Cheng Zhaoci is going to end the three chapters of his first volume of the new comic here.

He gives it another read, and smooths out the details.

After putting his storyboarding work away, he calls Zhou Luoluo to ask if he happens to know any competent comic artists.

As previously said, the insectoid society features two prominent schools of artistic style, a minimalist and a realist one. If the artists are worth any salt, though, it should not be too much trouble to have them adapt – especially as Cheng Zhaoci has completed the sketches himself, and only needs detailing for the lines and colouring.

He also knows that males would generally have much more free time, which is why there would be male comic artists in the first place, although their personality might be quite varied.

Zhou Luoluo replied quite quickly, asking what Cheng Zhaoci needs them for. An explanation later, Zhou Luoluo sends him three pictures – featuring different but well done artistic styles ranging from photorealistic to cartoonish.

[ChengZhaoci: All three from the same artist?]
[ZhouLuoluo: Not really, the two cartoonish ones are my nephew, the realistic one is mine]

Eh?! Eh?! Cheng Zhaoci’s eyes widen greatly reading the reply.

Meanwhile, Zhou Luoluo is still spitting out rapidfire messages.

[ZhouLuoluo: Can’t I? Can’t I?! I want to draw too! Please, my friend, give me a chance!]
[ZhouLuoluo: I’m super cheap to hire! Honest!]

Well, Cheng Zhaoci is simply more surprised that Zhou Luoluo is actually quite experienced with drawing. That said… Isn’t Zhou Luoluo all busy trying to court some shemale? What about him?

Zhou Luoluo does not respond for a really long time. Perhaps he’s busy, or realised he hasn’t the time. But Zhou Luoluo finally sends a message through before Cheng Zhaoc can close his holodeck.

[ZhouLuoluo: It’s fine! I can help while still trying to win him over!] Since that shemale, Lu Nianqian, doesn’t look like he would budge no matter how much time he devoted to him anyway.

So it’s probably fine to take some of that time away to help. Maybe, just maybe, Lu Nianqian might realise he misses his company when he’s no longer showing up so frequently?

Since Zhou Luoluo has promised, how he goes about it is his business now. So Cheng Zhaoci tells him quite simply what he can expect as commission working under him.

He plans to pay them on a per panel basis, with detailing paying a bit more than colouring, which would be much simpler as only ensuring the colours are all there and aren’t bleeding over. It’s almost mechanical in process.

He also tells them their names will be listed alongside his pen name on the cover of the comic.

Though Cheng Zhaoci knows Zhou Luoluo well enough now that he probably just wants the thrill of working for a comic he likes and not for the money.

Not like they’d ever have to worry about money as males, especially as Zhou Luoluo seems to hail from some rather prominent family, too.

Of course, Cheng Zhaoci believes it is still good practice to lay down terms clearly when it involves payment and salary. He will also be able to supervise them better.

[ChengZhaoci: When you have time, come over with your nephew. We can talk more about it and I can also give you test panels to try. Would you be free any time soon?]
[ZhouLuoluo: Yes, of course! Tomorrow afternoon, I’ll be there with my nephew!]

The nephew turns out to be only two months younger than Zhou Luoluo.

And, looking at him, Cheng Zhaoci can’t help but admire the power of genetics. They’re basically the same in vibe.

If it was his past life, these two nephews out hanging about would definitely be mistaken for sisters doing shopping.

“He’s Zhou Xiaobao. The super shy nephew I told you about,” Zhou Luoluo introduces his nephew, then points towards Cheng Zhaoci, “here, the comic artist you really like. His real name is Cheng Zhaoci.”

“He-Hello!” Zhou Xiaobao extends his hands, trembling with excitement which is also evident from his flushed face. Then finally, he seems to realise he is being a tad too friendly and is going to pull his hands back, but Cheng Zhaoci grabs and shakes them, “hello, can I call you Xiaobao?”

Zhou Xiaobao gasps and says, “uh, ye… yes! Of course!”

“Then come this way. My drawing room is over here,” Cheng Zhaoci nods at Zhou Xiaobao and turns to lead the way.

Zhou Luoluo follows, but Zhou Xiaobao tugs him on the clothes. Zhou Luoluo turns to find a flushed tomato on top of Zhou Xiaobao’s neck, “he’s so nice.”

“… Can you look a little less like you’ve fallen for him?” Zhou Luoluo is speechless, and pats him on the back, “don’t worry, he’s really easygoing.”

Zhou Xiaobao nods, but is still following behind Zhou Luoluo meekly.

As Cheng Zhaoci doesn’t know Zhou Xiaobao well, chatting will fall flat. Just giving Zhou Luoluo attention is worse. So he cuts to the chase without delay, “I’m going to give you panels of the little zombie king’s comic to try detailing and colouring, with reference to how I handle the width of the stroke and the lines in general on this part I did. When you’re colouring, make sure you separate the layers for the hair, skin, clothes, eyes and background.”

“Got it!” Zhou Luoluo takes his own drawing tablet out – one he commissioned by taking inspiration from Cheng Zhaoci’s own. He also ordered one for his nephew.

Since the tablet wasn’t technically intensive and, especially since Zhou Luoluo had a working one as a reference, the tablets were done and shipped in a mere few hours.

They were testing the features of the tablets late last night, and had the brushes designed mimicking Cheng Zhaoci’s.

Cheng Zhaoci didn’t assign them too much work; only the big close-up on the little zombie king on the final panel of the first chapter, which also has some background details and the strongest shemale in reflection.

The two work decently fast. Cheng Zhaoci thinks they did acceptably, but as Zhou Xiaobao usually drew in a more cartoonish style anyway, he has cleaned up the lines better than Zhou Luoluo did.

“Hmm, I see. Luoluo, you are in charge of processing and finishing the touches on the zombie king’s lines from now on, so that you can get used to it quickly,” given the little zombie king is more 4-koma than anything, it’s perfect practice material without having too stringent a requirement on quality.

Then he tells Zhou Xiaobao, “the comic I’m planning to release soon will be yours, Xiaobao, and also other new comics I may release in the future.”

With the lines and colours dealt with, his work will become easier. He only needs to get the storyboard up to detailed sketches, and then finish up with the shading and post effects.

The time saved will be time to draw the content for the new comic. He’s finally no longer entertaining the grim reaper with a stroke now.

“Got it,” the brothers Zhou are happy with that.

“Oh and, like I said, I’ll put you guys on the cover as credit. Do you want to use your real names or a pen name?”

Zhou Luoluo and Zhou Xiaobao are looking at each other, then Zhou Luoluo speaks up first, “me! I want ‘Lonely Eagle’! To get my qualities across!”

Cheng Zhaoci believes it a gross misrepresentation of Zhou Luoluo’s actual qualities. He looks at Zhou Xiaobao next, who wants to call himself, “uh, Ma-, Machoinsectoid.”

“… I see.” Cheng Zhaoci then finally sends them his latest inspired tale, “this is the plot for my coming comic. I’m still working on the protagonists’ traits, but we’ll be doing this and the little zombie king at the same time later.”

Zhou Xiaobao is reading, taking everything to heart, as his personality means he would feel a strong connection to the protagonist in the story. So by the end of the first arc, he is already another blushing tomato.

Zhou Luoluo, meanwhile, is starting to giggle like a schoolgirl at the part that the male protagonist finally realised the demi was confessing to him through all the crying. He seems embarrassed for a second, trying to cover his mouth, but lets go of the idea seeing how Zhou Xiaobao has responded.

“I, I want to meet a demi,” Zhou Xiaobao gulps, and adds, “a reporter, hopefully,” he thinks he isn’t scared so much anymore! He can do it! He can copy and paste love!

“Unfortunately, I don’t think there are any demis out there who could talk without stuttering knowing you are male,” Zhou Luoluo pats his dumb nephew on the head, “you still lack experience, young insectoid, unlike your older brother me.”

“You certainly need experience, you do,” Cheng Zhaoci’s hand is itching, so he pats Zhou Luoluo on the head next, “remind me, how’s it going between your beloved shemale and you again?”

“…” Zhou Luoluo quietly retrieves his hand from atop Zhou Xiaobao’s head, and starts sulking.

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