Viz Media Announces the Release of Manga Story Collection Time Killers by the Creator of Blue Exorcist

Cool!

Manga Pens for Manga Artists Outside of Japan

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Japanese manga artists have it good. They can walk to the nearest bookstore and buy any line of pens all suited for creating manga. Artists outside of Japan, however, have a challenge in getting manga-purposed supplies, especially cheap inking pens.

Right now, pens by Too are cornering the inked market. They make Copic-brand supplies, from nibs to colored liners. In Japan, a set of 9 regular Copic multiliner pens are around 1795 yen or $18 while Western online shops sell them for more than $20. Copic drawing pens with nibs and Copic Ciao color brush pens are 250 yen or $2.50 each, half the cost of what Western stores sell.

So where do you get these pens and how much do they cost? Here’s a list of online stores selling pens for manga artists and ship internationally. (Prices may vary.)

Brand / Pen Type # of Pens DickBlick JetPens Jerry’s Artarama Chicago Airbrush Supply Blue Line Pro Comic Artist Supplies Akadot
Copic Multiliner Fine Nib Pens 1 $4.60 $2.99
Copic Multiliner Fine Nib Pens 4 $8.69
Copic Multiliner Fine Nib Pens 7 $16.75 $20.93
Copic Multiliner Assorted 9 $19.95 $26.91
Copic Multiliner SP 1 $7.96 $8.95 $7.55
Copic Multiliner SP Set 5 $44.75
Copic Multiliner SP Set 10 $89.50
Sakura Manga Sensei Series 1 $1.99 $2.00
Sakura Manga Sensei Series 6 $11.99
Sakura Manga Sensei Series 9 $11.62
Sakura Pigma Micropen 3 $6.72 $5.28
Sakura Pigma Micropen Set 6 $13.04 $10.56
Sakura Pigma Manga Comic Pro Set 6 $7.97 $18.00
Sakura Pigma All-Black Collection Cube 16 $39.99
Kuretake Manga Penholder 1
Kuretake Zig Cartoonist Mangaka Pen 1 $2.15
Kuretake Zig Cartoonist Mangaka Set 3
Deleter Neopiko Line 2 Pen 1 $3.99 $5.40
Tria Triple Nib Marker 1 $2.49 $5.99
Faber-Castell Extra Superfine Pitt Pen 1 $2.06 $2.10
Faber-Castell Pen Set 8 $13.97
Faber-Castell Extra Superfine Pitt Pen Set 10 $26.68
Prismacolor Illustration Markers 4 $7.32
Prismacolor Premier Fine Line Marker Sets 5 $9.93
Prismacolor Premier Fine Line Marker Sets 8 $15.87
Acruit Technical Drawing Pen 1 $1.00
Acruit Technical Drawing Pen Set 9 $8.99
Acruit Technical Drawing Pen Set 12 $9.99
Isoman Technoart Pen Nib 1 $1.99
Marvy Uchida LePen 12 $15.48
Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph Points 1 $16.35
Rapidograph Pens 1 $25.26 $24.83
Pentel Sign Pen 1 $1.23
E + M Artists Nib Holder 1 $9.50
Tachikawa Linemarker 1 $13.50
Tachikawa School-G Nib Pen 1 $6.75 $5.80 – $6.58
Zebra Comic Pen Nib Holder 1 $3.30
STABILO Fineliner Pen 1 $.75
STABILO Sensor Pen 1 $1.49

*All prices are not guaranteed, so please check with their websites.

Japanimation

This online anime store has two pen lines, the Deleter Neopiko Line 2 Pens ($47.19 for 10) and the Tachikawa New Nib School-G Pens ($10.39 for 1). They also have international shipping.

Manga University

This online manga university also sells manga tools, including Tachikawa All-in-One Manga Pen ($9.99 for 1) and the Ultimate Manga Pen Set ($24.99 for Tachikawa and Nikko nibs and nib holders). To calculate your country’s postage, enter your location after adding the item(s) to your cart.

For UK artists, there are 2 shops that will ship to you at a cheap rate.

Kuretake Shop

This is the UK-based shop of the brand, Kuretake. Their most-popular pens are the Zig Cartoonist Mangaka Pens ($1.94 for 1 or $4.36 for 3). The Kuretake Shop only ships to the UK and Europe.

Scribblers

What better way to find Japanese pens and pen holders than by going to a calligraphy specialty store. This shop has everything calligraphy related, including art pens. They carry Kuretake Zig Cartoonist Mangaka Pens (£1.55 for 1, £4.75 for 3), Kuretake Manga Pen Holders (£5.05 for 1), and Kurecolor Fine and Brush for Manga (£2.45 for 1), including the VAT at 20 percent. Scribblers has international shipping.

For even cheaper supplies, don’t forget to sign up for the shops’ club cards or mailing lists.

Dick Blick offers a 10 percent discount if you have a Dick Blick Preferred Card.

Jerry’s Artarama has various discounts when you’ve signed up for their Online Email Club.

Blue Line Pro has a yearly membership for their Club Blue Artist Discount Club that drops prices by 15 percent. This membership isn’t free—it costs $14.99 per year.

Akadot’s Retail Membership is $15 per year to get a 5 percent discount on your purchases. After $1000 of purchases, they’ll give you a $20 gift card.

Jade’s Recommendation

When I first started drawing manga, I used to buy the Sakura Pigma and Pigma Micron pens at Michael’s (they sell them at full retail price). I didn’t have a car or much money. It was when I started going to conventions that I saw there were many different pens out there, and I quickly realized that pens from Sakura Pigma and Faber-Castell were stealing my money. Both brands don’t give you enough ink (that’s why they’re so lightweight), the nibs break or split in half after a few uses, and the line quality is really bad. Right now, I’m using Copic, Tachikawa, and Mitsubishi pens. They give me a good amount of ink and the nib replacements are cheap and easy to find. They do cost more than Sakura Pigma and Faber-Castell pens, but they’re also higher quality.

Professional Artist Veronica Fish’s Reviews

Review of Marvy Uchida’s LePen Series

http://veronicahebs.blogspot.jp/2013/05/review-le-pen-le-plume-pen-sets.html

Review of Pentel, Zebra Comic, Tachikawa School-G, Deleter #5, and Lowe Cornell Pens and Brushes:

http://veronicahebs.blogspot.jp/2011/02/manga-pens-comic-art-supplies-review.html

Review of Pentel Brush Pens: http://veronicahebs.blogspot.jp/2010/01/japanese-brush-pens-review.html

If you’d like a printable version of this post to compare prices, you can download Manga Pens for Microsoft Word.

UPDATED (6/29/2015): Nibs are an alternative to using liners and pens. For a guide on nibs and nib holders, check out JetPens’ Guide to Nibs and Nib Holders.

Lefties in Japan: Do Southpaws Get Little Love Here, Too?

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Happy International Left-handers’ Day!

Did you know I’m left-handed? My father, my grandfather, my aunt, and my husband are also left-handed. Imagine all the smear stains we’ve gotten on our cuffs, how many artful turns of a paper we did to avoid ruined sleeves, how many decisions we’d have to make–throw left or right?–in our entire lives. No matter how many left-handers there are in my family, there aren’t many in the world (only 10 percent!). Left-handers are just as rare in Japan as in the States, but unlike their American counterparts, they don’t have as much trouble dealing with a right-side world.

In Japan, left-handedness isn’t seen as a conspiracy to make do with the Devil as it is in Western and Catholic countries. Sure, there was a time when Japanese viewed southpaws as impractical because of traditional calligraphy writing. Even though Japanese people still write from left to right when they make banners, the taboo of being left-handed, or giccho, is considered old news.

In recent times, Japanese students use regular notebooks or genkou youshi (原稿用紙), a Japanese manuscript paper for writing essays. This kind of paper has little boxes, each box for one character, and they’re read from right to left. Because traditional Japanese is read from the top downwards, essays are written the same way, top to down. It makes it easier for us lefties to write an essay in Japan, even if they’re apology or detention essays (you’ll see it in manga, anime, or in the discipline office in Japanese schools).

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Poor Houtarou from Hyouka has to re-write an essay he forgot at home.

Of course, left-handers in Japan still face problems in the right-hander world. In contrast to manuscript paper, writing calligraphy on horizontal banners is oriented for right-handers.  I wonder if famous calligraphers like Michiko ImaiShinjo Ito, or Shingai Tanaka ever had trouble writing Japanese characters.

Oh, Flanders, you'll only get orders from Japan. Go online!

Oh, Flanders, the Simpsons and the Leftorium are washed up. Get your butt online, man!

Looking for your real Leftorium? Here are some shops that can help you with your left-handed needs on this fine International Left-handers Day:

1. Lefty’s – https://www.leftyslefthanded.com/ (Special discounts on International Left-handers’ Day)

2. Anything Left-Handed – http://www.anythinglefthanded.co.uk/

3. RU-Lefthanded – http://ru-lefthanded.co.uk/ocart/

4. Left-hand N.Z. – http://www.lefthandnz.com/

7 Useful Websites to Survive in Japan

 

Imagine getting an invitation to your welcome party and a co-worker hands you a map to the location. You don’t think to ask about the place or what do all the squiggly lines mean–not like you can if you don’t know Japanese–so when the time comes to go to the welcome party, you realize that you don’t know the way. But that’s only one worry from living in Japan. Japanese language resources, English books, organic products, and even emoticons are different in the Land of the Rising Sun. Thanks to the internet, you can simplify your needs while living in Japan.

 googlemapsGoogle Maps: In Japan, you can easily get lost. There are no street names, and multiple routes with the same number make finding a certain business nearly impossible. Good thing all businesses must print their ads with a map to their shop…right? If everyone relied on those 5-centimeter sized maps, no one in Japan would use Google Maps. My advice: stick to landmarks!

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Japanese Emoticons: Western emoticons are great, but Japanese ones are easier to read and have more pizzazz. Plus, each emoticon conveys the exact emotion I’m looking for in a tweet or email. \(^▽^)/

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Japanese Fonts: If you’re learning Japanese or you make anything with text in Japan, this website is the best! You can download and install the fonts that actually write Japanese, not the gibberish you find on Fontspace. Just be on the look out for the fine print. Some fonts are licensed for non-commercial uses, which means you can only use them for unpaid projects.

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Book Depository: Japan has a severe lack of English books that aren’t condensed readers for English exam takers. Some Japanese English-reading residents are fine with the scant choices of English literature at Toda Books and Book Off (they mostly have YA and best sellers). For those who want books without the expensive shipping fee from Ebay, Amazon, Abebooks, Book Depository is the best. They ship books worldwide for free. Are the books cheaper than Ebay or Amazon? No, they’re full price, but they’re brand new books.

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iHerb: If you’re missing your beloved African soap bars or certain organic cookie mixes and you can’t get them from home, iHerb is the next best option. They have a flat $4 shipping rate to Japan and they sell organic and vegan household products.

weblio

Weblio: Japanese is hard. Even Google Translate has a hard time making Japanese understandable. Weblio is another translation website that offers a literal translation of the English and example sentences using the main verb.

Wunderground: Between June and October, Japan is plagued with typhoons and stormy weather. Reliable English-language weather forecast sites like Wunderground are few in total, considering that many are in Japanese. Still, Wunderground is a good place to watch any severe weather changes in the Western-Pacific region.

Manga Assistant’s Dream Realized: The Princess of Tennis Review

Manga Assistant’s Dream Realized: The Princess of Tennis Review

When I was 13, I wanted to be a manga creator. Between college and Japan, I forgot that dream. After reading Jamie Lynn Lano’s The Princess of Tennis, that 15-year-old dream cried out and I realized why: Lano never forgot her dream and became a manga assistant for Takeshi Konomi’s The Prince of Tennis, or TeniPuri by some fans.

Lano’s journey starts with already living in Japan for 4 years as an English teacher before applying to Konomi’s call for manga assistants. Throughout the book, Lano not only talks about how manga is made (it’s less technical than I thought) but also the ups and downs of being a 6-foot-1 foreign woman in Japan.

The Princess of Tennis is an easy and fun read. Lano keeps the tone light and friendly, and when she turns to darker themes–the invisible red tape for foreigners, real Japanese customs, and women’s 1950’s role in Japanese culture–Lano always remembers that this true story is a happy one, minus the tinted glasses.

While Lano makes her book accessible for all readers, The Princess of Tennis best fits otaku and aspiring manga creators and editors. She uses Japanese words and emoticons that anyone can find in a manga. For readers outside of the manga-reading audience, this book comes off as a borderline Young Adult novel or fanfiction, especially when the grammatical errors are considered. Because Lano’s voice and amiable nature is consistent, readers can forgive the missing words, incorrect punctuation marks, and passive sentences.

As with many books about Japan, The Princess of Tennis uses many Japanese words. Some might find it charming, but I believe that if a book is for the English-reading community, it should stay in English. I wouldn’t say, “Konomi Teacher”. Even “Mr. Konomi” is passable. Still, I’d just omit the word. In the West, using someone’s last name is also a sign of respect. Untranslated Japanese words with simple English meanings–“ohayo” (“Good morning”), “hajimemashite” (“Nice to meet you”), and “ganbare” (“Good luck” or “Do your best”)–are still in the book. I think I removed every romanized word with corrector ink just to polish the text.

Aside from the mistakes, The Princess of Tennis was entertaining and inspirational for me. Remember my dream of becoming a manga creator? Maybe my TeniPuri call is waiting for me to answer.

The Princess of Tennis: The True Story of an American Manga Assistant

I finally got my copy of The Princess of Tennis from Jamie Lynn Lano!

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There aren’t many stories (if any) about Western manga assistants working in Japan. Jamie Lynn Lano tells all in this book and on her blog, Jamieism.com. You can buy  The Princess of Tennis: The true story of working as a mangaka’s assistant in Japanon Amazon.

Also, you can help Jamie get to San Diego Comic Con through http://www.gofundme.com/9v7x64.

Super Saiyin Level 4: My 4 Years Living and Blogging in Japan

I’m at Super Saiyin status! Yup, I’ve reached 4 complete years of living and blogging in Japan!

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I know, I know. Some Americans have reached city-stomping, moon-transforming monkey status in their tenth, twentieth, or even thirtieth years in Japan. Good for them! For me, it’s an awesome thing: I’m still living my dream! And I’ve learned a few things along the way.

Anime and manga does and doesn’t equal culture.

Just as any media doesn’t fully capture a single culture, it also says a lot about that culture. The Japanese population is mostly Japanese. From the time Japanese people are born until they die, there are certain things that’re taught to them. Did you know that Japanese students take Ethics and Morals in junior high school? And did you know Japanese students are punished more for not following the rules than their grades? No, maybe not. In reality, Japanese people aren’t allowed to stand out. Japan is a collective society, and in a country the size of California housing millions, the population can’t afford to be individualistic. But in anime and manga, you’ll see students who are totally different because of their natural talents or super abilities. In a way, these media are reflections of a country where the hammer strikes down the standing nail.

Design and marketing is on a whole different level in Japan.

Wherever you walk in Japan, you’re bound to find billboards upon billboards, posters behind posters, signs above signs of ads, ads, ads. Even if you can’t read them, these ads are successful at embedding colorful and creative images into your brain. Everything has a mascot (ever hear of Hello Kitty, Kumamon, Pikachu, or Luffy?). When I think of American ads, they don’t compare. Then again, the States has it good with creating recognizable brands. Hmm, maybe I’m wrong… Still, Japanese advertising makes me laugh!

Quality of (Insert a Noun) is cities above the American sense of quality

I’m absolutely in love with Japan’s sense of quality. It shows in mundane things: merchandise at thrift stores are clean and cared for; lunches are freshly prepared by mothers and lunchbox pros same day; fast food actually matches the pictures. So, yeah, quality of life is awesome in Japan. There’s the national healthcare that every working person can receive (OMG, Japan is Socialistic ::gasp::), and the older you are, the cheaper your optional car insurance becomes. Don’t get me wrong, I do miss the States, but some things–the crappy secondhand buys, the fat-salt-sugar-saturated processed food, and the bombardment of unhealthy lifestyles–aren’t living up to my quality of life anymore.

I miss the straightforwardness of the West

Japan is the land of beating around the bush. You can’t say anything directly because it’s seen as unfriendly. Instead of saying, “Why aren’t you wearing an undershirt?” you have to opt for a round-about way of saying things. “Aren’t you cold?” The real meaning: you’re not dressed properly for work! Then again, no one will tell you at the very beginning how to dress for work in Japan like in the States. “Do I have to wear suits? What color? How long?” You have to become a really great observer in Japan and answer the questions yourself. In a way, I find it refreshing. As Haruki Murakami wrote in 1Q84, “If you can’t understand it without an explanation, you can’t understand it with an explanation.” 

American Prince of Tennis Manga Assistant to go to San Diego Comic Con???

American Prince of Tennis Manga Assistant to go to San Diego Comic Con???

You can help make this headline come true without the question marks!

One of my manga friends, an American manga assistant to the popular Prince of Tennis, needs your help! She’s trying to get to the annual San Diego Comic Con, the biggest pop culture convention in the continental U.S. In order to get there, she needs to find some funds.

This is what she wrote on her website and Facebook:

“I was invited to speak at San Diego Comic Con in July!!

The thing is that I need your help. I can only spare the time to come for the one day that I’m invited to speak, what with all of the chaos going on in my life, but I’ll fight hell or high water to be able to share my experiences with everyone. I just need some help paying for it. You know that I come from a poor family, and working for a mangaka didn’t pay all that well, nor does book writing (I wish that it did!).

But I don’t want the money to stand in my way. Instead of a corporation paying my way, I’m hoping that the fans will. That everyone who has heard my stories will chip in just a little bit.

I need your help, let’s help each other, ne?

http://www.gofundme.com/9v7x64

Donate anything, even your pocket change! It’s a good opportunity for Americans to learn how to break into the manga in Japan Land!

http://www.gofundme.com/9v7x64

Not Like Anime or Manga: 10 Realistic Ideas for Your Japanese School Festival

School festivals are central to all manga and anime centering around Japanese schools as well as Japanese society.

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Everyone participates in the school festivals, even the foreign English teachers like myself. Last year, I was faced with the school festival, and though I wanted to do something as typical as a cafe, rules kept the maid outfits at bay. “There are only two places where food can be made, and they’ve already been claimed,” a teacher told me with a sympathetic smile. “You’ll have to come up with some other idea for the English Club.”

Great. I guess my anime dreams of doing a maid cafe couldn’t come true. Ideas, I thought, I need ideas. Of course, my students couldn’t come up with anything. You’ll find that unless you offer Japanese kids ideas, you won’t come up with anything concrete.

For those of you in the same situation, here’s a list of ideas you can do with a small club (3 to 5 members) or more.

1. Cake Walk (Musical Chairs + Raffle): Use Daiso vinyl tape and make footprints or circles on the floor into one big circle. Put numbers in each circle. Participants will stand on the circles, and when the music starts, they will walk to each circle. When the music stops, a number will be called. The participant on the called number will win a cake or a prize. For more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cakewalk_(carnival_game) 

2. Costume Booth (Halloween + Photography): Get a lot of costumes and props. Designate someone who will print pictures and put them in cellophane holders. Participants will pick what costumes they want and the theme of their photograph.

3. Skit: Pick a Western-origin or English-language skit such as Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast, or Harry Potter. Adjust the script, pick the actors, and perform the skit on stage.

4. Names in Cursive: For more artistic people, participants will get their names written in pretty cursive. If you’re into graffiti, do names in graffiti.

5. Dance: Do a traditional dance from a different country (i.e. Philippine’s tinikling or binasuan or Mexico’s folklorico).

6. Western bazaar: Get lots of new knickknacks (stickers, posters, bilingual books, toys, stuffed animals, bracelets, snacks, etc.). Set up a booth or room with the items all tagged with prices. Get a register or cash box and put someone responsible for it.

7. English wanage (Ring Toss): Make rings and stands out of cardboard and tape. (I would use Daiso colored tape to make the rings and stands more interesting, seeing that cardboard is pretty ugly.) Use vinyl tape as a distance marker. Give participants the rings and prizes after they’ve gotten the rings on the stands successfully. For an English-involved ring toss, put pictures on the stands. Show the participants an English word. They will throw the ring onto the matching picture of the English word.

8. Basket Toss: Make balls out of tape and set up cardboard boxes. For an English-involved basket toss, put pictures on the boxes. Tell the participant an English word, and they will throw the ball into the matching picture. You can also do this with teachers’ pictures and tell the participants a teacher’s profile (where they’re from, the subject they teach, the homeroom they’re in charge of).

9. Western Cafe: Pick any theme for your cafe (find ideas at CelebrationsatHomeBlog.com). Get refreshments (cupcakes, brownies, muffins, breads), drinks, utensils, table clothes, napkins, and props that fit the theme. Set up nice tables and have the club members be waiters (make shifts!). Customers will come and order food and drinks from an all-English menu. The waiters will take the orders in English as best as they can. For the non-food option, still set up the cafe the same way but make a separate table with different candies, knickknacks, and lots of gift wrapping materials (ribbons, wrapping paper, tape, scissors, cellophane bags, hole punches, and stickers). Customers will look at a menu of themes and make a gift for their friends, parents, or lovers. The waiters will only clean up after the customers and offer suggestions to them.

10. Movie: Make a movie with the club before the school festival (summer vacation is the best time to do this if your festival is later on in the year). Sit down with the club, write the script, schedule times to film, practice all the scenes, film, edit, and add Japanese subtitles.

11. English Scavenger Hunt: Give attendees a scavenger hunt paper with tasks such as “Find three married teachers” (3人の結婚したの教師を探してください). If they complete the task, they get a stamp on their paper. They can show their stamps at one location (if you have no room, use a kiosk or table-top cart) and get prizes. If you’re looking for examples of this kind of activity, it has been done at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Okinawa for their annual festivals (おきなわ国際協力・交流フェスティバル[English][Japanese] ).

If you’re having trouble coming up with school festival ideas for your English club or the English Speaking Society, just think of a fundraiser or carnival event and try that.

Manga, Comic Book, and Graphic Novel Courses for Aspiring Creators

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Manga, Comic Book, and Graphic Novel Courses for Aspiring Creators

Updated: January 23, 2018

Finding a course can be hard, especially if you’re not Japanese. Here’s a few places to find manga and sequential, or comic book, art courses around the world.

Free Courses and Resources

Limited or Fee-based Courses

  • U.S.-Japan Creative Artists Exchange Fellowships are federal grants for artists to exchange culture and experiences with Japanese counterparts. Deadline to apply is February 1, 2018. To learn more about the program, visit http://www.jusfc.gov/creative-artists-programs.

  • Manga University, known for their How to Draw Manga book series, offers a home study course ($39.99 or $49.99). There are no instructors, only PDFs and a lot of words, but the information is great for beginners and people who’ve never taken a high school art class. Check it out at http://www.howtodrawmanga.com/pages/home-study-course. I did purchase this home study course to see how it fared against other courses. I wrote about my experience with the Manga University here.
  • Similar to Manga University, Cotty Kilbanks (cartoonist/artist for Rocko’s Modern Life and Iron Man) on Craftsy has a home study manga course called Drawing Anime Style through HD videos for a set price. This course is for people who consider themselves intermediate level in 2D drawing. For more information, please click here.
  • Comics Experience, which is attached to Stan Lee’s ComiKaze, has several comic book courses–from script writing to penciling techniques–and all taught through the net. To find out more details, go to http://www.comicsexperience.com/courses.html.
  • CG Master Academy is a specialty online art academy that offers classes for character designs, digital painting, figure drawing, and perspective drawing. Classes are offered all four seasons, and the prices for each one is usually $699. If you plan on doing mostly digital art, this academy is suited for you. Go to http://2d.cgmasteracademy.com/ for more information.
  • The Experiment in International Living has a high school summer abroad program for Japanese arts. It’s a 1-month stay for high schoolers in Vermont, USA. For the program details and price tag, look up http://www.experimentinternational.org/programs/find-a-program/japan/japanimationanime-and-manga/overview/.
  • SAW-Teen-manga-courseSAW, or the Sequential Artists Workshop, is a Florida community of artists trying to improve their abilities through classes and workshops. They offer year-long art programs, weekly workshops, and online classes at random times of the year. To check their calendar, visit  http://sequentialartistsworkshop.org/wordpress/. On Saturdays from January 12th to February 16th, 2016, SAW will offer a Teen Comics and Manga Class at their location in Gainesville, Florida (SE 5th Ave at Main St, behind Citizen’s Co-op).
  • Mad About Manga! is a manga course run by Malcolm Matheson. This course costs $97 to participate. For more information, please go to http://madaboutmanga.com/.
  • For those online and interested in traditional comic book creations, check out the Comics Workbook (http://comicsworkbook.tumblr.com/about). Not only do they offer lessons on sequential art, but they have a magazine as well.
  • Katonah Art Center in New York offers classes in manga at a cheaper rate than community college prices (usually around $378 to $420 for 10 weeks). Find more information at http://www.katonahartcenter.com/classes/visual-arts/ .
  • Activity Hero offers San Francisco kids and teens art classes, including manga classes such as this Wednesday Cartooning and Manga Class for $325 (January 20th – March 16th, 2016). To enroll, check it out here.
  • Manga Class at Appel Farm is New Jersey-based art class offered through McArt à la Carte geared towards enjoyment and learning. Visit http://mcartshop.com/manga-class-appel-farm/ for more information.

University Courses Outside Japan

(English) Courses in Japan

Courses around the World

History of Manga Courses

If you’re looking for screentones, please try Screentones for Manga Artists Outside Japan page.

Free Screentones Giveaway Winner! 2014

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In honor of Jade’s Escape’s most popular post, “Screentones for Manga Artists Outside of Japan”, I held a giveaway to win free screentones straight from Japan.

The winner of this contest is… SYS, an Indonesian manga artist of Sang Sayur (The Edibles). She not only claims several packs of screentones but an Attack on Titan puccho, or soft chew, candy (only in Japan) and a few other treats that’re only in Japan.  candyattackontitan

 

Want to win stuff straight from Japan? Look for the next contest announcement in Jade’s Escape’s posts!

Japan: Land of Interesting Chocolates

Every month, there’s always new chocolate appearing on my desk. Gotta love Japan, Land of the Omiyage!

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FEBRUARY – A librarian I talk to every week gave me this cat chocolate as a トモチョコ (tomochoko), or friend’s chocolate, which is becoming more common between women on Valentine’s Day. In Japan, Valentine’s Day is a day where girls give boys chocolate and sweets. No, it’s not a day to subject Japanese women to being, well, subjected. On March 14, boys “return” the chocolate and sweets that was given to them by the girls. As Japanese girls become women, they still do this tradition, but I’ve noticed how every year, the women get more disgruntled with giving ギリチョコ (girichoko), or obligation chocolates. I suppose this friend’s chocolate is a way of saying, “Valentine’s Day isn’t just for guys.”

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MARCH – This one came from my student who went to Tokyo as part of her school trip. Every year, Japanese students (usually second years or eleventh graders) visit different parts of Japan. I understand going to different parts of the country, but its really hard for poor students. They usually pay anywhere from $1,500 to $4,000 to make this week-long trip. My student went to the Skytree, the new tower in Tokyo (not to be confused with Tokyo Tower).

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APRIL – This $5 chocolate is one I bought for myself at Lawson’s (one of many convenience store chains in Japan). It features characters from my favorite recent anime, Attack on Titan (新劇の狂人, Shingeki no Kyoujin).

Give Me My (Free) Digital Manga!

Looking to read manga without going to the bookstore? Get your digital manga here! 

Provider Cost E-Reader Source Genre Notes
Comicloud.net/eng Purchase per manga Kindle, Google Play Directly from Japan, Korea Indie, bizarre, grotesque
CrunchyRoll.com and ComiPo! $6.95/month (limited access), $11.95/month (full access) Apple, Google Play Directly from Japan, international Indie, shonen, seinen Gift memberships: $34.95/3 months, $99.95/1 year
GENmanga.com $24/year Barnes & Noble, Amazon Directly from Japan Seinen, indie, manhwa
Inkblazers.com Free Apple International All, indie formerly Manga Magazine
en.MangaReborn.jp $10/1000 coins Directly from Japan Indie  Has a specific search engine for preferences
Weekly Shonen Jump (shonenjump.viz.com) $25/year Apple, Kobo, Nook, Kindle, Google Play Same day direct from Japan Shounen, seinen
ComiXology.com Purchase per manga, comic  Apple OEL manga, former Tokyopop titles Free comics available
SparklerMonthly.com(Serviced by Chromatic Press) $5/month  Depends on format (audio, visual)  From English-speaking creators OEL shoujo and josei manga, prose, and audio First chapters and prologues available for free

You can also check out some apps that give you free or cheap access to licensed and new manga.

Manga Box App – This English and Japanese app provides popular manga like Nisekoi and Kindaichi Case Files along with lesser known titles such as Spoof on Titan, Chubby Cinderella, and Shinjuku DxD. This app is a free download for Android and iPhone.

New Year, New Skills, New Profile Pic

My husband showed me a tutorial on coloring images, and I decided to try it out since I’m trying to transition from traditional media to digital media.

ImageI sketched out a random picture of myself on a crummy piece of notebook paper (see edges). Then I used a sepia-colored School-G Tachikawa pen to outline it.

profile2 Cleaned up the pencil marks with a plastic eraser.

profile3Went over the outline with the same pen and darkened some areas.

profile4Put the file into Adobe Illustrator, traced it, and colored it with base colors.

profile6Took the image to Adobe Photoshop, made a transparent layer, used the “Lasso” to pick the highlights, and brushed and smudged the colors for the face.

profile7Finished my first Photoshop mini-project (and my new profile pic)!

Galloping to the Goal in the Year of the Horse

Last year, I made 5 resolutions:

1. Lose weight. I managed to lose 15 pounds from July to November by exercising 3 to 4 times a week. Injuries got in the way. I injured my left knee twice in June and July and strained my neck in December. Even though I’m starting from zero again for 2014 (at 154 pounds, only 1 pound lighter than last year), I’ve figured out the exercise program that works for me.

2. Learn Japanese. I had planned to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), but I missed the deadline. Still, this year, I finished one full journal in Japanese, applied for a Japanese speech contest for foreigners, and re-started organized Japanese studies with an advanced course.

3. Save more money. I didn’t save more money this year. I spent more money (yikes!). I did, however, started seriously paying off my student loans and my husband saved the majority of money.

4. Travel more. Because of our savings, my husband and I decided not to travel.

5. Get to reading and writing! 2013 was a good year for me in regards to writing and reading. I won a science fiction writing contest and one of my stories was selected for a science fiction anthology. I also read 32 books out of my Goodreads’s goal of 30 books in a year. Along with my writing and reading progress, I took two very insightful Coursera classes: Comic Books and Graphic Novels (University of Boulder) and Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World (University of Michigan). They helped me improved my writing style and approach to fiction.

Now that I’m staring my 2013 resolutions in the face, I understand why most of these goals failed. They’re so broad! I need concrete, realistic goals, not general ones that can be transposed from me to another person.

So here’s another shot at my resolutions:

1. Lose 25 pounds in 2014 and keep it off. If I exercise 30 minutes 3 times a week every week for a year, that’ll make 144 workouts in a year. This is possible if I look at it as in half a pound a week is lost in 48 weeks (a year). Luckily, I’ve found some great workouts online for free (save money!) and I can put my birthday gift to use (Nike Plus Fitness on Kinect). And, since my husband and I have decided to only eat meat in one meal a day, we’ll be helping each other stave off the pounds.

Ultimate goal: Weigh 130 pounds.

2. Take the lowest level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). I missed the deadline last year, but I have another chance in July. I have a tutor to help me with this resolution now, and I can concentrate on kanji (Chinese writing system) and grammar through old textbooks.

Ultimate goal: Pass N1 of the JLPT, finish 2 Japanese journals, and pass my Japanese advance course.

3. Pay off 100% of my last credit card, pay off 95% of my student loans, and save at least $1,000 a month. This is totally possible if I ignore the horrid yen-to-dollar exchange rate. From October, I already implemented my student loan pay off. This year, I have to take the reigns of my budgeting plans by creating monthly bill deadlines and alerts.

Ultimate goal: Have $0 on all credit cards, have $700 left on student loans, and have $10,000 in savings.

4. Read 50 books this year and win 2 writing contests. I’ll have to pace myself and read more e-books while I’m at school. I need to develop a writing schedule and stick with it for the year.

5. Create 8 manga podcasts on Anime 3000. I’m a manga podcaster for Anime 3000’s Manga Corner. I was able to release only 4 manga podcasts last year. I’d like to re-vamp the show a little and interview 8 different guest stars. If you’re an anime, manga, or Japanophile podcaster, you can contact me (mangacorner [ at ] anime3000 [ dot ] com) about being a guest star.

Favorite Manga in 2013 (Licensed and Unlicensed)

Learning Japanese and living in Japan has its perks: I get to read manga just as they come out. I also get to see what Japanese people think of the manga and which manga make it to the top ten lists. This year, I made it a point to read unlicensed manga in Japanese and licensed manga in English, even ones that weren’t released this year. Here’s my top five manga from this year.

s-Graineriecover5.  Grainerie (グライネリエ)

(Genre: Fantasy, Shounen)

Unlicensed, Published in GFantasy Magazine (Square Enix).

I love all the works by Rihito Takarai, including her boys’ love (BL) series. In my opinion, I think that Takarai-san’s works are great examples for all manga creators should aim to achieve. The stories all have an even pace, tasteful art, great characters, and realistic dialogue. Grainerie is no different. Only granted “graineliers” can produce “seeds” that have different powers. An ordinary boy named Lucas decides to use these mysterious “seeds”, soon becoming an illegal human in the world.

I also practiced my Japanese, and made a little bit of contact with Takarai-san through Twitter (@twittakarai). I wrote to her, “I read Grainerie and Ten Count. They were interesting! Thank you so much! I’ll be getting the next manga. –From a foreign fan (Is my Japanese OK?).「グライネリエ」と「テンカウント」を見た。面白かった!ありがとうございます!次の漫画を待っています(★^O^★) –外国人のファンより(日本語大丈夫ですか?(⌒_⌒;))”. She responded, “Your Japanese is good. Did you enjoy Grainerie and Ten Count? I’m very happy! I’ll do my best so that you can enjoy it. 日本語お上手ですよ~~ 「グランネリエ」と「テンカウント」楽しんで頂けましたか?とっても嬉しいです! 続きも楽しんで頂けるようがんばりますね”. So, not only is Takarai-san a great manga creator, she’s a responsive Twitter user!

s-lastgame4. Last Game (ラストゲーム)

(Genre: Comedy, Shoujo)

Unlicensed, Published in LaLa Magazine.

I love stories where two people grow up together, even if those stories are from 2011. A Japanese teacher at school lent me the first four volumes in Japanese because she said, “It’s as enjoyable as Kimi ni Todoke.” (I borrowed all of the Kimi ni Todoke volumes from her, too.) In Last Game, rich pretty boy Yanagi has made his life mission to beat his childhood rival, Kujou. From elementary school to college, Yanagi follows her, but through the years, he begins to fall in love with her. The only problem lies in brainy and sporty Kujou. Can she let herself fall in love at all?

I let this series become a standard for girl-boy friendships that blossom into love. Kujou, who is really intelligent, doesn’t look at boys because she’s always thinking of getting to the top. She’s not a typical female anime character. Even though lots of manga resort to using rich boys in prestigious schools as romantic interests (Boys over Flowers, Hana Kimi, Ouran High School Host Club), Last Game makes the rich boy chase the poor girl in nonreputable schools. I love when manga breaks the cliche!

s-yamadaand7witches

3. Yamada and the Seven Witches (山田くんと7人の魔女)

(Genre: Supernatural, Comedy, Shounen)

Licensed by Crunchyroll/Kodansha USA.

My favorite genre of manga is shounen (Please read My Answers to an Anime Q&A), and Yamada and the Seven Witches definitely embodies it! It’s funny, adventurous, and a little bit corny. When high school slacker, Ryuu Yamada, collides with studious Urara Shiraishi, they learn they can swap bodies by kissing. But they aren’t the only ones with special powers at Suzaku High.

Even though this series is very tamed compared to ONE PIECE and Fairy Tail, it’s still fun to watch Yamada form friendships with a hint of sexy detective work.

Skip-Beat!_cover_vol01

2. Skip Beat (スキップビート)

(Genre: Supernatural, Comedy, Psychological)

Licensed by Viz.

OK, so maybe Skip Beat was originally released in

Skipbeat_officialpromoposter

Extravagant Challenge‘s Promo Poster

2010, but I decided to read the popular title this year after I re-watched the Taiwanese TV series, Extravagant Challenge (華麗的挑戰) starring my favorite Super Junior member, Siwon ヽ( ★ω★)ノ. Skip Beat centers on rising actress Kyoko Mogami who joins the entertainment industry to get revenge on her childhood friend, Sho Fuwa. With the help of Fuwa’s rival, fellow actor Ren Tsuruga (Siwon!), Kyoko learns about acting and love.

I think that this is another series every aspiring manga creator should read. Some of the methods that Kyoko learns are essentially from method acting. If acting were reduced to a more puristic level, acting comes from a script or screenplay, or written works. Great dialogue isn’t by expression alone. It’s by good writing. Skip Beat made me realize that I have to write in a similar way. Now, I act out the dialogue of each character I write and I put myself into my characters’ shoes. This has improved my writing, even helping me win one writing contest and get selected for an anthology (The Loaner and The Visitor).


Shingeki_no_Kyojin_manga_volume_11. Attack on Titan (進撃の巨人)

(Genre: Supernatural, Horror)

Licensed by Kodansha USA.

I really hate the horror genre, especially series with man-eating monsters. Still, I put my hatred of zombie-like creatures aside and diligently read Attack on Titan. After 100 years of the appearance of giant humanoid Titans, humans live in three concentric walls which protect them from attacks. When the outermost wall is breached by a colossal Titan, the humans are forced behind the other two walls. The story centers on Eren Yaeger, his adopted sister, Mikasa Ackerman, and their childhood friend, Armin Arlert, as they fight the Titans to save humanity.

This series is very different from horror genre series such as Gantz, Claymore, I am a Hero (アイアムアヒーロー), and Uzumaki (うずまき). Though all of these series deal with humanity fighting against monsters, Attack on Titan perfectly captures desperation and hopelessness, which is the reality of today’s world. It also says a lot about Japan and its complicated relationship with foreigners and foreign customs. I can think of few series that do this!

How Much of the Snake I’ve Eaten

In January, I posted my New Year’s resolution. Now, six months later, I’m doing a check-in.

Gotta get that fat outta here!!

#1: Losing weight: Drop 25 pounds.

In January and February, while my husband did a cleanse, I opted for only eating meat once a day. I don’t know if I dropped weight, but my clothes did fit differently–good for not exercising (my husband did, though). Just when we were going at a good pace, my husband hurt his back and the exercising (for him) and the non-meat meals stopped. It goes to show how much being in a relationship can affect your body.

Three weeks ago, I started doing Tae Bo again. It wasn’t as bad as I remembered (I did it last year for two months), but I decided to do cardio three times a week and strength training once a week. A week ago, I hurt my knee, so I’ll have to stick with strength training and minimum cardio. Injuries are the worst!

Plan: Do 30-45 minutes of exercise every other day. Two times a week include a strength training regiment (12 reps, 3 sets with weights), and work on abs every exercise day.

How to write “learn” in kanji

#2: Learn Japanese: Become a more fluent speaker.

I entered an international speech contest in Japanese, but I wasn’t picked. Maybe next year… Every day, I learn a new Japanese word (today’s word is 野良猫, noraneko, or “stray cat”) to build my vocabulary. I also write in a journal in Japanese, and some of my posts on this blog have a Japanese translation. So far, my reading comprehension has gotten easier as well as my kanji.

Plan for the rest of the year: Sign up for the JET Programme’s free advanced Japanese course and get ready for another speech contest (to get picked this time!).

#3: Save more money

I haven’t saved any money (according to my Mint account), but I have managed to slim our daily expenses. Instead of buying many snacks and going out to eat, we cook at home and avoid sugary products like cookies and fruit juices.

Plan: Send a set amount of money to my American bank account and not touch it except for emergencies and bills.

#4: Travel more.

Because of Item Number 3, traveling is out of the question. Sadness!

Once upon a time, there was a writer…

#5: Get to reading and writing!

I became a part of a creative writing circle. We get a prompt and two weeks to write something, then we post in on Google Plus. It’s very convenient because I never know how people will react to it. Also, it keeps me on my toes in keeping with deadlines!

Plan: Continue with the writing circle. Win at least one writing contest!

Links

1. Scale: http://www.johnstonefitness.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Weighing-Scales-1.jpg

2. “Learn” kanji gif: http://nihongoichibandotcom.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/5b66.gif

3. Piggy bank: http://sj.sunne.ws/files/2011/09/Piggy-Bank1.jpg

4. Suitcase: http://henricodoctors.com/util/images/TravelMedicineSuitcase.jpg

5. Books: http://jadesescape.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/books.jpg?w=257

日本人のヘンな英語:Japanese People’s Strange English

Available in Japan for 1,050 yen.

Coming to Japan, I thought English education would be more advanced. What I found was a little disappointing: people who have studied English for ten years couldn’t form an English sentence. Even as more English speakers in Japan come forward as English teachers or translation experts, it’s easy to hear some really strange (and straightforward) English phrases in Japan.

David Sein’s 日本人のヘンな英語 illustrates in manga form the differences between Japanese people’s English and native English.

I think one reason why it’s hard for Japanese people to speak English is that it’s so direct. For instance, if someone says, “本を見ました,” the meaning could be, “I looked at the book” or “I saw the movie” (or if there are legs coming out of the book, “I watched the book”). 見る, or miru, has several meanings: look, see, or watch. Just picking which meaning to use is hard for Japanese speakers.

Sometimes, English idioms are taken quite literally. In English, “I cut the cheese,” isn’t used literally—someone cuts a piece of cheese with a knife—but it’s usually the image in Japanese people’s heads when this phrase is said. English speakers, however, see it as someone busting a stinky, dark cloud from their butts.  In the Lang-8 blog, the blogger also noted how Japanese people are taught some strange English from Japanese words. Several words in Japanese aren’t translated very easily into English because its particular to Japanese culture. いただきます, or itadakimasu (literally “I humbly receive”), is a word said before anyone eats a meal in Japan. The meaning of it is lost in translation, especially in English when a person usually says, “Thanks for the food,” or “Let’s eat!”

David Sein’s 日本人のヘンな英語 is available for 1,050 yen on Amazon.co.jp.

ジキルとハイド: Split Personality in Japan

jekyllandhyde

When someone has two different personalities, they’re called, “ジキルとハイド,” or “Jekyll and Hyde” in English. Based on the Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the names have not only been used for dissociative identity disorder in Western culture but also in Japanese culture. To say, “jikiru to haido,” to someone’s face is a little harsh, even if it’s true. (I recently met a teacher who is calm during office hours, but outside of the office, he becomes what teachers have said, “Jekyll and Hyde” or a “monster”.)

ZZ_JekyllHydeCitizen-01_FID_178x250

There is a manga called ジキルとハイドと裁判員 (Jikiru to Haido to Saiban-in), translated as Jekyll and Hyde and the Citizen Judges (also, the word “saiban-in” can be “jury” or “lay judges”). It still follows some of the original story from the 1886 novella, but it includes a supernatural twist that only Japan can do.

Time to Take a Bite Out of the Year of the Snake

Per New Year’s and weight gain, I made several resolutions to better my life. For 2013, I have a few, but I’m not just going to say what they are. Many people make that mistake. I want to avoid the talk and just get down to the core of the problem and how to realistically solve them.

Gotta get that fat outta here!!

#1: Lose weight.

Last year, I made this a goal, and in July, I could wear clothes that I hadn’t worn in two years because of my weight. By December, I regained most of the weight I lost five months ago. The most realistic approach to losing weight for me is not stressing out, getting enough sleep, eating more vegetables and fruits, and exercising.

My goal in losing weight this year is 25 pounds. Right now, I weigh 155 pounds–30 pounds over my high school weight–and I want to shed it. This fat represents the stress I’ve gone through since getting married, living in a foreign country without being fluent in the language, and becoming inactive in my local community. The fat needs to go.

My plan is to start with moderate cardiovascular exercises that I enjoy (basketball practice, dance, and jogs) and moderate strength-training regiments at home. I just have to watch my knees (two torn ACL injuries from ten years ago). Right now, my eating habits are OK, but they can be better. I’ll add more dairy products, fruits, and vegetables to my diet from now on.

How to write “learn” in kanji

#2: Learn Japanese.

I’ve come a long way since last year when I could vaguely understand what someone said in Japanese. Now, I’m on my way to becoming a more fluent listener. My goal this year is to become a more fluent speaker. It’s harder than it sounds because I have trouble with what I call the linkers, wa, ga, wo, and ni. I want to master them.

My plan is to study with a native speaker weekly and later take the lowest level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). Right now, I have a book for passing the JLPT and I have several workbooks for learning the most basic kanji . In the meantime, I’m working on remembering my Japanese speech for a contest.

Bank on the Pig.

#3: Save more money.

That’s all. Just save more money. This past year, I was able to pay off just about all of my credit cards. Now I want to pay off one of two big debts and continue my savings plan for when I return to the U.S. One thing that has kept me in check is a financial planning website called Mint.com, which gives me a pie chart of all of my expenditures and keeps track of my financial goals.

Let’s get to packin’!

#4: Travel more.

My husband and I decided that in 2014, we’ll return the U.S. Before then, I’d like to visit some other nearby countries on holiday breaks. Of course, this could dig into Resolution #3, but we can definitely make it work without having to spend an arm and a leg. Flying between China and Japan starts around $150 dollars. For a new experience in a different land, I’m willing to pay for it.

Once upon a time, there was a writer…

#5: Get to reading and writing!

In August last year, I self-published The Ends Don’t Tie with Bunny Rabbits. Ever since then, I’ve gone on to do a free book-reviewing website by the same name and started to read indie authors’ books. I still have several books on my list, but I’d like to read up to 50 books in 2013. I only read 26 books in 2012 and 24 books in 2011.

With writing, I’d like to start this year with a great Korean comic review for the Manga Bookshelf column. I also want to finish writing another book and get it published this year. It’s possible to do all this if I use my time wisely. No more Youtube time wasters.

Links

1. Scale: http://www.johnstonefitness.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Weighing-Scales-1.jpg

2. “Learn” kanji gif: http://nihongoichibandotcom.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/5b66.gif

3. Piggy bank: http://sj.sunne.ws/files/2011/09/Piggy-Bank1.jpg

4. Suitcase: http://henricodoctors.com/util/images/TravelMedicineSuitcase.jpg

5. Books: http://jadesescape.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/books.jpg?w=257