Odding Wang Talks About Sequential Art and Monogatari.

Odding’s adorable avatar

The first time I met Odding was at the Sequential Art Meetup in July, but we never got a chance to talk. During the set-up for the Monogatari exhibition at Tokyo Chapter in October, we discovered we had a lot in common–especially coffee and mushrooms. Odding’s delicate graphite images for her Monogatari contribution, “Here,” add a wonderful facet to the amazing artwork in the issue. Checkout the Q &A with Odding below.

How long have your been making sequential art?
For decades, since I was around 5 or 6.

What do you like about sequential art compared to other forms of expression?
I think sequential art opens up many possibilities, comparing to single frame images, since it brings fragments of time in itself; Comparing to moving images like movies or animation, it gives the reader freedom of setting your own pace; Comparing to literature, like novels or poetry, sometimes it speaks more with less words or even only visual elements. I like all the above forms as well but I think sequential art definitely has its own unique charm and more potential to be explored.

What inspired your story for Monogatari?
“Here” was about a real story, well, it wasn’t even a story, just a little fragment of memories, when I first moved to my current place and found this little old motsuyaki store, run by a small old lady with (probably) her son, the lady was always smiling and I could tell that she was a very honest and sweet person. One day I noticed a bamboo dragonfly on top of the shelf in the store and she realized that I was interested in it, so she took it down and let me play with it. Back then I couldn’t speak any Japanese, so our communication was basically gestures and smiles. I’m always fascinated with old places and old people, and this kind of little stories always brings me lots of warmth at heart.

What are you most proud of in your story?
I’m proud of its honesty, even though it was a mixture of reality and imagination. The point is whenever I read it myself, I can still feel the same kind of warmth as I did in the little store.

What was the biggest challenge in making your story?
Telling the story without words would be one of the biggest challenges, as I did in my other stories too. I was worried that readers won’t be able to fully understand it, but actually they don’t even have to. The story itself is beyond language barrier, and I think I’m quite satisfied with it. Another challenge would be fitting the artwork into A5 size space without losing much details, and I think the editor and printers did a good job on that.

Do you have any favorite stories or sequential artists that you recommend to readers?
My all time favourite would be Chris Ware, then Jon McNaught, whose way of storytelling kind of inspired “Here”. Besides those two, I’d also recommend Lisa Hanawalt and Nick Drnaso. For books I recommend “The Photographer” by Didier Lefèvre and Emmanuel Guibert; and “Here” by Richard McGuire (Haha my story in Monogatari has nothing to do with this book).

Where can people find out more about your work?
You can check out: www.oddingwang.com, or follow me on Instagram: @odding

Interview with Julia Nascimento About Sequential Art and Monogatari.

I met Julia Nascimento last year when she came to an Art Byte Critique meeting. She showed us her books and her illustrations and I was blown away. One of the things I love about Julia is her vision and her drive to create not just art, but community. She has enriched the Tokyo art community by setting up the Sequential Art Meetup. Many thanks to Julia for taking the time to answer questions about her art and collaborative process with Craig Atkinson for their Monogatari story, “Little Key.”

Julia-Nascimento-artist-illustrator-indie-creatorHow long have your been making sequential art?
I’ve been telling stories visually since I was very young. But it only got serious when I started FE&JUada Comics with Felipe Kolb Bernardes, which is a series about our life as a foreign couple living in Japan.

What do you like about sequential art compared to other forms of expression?
I really enjoy being able to use images and words together, and balancing how I use them depending on which way I want to tell a particular story.

What inspired your story for monogatari?
This time I collaborated with a local writer, Craig Atkinson. He provided the text about a lost key in Shibuya and I created four illustrations for it.
When Erica Ward and I decided the theme for ToCo’s second issue was going to be “monogatari”, we agreed that the focus should be inanimate objects, rather than people. Shibuya always represented a kind of sea of people for me, and I tried to depict people as a form of landscape, once the main subject of the story is a key.

What are you most proud of in your story?
To be honest what I’m most proud of is the fact we were able to put together such an amazing book with thirteen stories! I took the first printing test with me to read during a long overseas flight and it was extra special to read it up in the air. The stories are so different from each other yet they give the reader a great feeling of diversity that Tokyo has.

What was the biggest challenge in making your story?
Working in the same piece with another person is always a challenge, both sides need to be in tune for the partnership to be successful. At first I thought of drawing the story in panels, but the text I received from Craig was nothing close to what I imagined as comics, and I didn’t wanted to force the story into something it was not. So I had to figure out a way to display the text on my illustrations in a meaningful way for the storytelling itself.

Do you have any favorite stories or sequential artists that you recommend to readers?
I do! I love Julia Wertz’s brutally honest comics (plus she does an amazing job drawing interior), Sarah Glidden‘s journalistic watercolor comics, and Carson Ellis‘ whimsical picture books. I’m also a huge fan of Daniel Clowes and Adrien Tomine. Guy Delisle‘s comics diaries abroad are also a delight! As for Japanese authors, I love Yukari Takinami‘s “Rinshi!! Ekoda-chan”, Junji Ito‘s “Uzumaki”, and Katsuhiro Otomo‘s “Akira” was probably my first encounter with manga in my uncle’s storage boxes when I was around five or six years old.

Where can people find out more about your work?
You can find me on Instagram, Tumblr, Bigcartel for my shop, and on Carbonmade for my portfolio. My autobiographical comics FE&JUada is on Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter and Bigcartel under @feijuadacomics.

Drawlloween 2018 Daily Sketch Practice Wrap Up

Did you notice the surge of illustrations on social media in October? Have you heard about Inktober? What about Mab’s Drawlloween Club? Both provide a drawing prompt for everyday of October. Anyone can participate by sharing their illustration and tagging it with the challenge name. Inktober, created by Jake Parker, has topics which are perhaps broader in scope. Mab Graves, creator of Drawlloween, makes prompts oriented to Halloween or horror genres.

I’ve wanted to do Inktober for a couple years but was a little shy to do it on my own. This year, an artist friend started a small group on Facebook to support each other through the Drawlloween challenges. Sharing the art more widely on social media was optional. Perfect!

The idea of some kind of daily practice without a lot of pressure was really appealing. But I didn’t want to get too caught up in this challenge while I had other obligations. I set a few personal rules:
1. Try to spend no more than 20 minutes on a sketch
2. Try to use a medium I’m not good at or comfortable with.
3. You have permission to make bad drawings

Week 1:

LIKES: The Cat, the mushrooms, the haunted object
DISLIKES: The witch, the lab. Mainly time issues. My idea for the lab was an old alchemist lab but… ideas bigger than my skill.
DISCOVERIES: I’m not as good at pencil drawing as I thought. Drawing on Post-Its is awesome. White ink on black paper isn’t what I thought it would be. WORK SMALLER!

Week 2:


LIKES: The yokai, the lagoon creature, the vampire.
DISLIKE: The skeleton. It was freaking hard, couldn’t put in the time and it shows. 😦
DISCOVERIES: I love the idea for spider babies. I’ve m finding that some of my ideas are not going to happen in a single, quick, sketch. I’m spending time on pen and ink and I think I’m getting a bit better.

Week 3:

LIKES: Werewolf, Rat
DISLIKES: Seance
DISCOVERIES: The wax crayon (Caran d’Ache) was fun but I have to relax on detail control with them. My determination to make the white on black paper is… I just need to let that go.

Week 4:

LIKES: I like the pun for pumpkin. The Lint Monster (which was surprisingly popular) but I’m not a fan of anything in particular.
DISLIKES: Pretty much this whole week, especially the forest.
DISCOVERIES: Super swamped with deadlines and visiting family in the hospital. I wasn’t doing these daily. At first I was excited by the prompts and then I found them excruciating. The watercolour pens for the forest annoy the heck out of me. I’m frustrated and annoyed with the stuff I’m making but since I’m 21 days in, I’m not going to quit. I liberally applied the DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT rule.

Final Days:

LIKES: Mary Shelley was the one I was least keen on at first. It’s my favourite. Victor Frankenstein is a single line drawing. The Bride… I find it funny.
DISLIKES: Not this week!
DISCOVERIES: By this time I’m caught up and doing one a day.  I think these are the best ones of the series. I took way longer than my allowed 20 minutes. My image of Dr. Frankenstein’s lab was similar to the day 5 challenge. I barely avoided that rabbit hole.

THE FAVORITES GALLERY:

SUMMING UP
Daily Practice: Momentum in a project is really a thing.
At the beginning, the idea of daily practice really appealed to me. By the third week, I’d fallen behind and started to get stressed. But having done 21 drawings gave me that extra push to make sure that I completed the challenge even though I was doing multiple drawings on some days.

Time Management: Reflect, compromise and know yourself?
No surprise that investing time gives better results. My favourite images took way more time than I planned. The biggest struggle here was letting go of certain visions in order to meet deadlines. A couple things were good: working smaller, use whatever is on hand (result was drawing on Post-its). I was really inspired by the artists I did the challenge with. They inspired me to make my work as good as possible. The drawback was  frustration. I know I could do better with more time. It was also easy to start comparing myself to them and that was totally not the point of the challenge. More importantly, we are all on different points of our artist journey and I think comparing yourself to another artist is a waste of time and harmful.

Different Media/ Technique Challenge: good to try new things but great to be in the comfort zone
I felt like pen and ink work improved a lot. Using black paper didn’t work out how I expected. The guache was better than white ink pen and the coloured pencil on black paper… no. I feel like I needed to try a wider variety of techniques. I realized my pencil drawing technique is not as good as I thought. That’s fine. It’s good to know what to work on.

Permission to make bad drawings: taken at full face value
This permission also freed me up to try different techniques. Even when I didn’t like the direction of the sketch I kept going. For me and this kind of practice, it’s important to say done is better than perfect. It also helped me with time management.

Anyway, a very long wrap-up of my daily art practice with Drawlloween. If you’re curious about any of the drawings, feel free to comment.

Also, if you have any art medium or techniques you recommend let me know. I do love to experiment.

Turning the Page–An Art-Book and Zine Exhibition at PAPER 2 Gallery

“Turning the Page” was an Art-book exhibition at Paper 2 gallery in Manchester that ran from September 29-October November 3, 2018. The exhibition was a collaboration between British artists and members of a Tokyo art collective called Art Byte Critique.

It was really exciting to see the collaboration between the two work and for artists from each group to see their work in the other country via Skype chats and videos.

The British artists generously shared their images of the reception at Paper 2 Gallery. It looked like a great time. I wish I could have been there.

-above images courtesy of the artists

Joan Birkett of St. Helens connected with Tokyo-based Art Byte Critique through Arthur Huang to develop relationships and collaborations. The two groups have had previous collaborations in St. Helens, UK,  at Heart of Glass  and Eccleston Community Library for for World Book Day.

Find out more about the participating artists by clicking the links below:
Jane Barwood
Joan Birkett
Paul Cousins
Deanna Gabiga
Arthur Huang
Patty Hudak
Mariko Jesse
Yuko Kamei
A.J. Malone
Jeni McConnell
Carol Miller
Julia Nascimento
Lyle Nisenholz
Mia O
Lori Ono
Jacqui Priestley
Louise Rouse
Yvonne Tinsley
Claire Weetman
Nick West

Interview With Jessica Whitfield About Sequential Art and Monogatari

Jessica is one of the collaborating artists in Monogatari. We didn’t have the chance to meet as she couldn’t make it to the release party. Her story about the Romance Car, a train that travels from Tokyo to Hakone, shows a keen observation of Japan with a perfect dash of whimsy. Jessica kindly took the time to reply to my questions about her work.
jessica-whitfile-illustration-sequential-stories-comics-interview-thespendypencil

Q: How long have your been making sequential art?

I’ve been sketching cartoon strips for about 6 months. It started as a diary to try and remember funny things my friends said during the day. Monogatarizine with ToCo is my first published piece!

Q: What do you like about sequential art compared toother forms of expression?

I like that sequential art is very accessible. You don’t have to understand art to get it. It’s also a little nostalgic.

Q: What inspired your story for Monogatari?

I think Japan must be the only country in the world to make people fall in love with trains. Nearly every one I met in Japan would get animated talking about their favourite train line. I worked in a kindergarten so trains were a massive deal for the kids and a great way to make friends! My favourite train in Japan is the romance car; I love the style, the destination (Hakone)and the name of it.

Q: What are you most proud of in your story?

I feel proud that I was able to capture the small things that made me love Tokyo; like the little plant pots outside houses and seasonal flowers.

What was the biggest challenge in making your story?

The hardest aspect was coming up with an original plot! I wanted it to be a love story but not too cliché or soppy.

Q: Do you have any favorite stories or sequential artiststhat you recommend to readers?

I love Dodge Greenley’s instagram comics. Yumi Sakugawa is another inspirational sequential illustrator!

Q: Where can people find out more about your work?

For now, just my instagram: genki_jess

Interview with Tania Vicedo About Sequential Art and Monogatari.

Tania-Vicedo_Artist-profile-pictureI met Tania Vicedo on the day of the Monogatari Release party set up. I love the pared-down style of her images. She really gets to the essence of her subject. I enjoyed speaking with her about her work. She graciously took the time to answer questions about her art and creative process for her story in Monogatari.

Q: How long have your been making sequential art?
I made my first comics when I was a teenager inspired by manga and the cartoons on TV. However by that time I don’t think I finished any of the stories completely.

During my MA Communication Design at Kingston University, London (2014–2016) I got interested again in sequential art specifically in wordless stories. I really enjoyed books by the independent publisher Nobrow. In consequence to that, my final project was a wordless and completely handmade book on the topic of emotions. To see the project please visit this link: https://taniavicedo.net/Emotional-Symmetries-book

After I graduated, I made a short graphic story for the Observer/Cape/Comica graphic short story prize, which got shortlisted and exhibited in Orbital Comics, London. Because of this I decided to make a zine version of this story which I have been bringing with me to several zine and illustration events. Please see the project here: https://taniavicedo.net/In-a-not-so-far-future-zine

Nowadays, even though my main focus is on creating conceptual illustrations, I keep creating sequential art for personal projects or collaborations, such as Monogatari.

Q: What do you like about sequential art compared to other forms of expression?
I like that there is always a narrative to it. It is a medium for telling stories, and it is as diverse as films or books can be.

As I mentioned earlier I am particularly interested in wordless visual stories for several reasons. I like that they are universal, anyone can read the visual language despite of the word language they speak. However the visual language is not a precise one, so anyone will interpret in their own unique way and will perceive the story differently, which in my opinion that makes it a very interesting experience.

Q: What inspired your story for Monogatari?
I was inspired by my neighborhood charming irregular buildings which remained me of the wabi-sabi philosophy, that’s why I decided to make a series of images on this topic.

Wabi-sabi in its origins referred to the solitude felt when living in nature and it was also linked to the tea ceremony. It is also about looking closer, appreciating imperfection and the pass of time.

In my story I made a sequence of images so they are a continuous close up, one vignette leads to the other, so the next vignette is a close up of the previous one (except for the two last ones).

Q: What are you most proud of in your story?

I am happy I was able to tell a story completely without words this time. Also I am happy about how I found this story; during the brainstorming stage I had the ideas for what could be some other stories, but I reached a point where I was drawing a tea cup, and then I drew the crack on it, and then I could see the crack looked like a mountain. From that moment, I was able to build the story quite smoothly. I am happy I could find an idea in the serendipity of the process.

Q: What was the biggest challenge in making your story?

Coming up with a story is always challenging. But it also was working in black and white, as I usually work using colours.

Do you have any favorite stories or sequential artists that you recommend to readers?
I really recommend the work of Marion Fayolle, especially her book ‘In Pieces.’  Her stories are incredibly ingenious and funny.

Also the work by Jon McNaught is very interesting. He creates these quiet, poem like graphic stories which are also very beautiful. I like his book ‘Birchfield Close’.

I would like to recommend also the work of Evan M. Cohen and María Medem. They both create very unique sequential stories which they share on their Instagram accounts.

Q: Where can people find out more about your work?
In my website and social media:

https://taniavicedo.net/
https://www.instagram.com/taniasillustration/
https://www.facebook.com/tanias.illustration/

Tania-Vicedo_monogatari-exhibition

Monogatari: Tokyo Collective’s Second Sequential Art Anthology

Illustrators Julia Nascimento and Erica Ward created ToCo (Tokyo Collective) which produces sequential art anthologies. Julia Nascimento explains, “Erica and I created ToCo to promote collaborative opportunities for local artists and showcase their artwork in storytelling.” The first issue of ToCo, Hajime, came out early Spring 2018. Hajime presents eight different artists’ first impression of Tokyo. I loved the perspective of the artists and their work. I loved Hajime so I was excited to take part in the second issue, Monogatari.

Monogatari is the tale of things. Thirteen artists tell stories of inanimate objects in Tokyo. The variety of art and points of view are impressive.

Release Party: Thanks to Tokyo Chapter and the ToCo team and everyone who came out to support the release of Monogatari. It was great to see so many people looking at and enjoying the work.

Artist Talk: On the last day, artists talked about their work. It was interesting to hear about the what inspired and influenced the artists when creating their stories. The Sequential Art Meetup Group in Tokyo had a meeting after–another chance to meet more artists!

 

 

INTERVIEWS:

I interviewed some of the artists about their creative process and thoughts about sequential art. They will be coming out over the next couple days. I will update the links below when each interview is posted.

Tania Vicedo
Jessica Whitfield

Participating Artists Information
Julia Nascimento http://nsjulia.carbonmade.com
Erica Ward https://ericawardart.com
Tania Vicedo https://taniavicedo.net
Craig Atkinson https://craigatkinson.tokyo/
Carin Ogawa https://www.ogawacarin.com/
Odding Wang http://odding.rocks/
Jess Whitfield  https://www.instagram.com/genki_jess/
Mariko Jesse https://marikojesse.com/
Lori Ono http://loriono.com/
Felipe Kolb Bernardes https://conanfelipe.artstation.com/
Louis-Étienne Vallée https://louisillustration.com/
Chizuko Tanaka http://tanakachizuko.com/
Shingo Nagasaki http://nagasakishingo.com/
Kaori Noda https://nodakaori.tumblr.com/

Mildred Trevor Thornes Giveaway

Finished! Mildred Trevor-Thornes profile angle.
Finished! Mildred Trevor-Thornes profile angle.

Finally!

I finished the drawings for the winner of The Great Mushroom Detective’s hedgehog-character naming contest. I ended up calling the international-hedgehog-of-mystery-criminal-mastermind Mildred Trevor Thornes of the Hedgely Trevor-Thornes. It started with casting the villain for The Great Mushroom Detective: The Case of the Golden Mushroom. Once I settled on the hedgehog, I needed a good name. Readers to the rescue! Big thanks to Dolly Tartan who supplied the names Mildred or Thornes.

The portrait angle of Mildred was pretty difficult for me but I finally came up with a sketch that I like. I love how she looks like she’s up to wickedness in the front-view. The portraits I drew made her look too sweet. I drew on artist trading card illustration board. I really like that surface for drawing.

Here’s the finished gift (photographed on the train so there are some weird reflections).

Present for Mildred Trevor-Thornes naming contest.
Present for Mildred Trevor-Thornes naming contest.

 

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Tunnel Book Test

I’m thinking about taking the serialized story in MaiNichi Mushroom, “The Great Mushroom Detective: The Case of the Golden Mushroom,” and making it into a tunnel book. Here is a test page from the second installment of the story.

Introducing Mildred Trevor-Thornes

In my last post I wrote about casting Shiitake Sensei   for the serialized story “The Great Mushroom Detective: The Case of the Golden Mushroom” in my zine MaiNichi Mushroom. I’d done a quick sketch of a hedgehog but it didn’t fit Shiitake Sensei. I liked my hedgehog drawing enough that I decided to rewrite the story to include the hedgehog.

I held a character naming contest on my Facebook Page.

I had some great suggestions and I had a tough time choosing. Check out the suggestions below:

Sir Lloyd Picklymaster
Loro
Horatio Stickleback/Sticklebottom
Gunter von Shpeiny
Dr. Klaus Pricklestein
Spike Nerfler
Norman Spikes
Trevor Prickles
Neville Needlebottom
Ivan Thornback aka Ivan the Stabber
Kevin Stabbottom
Myrtle Thornback
Mildred Thornes
Finkle Pricklystein
Prickler Finkelstein
Todd Finklemeister
Hedge Mastermind
Hedge Hoch
Porky Pinebottom
Prickly Pinebottom
Nichi Iggymeister.
Mortimer

Two names caught my attention. The first was Trevor. Trevor is such an unassuming name for a villain. I love that kind of thinking! So I thought it would be Trevor. But once someone suggested Mildred or Myrtle if the hedgehog was a girl. I realised I wanted more female characters. So I mixed them together and came up with a international British hedgehog criminal mastermind.

I present to you

greatmushroomdetective-mildred-trevor-thornes-loriono-hedgehog

 

Big thanks to everyone who participated and especially to Dolly Tartan who came up with both Trevor and Mildred Thornes.

I will do another sketch of Mildred and send it Dolly’s way.

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