Lam Hoang Truc is a female comic creator. The first work “Flower Road”/ “Đường hoa” (Kim Dong Publishing House, 2018) has made Lam Hoang Truc one of the most prominent young comic creators in Vietnam. In 2021, she launched the impressive “Endless Summer” / “Mùa hè bất tận” with more than 3,000 copies of the book series pre-ordered by her fans.
Separating herself from the influence of Japanese comics, Lam Hoang Truc pursues her own style to tell her stories. “Endless Summer” is the first comic book in Vietnam to successfully represent the spirit of the "coming of age" genre. It is a rare comic book that observes the teenage soul not just through a dreamy lens. “Endless Summer” also showcases Lam Hoang Truc’s remarkable maturity in both illustration and storyline, identifying her as a promising Vietnamese professional comic creator.
HA: Hi Lam Hoang Truc! Tell me how you created “Endless Summer”.
HOANG TRUC: I’ve been harboring the idea of two childhood friends for years. I had been looking into old relationships, school memories, and the knots I kept in my heart since I was a teenager. Then one night, everything came back altogether, and I decided to write this story immediately. I wrote for the whole night and then kept writing. After 10 days, I finished writing.
It then took me one year to draw. Covid-19 took place; both my husband and I did not have any source of income other than our savings from previous years. I drew “Endless Summer” with endless tension and desperation. Yet, I tried not to bring such negative and painful emotions into the story. Each story is like a sparkle of hope for me, and I do not want to put it off. I want to see the future in my works even if the road to it is full of thorns.
Each story is like a sparkle of hope for me, and I do not want to put it off. I want to see the future in my works even if the road to it is full of thorns.
I could not remember how I got through that time to have the book come out. In retrospect, I feel proud of myself, but I don’t want to live in that period once again.
HA: What would a milestone in your comic book-creating journey be?
HOANG TRUC: I haven’t done any work other than comics and animation. If there is a milestone, it is probably when the story "Flower Road" was published by Kim Dong Publishing House. I'm really grateful. To me, it is a great encouragement, an affirmation that what I do is valuable, that the path I choose is right, that my ability is recognized, and that my efforts are recognized. reciprocate. I decided not to draw comics "for fun" anymore, but to draw comics "seriously for sale". After that, I quit my job and devoted myself full-time to studying screenwriting. I have been determined to become a full-time, professional comic creator. That's when I started composing "Endless Summer".
“Flower Street” and “Endless Summer” are both well-received by young adult readers. Do you think part of that welcome is because there aren't many works for this age group, especially in the graphic novel, comic and manga genres?
It is partly true. The success of my two works results from the combination of many factors including timing. Though I do not rely heavily on external factors, I do appreciate them besides my own efforts. "Flower Road" is welcomed because it tells the story of a young Vietnamese man from the countryside, and the scenes drawn in the story resonate with the local young people. Ambition, confusion and worries as the topic of the story are also something shared by the youth. “Endless Summer” depicts clearly the typical Vietnamese school environment. That’s why what I drew and what I told are familiar and easy to empathize with.
I think, given the domination of Japanese manga in the market, naturally, readers wish for quality work whose context and story are of their country. That is one of the advantages that I have had. I think Vietnamese readers always keep the door open; the rest is up to creators and illustrators to make efforts to go through that door.
HA: How do you feel your growth through each book?
HOANG TRUC: Perhaps the most obvious change is that I have given up the ambition of imposing my ideas of what is right or wrong on the reader. I want to describe each event as close to its nature and the reality in which it happens. I observe people and portray them as who they are, without judgment and prejudice. I create a story and let readers perceive it and make their own judgments. Comics are not textbooks, nor legal documents; comics are not used for teaching. It is a product of creativity, so what readers feel, what they get from reading it, and what they use it for is their own affair. That is my current principle.
Comics are not textbooks, nor legal documents; comics are not used for teaching. It is a product of creativity, so what readers feel, what they get from reading it, and what they use it for is their own affair. That is my current principle.
HA: Do your personal childhood experiences influence your choice of topics, themes, or character in your comics?
HOANG TRUC: Most of the characters I’ve created reflect some of my own personality traits. I believe that, even if it is a sci-fi story with a completely fictitious setting, the author’s real-life experience is still valuable in portraying characters and constructing developments. That’s why I highly appreciate authors and artists who take the time to "live" and feel the world. That’s why I don’t like the industrial style of creating comics like having myself buried underneath deadlines and factory-like life. I don’t like things that are made without emotions. When we talk about “investment,” we tend to think of money and tools, but for me, it is about “living”, “experiencing” and “feeling”.
HA: Could you share a little about your new projects?
I’m currently working on two action-fantasy comic scripts, and they’re both long stories. I want to write a story that explodes with magnificent paintings, bringing intense emotions to the readers. I want my new works to be created with happiness and passion rather than under burdens of too many responsibilities.
About the Interviewer
Pham Thi Hoai Anh is an independent children's picture book author and the founder of Vietnam's ICBC (Initiative of Children's Book Creative content). Through ICBC, Hoai Anh spearheads diverse educational programs and art activities, including visual art exhibitions, reading concerts, and drama performances. Passionate about reading with children, she strives to enrich their artistic experiences and spread the joy of reading, considering it a vital responsibility as a children's book author.
Catch Hoai Anh in these sessions at AFCC: