Today I want to introduce an amazing comic artist to you.
I found her blog many years ago and ever since then have enjoyed her funny comic strips where she’s comparing Japan to Singapore, the U.S. and other countries. I really love her humor and with just a few panels she’s able to convey things showing how they really are.
When reading her comics I often find myself smiling and nodding. If I could draw at all I would show you the differences between Japan and Germany. ;)
But as I can’t I decided to introduce you to “Evacomics” instead because it’s something you really shouldn’t miss if you’re interested in Japan and how life there really is.
And there’s nobody else who could introduce Evacomics better than the artist herself. I’m glad that she agreed to do this interview.
Zooming Japan: Hi, Eva. Please introduce yourself.
Eva: Hi, Jasmine! I’m Evangeline Neo, a comic artist from Singapore. I’ve been publishing my own comic series via web since 2007. I was awarded an MDA scholarship in 2003 and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Academy of Art University, San Francisco. I subsequently earned a scholarship for Japanese language study and Masters in Business Administration (MBA) at Waseda University in Tokyo in 2010 supported by Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 2013 I returned to Singapore and founded Evaworks Pte Ltd as a vehicle for my marketing expertise, deep cross cultural insight and entrepreneurial spirit.
Eva at Hitachi Seaside Park – a place I have yet to visit (can you believe it?)
Zooming Japan: Why did you decide to come to Japan and why did you leave again?
Eva: After graduating from my art school in US, I returned to Singapore to work on my comics. But seeing that the industry had not grown and sales of comic books going down, I wanted to see and experience how Japan created the vibrant manga culture and if I could learn something from it and bring back home. I had no money to study abroad so I applied for scholarships and got one offered by Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Japan) on my third attempt. I left because I graduated and did not want to sell my soul to any Japanese company for a working visa. I wanted to develop my own brand “Evacomics” so the best place is back home (and no rent!).
Zooming Japan: You’re drawing awesome comics comparing Japan to other countries, mainly Singapore. How did you come up with that idea?
Eva: Hint: I didn’t have a smart phone for my last 1.5 years in Japan. I didn’t look down on my phone like what most people do now, so I just observed everything around me. As a student, I had more time to socialize with many people so ideas came in through regular conversations, too.
Zooming Japan: Where / how can people enjoy your comics?
They can also purchase the book “Eva, Kopi and Matcha” that you see in the photo above on Amazon.
Zooming Japan: In your opinion, what is better about life in Japan and what is worse when you compare it to Singapore?
Eva: It’s always more interesting to have changing seasons, fresh seasonal fruits, vegetables and meat. Everything in Japan looks more visually appealing, from snack packaging to billboard ads. Scenery is also beautiful there. We have no rural area in Singapore now, no mountains, no river, no lakes.
The only thing I don’t like about Japan and the reason why I left is the working culture there. You are supposed to follow what your superiors want, work overtime and get totally exhausted. There’s no work-life-balance. Being a woman doesn’t help either. I had been looked down upon a couple of times from old Japanese businessmen. Of course, not all old Japanese businessmen are arrogant, I had professors who were absolutely cool and open-minded.
(*Zooming Japan: Don’t even ask what kind of weird situations I had with my students because of that …)
Zooming Japan: I’m writing a blog series called “A German Alien in Japan”. We all know that Western foreigners in Japan are sometimes treated differently from Asian foreigners. Would you agree? What’s your experience?
Eva: Yes, definitely. I heard from friends that companies who were hiring English teachers prefer foreigners who look more foreign (i.e. blonde hair, blue eyes). You also get more attention when you have a Western-looking foreign friend in the group … everybody just treats you kinder. For me, I looked like a Japanese, so I only got “better” treatment when I didn’t completely understand the instructions and spoke in English …
(*Zooming Japan: And in Germany you have to call the waiter several times and hope you’ll be able to pay any time soon. On top of that you’re supposed to pay a tip.)
Zooming Japan: Do you have any advice for people who want to live in Japan?
Eva: It’s probably better to save some money and then apply for a one-year Japanese course there to experience Japan and its culture. You get to learn the language, make new friends and have time to tour around. If you decide to study or work there, you can research and get interviewed directly, too. There’s also the MEXT scholarship. You don’t have to pay school fees and you get monthly allowance, too!
Zooming Japan: Thank you very much for the great advice and for taking the time for this interview, Eva.
I hope you like Evacomics as much as I do.
You can stay connected with Eva and enjoy new comic strips regularly on the following platforms: