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    • CommentTimeJan 26th 2010
    Ah, a new day in Emma’s olde tea shoppe. *fires up the kettles*
    Who’s for a new cuppa?

    Steevo –
    Oh, I think everyone takes their own little side-paths and shortcuts, but essentially I see the journey as having two main roads; very similar to any creative journey to success:
    One is very short. Some people are lucky enough to be grabbed off of DeviantArt/art college/blogs/portfolio reviews and straight into an editor’s office. It can happen and it equals a crazy fast career start. The downside can be that I’ve seen people on that road get bored or frustrated quickly. It can all be taken for granted too easily, I suppose.
    The other is to go the path of indie press, self publishing, attending events and selling your wares and generally building slowly towards your goals. This is the path I took without even knowing it. Like many on that road, I was comicking for fun and for a hobby, not quite realising that I was in fact working towards any larger aims. The result is that when I did realise ‘holy cow, I think I should quit my day job’, it was a magical and surreal moment that has never quite passed me by.

    Aiming for the first path is fine, but can lead to disappointment and heartache before it yields the goods. The second path means that, whether or not you’ve ‘made it’ yet, you’re creating and you’re selling and you’re achieving goals. I’d always push people towards the second (as is probably obvious, haha) as there is no downside at all to honing your craft and working under your own steam. And then, if you want to dip into the second road, you have something complete to show a publisher – which counts for a lot! GET EXCITED AND MAKE THINGS is the message here ^_^
    But as to the personal journey, I think probably everyone in the industry could pin point the start of their journey as being thanks to one particular conversation or a friend who encouraged them, or a stranger who told them something positive. We all have our own starting blocks, you know? :~)

    HelloMuller –
    Hey, Tom! ^_^ You want some tea?

    Jeff Owens –

    I just looked at your most recent comic (the $200 one?) and it looks like you’re already avoiding the major pitfalls. ^_^ Though that’s a panel about you, the sentiment is one anyone can relate to – boy, can we, haha! The key is to make a personal diary comic, but to pick up on the things in your life that you know readers would relate to. This is why reference and parody webcomics like Penny Arcade are so successful. You guys have a job a bit like a stand-up comedian, I suppose. Make it punchy, catchy and relevant. The worse diary comics I’ve seen are the ones that literally play out someone’s life on paper and include personal jokes that were funny to that group at the time, but mean nothing to someone who doesn’t know the people involved, you know? Marc (ellerby) has found himself in a rare position where, as readers have followed his and Anna’s story for so long, he can actually start slipping in more personal points, knowing that the majority of the audience is already familiar with his life.
    Of course, there’s also the side to diary webcomicking that is very personal and for your own consumption and if other people don’t like it, they can piss off ^_~ If you want to make a comic for yourself, you totally should! But if you want other people to connect to it, it’s worth considering the mass appeal of your content.
    Hope that helps!

    Continued in next post.....
    • CommentTimeJan 26th 2010 edited
    ....and *sip*

    Adaengine –
    Oh, wow….good questions. And woo yeah – go, small press!
    Pacing – ookaaay. How to not blab on about this for aaages? Haha. I’m a huge fan of comic pacing and open page layouts, especially in black and white comics. The single biggest (and probably most obvious) point to consider is filmatic eye. When you’re making a comic, you’re making a film with words, not a book with pictures. It’s something visual, and dramatic, so the pacing needs to follow suit. Consider that you are the director of the story. You have the camera, the crew, the actors…think about when (if your story was played out on screen) you’d zoom in, pull out, slow pan, quick edit. This should help your story flow naturally on the page. Smaller, close panels indicate fast movement. Larger, spaced panels slow the action down. Diagonals add a touch of drama, space can denote a pause…that sort of thing.

    As you’re working with an artist, the process has to be shared, unless you trust your artist to take on the director’s eye and are happy to let them play with the page? Sometimes when I work with writers, I make it clear from the get go that my page layouts can be quite unusual and are they happy for me to play with them? As a result, scripts I work from will sometimes have a brief description of what happens in each panel, but will leave me free to decide how to place and pace those panels. Sometimes, I get no direction at all, just the script (as with the Manga Shakespeares). It’s all down to what you, as the writer, want from your pages. Every comic is different and I fully appreciate that people working in colour are paying more to print, so will not necessarily have the luxury of slow pacing. Sometimes simple can work best. But yes, consider the filmatic eye. To show what I mean, here are a few pages - hope they make sense:

    1.This page (Much ado about Nothing) uses a lot of space and gives the feeling that this is an important and peaceful moment. The pacing here is, obviously, slow.

    2.Not so happy. this one (dragon heir: reborn) uses equally spaced length-wise panels, giving the sensation of fast edits between the moments...all taking place in the time it takes the character in the top panel to launch himself. It's darker, it's more full. See the difference? ^_^

    3.This is an example of a fun spread. (Dragon Heir, issue #9 - text blurred just in case, haha) You can see how there's nothing limiting you to staying within conventional panels. Whatever tells your story is the most important thing.

    These kind of layouts won't work for everyone, but they're examples of the extremes and the fun you can have with pages.

    Welland –

    Awww, thanks again, hon. I’m so glad you finally managed to get onto it!!

    Kelly Soup
    I finally hit on it!! What manga influence has given me over anything else.....other than the fun I have with page layouts, I think it's about the simplicity of lines. I'd be mad and blind to say that 'no, I like manga, but my work is not influenced by it'...but I still maintain that my work is also influenced equally by the Dylan Dog series and Marvel and Vertigo and - well, everything! So why does the manga influence show through more than the others? And I think it's in the simplifying of lines. I was so drawn to that, so it makes sense that it shows in my work. I like clean and elegant lines. I like breaking things down into their basic elements and building from that. I don't feel the need to draw something in full if it doesn't add to the story directly, as it may end up pulling back my pacing. When I'm working for myself or very open publishers, my pages are all about telling the story and guiding the readers' eyes in the smoothest way possible, and I think largely that's something I picked up from manga and manwha in my early days. Of course, as always, the lines are blurred and who's to say that Tintin or Asterix didn't inspire me in the same way? But that's what I've come up with ^_~

    And what scares me? Being alone, being lost (I have no sense of direction, haha), not being able to breath (which is obvious of course, but...), and spiders XD
    • CommentTimeJan 26th 2010 edited
    Still considering page layouts and feel I should add something :)
    Often, as an artist, you may find you're working in an environment where the script already has strong ideas of how the story is paced, in terms of panelling. These cases are a great opportunity to challenge yourself. What you do within the panel is of course as important as how you place the panel ^_~
    This page is one from a set of Runaways samples I did a while back for Marvel and shows that, working within the script spec, I decided to try out some diagonals and chose carefully when I would zoom in, when I would zoom out, and where I would that filmatic eye still comes into play within more conventional panelling.
    You are the director. ^__^

    ACK - I feel like I'm spamming my own thread~! Quick, someone write something, hahahah XD
  1.  (7631.4)
    Still considering page layouts and feel I should add something :) ...
    Spot on with that. It's articulated into words something that I've never quite managed to process from the subconscious into actual coherent thought until you posted it here. Thank you for this insight.
  2.  (7631.5)
    Essex comickers represent!

    Thanks for the plugs, Emsy! I've got a question you.

    As someone who works for companies both in England and the States, in terms of publishing, what do you think of the current English scene? Are we flogging a dead horse? Are we getting better at promoting homegrown talent? What are we doing wrong?
  3.  (7631.6)
    I've nothing witty or intelligent to add.

    With that in mind my question runs thusly: going to be doing any more TV (or TV involved) work?

      CommentAuthorJeff Owens
    • CommentTimeJan 26th 2010
    @emsie - Thanks so much for the thoughtful response! Very inspiring words. I've been trying much harder this year so far to make it more accessible to everyone, and it's nice to know I'm doing at least somewhat of a good job of that.
    • CommentTimeJan 26th 2010 edited
    Hey, that's fab! It's good to know I've been of some use ^_^

    Wooo Marc! Essex massiiive secret handshake!
    And oooooh, toughie. From my viewpoint, we are totally on the right track and moving fast. When I started out with Sweatdrop, there were very few publishers in the UK opening their doors to comics, no competitions for (admittedly more manga style) artists to enter, few magazines to rely on, and fewer publicised events.
    Now, we actually have to pick and choose between which events we attend - there are that many. We have mass-geek events right here in the UK that can pull in over 30k people in a weekend, and comics are a part of that. We have publishers like Walker books, Penguin, Puffin, Random House all looking towards sequential art. We have dedicated lines like SelfMadeHero and the DFC library working exclusively with UK illustrators. We have Neo magazine promoting home grown 'manga', we have ImagineFX really turning its hand towards comics and supporting the industry. The Japanese embassy opened its doors to UK manga styled artists and continues to support creativity here. We have 2 sequential art degree courses now available in the UK. The Arts foundation recognised Graphic Novels as being worthy of a 10k award this year (well done again, Kate!). We even see papers like the Guardian and the FT running reviews and previews of graphic novels and comics. We're seeing more and more crossovers from comic to film, from book to comic, from film to comic - because sequential art is now recognised as a valis storytelling format. ^_^

    Maybe part of the 'old scene' is fading. It's possible we're seeing an evolution here in the UK though...comics are still a taboo word in some places, sure, but say the words Graphic Novel and suddenly you see how much things really have changed! So yes it's all positive as far as I can see ^_^
    There will always be a element of 'exotic is better', but I see a lot more support and camradery amongst the UK scene these days than I saw when I started...though admittedly I came from a different side of the industry.

    Will Couper
    Hey Will ^_^ hahah, ummm...not on the cards, no. I never say never. I mean I never thought I'd be doing TV again when the Anime Network gig was offered, so who knows? But Going back to Television is certainly not something I have on my to-do list anyways ^_^

    Jeff Owens
    You're very welcome - and keep at it! ^_^
  4.  (7631.9)
    HelloMuller –
    Hey, Tom! ^_^ You want some tea?

    I'm more of a coffee man myself, but I'll gladly have a cuppa (no milk!).

    Anyway — think I've got a (possibly weird) question:

    What is the reaction of Japanese manga readers to your work, or OEL Manga in general? Do they like/appreciate it as proper Manga, or do they shove it with the rest of US/Western comics?
    • CommentTimeJan 26th 2010
    When you’re making a comic, you’re making a film with words, not a book with pictures.

    Thank you, thank you. That all helps immensely. I do work with an artist who is a very good "director", and what I'm trying to do on my end is learn to think more cinematically when I'm writing it in the first place, so that the script lends itself more naturally to what she will eventually be doing. So thank you so, so much for the examples. That really helps.
    • CommentAuthorsteevo
    • CommentTimeJan 26th 2010
    Emma - Thanks for your answer it was a definite help and
    GET EXCITED AND MAKE THINGS is the message here
    I'm working on it, I swear!
      CommentAuthorJeff Owens
    • CommentTimeJan 27th 2010
    *raises hand*

    I has anothar kweschun!

    Are there any places you would recommend sending a copy of a POD auto-bio comic to for review?
    • CommentTimeJan 27th 2010 edited
    Morning, all!
    *dishes out the Whitechapel mugs and sachets of sugar*


    Let's get this day started ^_^

    Tom - *proffers tea* No milk, just like I have it! :)
    Now, you've asked an interesting question because it's one that forces me to bite my tongue a little, haha. I'll answer it in two parts and try not to rant, and naturally NONE of the ranting that may escape is directed at anyone ^_^:
    The thing is, I don't necessarily want my work to be seen as 'proper manga' in the western sense. If you use the word manga to denote comics - then my work is manga. even if you go as far as to say manga is comics inspired by Japanese comics - yeah, I could class as manga. If you use the word manga to denote comics from Japan - then my work is not manga. Get me raving about this in the pub and I'll go on for hours! XD I am an English creator making comics. They do have a fairly strong manga influence in the linework, of course, but I'm not Japanese and I just want my work to be accepted for what it is - storytelling through sequential art, no matter what tag or box people want to put it into, you know what I mean? If anything, the 'manga' tag over here in the west can hinder as much as it helps. Lines like 'well, we love your work, but it's a bit too manga for us' kill me a little inside every time (incidentally, I've also heard 'your work's not manga enough for us' 0_o)...and I know I'm not alone. What the hell IS manga anyway? I mean, are we suggesting that Akira, FLCL, tekkonkinkreet and Pokemon all look exactly the same and can be defined by saying 'oh, that's manga style, that is'? That's like saying Scott Pilgrim, Civil War, Charlie's War and Snoopy can all be shoved into one artistic category. It all baffles me and - as I say - I'm sure we could all natter on about categorisation for HOURS! So...I'll stop there on that, hehe.
    But to the main question:
    I was lucky enough to go on a book tour to Japan when Hamlet first came out. Myself, Sonia Leong (romeo & Juliet) and Emma Hayley (the publisher) were blown away by the response we got. This was in a time when, here in england, 'manga' was still the adopted and not entirely accepted sibling of comics, who got shoved into separate corners of bookshops and cons; when OEL creators apparently were all 'faking being japanese and should start drawing proper stuff'...but, in Japan, a place where they had every right to look at our stuff and say 'why are you trying to emulate some of our comicking style?' we found that they honestly didn't care!
    Because we were in the place where 'manga' just meant 'comics.
    I went to the Kyoto manga museum, and guess what was in there? Watchmen, Gambit comics, Snoopy - all alongisde Japanese work. When a taxi driver saw our work, he said 'oh wow, you do manga, like snoopy' - Snoopy was the first example of manga he could think of, and why not? Over here, your average non-comic-reader woud probably also think of titles like Snoopy or Tintin as examples of comics. So, at least as it was at the time, and in the circles we spent time with, in Japan, we didn't need to be accepted as 'proper manga', because so long as we did comics, it was 'manga'. Of course, some might have said 'this almost looks like some Japanese shoujo style'- and they'd be right...but it wasn't as if they saw the Japanese comic style as something that needed entirely separate categorisation.

    It's all brain-melting, isn't it? I talk myself in circles and no doubt contradict myself all the time when this subject comes up, partly because there are so many valid opinions out there that I agree with on all sides...but, for me - the way the Japanese hosts back then treated us and treated comics made me feel very happy.
    And I feel that in the west, things have moved on vastly. We're seeing so many more varying styles in comics, mainstream and indie...and that's awesome! ^_^
    I don't know if that answered you or helped, Tom, sorry - went off on one again! It confuses me so ^_^

    Adaengine and Steevo - great stuff - so glad I helped! ^_^

    Jeff Owens - hmmm...well, I've never really sent comics out myself, but I suppose the usual suspects would be some of the online comic blogs - several of them seem to do reviews of mainstream and indie comics: Forbidden Planet International, HyperGeek, Newserama...those sort of spots. I'd recommend heading to a few comics shows and getting chatting to people there - that will give you a far better idea of who might want to review your work than I could. It's always good to have some face-to-face time before you send your work along ^_^ Sorry I can't help more with that one!
  5.  (7631.14)
    That was an awesome answer Emma. Both answers hit it right on the head!
    • CommentTimeJan 27th 2010
    Hi Emma,
    Just wanted to say that I really enjoyed both Manga Shakespeare books you've done (so far?). Two questions for you on them.

    1. Hamlet is set in a Cyber-Denmark. Was this done deliberately for a more 'Manga-sensibility' as it was one of the first two to come out? And did it feel strange at all setting out the more famous bits of prose in either of them?
    2. Are you doing any more? If so, when are we likely to see it? If not, which one would you most like to do?

    OK, that's five questions really, but they're shortish. Cheers.
    • CommentTimeJan 28th 2010
    Morning, all ^_^

    Tom - oh, wow - fantastic! I was worried I'd just ranted, haha.

    hmobius -
    'Ello ello. First off, thanks very much! Glad you liked them ^_^
    1. There was a deal of that, yes...I'd say so. Also, because the series was already advertised as modernising the stories, we needed a situation in which Denmark could be at war with its neighbours. Bizarrely, it would have felt almost even less real setting it in modern times. It did feel strange, for sure, especially as a Shakespeare nut! Though, on the flip side, the communication system we had in future-hamlet really helped with characters who were supposed to enter, speak and leave, haha! With Much Ado, I said early on that I wanted to be able to set it in a real setting and period...I felt much happier with it. However, no matter my initial reservations about the Hamlet setting, it did its job as something that caught attention. And I did have fun designing costumes that were a mix of Shakespeare and space-age.

    2. I don't think so, at least not for a little while. I love Shakespeare and I love Selfmadehero, but as someone who's already done two plays, it's time to step back a little. I got to tackle my two favourite plays and I'm very happy that I did. I'm not sure I could even say which other play I'd want to draw...I'm happy reading the amazing work coming out of the line. ^_^
    I'm going to have a very busy year working to release Dragon Heir in its new collected form, doing a series for Oni and possibly something for you'll certainly be seeing new work from me, even if it's not Shakespeare! ^_~
    I expect DH to be out by mid 2010, and then 2011 should see some new shinies. If you're French, or buy French magazines, you'd also be able to see my work in Bella Nolita magazine ^_^

    Okay, chaps! Just two days left in here...ask me your questions! Throw 'em at meeeee!
  6.  (7631.17)
    Hey ^__^
    I've thought of a proper question!
    If you had infinite time/resources (someone was paying you as much as you need for as long as you need) to write & draw a comic, what would it be like? What sort of format would you choose if money wasn't an object? How long would you stretch to on each page? Do you think it'd be something you've written already or would you come up with something new? This is something I often ponder myself, and it's a nice little fantasy to indulge in at the least :D
  7.  (7631.18)
    Not at all!

    Its indeed interesting how the term Manga gets interpreted here in the West, like you said.
  8.  (7631.19)
    Ok, I pondered this question for a long time and I'm still not sure if I'm able to word it right in a succint manner sooo...

    What forms of self-promotion would you suggest to someone who's interested solely in creator owned work and has the advantage of living in a much cheaper country (500$ a month is more than enough to live above the poverty line AND afford additional things and medical insurance etc.) but has the disadvantage of not being able to push the work personally on cons and has difficulty approaching people/organizing self?

    I'm thinking here miniseries, oneshots, graphic novels, limited series both as a webcomic and POD/indyplanet offering... and well, so far my efforts were rather disjointed.
    • CommentTimeJan 28th 2010 edited
    Paul -
    ehehehe. Well you know damn well what my subject matter would be XD I'd do a three book series chronicling the life of Richard III. Woop woop!

    Although format here isn't an issue, I'd probably be boring and stick to trusty A5ish graphic novel format and probably even keep it black and white. I think book-sized GNs are so readable and convenient, and the black and white would reflect the subject matter really well. If I DID want it coloured....I'd be getting someone like YOU or KATE to do it, hahah ^_~ (then I'd realise, shit - they should be drawing this bugger, not me...haha)

    The other option of course would be a full colour, glossy Dragon Heir complete volume. At this rate, I'll have rerborn done soon, but I'm sick of the time delays between issues because of slipping it in between work contracts...I'd love to just relax and finish the series for real. The moment I get to the end of Dragon Heir will be a joyous one indeed! THis bloody story's been haunting me for 16 years now!!!

    And geeky option number three: I'd love to dive into the storyline on Billy Kaplan (wiccan) and Tommy (speed) of Young Avengers and their relationship with their 'mother'. I have some awesome scenes in my head that I'd love to play out...but I have it on good assurance that my fangirl dreams may well be played out in issues to come, so I'll sit patiently for now. But yeah, there are certain existing characters I'd love to play with: Wiccan/Speed/Wanda/Quicksilver, Gambit, Fables, Dylan Dog...*dreams*

    Sooo - any publisher/people-with-too-much-money out there who like the sound of these...just, y'know, drop me a line ^_~

    Tom -
    It's worthy of pub discussion ;)