When you first started drawing manga, did you grab a few sheets from the printer stack? I know I did. Tsk, and a tsk. We didn’t know better then, but now we do. The type of paper you use to create your manga and comics makes a difference in line quality, erasings, and marker bleeds. Manga paper is nothing more than comic book or manuscript paper that’s thicker and more absorbent than regular printer paper. They can be expensive, but here’s a list from online retailers who’ll give you a deal.
This month, online manga and comic magazine, Inkblazers, shut down for good. I was a big fan of the series, “Only Human”, but just because the magazine is gone doesn’t mean these awesome comics have to disappear as well.
Deals and Savings for Manga Artists (Updated 12/19/2016)
It’s hard getting cheap supplies for making your art. Besides the “Manga Pens” article I posted, some artists can check back here to find some deals I’ve found on the internet. (If you find any deals, let me know in the comments section or tweet me at [ at ] jeridel on Twitter.)
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’m not good at making sequential art or manga strips. I did a short manga strip when Anime3000 first got big, and that’s where I learned that I needed more time with polishing my craft. Though I’ve tried to make manga over the past 4 years in Japan (not professionally, just experimentally), I haven’t improved. So, I decided to try an online manga course from Manga University. I’d been thinking about taking the course since I first saw the Manga University, but I didn’t have the money or time to take it.
I did it for you guys, too. I wanted to find an online manga course that works for aspiring artists. I guess you can say that this is my review of the Manga University home study manga course. Is it good? Is it worth the $39.99 (download) or $49.99 (snail mail)?
I honestly don’t think so.
The course asks students to draw one character and email it. This is the course’s best selling point: students’ pictures are redrawn by a professional manga artist with translated comments. I’m interested to see how my picture can be improved by a pro. Here’s my picture (sketch then ink):
But what about drawing manga? Well, the course, which is just weekly PDFs, shows how creators design each page, but students don’t send in their own manga. If students did this, then the $39.99 to $49.99 would be a decent price. A manga course should teach students how to draw comics, not how to draw characters. I understand that comics can’t be drawn without characters, but this course offers the most basic information, stuff you can find in a high school art class. For beginners who’ve never taken a such an art class or they don’t have access to in-person tutoring, this course might be suitable. Alternatives to this course are secondhand art books, Youtube tutorials, and other limited classes.
UPDATE (5/3/2014): I received an email that said they would give me a full refund since I’m advanced and the course is designed for beginners. I guess I’m not getting that revision from a pro manga artist…
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 Titanpuccho, or soft chew, candy (only in Japan) and a few other treats that’re only in Japan.
Want to win stuff straight from Japan? Look for the next contest announcement in Jade’s Escape’s posts!
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.
“Where do you get screen tones if you’re outside of Japan?”
If you want to make manga the traditional way by cutting screentones and applying them directly to your drawings, you can find some online, but they’ll be a bit pricey. It’s better to go to a Japanese district if you’re near one and find a bookstore. Otherwise, you can go online and order them.
If you’re more of a digital artist, you can use a computer program to make the screentones. The most common programs are Manga Studio ($80) and Photoshop ($699). (If you go to an anime convention, you’ll always see a Manga Studio booth with discounted versions available. If you don’t have this program and you’re on a time crunch, just download the trial versions.) You can also download free screentone packs from other artists like the Screentone Society on Deviant Art, Ashura’s Screentone Depot, OrneryJen’s screentone page, Psychobob’s screentones (password: psychobob), Shounen Ai Go’s screentones (old), or Jason Tucker’s “Screentones” page. The only bad side to using purely digital screentones in manga is that sometimes the tone looks too digital, too clean. Some ways to get around that is to scan a few physical screentones and use them when the manga looks off after toning.
Here’s a video on how to do digital screentoning on Photoshop (new and old versions of Photoshop are applicable):
If you want the best of both worlds–the traditional way of making manga with the digital ease–you can print screentones on transparent paper and apply them to the physical manga (again, you can download some screentones from DeviantArt). You can also scan the physical screentone to your computer, define a block of it as a pattern in Photoshop, and use it (Edit>Fill>Pattern) after selecting the area you want toned.
If you’re skilled with a pen, you can also use carefully planned hatchbacking and pointillism, but it won’t look so professional (just more artsy).
“You know, CLAMP,” I said excitedly before repeating the name with Japanese pronunciation: “Ku-la-n-pu”. My Japanese co-worker scrunched up his face in the same way my students looked at me whenever I spoke English.
Oh, how I wanted to die. Apparently, he was another Japanese person–who liked manga–who didn’t know the four-member manga group, CLAMP. How could CLAMP, the CLAMP who created Chobits and a dozen other manga titles, the CLAMP who have been awesome guests at Anime Expo, the CLAMP who influenced great artists around the world like Kriss Sison (SevenSeas’ Last Hope), be so unknown among my Japanese co-workers?
I thought that when I came to Japan, CLAMP’s name would be well-known, but sadly, even some of the most ardent manga readers weren’t in the know. The only way I can get recognizing eyebrows to go up is by saying, “They made Card Captor Sakura.” I look on that series with affection; the first volume of CCS was the first manga volume I ever owned, so the CLAMP who got me interested in possessing volumes, and thus, an expensive (outside of Japan) hobby was born.
Come to think of it, CLAMP was the first for a lot of things for me. CLAMP’s Chobits was the first manga series I completely collected and the Magic Knight Rayearth series was the first manga I followed religiously when it was in the throw-back issues of Tokyopop Magazine (before its papery demise). Many of my early drawings were based from studying CLAMP’s work.
What I love about CLAMP is the art style between the three artists, Tsubaki Nekoi, Satsuki Igarashi, and Mokona, and the refreshing writing from the leader, Nanase Ohkawa. The characters are drawn very beautifully and their expressions are spot-on in regards to the writing. Most of the stories have romance in it, but there are more parts of their stories than love (unless you’re reading The One I Love). The consistent elements inside of CLAMP’s stories are magic, endearing characters, relationships, and the child-like adventurous quality from the 1980’s.
From all of their manga I’ve read so far, I think that Clover and Legal Drug (Drug and Drop) are experiments for the artists. In Clover, the expansive negative space in the panels and the minimal dialogue gave a usual story–magical kids are taken into the military to be used as weapons–a completely eerie, sad feeling, one that has resonated in my mind like a heart break. Legal Drug, though typical in story and art style, has only male leads in the entire manga and seems to lead readers towards a close BL style like The Descendants of Darkness and Brother x Brother.
Whenever someone asks me, “What’s your favorite manga?” I always think of a title by CLAMP first. But now that I’ve met another person who’s not familiar with their work, I think I’ll just carry around a picture of Sakura from Card Captor Sakura.
Since I was twelve years old, I enjoyed watching anime and reading manga. Fourteen years later, I still watch anime and read manga, but now, I enjoy them in Japan–and they’ve taken a whole new dimension in my eyes. Anime and manga are actually funnier than I realized!
One series that has Japanese culture bombarding every page in big and small ways is Great Teacher Onizuka, or G.T.O. for short. Blow-up dolls, booty grabbers, and bad boys of Japan spring up in a rather simple premise. Among them are the comical antics of the main character, teacher-in-training Eikichi Onizuka. Somehow, the stupid yet charming things he manages to pull off in a rigid society like Japan makes me laugh.
What a bad Japanese application looks like.
In one part of the second volume, Onizuka submits his application for a teaching position at an academy. One look at it, and you’d think, “OK, here’s an honest applicant with zero experience.” It’s truthful, but what makes it funny is how some poor applicant in Japan will take this at face value and submit an application identical to this one. As tempting as it is to copy the anime or manga lifestyle, the sad reality is it’s not reality.
If you’re like me, and you’re inside the Japanese educational system, you’d probably change that line to, “This guy is a dumb-ass.” Everything is wrong with the application! You don’t write what you honestly think. Just write what the interview panel wants to read. You don’t put “my physical body” as a personal attribute. What does that have to do with teaching? And you definitely, under no circumstances, use a cute perikura picture for the required picture–it’s obviously not to size.
Aside from G.T.O., many series have cultural points laid out for foreign readers like the hierarchical system in addressing people (i.e. Tanaka-san, Tanaka-kun, Tanaka-chan) and references to Japanese history or pop culture. Some cultural points can’t be explained, but rather, seen firsthand. For example, seeing characters fall over suddenly when someone says something stupid or ridiculous seems to belong in anime and manga. The keel-over reaction is something I’ve seen at work in Japan again and again. Another piece of Japanese culture that most fans readily identify with is the panty vending machines. I’ve only seen one in a ladies’ changing room at a hot springs resort, but other than that, they don’t exist on every corner of Japan. Cigarette and soft drink vending machines can be seen every kilometer you go in Japan.
I started reading a manga called ARISA about a junior high school student by the same name with an outgoing personality. In the first read, I grasped the story and the characters, but in the second read, I noticed some mundane parts of the manga that are hilarious—that is, if you know the cultural significance of it. Arisa clobbers some boys for throwing a carton onto the ground, something that is illegal in many parts of Japan. I found myself encouraging the boys’ clobbering. “Get ‘em, Arisa! They didn’t recycle!” But only if you’ve lived in Japan could you find that funny while claiming a moral responsibility towards the situation.
Although there are some things that are pretty dead-on between Japanese animation and Japanese culture, the funniest part about it all relies on the cultural points—and how much you get them. Once I was able to understand the real situations from living in Japan, anime and manga took on a different significance.
One of the teachers took me to a family restaurant that sold katsudon (かつどん), a dish that’s common in anime and manga.
What is it besides a common anime and manga dish? It’s deep-fried chicken over eggs, rice and onions. It can be made in different ways, but it’s delicious anyways.
This katsudon was huge! It was as big as my face, and it came with miso soup and a small dish of pickled radish. For all of that food, I only paid 500 円 (around $5). What a deal! I only finished half, and I felt so guilty for not finishing it. Normally someone would say, “Mottainai”, which is a way of saying, “What a waste”, but thankfully no one did. (^_^)v
‘Tis the season to be jolly–or to be more exact, to be mall-y. It’s the holiday season, and that means, buying gifts for friends and family. Unfortunately, if you’re still new to shopping for your anime-lover friend or brother or sister, the mall is the last place I would go to shop. Why? Because it’s expensive! Imagine paying $10–whole price–for a manga volume! Well, if you’re on a budget and paying that much for manga, anime, or Japan-related gifts isn’t something that’s on your Christmas list, I would heed a few points that I’ve learned from buying some great gifts.
Before you head out there, actually make a list of who you’re buying what for. If you make a list, you’re likely to stick with that list instead of buying impulsively and spending all of your money. Also, you should set a price limit as to what you want to buy for each person.
Now that you know more about what to do before shopping, on with the tips!
1. If you have time, go online. There are a lot of websites out there that offer deals just for buying merchandise from them. Websites like rightstuf.com and jlist.com offer savings on anime, manga, apparel, and Japan-related items. And before you decide to roam their pages, sign up for an account with them. You can get additional deals just for making a new account. Re-sell sites, like ebay.com and half.com, offer new manga and anime for cheaper prices outside of regular retailer websites. For instance, you could buy a Bakuman Volume 1 manga for less than $3 on half.com, versus getting it at $7.49 (rightstuf.com) or $9.99 (retailer). The only thing about shopping online is making sure the shipping fee is reasonable, if any, and that the package will arrive on time.
If you’re worried about receiving the gift by Christmas, I would suggest getting a gift certificate. If the gift certificates are still shipped, the shipping fees are really low and it’s more likely to arrive on time because it’s not a box. On some websites, gift certificates aren’t sent out, like on jlist.com. They are sent to the purchaser via email, and all you have to do is print it out (on nice paper, I hope!) and wrap it like a Christmas gift. It takes the hassle out of buying a specific gift for your anime friend and they’ll appreciate not having to return an item they don’t like.
If you live outside of the United States, bookdepository.com offers free shipping to all countries.
2. If you have time and got a dime, get in line. If you already booked yourself to go to a convention, make sure to remember your anime friends and family. For a list of your local anime convention, check out http://animecons.com/events/. If you’re one of those people who don’t go to anime conventions, there’s always the option of going to your local comic book retailer (not a mall one, hopefully), and having them order the manga or anime, if it’s not available in the store. Normally, there isn’t an extra charge for ordering, but sometimes, a deposit of the item’s price will be asked, so come with some cash. In some towns and cities, there are also manga and anime stores. Although they don’t have as many deals as online websites, if you’ve signed up for a point card, you can earn some much-needed points on your Christmas purchases.
3. No dime, no time, draw a line. If you don’t have money but you have some artistic skills, like drawing, painting, or even using Adobe Illustrator, make them a gift. You can personalize it to your choice, and it’s something original for your friend or family to keep. If it’s drawing or computer-generated images, just make sure to frame the piece or put it in a plastic sleeve like the ones used for American comic books (any comic book retailer can sell it to you for less than $1 each). If you have left over clay or plaster, sculpt a figurine of their favorite anime character, use acrylic paint to color it, and let it dry. Presto! You have a gift that didn’t take hours to construct and zero dollars to make.
I’m a big anime and manga fan. I try to put anime into anything I can: art projects, interior decorum, notebook doodles, anything really. Now that I’m an English teacher, I get to expand all things anime into a new area–the Japanese classroom.
You might be wondering, “How does Japanese animation work in a Japanese classroom with Japanese students?” Speaking English is the first step. Although most students don’t speak and understand English, they know their anime. Using words from the anime puts them on track to understanding something, anything.
For example, I did a Halloween lesson about Venetian masks. I did a Venetian mask of Bleach’s Vizard mask. “The Vizards in Bleach have masks.” Maybe students will recognize the words “Vizards”, “Bleach”, and “masks”, and with the visuals, they can put two and two together. Plus, anime has become a medium for teaching, and students can relate to something within their generation. Already, most things in Japan have illustrative instructions, and you can see some recognizable mangaka’s work on something as mundane as hair dye. Bringing a little bit of their world into a class setting with English makes it all more relatable.
Even grammar lessons, like “Are you…” and “What is … doing this Saturday?” works wonders in getting the students to pay attention. I know for anime fans/English teachers like myself, I have fun with it every class lessons.
If you live and work in Japan, you’ll notice the lack of dark-skinned characters in hand-drawn advertisements, comics, even English textbooks. I’ve decided to alleviate that problem in my schools by drawing short comic strips for teachers to use in English class. And, yes, the character is based on my every day appearance.
Being an English teacher in Japan, I’ve learned a few things from living in the Land of the Rising Sun that you can’t learn from Japanese anime, manga, or video games.
1. The students and people aren’t like the characters from anime, manga, and video games. You won’t see anyone carrying a samurai sword or wearing ninja costumes randomly on the streets. It’s more likely you’ll see a non-Japanese person wear these things than a Japanese person.
Tiny White Fish (from "A box of kitchen" blog)
2. Watch out what you eat! If you are allergic to anything or you specifically can’t eat anything, you’ll have to state it before they give it to you, or come prepared. My husband hates these tiny white fishes that have black eyes. They don’t have tails when you eat them, so they look like worms. He absolutely can’t eat them, and when he finds that his rice and soup is mixed with them, he can’t eat it. My thing, like many non-Japanese people, is natto, which is a type of sticky bean produced opposite of miso. Either way, just be prepared to eat some unusual meals!
3. Don’t be a vegan and come to Japan. Many teachers I’ve met who are vegan have it hard in Japan. In general, Japanese food is loaded with veggies, but they also coat things in some type of animal-derived sauce or soup. Miso soup, for instance, is from a bean paste, but it uses a type of pork stock. In Okinawa, it’s especially hard to be a vegan because the diet has influences from China, Korea, and the United States, so instead of the conventional boiled egg, the egg will have a ball of meat in the middle and coated to be fried.
4. English classics are easy to find. If you’re looking for some English literature, like Uncle Tom’s Cabin, How to Kill a Mockingbird, and books of those caliber, you can find them at the local bookstores. Most likely, they’ll be a bilingual edition or have complicated English words translated into Japanese. A lot of the time, these bilingual editions are for students wanting to study for their eiken exams or college entrance exams, but you can utilize them just for some leisurely reading.
5. Make friends with people in military places. There are things that you’ll miss from your home country, and the best place to get them without paying an arm and a leg through Amazon or eBay is at the military base. Some military folks are just so happy to see another non-Japanese person, they’ll befriend you rather easily and allow you to go onto base with them. Of course, this mostly applies to people in Okinawa where military bases are as common as sushi restaurants, but if you happen to come across someone in mainland Japan, utilize that resource!
6. If you’re going to stay in Japan for a while, learn some Japanese before you get to Japan. If you’re in your home country and you can learn Japanese, take advantage of it. Getting a Japanese tutor or taking JSL, or Japanese as a Second Language, courses can get expensive and time-consuming. Plus, in your home country, learning Japanese can be more comfortable in your usual atmosphere than in a foreign one. This is one of my pet peeves, since many teachers from the JET Programme are sent Japanese books to self-study before arriving in Japan. However useful these books are, most JET teachers don’t even study them, yet, they complain about not being able to understand anything. Even knowing things like “My name is…” and “Please wait” are extremely helpful to both you and the Japanese folks you’re communicating with. Let’s avoid the frustration and crack open the books!
7. Presentation, plastic, and packaging will be everywhere. In Japan, a lot of things are based off of presentation. For example, burgers at McDonald’s actually look like the pictures that are advertised. Part of looking good is the packaging. And within the packaging is the plastic. You’ll find that even cookies will be individually wrapped. Sometimes, things like onigiri, or a rice ball, will have arrows showing how to unwrap it. It’s amazing at first–everything is because you’re in Japan!–but after a while, it’s like, “Oh, it’s individually wrapped…again.” Shrink wrap should just be for CDs.
8. Though there are anime and manga advocating giant robots and mecha, Japan isn’t as technologically-advanced as everyone thinks. Sure, there are hyper-fast bullet trains, and yes, the cell phones are practically hand-held computers now. But just because there are more gadgets doesn’t mean that there are cars or cell phones ready to transform into some type of freedom fighter.
9. Respect for the environment beats out any green movement. For the 1964 Summer Olympics, Japan built a stadium in Tokyo. For every tree that was displaced by the building, a tree was planted somewhere else. Even things like trash day is a way to preserve the environment. Cans, bottles, and newspapers are separated. Even milk cartons are unfolded and recycled. Schools reuse copier paper packages for re-packaging leftover school milks. Tissue boxes are converted into sanitary napkin holders. Everything has the ability to be reused or recycled in Japan, so be weary of just throwing things out. They still have life!
10. Everyone follows the rules. When the pedestrian light turns red, people don’t cross–even if there are no cars and the distance to the other side is merely a few steps away. Of course, there are a few stranglers who influence the others, but mostly, everyone follows the rules and stays put.
Experimenting with using watered down black acrylic paint for a simple Bleach sketch. I gave it to a 3年生, or third year student (9th grader), at the school I work at, and he freaked out! When I handed it to him, a whole bunch of his classmates surrounded him to look at it. When English class started, the folder got circulated around silently before he placed it on his desk and admired it for most of English class. When class ended, he held up the folder with both hands, went around class trying to figure out if he should post it somewhere, then returned to me and said “Thank you” in Japanese. He went back outside, showed some more students, then came back to me and repeated “Thank you” before showing some more kids. I was really surprised by his reaction, but I was also glad that he liked it so much!