I’m Not Starving, I’m Fasting While Drawing
Every since I was 4, and I was watching Dragon Ball Z on the television, I’ve wanted to create scenes of action and stories on paper.
So it started with scribbles.
I would draw a dot on a page to represent Goku or Vegeta, Dragon Ball characters, and when I wanted them to move I drew a line to show where they flew and blasted each other a where they fought.
Then it evolved to me drawing square faces and bodies. I drew Goku the most and by the time I was in the seventh grade I could draw him in my sleep.
Then, when I was introduced to manga, I knew damn well I would be doing this as a living when I grow up.
Manga is Japanese graphic novels. They generally have more pages than American comic books, but lack color and all pages are in black in white except for the cover, special pages, and maybe the first few pages of the first chapter.
Shonen, which is boy in Japanese, is a genre of manga that include many scenes of fighting, usually with supernatural powers, among the characters (to appeal to a male audience). I want to draw Shonen manga because I enjoy drawing scenes in which characters fight with powers; I’ve been drawing it all my life.
So, with that said, what I have been working on recently (with much pain) is my manga “Converse!”Making a manga is hard work, like most things, and it takes dedication and endurance. But the final product is so worth it (I have mini celebrations upon finishing a page or two).
But no, seriously, it is very hard. A manga artist usually has a team of artist for the background, effects, action lines, shading, inking, but most importantly a professional manga artist has a producer to tell him if his story is going a stray or what to fix and how to just be a better manga artist.
However, I am alone. I am sad.
But enough of that, let’s get to the important stuff.The Birth of Matthew
Matthew has black hair, light blue eyes, pale skin, and is generally a nice individual. His name comes from my little brother’s last name and he is the main character of my manga.
The main character of any story, but specifically manga, must be relatable, attractive, memorable, and/or likable. If someone is going to read a book with pictures they’re going to want to look at something not…unappealing.
So I made Matthew and he gets positive criticism from my friends, avid readers of manga. So I knew I was off to a good start.
But, for my story, Matthew has to be sad to get his powers, so I came up with the story where his drunken father forces him to drive his in labor mom to the hospital. Being twelve and not a good driver Matthew and his mom get into a car accident and his mom dies, saving him by serving the car at the last minute.
His dad goes to jail and Matthew attends a boarding school; the rest of his family unable to claim him.
With a history like this Matthew is quite, and very cool headed. He’s seen some things, nothing really scares him, constant bullying has given him the ability to not give a f@!k about the insults flying his way, and he doesn’t mind being alone.
He does, however, fear since he didn’t cry at his mom’s funeral he’s emotionless and a “monster” so he cuts himself to invoke a reaction.
Which leads to Matthew’s quirks. He has a high pain threshold, he is a very fast runner, he owns a switchblade (for cutting), he’s passive assertive (“shut up, please.”), and he never smiles.
I like Matthew because he’s one of the coolest characters I have ever made, I can relate to him and he makes characters around him pop out. His hair is hard to draw, but drawing him fighting is so much more worth it. But moving on to the title.
Every Story Has One
I am a fan of single word titles for manga.
I am also a fan of exclamation points in the title of manga.
And in my head Matthew is never seen without a pair of Converses on. So…you know, out came the title.
…guess we can move on to the story.
Once Upon A Time…
First let me explain how people in manga get powers. It’s really cool yet simple at the same time.
When a person, in the universe of Converse, experiences an emotion to the fullest their soul overcharges and gives them unique powers. The only way for a person to get their powers is to know they have an overcharged soul; an OverSoul. An OverSoul gives a person heighten abilities in strength, speed, and supernatural powers.
The plot for Converse is simple: two organizations compete and fight over people with OverSouls. One group made to protect OverSouls and tech them to defend themselves are called the Souls(?!), and the other group who capture OverSouls and steals their souls are called the Reapers.
Matthew runs into a Reaper agent but is saved by the Souls, later on he learns the leaders of the Reapers and Souls are twin brothers. Matthew meets friends, gets his weapon, learns about his powers, and ultimately learns every person with a soul on Earth is in danger so he has to get strong enough to beat the Reapers’ leader because Matthew’s element is the only one that can defeat him.
There will be hardship, betrayal, love, comedy, death, but most importantly, the power of friendship.
Or, something like that.
Actually Drawing This Shiatsu
I know I love drawing, and I know I love drawing manga, but Jesus Christ, this is the most tedious, frustrating, agonizing, time consuming thing I have ever done.
Professional manga artist has, like, and eight man team plus a producer.
I have stolen lead pencils and friends who can’t be pleased.
The cons to this business is that drawing a decent looking page takes much time. More importantly, coming up with a decent chapter, then drawing it takes a lot more time. For example, I spent an entire 65 minute free period working on Converse, and I only got a page done. Mind you, this is when I could find the right pose for one of the panels, but still.
I knew drawing would take long, I was ready to fight that battle, but the first chapter to a manga generally has to introduce the main character, explain the plot to some extent, and draw the reader in by being sweet, short, and interesting in a matter of 50 pages (Later chapters are 17-20 pages at a time after the intro).
Sweet Mary, mother of Lord, did this take forever.
I ran through 200 pages of storyboard before I finally landed on a beginning that 1) I’ve never seen before as an intro and 2) was so interesting I made my little brother, the Stone Face of Philadelphia say, “Wow.”.
Basically what I did was take the character who inspired the cover of Converse, a girl interested in film and photography, and have her make a documentary on how Matthew saved the world. Meaning, the intro actually starts at the end of the story, but through interviewing key characters of the story we learn the events that led to this through a collection of flashbacks.
I know, it is awesome!
So I got to work immediately after finding the perfect intro and I ran into the time vs. drawing problem, after a week or so of drawing I have only 18 pages.
The pros to drawing this hour eating monster is that I like when people read it and look at me and as “Are you updating soon?” I like when I finish a page I can’t believe I drew the scene. I like when I think about it, I turn my thoughts, a nonphysical, almost nonexistent thing into something everyone can see and feel.
When I first start a page, I draw the panel I’m going to work on. I don’t draw out all panels because…well I don’t know but I draw a panel translated from my storyboard and I add the characters inside with their actions and expressions. Then, I make sure to have enough space for the dialogue. If the person is talking they get a medium sized panel, depending on what they’re saying. If they person is screaming or calling out their super, awesome, KO move I give them a big panel and I may center them to leave room on the side for the words.
I’ve been told that I’m good at controlling space, so I rarely run into the problem of running out of space for speech bubbles. What I do have a problem with are hands and backgrounds.
The background I can avoid if I just make sure the scene isn’t zoomed out too much. However hands, I’ve worked my way from every body part and I’m now trying to master how to draw hands, which are very difficult to draw for some poses.
Then there is the bane of art career; the thing that will make sure I stay in accounting instead of drawing manga.
Drawing females. Oh, god.
In manga, and even American graphic novels, women are usually portrayed with big breast, thin waist, big hips and that doesn’t really sit right with me, ya know? So I ignored the female’s body and tried to conquer the face but they all come out looking like dudes with wigs.
When I finally did get it down though, I had to draw the body and that came out looking like a guy’s body too. I was/am stuck of how to draw a female’s body without objectifying her at the same time. It’s possible, but I’m just not there yet.
Someone like me should be discouraged, drawing for 13 years now and I can’t draw hands. Well, I would be if it weren’t for my past work. When I look at my skill from just a year ago I see such an improvement that I can’t help but feel good about myself. I’m sure a year from now I’m going to have hands and boobs mastered.
Then there’s the issue with how I ink my manga, Professional manga artist use calligraphy pens to draw there manga to give it a fine, finished look to give the impression they drew it once perfectly.
“What? I can’t do that. I can’t even afford a calligraphy pen!” Says me.
I don’t plan on introducing myself to inking until I’ve master the pencil. That also goes for coloring, because I have a two page spread for Converse in the first chapter that would be colored if I have the tools and skills. Coloring and inking will come later in my artist career; most likely in college.
In the Distant Future
I really do see myself doing this in the future, drawing manga and such, because this life makes me happy, it gives me purpose.
The people who have done it before me inspire me and I'm really glad I started at such a young age. I mean, skateboarding is difficult, playing the guitar is challenging, but drawing comes naturally to me. Though, with the many years ahead of me, there is much space for improvement.
I've never taken an art class outside of schol and I've pretty much just learned based off of what I've other manga I've read. Which is why I love manga as a storytelling medium, because I can share my idea and stories into chronological pictures and depict a plot, scenes, actions, dialogue, and anything else a story could tell.
I love the art and the elements it's composed of. It's hard but in the end, like all good written novels, or capture movies the final product will be something everyone could enjoy.