Saturday, January 15, 2011

Where Do I Get These Crazy Ideas?

On my post of "Week Four! <3" there was a very interesting anonymous comment left that read like this:

 "...How do you come up with your character designs? How long does it take you to complete a single page? How did you decide to become a manga artist? I'm really curious!"


So the goal of this blog entry is to answer those questions.

  • How do you come up with your character designs? 
Simply, from observing people.
My characters tend to be a mixture of different people and personalities that I've come to know over time. When I meet people, I pick up on the way the carry themselves, how they speak, and interesting physical traits that make them different. I like remembering what makes them who they are and the history behind that, and in the end, I take those experiences and create characters.
For example, from Mascara--Addison's looks are based on my cousin. It's funny because I have received comments from people about how can Addison possibly be so light skinned when her dad is so dark--as if it's close to impossible. Well, ask my cousin. She's in the same situation except her mom is very dark and her dad isn't.  So she has a bunch of curly blond hair and light eyes, and she doesn't look much like her mother at all.  So I borrowed some of my cousin's physical looks for Addison. As for Addison's personality, that partly comes from one of my high school classmates.
Ian's appearance is based on the boy who lives next door to me. And when I say Ian, that includes his alter-ego. I went to school with the boy next door to me--he was actually in one of my classes. Anyways, I found his ever-changing look amusing, and he has had both of Ian's hair styles at some point with glasses, minus glasses--kind of punk, but then not. I was constantly wondering who he was going to be next. But when he grew his hair out, it was so pretty. Girls in my class would touch it and ask him what shampoo he used.
As for Ian's personality, that's from a totally different source. Ian is a collection of traits from some of my guy friends plus some boy I had a crush on a long time ago plus a little bit of myself.

Just one more note about character design--I am strongly influenced by my family. I'm African-American, but then I see so many variations within my family. My dad is very dark, but his older sister looks white--but they come from the same parents. So she reminds people all the time that she is African-American because everyone thinks she's not. Then I have a cousin who's dark, but has red hair and freckles. I have an uncle who has a lighter complexion who also has red hair. I have freckles and other features that people who are the same race I am tend to notice. So because of that I've been asked if I'm biracial many times by other African-Americans although I'm technically not.
So coming from that kind of background, mixing up the way my characters look just comes naturally. Not all people look completely like the nationality that they are--regardless of what color their skin is "supposed" to be or what features they are "supposed" to have.  I put a lot of that into the characters I create because I know what it's like to be that way.

  • How long does it take you to complete a single page?
Actually, I have gotten a bit faster since I did this page as a serious joke:
http://mascara.smackjeeves.com/comics/725157/mascara-extra/
But leaving out the time I spend on creating the script and planning pages, a single page with five panels usually takes me about 2 hours to draw it in, 45 minutes to ink, and a little over an hour to tone and add speech bubbles. But I have been creating pages with less panels lately. A page with 3 panels, takes about half the time, although it consistently takes me 45 minutes to ink a page.
However, I usually spread out this process over a few days.

  • How did you decide to become a manga artist?
I really had no plans of being a manga artist at first (That's kind of  obvious from the first few chapters of Mascara, LOL!) But I have been writing stories and novels for awhile.
So I started out writing Mascara as a novel. After about 15 pages, I read it over and was like,"This would never make it as a novel--it's just not good enough. It would be better as a manga." I had taken a bunch of art classes in the past, and although it had been about 3 years since I had created anything meaningful, I imagined that I could create a manga as if I had never stopped drawing in first place. I was WRONG. WRONG WRONG WRONG.
What was I thinking? I mean, really?
But I'm glad I decided to start making manga style comics instead because as much as I love writing--there are so many other writers out there. And it was like, no matter how well I wrote, my writing would just slip through the cracks because there is so much stuff out there written by other people. But while creating Mascara, I've gotten way more support, and interacting with the readers has just been this life altering experience. It's the awesomest thing I've ever done, and I'll never forget it.
I've always been a fan of Japanese manga, but it's nice making a manga-style graphic novel that goes my way. I get to see people and places that remind me of where I live, and the American culture that I'm used to.  So I'm deciding to make a few graphic novels, because I feel I have something to bring to the art form--especially as I continue to progress and improve--regardless of how popular or unpopular my stories end up being. And it's fun. ^_^

So that's it. Thanks Anonymous-Whoever-You-Are for the questions!