Advice for Aspiring Manga Artists, from Manga Artists!

by TOKYOPOP (Paid Advertisement),

For many aspiring manga artists, breaking into the industry can be a daunting prospect. You've got the passion, you've been reading manga for years and you know this is what you want to do. But where do you start?

Sophie-chan (Ocean of Secrets), Nana Yaa, (Goldfisch), Ban Zarbo (Kamo), Natalia Batista (Sword Princess Amaltea) and Gin Zarbo (Undead Messiah) are five newly published female manga creators from around the world, and TOKYOPOP sat down with them to ask about how they got started in the business, what inspired them on their journey and how they crafted their stories.

How did you get started in manga?

Natalia: I think I was born a storyteller! At the age of 12 I started a comic magazine with my friends, but it wasn't until 14 when artists like Rumiko Takahashi opened my eyes to the world of manga. Then I started studying at Serieskolan in Sweden when I was 18 and knew this would be my future, no matter what.

Sophie-chan: It was mainly by drawing a lot. I followed online tutorials and bought some guide books, experimenting with different art supplies and digital programs.

What's it like making manga as an international creator? What can new artists expect?

Gin: The international manga scene has grown enormously in recent years, and I'm incredibly proud of it, but we still have a long way to go. I believe together we can do it!

Ban: It will be nice when readers no longer distinguish between international and Japanese manga. I sincerely hope that the global manga scene continues to grow, stays productive, and that artists continue to do everything they can do develop!

Natalia: I have friends all over the world who've been working to get published for a long time, hearing "you can't make manga because you're not Japanese" from other fans. We've worked hard because it's our passion, and I feel lucky to have been published in so many countries so I can show people that it is possible. I'm so proud of us!

All of your stories are so different! Tell us about what inspired you.

Natalia: I love fantasy as a genre, especially when it explores issues in our own world. I wanted to make a manga that would show an alternative world where the usual "men fighting men and rescuing princesses" fantasy trope was flipped upside down.

Nana: The idea of a protagonist taking a power that should be a punishment and turning it into a strength is pretty common in shonen manga. My grandmother told me the tale of King Midas a lot as I grew up, so I knew from the beginning I wanted to add a "new touch" to the story.

Gin: I've always been fascinated by horror, and as a zombie outbreak could spread rapidly and trigger a total collapse of society, I wanted to tell a story through that. Undead Messiah has everything I love about horror in it!

Ban: The biggest source of inspiration for me are the stories of my mother and my Dominican kinship. Gin and I grew up hearing ghost stories, so I've always had a predilection for the supernatural. Oh, and Shokola's hair was inspired by Nana's amazing afro!

Sophie-chan: I've always been drawn to the sea, to the level that I could have been a sailor in a past life. I'm also a big fan of fantasy and mystery, and combining all these with a pinch of drama equals Ocean of Secrets!

Do you have any parting advice for other aspiring manga creators?

Nana: When you make the step from amateur to professional artist it can be kind of scary. You can feel self-doubt about whether people will like your work, or if anyone even cares. Just remember that no matter how big or the small the audience may be, you should always draw a story that you would like to read yourself.

Sophie-chan: Don't compare yourself to anyone and keep doing what you like. I knew I would get better in time and believed in myself.

Find all International Women of Manga titles online or at your local bookstore, and get the scoop on new releases, learn more about the artists and get a sneak peek inside these manga titles here. Plus meet Natalia this July at Anime Expo for portfolio reviews, signings, panel appearances, art demonstrations and more!

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