind of assembly-line collaboration, from the writers, to the translators, to me.
I did my best to give the characters strong, recognisable voices, and to make the dramatic bits more memorable and affecting, but naturally it’s the bits where I enhanced the humour of a scene, or just straight-up added jokes to boring conversations, that are popular with the internet’s assorted screenshot-takers, AND RIGHTLY SO. Thank you, screenshot-takers!
I had an extremely busy 2016, and a quite productive one — just not obviously productive; a lot of it was taken up with a new Tobias and Jube comic that I can’t show you yet (among other projects). But I did manage to squeeze in these two lovely illustrations…
Print available. Tobias and Jube come across a garden of eyes whose attention seems to be anywhere else.
I used a pencil for ‘inking’, here, for the first time, which is something I’d wanted to try. It matches the watercolours and feels comfortable to me. (In fact, no actual pencils or paints were involved — both of these illustrations were done entirely on my ipad pro, in Procreate.)
On the whole I take my Christmas thoroughly Anglo, with as many pre-Christian rituals and ornaments as possible bleeding through, but of course also with proper carols, joyful and mysterious, about magic baby God, born to be sacrificed to himself, or, alternatively and ideally, about Wenceslas, a nice king with hot feet. No Santy Claus, no holly jolly jingle dingle, no crooners, no divas. But these are mostly aesthetic preferences; religion and spirituality have something but not so very much to do with it — consequently I’m happy to incorportate whatever ideas and symbols and activities happen to catch my fancy into my personal concept and practice of Yuletide, which is really the only way to do it nowadays, isn’t it?
So what have we got here. We’ve got some carolers who are a bit Peanuts and a bit Dickens. We’ve got some Japanese-style winter illuminations. We’ve got some holly wrapped around an old-as-fuck stone monument of the kind that dot the landscape of Tobias and Jube’s little world. What does it mean? Does anyone remember? And perhaps candles always burn with blue flame at Christmas, which is why no-one’s FREAKED OUT about that. Perhaps it’s got something to do with the Ghost of Christmas Present, or Father Christmas, or whoever it is, lurking in the background there, inspecting the scene with what we should hope is an approving eye. (Or maybe Leroy, the wizard, did it.) The ginkgo tree, like the ones here in Tokyo, is nearly bare at just this time of year. And I wonder if El Bobba, down the front there, is on his way to plop that yuzu into a hot bath, in line with the Japanese winter solstice tradition.
The new Tobias and Jube comic I mentioned earlier? You can meet all the carolers pictured above in that comic. Stay tuned.