And here it is: my new comic, The Retreat. There’s still more I want to do with this story, but that’s for another day. Right now I’m still proud of this: my writing’s come a long way since the last time I completed any project as long as this while still sticking with the themes and ideas I love. This comic was completed relatively quickly and took me completely by surprise – I had been struggling with a completely different story to work on for this week.
If you’re coming to Minicomicon tomorrow you’ll be able to get your copy directly from me in either easy-reading A5 or shy pocket-sized A6 versions. Otherwise, I’ll be posting it for sale on my Storenvy next week.
It’s the new Lunar New Year this Thursday (February 19), and happy new year to all who celebrate it. This year will be the year of the Sheep.
Growing up as a Chinese kid with a huge extended family, receiving 红包 (Red Packets, pronounced hongbao, or angpow) packed with money was an absolute favourite thing for all us kids every year, although perhaps less favoured by the adults who had to give the money away every year. I remember at least one of my cousins teaching me a not particularly polite New Years Greeting: 恭喜发财，红包拿来！(Happy New Year, now hand over the cash!) I also distinctly remember being told off immediately for repeating it.
For those less familiar with the tradition, Hongbao are red packets that married people give to children and unmarried adults on the Lunar New Year, among other special occasions. Anecdotally, as someone from South East Asia, I’ve always seen the money given as notes in the envelope and it hasn’t bothered any of my family whether the money’s been in odd or even numbers. You might also give someone a hongbao when you’re attending their wedding, or when they’ve just been especially good to you.
Now I’m finally at the age and social status where I have to think about giving, rather than receiving. Living in Australia and not getting out much, I haven’t seen the sheer flurry and variety of hongbao that I used to see in Asia handed out around this time for adults to give eager friends and family. So I thought I might share some of this new experience with all my readers and friends with these hongbao designs for you to print out and use for your own.
Please feel free to download and use these templates – cut out the hongbao to fill them full of presents for others, or give the templates straight to your friends, family or students who might be interested in making their own! Or use these designs as the starting point to create your own!
I am more than happy for you to use these as you wish as long as it’s not for commercial purposes – and I’d love to see any hongbao you make from it.
Continue reading for previews of all the hongbao styles – or download straight from the text links here if you already know what you want:
All files are designed to be printed on A4. The template hongbao have been designed to fit all common Australian currency notes, although they should be able to fit most non-Australian notes too!
The traditional red packet
We’ll start with the traditional red red packet, in bold black in red. If you have gold ink available, feel free to trace over any of the lines or calligraphy to make your red packet that much more outstanding!
Big disclaimer on this one: Please only print this on coloured paper!
Please don’t print this on plain white paper to use as a hongbao.For one thing, this design looks great printed on brightly coloured paper, particularly if you’ve got some stunning red paper that isn’t quite the same shade of red as the design above. The other reason is, giving someone a white and black envelope stuffed full of money is, within Chinese culture at least, usually something only done at funerals. Although it might be something to consider if you want to give it to someone you especially hate at New Year, along with awkward silences and confused memories. (Though if it were me, I wouldn’t be giving money to people I dislike. Whatever, bonds of family. Take that, blood ties!)
Happy February! I’ve been spending most of the past month quietly chugging away at the New Comic. At this stage, I’ve finished a first draft and am going over absolutely everything to get it looking more polished. Also, not yet done with the cover.
Here’s a quick preview of how it’s looking now:
…which reminds me, the comic will be in colour! I’m keeping it pretty simple for now, but am excited about it. The story for this one felt very different to a lot of the work I’ve been doing over the past year, and in a way it felt more like a return to my roots. It’s kind of exciting.