Episode 62

Drawing Swords with Yael Nathan

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Show Notes:

Yael Nathan is a comic artist who draws swords as part of her Warriors series. She has also worked with IDW on several Star Wars comics. Find her work at https://elcomics.gumroad.com/# and https://yaeln.com.

Yael is also the author of the Serpent webcomic. https://tapas.io/series/Serpent/info and https://www.facebook.com/SerpentWebcomic Serpent is the story of a girl born into a guild that does not accept her, in a land where women are no more than property. Through determination and deceit, she leaves her home and infiltrates the assassin’s guild, rises up through the ranks to become the king’s personal assassin; only to be betrayed and extradited to the enemy land of Dane, where she’ll fall in love and help bring about a revolution in her homeland.

We talk about her grandfather’s Kris sword. Here are some photos of it:

In our conversation we mention Gunpowder Milkshake, the new film written by Yael’s friend and collaborator, Ehud Lavski: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8368408/

Guy’s new book, as mentioned in the intro, can be found at www.guywindsor.net/solo

GW:  Hello, sword people, I’m here today with Yael Nathan, a comic artist, you can find her online at yaeln.com. So without further ado, Yael, welcome to the show.

 

YN:  Hi, nice to be here.

 

GW:  So whereabouts in the world are you?

 

YN:  I’m from Israel. I live in Tel Aviv and have been in Israel all my life, although my father was born and raised in the Philippines. Which is a little weird because he’s a German Jew. My grandparents left Germany just before the Second World War. Because they didn’t really believe that anything will happen. But there were no employment opportunities for Jews in Germany at the time. And my grandfather had a friend who said, come to the Philippines, there’s lots of work. He took a boat ride and came to the Philippines and they lived there. My father was born and raised there. And then he studied a little bit in Switzerland and in Montreal. But culturally, I’ve been raised on many sorts of cultures and mainly consume American and British culture, so I’m less of an Israeli in terms of where my influences are.

 

GW:  Right, yeah, I came across your work when I saw your Warrior Women series, I think you posted some individual images on Twitter. So I then went found the PDF, which I will link to in the show notes so everyone can go and buy it. Yeah, it is extremely diverse. And you have these women with all sorts of different shapes and sizes and of course the thing that caught my eye is lots of different kinds of swords and weapons. So I thought, this is a sword person, we should definitely get her on this show.

 

YN:  It’s really flattering that you’re calling me a sword person because I just like the visuals of them and I always find that drawing somebody without a sword is less, you know, just less. It’s much better to draw somebody with a sword than without a sword.

 

GW:  Well, I completely agree. And of course, it’s much better to have a sword than not have a sword. That works in real life, too.

 

YN:  And two, if possible, maybe more than other weapons, if we can add them, like a bow and arrows, daggers, whatever I can fit in. Yeah, whatever I can fit in is good.

 

GW:  So I think you’re best known as a comic book artists artist with work like EL Comics, Midnight Radio with Ehud Lavski. Is Ehud Lavski where the E-L comes from?

 

YN: Yeah, exactly.

 

GW: Right. And you have this webcomic, Serpent, on tapas.io, which is fascinating. This is the Assassin. Yeah, why don’t you tell us a little bit about Serpent, because I was just actually reading it this morning.

 

YN:  OK, well, Serpent is a comic book of mine that I started writing 10 years ago when I was working for Samsung, the gigantic corporation. I was an Art Director there at the Samsung’s development facility here in Israel. And it was very hard work and a lot of travel. And so I wrote a book about this assassin and I started turning it into a comic. But I don’t think that I was good enough at the time. So I kind of put it aside and I came back to it this year and changed things around. And it’s kind of all of the things I love. It’s powerful women, the morality is questionable. You know, they’re not really good or bad. They’re sometimes good and sometimes bad. And hopefully their motives are clear and that makes them relatable. And a lot of weapons. Later on in the series we’ll get to the assassins training in the assassins school.

 

GW:  That is the bit that I’m looking forward to it and I love the training montage stuff.

 

YN:  So that’s going to be a whole, almost an entire book of that.

 

GW:  Excellent, good, good.

 

YN:  I’m telling her story throughout the years, through the lens of her being in prison in the enemy land and everything that will come from there and how she’s going to save her homeland eventually. So it’s a very it’s a long story. The book itself is seven hundred pages in not very good English because I am not a writer. I can do text bubbles in comics.

 

GW:  Let’s say you’re a particular kind of writer. But to be honest, most people don’t have the right kind of writer’s chops to even produce a 700 page book. So I don’t think you’re doing too badly on the writing front.

 

YN:  It’s you know, I had a lot of spare time on flights to Korea, 12 hour flights to Korea.

 

GW:  Yeah. So you were working as an art director for Samsung. We’ve got this video thing going. The video is not being recorded, so the visuals don’t actually matter. But it’s nice to be able to interact with each other. I wave my hands a lot. No one understands what I’m saying if they can’t see my hands. But actually my monitor is a Samsung, which I just realised when you said Samsung, I thought, hang on, that’s familiar. So I’m just curious, what does Samsung need an Art Director for?

 

YN:  Well, how I came to be Art Director at Samsung is I was always into computers. When I was eight years old, my mom brought home a computer for my brother, my older brother, and he didn’t look at it. And I was fascinated. It was like an Apple 2C and I couldn’t stop messing around with it. But I’m not on the programming side. I always loved the drawing on it. In high school, we had a Young Entrepreneurs Club and they needed somebody to do their graphics for them. And I knew computers. At that time, it’s like 1994, 1995, there weren’t a lot of people who could do icons, something pretty rare at the time. So I knew how to do that. So I helped them. And then I went off to art school and studied animation for four years and straight out of art school, I went to an American film studio that opened in Israel and they wanted to do full feature length films, which was very ambitious. And they hired every animator and art person in Israel. But they didn’t have a script yet. So we were all just sitting around, not doing much. And then they closed after a year and two hundred animators all came out to the market together searching for jobs. So I decided to pivot and search in high tech instead. Samsung at the time in Israel, it started as a research and development branch here, started as a project of two guys in university who, I don’t really know how to describe it. They wanted to do like a living animal within a phone. These are 2g phones with the buttons and everything. Yeah, and hardly any computing power, you know.

 

GW:  Yeah, like a Tamagotchi sort of thing?

 

YN:  Yeah. But much more advanced.

 

GW:  Sophisticated.

 

YN:  Yeah. Something that will reproduce and will have like a genetic model behind it and it was very ambitious. So they needed animators and so I started out as a 3D animator there and they had very limited animation on 2G phones. And then after a while they helped me and Samsung trained me to become more of a UI person, which is a user interface, user experience person. And I became the Art Director there, which is a weird title at the time, but it was such a weird place at the time. It was not really Samsung, I mean, because it started up as the project of two people and kind of grew from there, it was very interesting. We did a lot of projects that were showcasing technology that Samsung could do on its phones at the time using augmented reality and all sorts of things that were very innovative then. But now are kind of commonplace. I did that and then I did a lot of interfaces for games because most of the technology, when they first come up with an idea there is no actual use for it. We mostly suggested games because that’s the first thing that came to mind. So we did a lot of games there. And that’s why they needed an Art Director.

 

GW:  So did the sort of pet inside your phone thing ever actually come to market, did it take off?

 

YN:  It evolved and became something which is called My Pet, which was pretty big in Korea. I don’t know if you remember, but before iPhone and Android, there weren’t any operating systems for phones. Each phone had to be built from scratch. I mean, everything on it, the whole hardware and software had to be built for the phone, for that specific line of phones. Each time. So there was no way to take a piece of code that you wrote for one line of phones and move it easily to another. It wasn’t an app that you can just download or something. And there was no App Store, of course. So My Pet, which was kind of a Tamagotchi, you had seven types of very fancy dogs, dog breeds, all purebred, of course, because in Korea they don’t really like mutts. So you could choose your dog and interact with it. It was 3D, it was very impressive for the time and big in Korea because it was on Samsung phones and now it’s gone forever because those phones are gone forever.

 

GW:  What period are we talking about?

 

YN:  2004, maybe 2006?

 

GW:  I had a Samsung flip phone in like 2004, 2005. It was great. It was much better than the Nokia I replaced it with. I don’t really play games on my phone but it had something like that on it. But I had no idea that was you.

 

YN:  Samsung is something like three hundred and fifty thousand employees worldwide, you know, it’s not me, I was a small part of it.

 

GW:  But you were involved in it. I guess you were producing the actual animations that made these pets behave, or appear on the screen. OK, and you’ve done some work for Idea and Design Works, Star Wars comics, which also, by the way, makes you sword world royalty because we’re all completely obsessed with Star Wars and Jedi. And I should say here that actually my main claim to fame is in 2006 in Singapore, I taught a seminar for the animators who were working on the Clone Wars series. A longsword seminar. At the end of that day’s class, they got out of the lightsabers and asked me to advise them on, OK, well, we’ve got a character whose lightsaber like this. How would this meet that and how would they fight each other? So, that’s like one day right, that was my total involvement with that. But if I am teaching the animators who are creating the Jedi, that obviously makes me a Jedi master. And so you’re doing something similar. You’re producing canonical Star Wars stuff. So you have to tell us all about that starting at the beginning, please.

 

YN:  OK, so I did the Women Warrior illustrations and put them on Twitter. I didn’t really have a following on Twitter. I’ve been there for like ten years because I’ve been on the Internet, but not actively on Twitter and not really publishing anything. But I put them on my Facebook where I have mostly friends. So I put them on Facebook and they become pretty popular. So I thought maybe I’ll put them on Twitter. They became very viral. Every time I posted a new series of warriors, they spread out and they became mostly popular with the DnD roleplaying game people, which a lot of what I really loved is seeing a lot of mostly women, but also a lot of men telling me that it’s so refreshing for them to see something which isn’t like the typical warrior.

 

GW:  The Conan thing or the She-Ra thing.

 

YN:  Yeah. And also in terms of their dress. I’m not historically accurate. I don’t really know. I’m not a researcher. I just know what I like visually. If it looks good, I like it and I draw it, but I do like to make things look functional. And I wish I had somebody like you who would tell me, no, you can’t hold a sword like that. I have one drawing that I drew the handle flipped, the wrong way around.

 

GW:  I spotted that.

 

YN:  I’m killing myself over it.

 

GW:  I wasn’t going to mention it, but I did spot that.

 

YN:  Functionality is very important to me. I like to overexplain things. I’m working on it. I want to simplify things.

 

GW:  Well, any time you’re working on anything related to a sword, if you want to send it my way for a kind of reality check, I’m happy to oblige.

 

YN:  Wow, I’d love that. Wow. Great. Thank you. So I put the word warrior woman online and I had one with a dinosaur that I did.

 

GW:  Yes. That’s a great one. With that bony ridge on his head.

 

YN:  I don’t remember the name of that dinosaur.

 

GW:  My nephew would know, because my nephew knows everything about dinosaurs.

 

YN:  It seems like at a certain age everybody knows everything about dinosaurs. Then you forget.

 

GW:  Pretty much.

 

YN:  I put that online and on Twitter and one of the people who saw it was an editor for IDW, who was a young woman called Riley Farmer and she’s big into dinosaurs, and she asked me if I would like to maybe do something for Star Wars. And I said, wow, yeah, of course, it’s Star Wars. I grew up on it. I love it. Definitely. So I did a little test for them, which involved drawing several of their characters in different poses and seeing if I can actually match the likeness and things like that. And then they said, go ahead. And then I was supposed to work on a little comic, eight pages, but the script was delayed. So we started with a with cover. And I did several versions of that and finished that. The script arrived. I loved it. I worked with the writer Jordan Clark, and I really loved his storytelling. And the fact and I think also Riley the editor’s choice of story here for me was really amazing because it’s a little romantic. It’s something which is more of a human story. I like action and I can do maybe big scenes and stuff like that. But I love drawing actual emotions and people connecting and something which has more of a human element. That’s also what I have with Ehud, the writer that I work with currently ongoing who writes very human, connected stories. So I did a comic that Jordan wrote and which is the story of Beckett and Rio and Val, the characters from Solo, I guess it’s canonical. I don’t know if I made things up.

 

GW:  If it has the Star Wars logo on it, if it’s authorised by the owners of the IP and it’s published, it is by definition canonical. You’re one of the writers of Star Wars canon now.

 

YN:  No, no. The only thing I added is, every writer is different. Some people, when you write a comic script, you generally you say here is a page, there are this many panels on the page and what happens in each panel. Some writers will go into details and will tell you, I want this panel from this angle and the character should be like this. And this is the emotion that should come out. But some writers like Jordan are just very straightforward. He just generally describes what happens in the panel and the text that comes with it, and that’s it. So I have total control on the direction and what the characters are emoting. It’s a short story. There are only eight pages, but there’s a gang of bad guys here and the spaceship, which are I didn’t have reference to, they said make something up. OK, so I made some bad guys, which was fun, but I’m not extremely good with the vehicles and technical stuff. So I used one of the spaceships initially, one of the spaceships from Star Wars and I thought, yeah, what’s the big deal, I’ll use something that already exists and all the editors that review the pages when I saw them were like, what is that spaceship doing there? It shouldn’t be there. It’s not the right time.

 

GW:  Oh you got the period wrong. Right. It hasn’t been invented yet. It’s like putting a Rolex on a Viking.

 

YN:  Yeah, exactly. And it’s like, how did you know this? It’s such a small thing.

 

GW:  Some people all about the tech. Some people really care about the timeline of the tech and others are more concerned with things like actual story and characters, that sort of things.

 

YN:  But I’m guessing that if you’re an editor there, you have to notice every one of those details because otherwise people will be on to you.

 

GW:  Because there are readers like that. And you have to get it right.

 

YN:  So I made up a ship, which is now a Star Wars ship. And it sounds to me like I made a spaceship that exists in the Star Wars universe and I don’t even know how to draw spaceships.

 

GW:  Wow, wouldn’t it be great if that ends up in one of the movies or TV series and then they make a model of it and you can actually have a model of the ship that you drew. That would be fantastic.

 

YN:  Definitely. Yeah.

 

GW:  It might make it easier to draw again from different angles.

 

YN:  I only used one because I can’t draw a ship.

 

GW:  So who are your favourite Star Wars character to draw?

 

YN:  Well, going back to swords,

 

GW:  OK, of course.

 

YN:  Yeah, I always loved Indiana Jones. So Han Solo,

 

GW:  I have show you something.

 

YN:  OK. OK.

 

GW:  This jacket, comes from Wested Leather, and it’s the Rangers Jacket Design by Peter Botwright in the same factory made by the same people who put the ones in the movies. I imprinted on the Indiana Jones when I was about nine years old and I just never got over it. But now I’m a grown up, I can actually afford to buy proper bullwhips, not make them out of string.

 

YN:  I had the crap bullwhips, that you buy in the market, the little ones. I wanted to be Indiana Jones, so I used to train with them and kill mosquitoes.

 

GW: Wow. That’s pretty accurate.

 

YN: But left marks on the walls. So I really loved Indiana Jones and so I liked Han Solo. I liked his attitude.

 

GW:  He is the same kind of character.

 

YN:  But sadly as Han Solo he didn’t have a sword.

 

GW:  Yeah. True. Indiana Jones doesn’t have a sword either, he has a pistol.

 

YN: But he has a whip.

 

YN: But he has a bullwhip which is kind of like a sword. I do get the relationship. That’s not actually facetious. There is a kind of relationship between a sword and a bullwhip and I don’t really understand what it is. But it’s maybe something about being able to just reach out and do stuff far away from you. But you don’t have to reload. It’s not like a bow, where you have to reload. When cracking a bullwhip, it’s like shooting a gun and you never have to reload because the movement of the whip charges it up.

 

YN:  And also visually, it’s just such a cool thing to see. The way the body moves and you have to hold yourself. If you’re looking at characters, it makes for a very interesting character to look at. So Han Solo was my favourite character. I didn’t draw him that much. I think I did more when I was younger, because I had a little crush on him. But as a character less.

 

GW:  He’s all about the blaster and the Falcon, of course. So it would be a bit weird to have him with a sword. They could have given him a big knife, though. Something practical. Swords are a little impractical as tools, generally, some of the shorter ones, but yeah, but they really only have the one function.

 

YN:  Yeah, I can see him doing that Crocodile Dundee thing.

 

GW:  Yeah totally. You know, in The Princess Bride, you have seen The Princess Bride, right? When Westley and Buttercup are going through the fire swamp and he’s using his rapier to hack through the jungle, it’s like no, you shouldn’t use a rapier like that. That’s not what a rapier is for.

 

YN:  Would he break it?

 

GW:  It is very unlikely, he’d break it. But it’s not optimised for slicing through Lianas. I mean, you can cut with it and you can do significant damage with a cut. But the blade geometry is such that it’s a long, it’s quite thick, but it’s quite narrow, and it’s thick to make it relatively rigid and it’s narrow to make it a really good thrusting weapon. But that comes at the cost of it doesn’t really slice. it will cut. But it’s not going to slice through things the way a machete would. So a machete has got this wide, flat blade, which is quite thin. So it splits through things quite easily, whereas the rapier will tend to get stuck. Now I’ve said that and there’s going to be a whole bunch of people going, Guy says you can’t cut with the rapier but of course you can. You can cut with a rapier, it’s just not as good at it as, for example, the machete.

 

YN:  You know I told you my father was from the Philippines. So when my grandfather was 80, my father and his brother bought him a Kris sword.

 

GW:  Oh, lovely.

 

YN:  Yeah, it’s such a beautiful sword. I really wanted to draw it for one of the characters, but when it’s in the sheath, you don’t see the waviness. And besides, it kind of means something to me. So I was waiting for the right character and I didn’t do it, but I really I love it. Is that good for slicing through the jungle?

 

GW:  I wouldn’t use a Kris for slicing through the jungle, because if it’s the kind of that I’m thinking of, it has quite a slim, wavy blade that widens out considerably at the hilt.

 

YN:  No, I will send you a picture, at the end of it widens. But the rest is kind of straight and just wavy.

 

GW:  Sure, and it widens close to the handle? Usually the tang which kind of sticks the blade into the handle is usually very slim. And I think if you used it for hacking through the jungle, if you whacked it against a tree, you might break it. I’m not an expert on that area, but that’s possible. It is designed for stabbing people and for slicing through muscle, basically. If I had a nice one, I wouldn’t risk it on clearing brush, but I do have a European hanger, which I do actually use for clearing weeds in the garden sometimes. It’s good cutting practise.

 

YN:  OK, that’s a specific one. Maybe it’s just decorative, but it has an ivory handle, which is lovely, it is kind of short, just one hand, but a very small hand, for somebody very small. And the part that widens is sort of the guard. I’ll send you a picture because it’s a nice sword. It’s 60 centimetres or something.

 

GW:  That’s actually quite a long one. Send me a picture, we’ll put it in the show notes for those listening. OK, now we’ve talked a little bit about your Warrior Women PDF and there will be a link to it in the show notes so people can find out about it, but I do have to ask, what’s with the duck?

 

YN:  Apart from interesting characters and a lot of interesting clothes and stuff, I always loved animals. When I was younger, I wanted to be a vet.

 

GW:  My dad’s a vet.

 

YN:  Yeah? Big animals?

 

GW:  He’s done all sorts of animals. He worked in Kenya in the 60s and was doing he’s doing mostly agricultural stuff. So cows and goats and what have you as part of projects in places like Kenya and Uganda and Peru and whatever. So basically to improve agriculture so that poor people can eat more. Yeah, but while he’s there, of course, he’s also been doing work on like the local wildlife or zoos and what have you. So like lions and cheetahs. Rhino. We have some great pictures at home.

 

YN:  Wow. I love the animals. It was the main thing I drew when I was younger was animals. I had a book of animal illustrations and I copied all of it several times over. So I always like to incorporate, not always, but I sometimes like to incorporate animals with my words or illustrations because I think, first of all, they bring a lot of character with them and there’s a lot of the emotion that can come from an animal and a lot of time humour because they’re funny. They don’t know what they’re doing. And their interactions with the human characters can be something to play against. Yeah, so I saw those ducks, those crested ducks or something, they have like an afro. I thought it was just amazing. It’s just such a weird looking thing. And then I thought that I have a character holding one of them. But when I was working on it, my internal logic for the thing was like she makes the arrows so she uses the duck for the arrows maybe. I don’t know if it’s something that people do, but maybe that’s why she’s carrying it, she’s going to pluck some feathers and use them for the arrows.

 

GW:  So these warrior women characters in your head, do they have like names and stories attached to them?

 

YN:  Not really. I don’t really work like that, they have more of a general idea of what they’re about. More like she sort of does this or she works or lives there. Nothing more concrete than that. But now I’m trying to incorporate some of these characters into my comic book, into my webcomic, Serpent. They’re mostly side characters, because the main ones I didn’t draw them. I already have them. I know how they look. So they’re not a part of this Warrior Women series. So I’m sort of adding more of a backstory for some of these characters when I’m incorporating them into the webcomic. But other than that, not really.

 

GW:  Yeah, so they are just themselves to some on the page.

 

YN:  Yeah, I usually start out with a a pose that I like, usually something that expresses something, curiosity or power and I take that pose and I start that off as a reference and then build on top of that. I have one with a woman with long hair, looking at a very big Irish Wolfhound that is carrying two little Dachshunds but in a bag. So that started out I wanted her to look at a Quokka. It’s an Australian animal, which is like the most photographed selfie animal in the last couple of years, because it has an amazing smile. It looks like a little teddy bear that constantly smiles. And I think it’s on my Facebook, I have a time lapse of me drawing. And you can see me trying to make this Quokka work there and then not figuring it out and saying, OK, because I always wanted to do an Irish Wolfhound, I’ll do an Irish Wolfhound instead.

 

GW:  They are pretty much the same thing. Close enough. I tried to commission some art from you. But you have too many other projects on, which is great because it means there’s more art coming which is always good. But how do you choose your projects and what are you working on that’s keeping you so busy that you can’t even take commissions? Not even from sword people.

 

YN:  Sadly. Well I’m currently working on a graphic novel with Ehud and we’ve been friends for like twenty five years. And he has been working towards being a Hollywood scriptwriter for the entire length of time that I know him like since he was 16, I think he started writing scripts, sending them over. And slowly but surely, he got an agent, he’s got representation there. And now his movie is coming out on Netflix and in theatres. On July 15th, it’s called Gunpowder Milkshake. He wrote it with a guy called Navot Papushado He directed it, Navot. Navot’s an amazing director. It’s also about female assassins.

 

GW:  Oh, fantastic! I’m definitely watching that.

 

YN:   And it’s such a fun, amazing, action packed, really fun movie. So I’ve been working with Ehud for a really long time and he has something. His writing is very relatable. And as a comic writer, his first few frames always catch people. We put Midnight Radio, which was our first comic story online six years ago. I think we did it for a magazine. And then the magazine never came out. So we said, OK, we’ll put it online. And it got half a million views on its first day. And we came out of nowhere. We just put it on Imgur, the image sharing site. We put it online and it made it. Weird. Wow. So we didn’t know what to do with that. We said, yeah, fine, let’s do another. We did the next one. I was working at the time in the game company, I stayed in high tech, and the second one we put out was even bigger. And then the third one we put out was the biggest with millions of views, and then we put them out and got like 20 million views. But we were idiots. We did nothing with that. We didn’t know we’re supposed to collect people into a page.

 

GW:  Oh no! So you didn’t actually make like several million dollars out of that.

 

YN:  If the people who saw the comic knew that we were behind it, that was a bonus. We put it online, became part of the Internet, you know, the lore of the Internet, and that’s it. So we’ve been making comics ever since, very slowly. Ehud is writing for Hollywood and making projects. So when he has time, he writes and I draw. I left high tech a few years ago to do this full time, so I’m slowly eating my savings doing comics. So now we’re doing a graphic novel and hopefully we will also maybe make a movie out of it one day. Ehud has been in Hollywood for so many years and had so many projects that I have seen the arc of things so many times where they’re interested, they even make an offer and then it fades out. The chance of something happening is so low that it’s amazing to me that his movie was made and it’s coming out and I’m really happy for him. And if something else happens from now on, that’s amazing. But we’re doing the graphic novel for ourselves, one thing and for the fans, that we do have followers now in EL Comics and I’m sure they will enjoy Ehud’s writing in this graphic novel. And so I’m doing this in the meantime and doing my webcomic and I’m trying to do that before my savings run out.

 

GW:  Yeah. Maybe when we’re done recording we should have a chat about how to actually make money from people who like your work.

 

YN:  Amazing.

 

GW:  Because, I live off my online courses and books, mostly.

 

YN:  We do have a little store that does make some money and we did do a Kickstarter that did bring in some money. But for the Kickstarter that we did we made a book of all our short comics and we made a lot of mistakes. We did like the fanciest book we could. It’s an amazing product. It’s gorgeous to look at. It cost us an arm and a leg. And then a lot of costs that we had no idea that were coming because we never did it before, like shipping two tons to places and you know.

 

GW:  Yeah. I crowdfunded a card game six years ago and it raised about fifty two thousand euros for a very niche card game. But absolutely none of that money was income. It was all expenses. The graphic designer, the game designer, the printing, the shipping, all of that stuff, plus the platform fees because crowdfunding campaigns platform, they take the fees and the money transfer fees and fees and fees and fees and costs of course. And yeah, it doesn’t matter because I’ve got the game and that’s what I wanted and that’s fine. But yeah, it is. If you’re not careful, the expenses just completely outstrip any way to make something. What’s the name of that book?

 

YN: Midnight Radio.

 

GW: So that’s the Midnight Radio book.

 

YN:  We do have them online in our store and you can buy them. It was such a hard experience, that Kickstarter thing. It’s not something I think I would do again. But yeah, like you said, you have the game. We have the book, which is nice, you know. A physical product is nice.

 

GW:  Physical products are hard, because there are all these fixed costs, every time you sell one, you incur costs. Exactly. Digital is so much easier. I mean, right now I’m producing an audio book. This is the nichiest niche product you can imagine. In 1599 a guy called George Silver wrote a book called Paradoxes of Defence about how terrible Italian rapier fencing is and how wonderful proper traditional English martial arts are. And of course, the English gentlemen all ignored him and switched over to rapiers and Silver was a voice howling in the wilderness. I’ve had it produced as an audio book in both modern pronunciation and also got an original pronunciation actor, called Ben Crystal, who knows all about how the words were actually pronounced in the 16th century. And he’s done an original pronunciation read of it. The campaign is live at the moment. It’ll be over by the time this podcast comes out. But the thing is, it’s done fine for the most niche thing you can imagine. It doesn’t get any nichier than the original pronunciation of a fairly obscure fencing book from the 16th century. But it’s made back its costs. So now this this cool thing is in the world, and I didn’t have to sell my children’s birthright to get it there. There’s just enough interest.

 

YN:  I think you’ll find no matter what you do, if you’re good at something there are other people who are interested in what you do.

 

GW:  And these days it can be really, really obscure and you can still find enough people in the whole world to have a community around it, whereas if you were confined to maybe just your home town or even your home country, there just aren’t enough people there for that tiny minority to get enough actual individual bodies to get together and form some kind of community. I don’t know where we’d be without the Internet. I remember back in the days like in about 1997 when we found out that there were people in America doing this sword fighting stuff that we like and there’s actually more than two of them. It was amazing. So, my last question and I ask all my guests, OK, what is the best idea you haven’t acted on?

 

YN:  Moving abroad. I’ve been living in Israel my entire life, but culturally I’m not. I mean, I have grown up on some Israeli culture and there are things here that I love, my family, my friends, everything is here, my husband. But I do dream of Ireland.

 

GW:  My wife is Irish. Ireland is a great place.

 

YN:  All those green places. Every time. Because my father also studied in Switzerland. We used to go there every year and it’s just the surroundings, like the mountains and snow and weather, which isn’t terribly hot eight months of the year. I just really want different experiences, I’m not a spring chicken. I’m forty three now and getting up and leaving becomes harder with age, but I’ve been thinking about it for years and I haven’t acted on it, but I am going to say “yet”.

 

GW:  So yes. OK, fair enough. So Ireland. You must have visited Ireland?

 

YN:  No, I haven’t. I have been to the UK, mainly London. But no, I want to go to Ireland and Scotland maybe this year, hopefully now that you can travel. In Israel we can travel again. I’m not sure what the restrictions are.

 

GW:  In all honesty, the way the British government is running these things, I don’t think anybody knows what the restrictions are. They seem to change along with Boris Johnson’s hair.

 

YN:  Yeah. I have a European citizenship, but with Brexit, I don’t know if I can live in the UK.

 

GW:  Israel is not part of the EU, so you shouldn’t have any issue there.

 

YN:  My grandfather was German.

 

GW:  Oh, right. So you have German citizenship. OK, yeah. That makes life a bit trickier. Ireland’s no problem, but Britain is probably a whole bunch of paperwork. I voted against it. I literally made sure that when we moved to Britain, I moved in time to be able to show up at a polling place and vote against it in person. But still, yes, the morons got their way.

 

YN:  Where did you move from?

 

GW:  Finland. I lived in Finland for fifteen years. You should definitely visit Finland. If you like snow and you like trees. Finland is mostly snow and trees and rocks.

 

YN:  It’s on my list.

 

GW:  Yeah. You should definitely go. So you would like to actually live outside Israel for a while? That’s my favourite way to travel, really. In 2015, my family and I, we went to Italy for three months, which is enough time that you’re not just staying in a hotel and going to the tourist attractions. You’re going grocery shopping. And it gives you a real feel for the kind of the rhythms of the place which you don’t get if you’re a tourist, right.

 

YN:  Yeah. Maybe we should start like that, moving for a short time.

 

GW:  Yeah. If you’re off season, you can get short term lets, which are super cheap. We were in Lucca, and if you go during the local comic festival, it’s a week at the end of August and it is absolutely insane. So much so that quite a lot of the shops in Lucca will empty themselves out, sublet their shop space to people who have some comic book stuff to sell for the comic festival for the week or whatever, and make enough money from the rent in that week to pay half the year’s rent on the whole place. It’s insane. And the apartment that we were in, it’s just an ordinary little two bedroom apartment in the centre of town. It was like 600 euros a month in January, February, March. But if we’d gone in August, it would have been about three or four thousand.

 

YN:  Yeah, OK.

 

GW:  For the week. That flat I think was three thousand euros a week for the peak, which is for the comic book thing. It was some crazy like fifteen hundred, two thousand a week for the peak season. If you go off season it’s super cheap.

 

YN:  No such thing is off season here in Israel. Everything is expensive all the time.

 

GW:  I’m not sure Ireland has the same sort of peak season, off season or not.

 

YN:  But I generally think that coming from Israel at the moment, like for the past ten years, everywhere is cheaper. That’s fine.

 

GW:  I have the same feeling coming from Finland. Like drinking in the pub. Going to the pub in Finland is something like nine or 10 euros for a decent pint in a nice pub. Here it’s like three pounds a pint. Like, less than half the price. I’m like, you go up to the bar and you’d order a round of drinks and you get change back from 20 quid. I’m like, what? How did that happen? I don’t see why moving to Ireland for a few months couldn’t happen.

 

YN:  Basically I don’t either, you know. But the life happens. So yeah, I would definitely like to do that, you know.

 

GW:  One day. It’ll happen.

 

YN: Yeah, I hope so.

 

GW: Well, thank you very much for talking with me today Yael, it’s been lovely to meet you.

 

YN:  Yeah, you too. It was really fun. I’m going to take you up on that offer to help me with the sword knowledge so I won’t put the handle wrong next time.

 

GW:  Any time. No problem.

 

YN:  Amazing. Thank you very much.