Post San Diego Comic Con 2016 Report

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I went to San Diego Comic Con this year after a 5-year hiatus (thanks, Japan) to find that the Comic Con I one loved has been hijacked by security–RFID security tags! You swipe them at the entrance and you swipe them when you exit.

At least the energy of good ol’ geeks and nerds and everyone in between was still there. It just came with a lot of people. I couldn’t create a mental escape path without running into a billion folks and encountering some B.O. I thought I had gotten used to from years of convention hopping.

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My Haul

 

As much as Comic Con has a great freebie table, the star freebies were for attendees who made it to the registration entrance. After swiping past the security panels, attendees were given large plastic backpacks with choices between Pokemon, Gotham, Supergirl, and Comic Con themes. I chose Gotham, not because I was wearing my Batman shirt from Japan and not because I liked-loathed the first episode of Gotham, but because it was black and went with anything. Judge me if you like. I’m a black lover.

While I was in the Sails Pavilion, I roamed the autographs section where actors from different TV shows, movies, and animated series met and greeted fans. I saw an Aliens poster and stopped to find Ricco Ross, or Private Ricco Frost, hanging out at his table with cool scenes from Aliens. I talked to him some time, got his autograph, and went back down to the main floor to finish looking for David Mack, the artist and writer behind Kabuki and several Daredevil comics. I found Mr. Mack after a beautiful woman in white took me to a table with 2 handsome brothers promoting their comic, Okemus, and their company, RAE Comics. From the past 7 Comic Cons I’ve attended, this was the first one where I saw many black comic creators as well as black companies with good promotion.

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On Sunday and the last day of Comic Con, I bought a few shirts and immediately donned a pink JigglyPuff shirt from the Mighty Fine brand since all the Pikachu shirts were gone (darn you, Pokemon Go!). It wasn’t as crowded as Saturday, mainly because most celebrities attended Friday’s and Saturday’s panels and promotional events. Sunday has always been the best day for Comic Con goers to buy their most-wanted merchandise at low prices. “Help us get rid of this extra inventory!” is the call of the last convention day. And if you’re a good haggler, this was the best time to haggle. I found manga priced down from $12 to $8 and Superman and Batman shirts discounted to $5. David Mack gave me a deal on two of his Kabuki volumes ($25 for two hardcovers signed), and I bought a hardback volume of The Goon. Promoters and creators were more visible between the aisles as they handed out the last of their free comics, wristbands, book samples, and stickers.

I returned to the Sails Pavilion to find Ricco Ross again. We ended up chatting for about an hour about random stuff, some fans stopping in between our conversation, and he gave me some advice on life. I’m not into celebrities and movie stars, but I think Ricco Ross is one stand-up, down-to-earth guy. I’ll be looking for more of his roles on the silver screen.

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By 2:00 and after some impulsive buys, I left Comic Con to find some Pokemon outside the convention center. In the past Comic Cons, I had always felt like I had accomplished a big feat even when I had little money and couldn’t buy and go wherever I wanted. I survived the San Diego Comic Con! I would think as I rode the trolley to my car. Now that I have the time and money, I just don’t have the energy to be excited for hours on end. Thankfully, meeting fans and creators, exchanging cards with small press and independent publishers, and conversing with a talented actor made up for my low energy. Next year, I’ll be sure to prepare my heart–and maybe find a sturdier bag–so I can keep up with all that is the San Diego Comic Con.

Other great companies and businesses at Comic Con I visited (and usually bought buttons):

Fanbase Press

I-Mockery

Tony Fleecs

Wannabe Press

Nanamation

Joe Weatherly

UCLA Extension

Steam

LootCrate

BlindersOff

Geek Chic

Bill Walko

Scott Hattox Art

How to Make Backgrounds in Manga

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How to Make Backgrounds for Manga

Just as in writing, backgrounds are important for every manga. It anchors the characters and settings in a specific time and space. Without them, readers have only dialogue to follow the story.

Drawing from scratch

Creating a background from scratch may be time consuming, but it is one of the most fulfilling parts of drawing. Once you’re done, you sigh and yell, “I did it!” The best way to create a background from scratch is to take a picture of the locations or buildings you want to use and draw it from that picture.

The reason why I don’t prefer drawing at the location is because many factors change as you’re looking between your drawing and the actual place. The sun and clouds move, shifting the shadows around, and people hover over your shoulder with indignant questions, peeling your gaze from your focal point. A picture will stay whatever you want that picture to be.

Turning out a picture

With a picture of a location, you can also create unique backgrounds. Ai Yazawa turns images into shadows with almost pixelated points.

Ai Yazawa Paradise Kiss manga background example

Notice the background in Ai Yazawa’s Paradise Kiss and NaNa. It’s her trademark. (From Pinterest)

You can also turn pictures Into vectors in Adobe Illustrator or Manga Pro. To vectorize an image in Illustrator, select to “Trace”.

Using stock pictures

If drawing or vectorizing pictures are too much, you can buy Deleter background booklets or get free stock manga backgrounds on DeviantArt or Pinterest.

Deleter and Manga University both have books with backgrounds you can print onto adhesive sheets and apply like screentones or digitally place them in your manga using layers. They’re good for hard-to-find pictures such as Japanese classrooms, common streets, and convenience stores. The books aren’t free. They price anywhere from $2.50 to $12.00 online.

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Here are a few generous artists:

Manga Backgrounds by Humon

TakataRikuzen’s Free Manga Backgrounds

Loganna’s Manga Cityscape

If you want to be a well-rounded artist, my advice is to learn how to do perspective drawings. Even if you plan on becoming a traditional artist (drawing, painting, sculpting), learning perspective will only be a tool.

2015 Resolutions from a Japan Fan

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2015 Resolutions from a Japan Fan

Last year, I made some typical resolutions–losing weight, saving money, reading 50 books, and completing 33 art projects–and I met some of them. I lost 15 pounds after July’s knee injury (no exercise, too) and read 55 books in 2014. I unfortunately didn’t finish 33 art projects nor save money, so I felt a little disappointed in myself. Still, I’ve battled the horse through injuries, failures, and burn-outs, and I’ve found one thing to be tried and true: I’m going to do accomplish many goals before I leave Japan this year.

Read more manga. I really want to read old manga. I feel like old manga had more meaning. If you look at my reading list for last year, I started reading older or re-released manga including Barefoot Gen, 47 Rounin, Doraemon, Sazae-san, Children of the Sea, Gundam Wing, and Evangelion. The reason why I’m looking at older manga and classics is because the newer stuff isn’t cutting it. I also read Assassination Classroom, Crimson Empire, Devils and Realist, Sankarea, Ultimo, and Zero’s Familiar Chevalier. This latter group just rubs me the wrong way. Every plot device in manga is glaringly obvious, so much so, I just dropped them off my reading lists–or ranted about them on the Anime3000 and Manga Corner podcasts. If you have any good recommendations for me with atypical plots and characters, please contact me right away.

Do more art projects. So I didn’t do 33 art projects last year, but I’m set on doing it this year. I’ve set a goal for myself on Anime3000’s Manga Corner: to do a motion comic per podcast. I can do it. I just need to buckle down…and get a Mac. ( ̄◇ ̄;)

Wean myself off the internet. Yes, yes, it’s a weird resolution, but I sit in front of a computer maybe 8 to 10 hours a day. That’s too many hours sitting down.

Post more manga artist stuff. If you’re an aspiring manga or comic book artist, I’ve got the section for you. Last year, I posted “Online Communities for Aspiring Manga Creators“, “Manga Pens for Manga Artists Outside of Japan“, “Deals and Savings for Manga Artists“, and “Manga, Comic Book, and Graphic Novel Courses for Aspiring Creators“. Got something you’re always looking for as a manga artist? Let me know in the comments section, and I’ll compile a list of resources for you and other artists.

I hope I can accomplish this stuff in a year. I’ll be leaving Japan, my second home, in July or August after 5 years, and I’ll have to adjust to American culture again.  \(^▽^@)ノ

Hokusai and Hiroshige Origami Paper from Tuttle!

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I entered a giveaway on one of my favorite blogs, Tokyo5, and won two specialty origami paper sets from Tuttle!

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I’m so happy to have these! I studied both Hokusai and Utagawa Hiroshige in college, and I fell in love with ukiyo-e, or woodblock prints. Who are Hokusai and Hiroshige? They are ukiyo-e artists who changed both the techniques and styles of ukiyo-e into what we know it today. Hokusai created unique compositions in 36 Views of Mount Fuji (find the repetition of three in The Great Wave off Kanagawa), and Hiroshige developed color gradients in ukiyo-e like Plum Tree at Kameido.

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The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai (1820s) Image Credit

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Plum Tree at Kameido (1857) by Utagawa Hiroshige Image Credit

In my Japanese Art History class, I had to copy a master’s art piece, and I chose Hiroshige’s Plum Tree at Kameido. See my try!

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#8 of 33 Art Projects: Bingata Lends Itself to Ukiyo-e

Every summer, the art teacher in my school does bingata lessons. I did this last year and the year before.

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First, a water-soluble resin is put through a stencil with wire and dried. Afterwards, you can paint directly on the dried parts. The painting process is similar to making woodblock prints (ukiyoe). You first apply the base layer, which is usually a light color. In all of my paintings, I use really light colors that contain yellow (unless I plan on painting blue or purple over them). It’s really important to know what the final picture will look like so that you can plan the base accordingly. If not, it’s easy to drawn out the base color with indecisive colors.  After the base colors are applied, you dry the dye with a hair dryer and go on to the next part of the painting.
140819_1427The second part of the painting process is putting the final shades and tones. I use a small soft brush and a regular brush (one in each hand) and blend the colors. Because I started out with bigger brushes, the phoenix in this image came out funny. It’s my own lesson to choose my brushes carefully from now on. Once all the colors have been applied, you dry the dye until the resin flattens. Place your finished painting into water for a few hours, or if you want the resin to come off more easily, put it in water for a couple of days. Finally, you wash the resin off without rubbing the fabric together, and let the fabric dry.

This one wasn’t my favorite bingata because I only had an hour to make it where I previously took two or three hours to make.

What do you think about it?

A Try in Japonism

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My last project for Japanese art history was to practice the funpon, or copying the master, technique. We had to find one artwork from all that we had studied and reproduce it using any medium. Of course, I chose Utagawa Hiroshige’s Plum Orchard at Kameido Shrine (1857) from 100 Famous Views of Edo. It took me 6 days to make it because I could only work on it between classes and work.

I started with the background before painting the rest of the image so that the oil paint would set by the time I started the foreground images.

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When it came to the little people in the background, I used several twigs to get the details. At the time, I didn’t have money to get really small brushes.

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Vincent van Gogh also painted this ukiyo-e (on the right), renamed Flowering Plum Tree (1887), in oil paint. 7710-620x-HiroshigevsVanGogh

Hiroshige’s ukiyo-e (on the left) was considered a higher level than other ukiyo-e artists in his time. While other artists were using a traditional method of simple block coloring, Hiroshige used gradients in his work as you can see in the trees’ realistic shading and the background. If you’d like to know more about Utagawa Hiroshige, you can check out my Art Project Presentation.

If you’re a fan of ukiyo-e, you can participate in Tokyo Five‘s Book review & giveaway 3: Ukiyo-e; The Art of the Japanese Print. One lucky winner will get a free copy of this book!

Submit Your Info to the Cartoonists of Color Database

Submit Your Info to the Cartoonists of Color Database

Awesome!

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For the last several days, the award-winning graphic novelist MariNaomi has taken to social media to solicit names for a database of cartoonists of color she is currently assembling. And now you can help by adding your name to the list!

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