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On September 7, 2013, my ongoing webcomic FaLLEN will be celebrating its first year as an ongoing comic series, and while I hope this month I can get lots of celebratory art made, I can't right now... instead, I'm putting together a few things I think might interest people who read my work. It's a short history of myself as a comic artist in Japan, starting with my graduation project and ending with the most recent image from FaLLEN (as of typing this). I'll include descriptions of each year below.2008
This was my graduation project from the Nippon Designer Gakuin, where I studied manga. It was a 36-page one-shot called Colosseum
, and it was a story about a gladiatrix (a female gladiator) wanting to compete equally in the colosseum alongside the men for all of Rome to see. This ended up being very different from what I imagined, with several pages cut-- originally it was a very sad story where the heroine had been a Britton slave (hence the name Brigit) who had been taken from her grandfather at a young age forcefully by Roman soldiers and vowed to never be overpowered again. She originally died from a fatal wound after defeating her opponent, proving that women can take down men in the arena, with her child-self taking her to meet her grandfather in heaven. When I showed the rough pages to my friend, she cried. When I showed them to my teacher, he said "This is stupid, try again." The story ended up being a gag-filled comedy and she ended up winning the final battle by showing her byoobs. Yup. My lines were thick, my backgrounds sloppy, my inking a mess, my effects non-existent, and all in all this story has become an embarrassment I don't like to share with many people, haha. But I did win the diligence award that year and was asked to give a speech at graduation, so... that should tell you how much worse my classmates were. The original story had a lot of historical elements in it because I LOVE ancient Greek/Roman history, and Brigit was actually a sort of prototype for Arma, the heroine in my story FaLLEN
, or more appropriately I was practicing to see if I was ready to start my pet project. I decided I was definitely NOT ready...2009
In early 2009 I took my work to Kodansha after a long break from drawing, and an editor asked if I would like to work with him to get published in Shounen Magazine. Holy hell! I actually just went to get experience, I didn't think it would get me anywhere! He asked me to do a romantic comedy with a foreigner's point of view (every editor ever says that to foreigners who want to be mangaka), so I came up with a story called Homestay Rodeo
about a cowgirl named Sandy West who had come to live with a garage band delinquent named Jun Higashi (Higashi means "east"... east meets west, baby). The editor asked me to change the format to include samurai, and it became the story here, Samurai Rodeo
. I still honestly think I had something when I started this story, but after getting the editor's input the story became a bit jumbled and is now a project I don't dare show to people new to my work. He only gave me a month to do 48 pages, so this was the only time I did a comic entirely on the computer. It's a mess. I almost got published, but he said my art wasn't as good as he'd thought it was... but what gave him the idea I was a good artist is still beyond me. Someday after I finish FaLLEN
I would really like to revisit my original "homestay" idea... minus anything involving samurai. Ugh.2010Half 'N Half
was a comic I did about a half-wolfman half-human named Kiva, a half-dwarf named Hilde, and their adventure in trying to find a way to become "whole". I parted ways with my old editor and was picked up by a new editor, who liked the rough draft of this but said my art wasn't where it should be to be published and suggested I use thinner lines... and when I did use thinner lines, she said they were too thin! I was mad at the time, but looking back she was absolutely right, haha. I shopped this story around but nobody liked anything about this except for the Hilde character. In this story's case, the art was bad, yeah, but I now see where the story could have been greatly improved upon, and I in my free time have been re-writing a script to maybe work on in my free time. Since the feedback from editors was so bad, I never totally finished this-- it's about 95% finished, missing tones on the last few pages and missing a title page, but I think it's so bad I have only shown a handful of people.2011Burn! Fireshot!!
is the oldest story in my archive that I don't consider total garbage. I did this for the Shounen Jump's spring contest and didn't even let a little thing like one of the largest earthquakes ever stop me from working on this. I worked really hard on it, though it was only 20 pages... Jump told me I had no talent. Well, shucks. But I worked really hard on this, and I think my art here is leaps and bounds better than the previous story. A digital publisher bought this story, but I recently acquired the rights again and I let people read it for free since it isn't good enough to ask for money, haha. But it was a good learning experience! And you know, it was fun.2012
My first dramatic story, much darker than anything I'd done since college shorts... Suicide Consultant
. The title says it all. It was dark, it was bleak, it was not a happy story, but when I posted this to dA I saw a huge spike in readers, and I got some really amazing feedback from people who had dealt with these issues as teenagers. It was the first time I felt really empowered writing a comic, and though editors absolutely hated this story, I really felt encouraged by readers on dA and elsewhere to keep writing and drawing. I used a really round-about method to do this story, and I really challenged myself with drawing things I wasn't very comfortable drawing. I still actually really like this story, and I get a little defensive about it if people tell me "You should have done this instead..." and such. It was a very personal project, I guess, but it helped me define the way I want to draw my comics, I think.2013
I started a decade-long work-in-progress called FaLLEN
, drawing two new pages a week, every week, for a whole year starting on September 7th, 2012, and continuing on a year later. I was invited to be a Featured artist on MangaMagazine.net and I have had some really amazing, really positive feedback from readers that really helped convince myself to quit my day job and pursue comics full-time. Since 2010 I had been pretty miserable, but this has been the most incredible year for me, with so many wonderful job offers and incredible support from various communities and from comic event attendees for my pet project that I first came up with in high school one day when I thought "Man, I want to see a Sailor Moon-esque magical girls show unraveling the identities of its heroes ala Evangelion, with the main heroine being the ultimate tomboy." And bam, I did it. I wrote down ideas, I created characters, I wrote novelized versions, and over ten years later I finally got to a point where I considered myself competent enough to start a comic series that is basically the series I always wanted to see. No regrets, and this has easily been the best year I have had since graduating. Here's hoping 2014 will show even more improvements with my art, Volume 1 of FaLLEN
in paperback, and basically more of this year. Just MORE. Because wow... it's been a ride!
I put this together because I think everyone needs to see that artists don't start out at the level they are at. It's trial and error, you know? And many times, you have to fail before you can succeed. I still don't consider myself successful, per se, but anytime I feel bad about my work I can look at my graduation project in 2008 and go "Well, at least I don't draw like THAT anymore!"
Keep pushing yourself, keep challenging yourself, and know that everyone has to start somewhere!
I hope in the next five or six years I'll be able to look back on my 2013 pages and go "Oh man, this was some of my best work!? It's garbage!!"
Thanks everyone for the support and kind words! Your encouragement means EVERYTHING to me. I hope I won't let you down in 2014 and the years to come!
If you want to read any stories from 2011 onward, I have my comics up in full on my MM page:www.mangamagazine.net/authors-…