Chapter 5

Departure from Realism

Translated by boilpoil
Edited by boilpoil

Standing out from the norm is not necessarily a good thing. Limited by the current trends and what the public would accept, the style of drawing should never be too far ahead. That was actually what set back American-style comics in the very beginning. The realistic depiction in comics gave it an unfortunate reputation in the beginning.

Though that is not a problem in the insectoid society, because their own serial comics tend to use an exaggerated artform. It means Cheng Zhaoci’s cleaner approach to the scenes and use of fewer colours overall would be seen as refreshing instead. While the way he lays out the storyboard may take some getting used to, everything else should be acceptable.

“A new artist?” On the Capital planet, Meng Yuele, who just finished his training, is leaning back on his chair and stretching, before becoming a pile of boneless insectoid absorbed in his chair, only lifting his hand to check the latest releases in the drawing sharing site. He likes surfing the site and reading comics, which are a good source of stress relief and can also kill some time.

Though he straightens his back as soon as he spots something on the new releases. He’s interested in that ID he’s never seen before on the new recommendations ranking.

It’s quite the striking user ID, too, something suggesting more towards a shemale rather than the gentler and more soft-spoken demis.

The cover was what grabbed Meng Yuele’s attention, featuring an insectoid standing behind a foggy piece of glass, having wiped some of the fog away with his hand, only showing half his face. His red eyes are visible but obscured by the watery fog.

Only a vague silhouette can be seen through the glass, and it’s oddly alluring. It’s a style of art he’s never seen before, unlike the two main styles of either exaggerating certain body parts or complete realism. The colouring scheme is also rather refreshing. If he has to describe it in one adjective, it’s ‘elegant.’

Meng Yuele didn’t pay much attention to the title, and simply clicks into it for the unique art style. He’s completely hooked a few panels in. Zombies? What? Oh. Cool!

The zombies fighting insectoids is so cool! He’s never seen battle scenes drawn in such impactful perspectives before. A car bursting in, crossing over two different panels, almost like it is going to smash right out into reality from the pages.

Meng Yuele, a soldier insectoid, is certainly in love. Shemales are known as ‘war machines’ among other interstellar species for a reason. They are warmongering and expansionist. These types of fighting scenes can rile his fighting spirit right up.

The insectoid base have finally isolated where the Zombie King is? They’re sending the strongest shemale over? Meng Yuele is sitting upright now, all ready for the great showdown between the strongest shemale and the Zombie King.

Although when the strongest shemale character comes out, Meng Yuele’s face contorts just somewhat. Why… does this ‘strongest shemale’ look so much like one of his fellow soldiers?

But never mind. With eyes glued to his holodeck, he can see the strongest shemale discovering where the Zombie King is born. The Zombie King is here! First, the hand, then, that silhouette…
He sure looks thin, almost un-shemale-like. Maybe the Zombie King is from a dried corpse? Though the excited Meng Yuele’s passion gets doused right on the final panel.

The pretty, almost mouthwatering male right there sends him into shock, then he goes ‘holy shit’ as he closes the comic, puts his hand to his chest, with his face growing red already, “what was that?! What in the?!” A male! A male, right? Why would a male have those clean eyes! Holy! What?!

With shaky hands, he opens the comic once more, to look closely at the young, little male insectoid.

This won’t do! This cannot be! This male has torn and ragged clothes! It’s outrageous! The barbaric comic artist, how could he ever make males appear like that!

Then he looks at the artist – Zhousuo, K-865? Isn’t that one of those landfill planets? Oh, understandable, then. The author has likely never seen a male, and is just fantasising.

While despising the artist in his mind, he clicks on the ‘bookmark’ button.

A ‘ding’ rings up almost as soon as he has finished doing so, spooking him the way someone patting his shoulder when he’s doing something naughty would be. He’s only able to finally sigh once he realises it’s an insectoid sending him a message.

Hm, but why should he be feeling guilty, anyway? He didn’t draw this.

He checks the message on the holodeck, noting that it’s actually the shemale he thought was the strongest shemale-lookalike sending him the message.

[WeiZhuo: Tomorrow, we will be going to planet Zhousuo at system K-865. Jin Yue has been confirmed to be there]

Zhousuo? Is this for real? The coincidence makes Meng Yuele surprised, but then, recalling how expressionless his boring friend usually looked, shares him the comic immediately.

If he knows there is no way Wei Zhuo would know someone from a landfill planet, he’d have thought the comic artist was basing that ‘strongest shemale’ off of him.

Wei Zhuo, who issued an order and received a link to a comic in the reply, is staring at his holodeck with his brows furrowed deep like canyons. He stands at 1.87m tall, which is average among shemales. His appearance would be above average among the shemales, but besides being intimidating, there is also a scar going right down his right eye. He’s also heterochromic; amber in his left eye and black in his right, which is actually blinded. That and the scar makes him ineligible in the eyes of practically all male insectoids.

Not helping at all is his ‘prideful’ demeanour. With how narcissistic males generally are, still putting up a cool and indifferent air around them is definitely to arouse their ire. If it were some romantic play, then maybe some males would still be interested, but Wei Zhuo is tough as nails from the appearance to the core. Such a shemale who bows to no male insectoid is unwanted entirely.

And also, because Wei Zhuo is generally keen to avoid males as much as possible – because that scar on his right eye isn’t from some intense war, but it was a slash from his very own father, the male insectoid, as the punishment for severing himself of his family ties.

So Wei Zhuo is one of the few capable rising stars in the military who isn’t too bad in appearance but still single.

Not that Wei Zhuo minds, because his own life plans is to stay single his whole life, or to die an honourable death on the battlefield.

[MengYueLe: did you see it yet? did you? isn’t it like you?]

Like? Like what? Knitting his brows, he suspects the jumpy guy is talking about the comic he’s sent him before. Looking at the work piled up around him… He can check that out after it’s done.

So it’s already past sundown when Wei Zhuo’s reply comes to Meng Yuele, which consisted of a single [Good artstyle, unrealistic premises. Instead of wasting your time reading these, go prepare for the operation tomorrow. 0600 hours, sharp]

“Fuck! Wei Zhuo, you’re heartless!” Yells Meng Yuele in his mind. Is ‘unrealistic premise’ the only comment he has on that cute, cute little male?!

The very first thing Cheng Zhaoci does after waking up is checking the comments on his holodeck – and is fully shocked awake by the amount of bookmarks and comments. He thinks he probably struck gold with what insectoids are interested in reading about.

He skims through all the comments. The population of a multi-solar system nation really shines through here. Just a single night and there are enough comments to make Cheng Zhaoci’s hand sore flipping through it. He does pick a few prominent comments and replies, though.

Comics take more work than novels, and so is their revenue stream, like right now. Another chapter and enough total fans, he could even meet the requirements for a contract already.

Contracted comic artists would have a base salary – either by panel for a style like webtoon, and by page for more traditional style comics. They’re about the same in value. After that base salary, additional revenue would depend on the style of the contract.

For example, right now, among his many private messages include some editors who’ve sent him invitation to contracts – of B grade.

Cheng Zhaoci has looked up information beforehand, and this site features contracts going from C, B, A, S to SS in grade. Most newbies get C grade contracts, so being offered a B grade contract right off the bat is definitely an affirmation of his trade, of course. But Cheng Zhaoci thinks if he negotiates a contract after a few more chapters, he might even be able to land an A grade contract.

Never mind S or SS, though, since he’s a simple newcomer to the scene under the guise of an anonymous alt. The uncertainty and unreliability are too great.

“Ci-zai!” Xiao Ji’s voice is as loud as always, as he rushes in, all hurried, like, “eh, and what’s up with those brats these days? Where did they even manage to find these fruits they put at your door?”

He sits right on Cheng Zhaoci’s bed with an apple in hand, and takes a bite – then his face crumples up, “it’s sour!”

“Are you not going to work today?” Cheng Zhaoci puts his holodeck away.

“There’s been a murder. A shemale worker died in the store today,” Xiao Ji says without even the slightest change in tone, since death and murder really is the norm on such landfill planets; although he’d also rather not talk about that with Cheng Zhaoci, and changes the topic, “so what’s up with the brats? Whenever He Huaijian and I saw them hanging around, they’d look at us with heads and chests high. What gives?”

“Maybe they think you guys are old and they’re young,” Cheng Zhaoci gives a random reason, which actually hits right on what the kids are thinking; however, he is still quite concerned with what Xiao Ji told him, “so what happened to that murdered worker?”

“Killed, with the head snapped right off the neck. Probably by someone with a grudge against him.”

“… You should stay home for a few days,” Cheng Zhaoci is worried the murderer doesn’t have a grudge, but is simply insane. It wouldn’t be the first time either, since one can imagine how great the general mental health would be on such a chaotic and unruly planet.

Xiao Ji nods, “so by the way, Ci-zai, is that comic of yours done? Can I see?”

“Go search my ID online.”

“And that being?”

“BombInMyPants, all the first letters capitalised, no spaces.”

“Pwahht?!” Xiao Ji exclaims, spitting the apple in his mouth almost right onto Cheng Zhaoci, who fortunately dodged jsut in time.

Xiao Ji, pointing his hand at Cheng Zhaoci, is going to express his shock when suddenly, the little shemale brats hanging around outside bursts in, “Xiao Ji! You shameless shemale! Did you try to lay your hands on Cheng Zhaoci?!”

“Hah?!” Xiao Ji is shocked, looking at his good bro’s face once more. Yup, still looks as terrifying as ever. Lay his hands on him? Are they serious?

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