MaiNichi Mushroom Issue #2 Update: Casting Shiitake Sensei.

Work progresses on MaiNichi Mushroom Magazine. I’d hoped to have Issue 2 ready before now but got stuck with details about taxonomy. How much detail to include? How much to leave out? How to make it interesting? I’m not sure if I succeeded but Issue 2 is almost ready to go.

“The Great Mushroom Detective: The Case of the Golden Mushroom” continues to be a lot of fun to write. I outlined the whole story but now I’m reconsidering the ending. You’ll see why later in this article. I have 10 more issues to go so no critical choices to make yet.

The second biggest challenge for Issue 2 was casting Shiitake Sensei for “The Great Mushroom Detective: The Case of the Golden Mushroom.” When I was writing the story, I imagined Shiitake Sensei’s character but not his appearance. I toyed with the idea of Shiitake Sensei as an owl, it didn’t seem to fit. I like the sketch but… something’s not right. I suppose it’s too cliche to have an owl teacher, plus owls don’t eat mushrooms.  A quick search about animals that eat mushrooms lead me to ants, mice, some birds, slugs, deer, hedgehogs and badgers.

shiitakesensei-cast-1-web-loriono-thespendypencil

So I made some random sketches— in effect casting Shiitake Sensei. Some research revealed that hedgehogs are not native to Japan, but badgers are! I originally dismissed the badger because I mixed it up with tanuki  (racoon dog). In Japanese folklore tank are shape-changing tricksters. And that choice also seemed a bit cliche. Then I learned that badgers (anaguma or mujina) are often mixed up with tanuki, even by Japanese people.

I love this badger! The badger has this kind of slumbering gravitas that I imagined when I created Shiitake Sensei.

The hedgehog was a surprise for me. I think he’s hilarious. This sketch is making me rethink my story so I can cast the hedgehog as the villain.

So with these decisions made and one last sketch to go, Issue 2 is coming to a close. Here’s hoping that the subsequent issues move along a lot faster.

If you’re interested in MaiNichi Mushroom, you can learn a little bit more about it here. I’m hoping to have 12 issues ready for Tokyo Art Book Fair 2016.

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