Manta interviewed the creators of Under the Oak Tree.
Suji Kim, the author of the original webnovel, and P, the artist of the webcomic, answered our question.
Suji, how did you begin writing Under the Oak Tree?
Suji: I was in college at the time, and my roommate had found out that my secret hobby was writing fiction. They demanded that I write a steamy story, which became the prototype of Under the Oak Tree.The draft was then laid aside as an incomplete work as we became busy with other things in life.Years later,I found it buried in my archive and as I read it, I found the plotline quite interesting, much to my surprise. I decided to revise the draft, and that’s how Under the Oak Tree began.
P,what made you decide to become a webcomic artist?
P:Honestly, it still feels awkward to call myself a webcomic artist. I’d never imagined I would be doing this.
How did you begin working on Under the Oak Tree?
P: I came upon the Under the Oak Tree by chance, then stayed up all night reading it——every scene seemed to come alive before my eyes. I was struck by the desire to express these feelings in some ways, so I began to draw, since this was the medium I was most confident in. I continued drawing art for Under the Oak Tree on my own. Then one day, by a fortune turn of events, I became the artist for the webcomic version of the story.
Another thing we’ve been very curious about-what’s the meaning of “P” in your pseudonym?
P: The “P” doesn’t have a special meanings. It’s from my initials, and somehow ended up being my artist name.
What is your source of inspiration?
Suji: My main source of inspiration is music, hands down. I listen to whatever suits me, regardless of genre. I categorize my music library by mood---melancholic, solemn, dreamy, vibrant and so on----and when I write, I turn on the music that best matches the vibe of what’s I’m writing.
What do you do to relieve stress?
Suji: I make myself laugh. Laughter releases endorphins! Or I just lie down and listen to the radio. I also watch animal videos on the Internet -----clips of all kinds of animals, ranging from whales, hamsters,otters,and parrots to snakes and lizards.
Looking back on the creation process for Season 1, was there a moment that was particularly painful for you?How did you overcome it?
P: It’s hard to pick just one instance. But a moment I remember well is at the end of Season 1. I was working on a very tight schedule, drawing away night and day. The physical and mental stress was tremendous. But so many people around me helped me get through it, and we were able to end Season 1 on schedule.
What’s the meaning of the title “Under the Oak Tree”?
Suji: It’s symbolic and thus open to each reader’s interpretation. It’s related to the legend within the story, and at the same time it signifies the relationship between the main characters. The reason why I specifically chose an oak tree is that I was using the Old Treatment as a reference material to select names as parts of my worldbuilding, and I decide to borrow the motif of the oak tree.
So many fans have said the artwork for Under the Oak Tree is absolutely gorgeous. Tell us about your process of going from a textual medium to a visual one, including how you conceptualize the visual ambiance, colors, and lighting of each scene.
P: I’m very grateful that the fans think that way. Suji’s writing is so brilliant that when I read the story, the scene just naturally come alive in my head. I then imagine myself in the place of the characters in the those scenes and try to capture the mood of the moment or space from their point of view. From the blue light dispersing through the crisp air of dawn to the soft, warm light of midday, and the luminescence of the candles and torches in a medieval castle, I try to be as expansive as possible with my imagination to give full visual expression the the scenes.
What was your reason for giving Maxi a speech impediment?
Suji：My personal experience had an influence. Some time I stutter when I’m excited or flustered, and one time, someone made fun of me for it. It was a friendly joke,but I was very much embarrassed. I felt that people with serious speech impediment must go through a lot of pain and adversity, and I was inspired to create a protagonist with a stutter to tell the story of how she gradually overcomes her difficulties.Oh! This doesn’t mean that I’ve projected myself onto Maxi, though.
One of the most beloved scenes in Season 1 was in Episode 34, when Maxi confesses her self-hatred to Riftan against the beautiful backdrop of the forest. Maxi has such a diverse range of emotions: fear,self-hatred, joy and wonder.
第一季中我最喜欢的场景之一是在第 34 话中，在美丽森林的背景下，麦希向利夫坦坦白了她的对自己的憎恶。麦希有各种各样的情绪：恐惧、自我厌恶、喜悦和惊奇。
How did you express such a varied range of feelings in the comic?
P:Ah, drawing that scene was special for me, too, as a fan of the original webnovel. What helped most for me was putting myself in Maxi’s shoes. It seems like a pretty conventional method, but it worked for me. Something else that was extremely difficult and needed special attention was drawing Riftan’s facial expressions. Before meeting Maxi, Riftan is someone who’s very uncomfortable about facing his own emotions, much less expression them to others. Thus, expression his various emotions in a subtle way was a big challenge.
Was there a particular scene from Season 1 that you thought was a great visual representation of the story?
Suji：Riftan’s flashback scene in Episode 33 make a deep impression on me. I loved the way Riftan looked as he stared at Maxi from afar, and how the whole mood was very still, in black and white.
What’s your favorite scene from Season 1?
P: My favorite scene is in Episode 16, when Riftan and Maxi kiss goodby in front of the Remdragon Knights. Usually it takes a lot of time for me to decide on the most effective way to depict a scene from the novel, but in this case, I just knew what to do right away. And I had good fun drawing it as well!
There are a lot of fans worldwide who started reading Under the Oak Tree through Manta. What was your initial reaction when you found out?
Suji: People have told me that there are Under the Oak Tree fans all over the globe,but I’ve never actually had the chance to see their reaction myself, so it’s a little hard to believe. But I’m sure many readers are enjoying the story thanks to P’s brilliant artwork.
P: I was genuinely surprised. I never though there would be so many global fans, especially because I’d always been concerned about cultural differences and historical accuracy. It made me truly happy that there were so many fans who loved our work out there in the world. I’d like to interact with more global fans if I get the chance.
全世界有许多粉丝是通过 Manta 观看《橡树下》的漫画的。您知道后的第一反应是什么？
Does Under the Oak Tree have a happy ending?
Suji: Absolutely.I can promise it won’t have an open ending with a bad aftertaste,much less a sad ending.
Have you imagined the day when Under the Oak Tree is completed?
How do you think you or the fans would feel?
P: It may be sad,like saying farewell to a very old friend; and the same time it could be liberating, as if I’ve finally let a great burden off my shoulders. Or, since each episode is like a record of my growth, it could feel like looking back on my life as a whole. I think the fans would feel the same, having come all the way to the end together.I hope this webcomic becomes something like an old friends for our fans so that when it’s completed, we can fondly reminisce about our time together.
Would you like to say anything the the fans of Under the Oak Tree all over the world?
Suji: Thank you sincerely for loving this story! Please keep encouraging the artists creating the webcomic.
P: Under the Oak Tree is my first work as an artist, and I’m always grateful for the love the fans sent me despite my shortcomings. Your support really keeps me going , so thank you!
Under the Oak Tree
Coming December 24