Ichiro concept art, 2009

ABOUT THE STORY

The kernel of Year of the God-Fox came to me many years ago. As I recall I had been watching a good deal of animé, particularly Inuyasha. It bothered me how in those stories ordinary humans were portrayed as boring and stupid; the only interesting characters were those who were demons or demi-gods or possessed some special powers. I wanted to tell a story wherein one of these proud non-humans was forced to confront the intricacies and quiet strengths of humanity, such as those displayed by the cast of one of my favorite movies ever, Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo. What better guide, I thought, for my proud immortal, than someone like the stoic protagonist, Sanjuro? So the characters of Saimaru, an exiled God-Fox, and Ichiro, the mysterious ronin, were born. But the original story I conceived was very dark, and I couldn’t see a way of making it at all enjoyable. I didn’t want to tell a story about the miseries of human life, as I felt that would defeat my original purpose. So I put it aside for several years while I worked on Angeldevil and wrote other stories. During that time it slowly morphed from a dark, gritty, pessimistic look at human nature into a story about the simple courage and kindness that humans are capable of.

Ultimately, Year of the God-Fox is about a great many things: it is about pride and mercy, bravery and cruelty. It is about life and death and the tapestry they weave together. It is a fairytale about a fox and a runaway princess and their adventures in a world filled with pain and injustice, fantasy and wonder.

Central Keikan, detail from map

ABOUT THE WORLD

The world of Year of the God-Fox is the same one in which many of my stories, such as Angeldevil and the Adventures of Bouragner Felpz are set. Specifically, however, it takes place in the central region of an island called Keikan (see Map). Keikan shares similarities with Japan but is an entirely mythical country, giving rise to noticeable differences. For example, Keikan is populated by many magical creatures such as tanuki, witches, magicians, giant dragon owls, griffins and the mighty daikyo, as well as ordinary humans and animals. Readers of Angeldevil may recognize it as Shakuro and Jeiko’s native land.

Keikan can be divided into three distinct regions: the White North, a land of mountains and high plateaus; the Human World, where much of this story takes place; and the Ômori, the Great Forest, where the old gods and intelligent animals of ancient Keikan live still. At the time of this story, the Human World is further split into several feuding kingdoms. The countries of Kaipan and Seto figure most prominently.

Keikan uses a system of writing similar to Japanese: pictograph characters called kanji and a phonetic alphabet made up of hiragana and katakana. This writing appears in many places within the comic, and translations can be found in the Kanji & Kana Legend.

Keikan has a temperate climate, and the chief agriculture of its people is the cultivation of rice and wheat.

Detail from the Prologue, page 8

ABOUT THE COMIC

Year of the God-Fox was created using watercolor paints, inks and pens. Each page is one piece of 12"x8.75" vellum bristol board, digitally scanned and cleaned and typeset using Photoshop. I used a variety of fonts, most notably from blambot.com. The raw paintings were done over the course of fifteen months from February 2012 to May 2013, and the comic will be published online over the course of the next year (June 2013 - June 2014). It consists of four books, one for each season, with each book containing four to six chapters. Book One (Summer) will be posted one chapter at a time during June, July and August 2013, while Book Two (Autumn) will be posted during October and November. Book Three (Winter) will be posted in January and February 2014, and Book Four (Spring) will be posted over the course of April, May and June 2014.

The entire comic consists of nineteen chapters plus a prologue and epilogue, totaling four hundred and ten pages, not including bonus pages. These bonus pages serve to illuminate the corners of the world not directly addressed in the comic; they appear interspersed within the chapters, and all of them are free to read on the Extras Page.

Author with dragon, self portrait

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hello. This is me, the person who created, wrote, drew, painted and lettered Year of the God-Fox. My full name is Grace Goldeen Ogawa, but I usually drop the Grace off the beginning for bylines, because I enjoy being gender-ambiguous like that. I was born in 1987 in California, where I still live. I have been drawing and writing for as long as I can remember, and I never went to school. I enjoy mountain biking, horseback riding, and whitewater rafting. When I travel I am often accompanied by a small, fuzzy red gay dragon named Dafydd whom I adopted in Wales.

Prior to Year of the God-Fox I was the creator of Angeldevil, and the co-creater (with my brother) of The Iron Wizard. I also write short stories, and have served as a narrator for the
District of Wonders podcasts. My official site and blog is goldeenogawa.com, and I can be followed on Twitter @GrimbyTweets. For more of my artwork you can check out my galleries on deviantART, FurAffinity and Weasyl. I can also be found on Google+.

Detail from chapter 1, page 3

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

During the gestation of Year of the God-Fox I encountered a few stories that inspired and influenced me. Akira Kurosawa’s iconic Yojimbo has already been mentioned, and to this I would like to add his 1958 classic The Hidden Fortress. The Nickelodeon animated show Avatar: the Last Airbender heavily influenced the storyline of Meibei and Kunéhiro. Equally important are the films of Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. His earlier Ghibli projects such as My Neighbor Totoro and Laputa: Castle in the Sky have had an immense impact on my imaginative landscape in general, and specifically Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away served to provide inspiration for many small but important aspects of Year of the God-Fox.

I would like to thank them all very much.

Additional thanks to Marian Goldeen for her invaluable proofreading and support, and to Rachel Goldeen for all those nights spent on the phone pouring comfort and encouragement in my ear when all trace of self-motivation had gone. Thanks also to my grandfather, Fremont Ogawa, for his legacy of obscure Japanese textbooks, and to Martin Gutfeldt for building this incredible website.

And thanks to you, for reading.

—GO

~ Jump Into the Prologue! ~