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.

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

Write Cycle August. The Results and the Review

For August I decided to try an Instagram writer’s challenge where you do a writing-related photo every day. I thought it would be a good way to focus on the writing habit.
Here’s the gallery of the photos with a review of the process following:

In all, I missed 9 days (as I doubled up one “today’s office). I did great until it came to showing work at home. I feel like my home is just too chaotic to share. And while I get the basics done, I’m really not Martha Stewart in home decor. Ah guilt. You bother me.

The other big stumbling block was talking about favorite characters. I either had brain block and could barely recall a characters from a book or suddenly I had too many. And it was tough to figure out how to show that visually. I want my Instagram to be my pictures not stock photos or using work by other people. Book towers are cool but hard when 90% of your books are e-books.

The goal reviews were great. Though day 14 was a huge shock when I realized I was behind schedule. Reviewing again on the 31st is also informative. I had a lot of stuff that wasn’t on that list. So while the 31 Days of Writing looks kind of like a flop, I feel like I did a lot of work.

Overall, I think I plan to do more than I have time for. When mapping out goals I often think of Browning and how “Man’s reach should extend his grasp.” But when it comes to getting things done, maybe SMART goals are more logical. And if I worked in a more linear fashion, I think that would be great.

SMART goals work better for me for planning and looking for pitfalls rather than a schedule. So far, working from a massive list of tasks and due dates posted in multiple places seems to be the most effective. So I’m going to give this another go in September and also mix in this 15 minute time chunking thing. I’m not as in love with my instagram images from August so I also want to take more images I that I like.

Wish me luck! And good luck to you in your creative endeavors.

L

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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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When Worlds Collide 2016: Great Times and Great Opportunities

It may seem odd that someone living in Tokyo attends a local Calgary literary festival, but When Worlds Collide (WWC) is a great reason to come to Calgary. If you’re a reader or a writer, the very reasonable Convention fees provide three days of great opportunities. You can meet other readers and authors, attend panels to improve your craft or increase your publishing savvy. You can even pitch your novel! Maybe the best thing about WWC that it how inclusive it is for all types of writing and the feeling is that everyone is welcome. This is a non-profit, volunteer-run festival.

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Keynote Speakers: (L-R) Eve Silver, Ian Hamilton, Julie E. Czerneda, Robert Runté, Marty Chan

In truth, the first time I went to WWC was a bit coincidental. I found out that WWC was going to be held while visiting family so I signed up. This year, I arranged my family visit so that I would be on time for WWC. Next year, I’m planning on making a trip just to make sure I’m there for the 7th WWC.

Absinthe pour
Absinthe tasting at the Tyche Books/Steampunk Arts and Science Society social.

In true Calgary spirit, the atmosphere is very friendly. It’s pretty easy to strike up a conversation with someone. Plus if you are a reader or a writer, this is your tribe! Calgary is so lucky to have such a well-organized literary convention full of people doing and sharing what they love.

I’ve enjoyed all the panels I’ve attended but there are a couple of standouts:

And I still have more panels and discussions to check out tomorrow!

This year the Prix Aurora awards are presented at WWC 2016. These are the Science Fiction Writers of Canada Awards

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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.

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.

Inaugural Issue of Mai Nichi Mushroom is Available!

I finally finished the first issue of Mai Nichi Mushroom, your monthly guide to your daily mushroom life!
loriono-mainichimushroom-cover-print-sample
I’m thrilled with how it looks and how the content came together.  I’m quite fond of the effect of the print on craft paper. The white background is digital, pre-printing. A5 (148mm× 210mm or 5.83″× 8.27″) ended up being the Goldilocks size for this project–not too big, not too small. It’s surprising how having only eight pages can be both a good limit and a tough challenging.  At first there are too many ideas, then after revising there is not enough content, then suddenly, there is not enough space! The other surprise was how many times I had to reprint  because I kept finding typos after I thought I caught all those rascals.

One of the interesting things since starting this project is how many people I’ve met who’ve actually been mushroom hunting or are members of mycological societies. It’s like a people keep it a secret until the feel it’s okay to talk about it! I say let your mushroom flag fly!

I’m looking forward to issue 2 next month were I continue the story of “The Great Mushroom Detective,” get into more mushroom life, and make some more puzzles and illustrations. I’m also hope to keep meeting more mushroom fans.

I haven’t decided where to sell Mai Nichi Mushroom yet. If you are interested in a copy please email norinoristudio at gmail.com.

Birthday Zine 

I’m making a zone for my husband’s birthday. It’s themed around the story of a little fox who likes to study and collect mushrooms but slightly formatted like a lifestyle magazine. Maybe it seems odd but we live in Japan. Cute is a thing here.

And because I’m like Foxy (I’m great with names, aren’t l?) I’ve also been studying up on mushrooms.

I spent three hours yesterday trying to find cute Japanese fonts. It’s an interesting but overwhelming proposition. I found some free sites but I feel nervous about downloading them. I tried to get to the font creator’s site when I could. But that virus fear doesn’t go away easily.

I’ve got three puzzles done and two illustrations. I “finished” two illustrations today. I’d like to do more with them but I think it’s time to just say enough.

 I like the pencil drawing but it doesn’t really do with th playful tone of the zone. 

line drawing. media: frixion erasible pen
 

The Foxy Mushroom Detective would be better with some more depth, shading or color but I only have time for a line drawing.

Well, work in progress at any rate.

Listening to Scary Stories

Lately I’ve been listening to horror narration on YouTube. Horror narration is pretty self-explanatory, but just in case, I’m talking about a YouTube video in which someone reads scary stories, uses a few sound effects, some stock photo visuals or some kind of video clip that complements the mood of the story.

feels-like-poe-lori-ono
I felt a major Poe and raven vibe when I shot this.

Some of the stories are true scary encounters and  for paranormal encounters from Reddit. There are some channels that read Creepy Pastas. Creepy pastas are scary stories passed around the internet. They are modern versions of urban legends. Some are “based” on real events like these four scary stories and some are fictional like Slenderman (though that seems to have taken on a life of it’s own). The word is derived from “copypasta.” That’s slang for text that gets passed around the internet by copy and pasting. And since, in these cases, the copy and pasted texts are scary stories… voila–Creepy pasta! There are a many creepy pasta sites such as www.creepypasta.com/  but a story doesn’t have to be on one of these sites to be called a creepy pasta. Argh! Enough with the pasta! Carb overload!

My favorites are the “allegedly true” stories sent to the narrators by channel subscribers. Did they really happen? You have to trust that these experiences shared on the channel are true as usually there is no accompanying evidence sent in. Sometimes they writer’s let you know what search terms to use to find out more.

These true tales from subscribers can be pretty scary. Some are about bad encounters with Craigslist, the deep web or dating apps. Other stories are about paranormal events or the unexplained, but most are stories of close encounters people have with violence.  In most of these stories, the person sharing them got away with just a frightening experience, but not all the time. Sometimes it’s a victim sharing an experience that didn’t have a happy ending. Those stories are chilling and I think the subscribers are brave. It has to be hard to share when something horrible happens.

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Shot in a sequoia forest in California.

I’m not really sure why I’m listening to them right now. I started over the Christmas holiday which is not exactly matching the mood of the season. There’s a kind of voyeuristic element to this but it’s kind of cathartic, too. When someone gets away, you feel good. When a victim shares an experience you feel far from good, but I think there’s something like bearing witness to someone sharing a trauma and (maybe?) coming to terms with it that moves you.

Some of the stories seem like those urban legends where the character does something stupid and then ends up paying the price for their bad decision or lack of vigilance. But we all do that while we grow up. We make dumb mistakes and survive them and learn from them–ideally. These stories also teach us to be vigilant and how to navigate what can be a pretty scary world. I know that watching Silence of the Lambs taught me to change my parking habits and to check my car before I got in. I was 21! Why wasn’t I doing that sooner?

But the flip side of using these stories to teach vigilance is how these stories reinforce the culture of fear in modern society. Don’t we get a big enough daily dose of fear in the media new cycle? How do these stories used for entertainment teach us in ways the news doesn’t? It’s frightening how similar the fear-thrill is to watching the news and listening to horror narration at times. I don’t even know where to begin with the paranormal stuff.

For me, the biggest reminder when I listen to these stories is how humans have a sense of danger. I’m not talking about obvious danger or the moment you see the flashing knife. I believe people are often aware a situation is bad before it escalates to the knife. I don’t think these are psychic vibes. These are subtle signs in our environment that our brain processes but that we can’t quite articulate. When we can’t easily label these sensations, we explain away our fears. I’m all for rational thought, but there is explaining away your fears, and there is picking up when you’re truly in danger and it’s a skill we learn to survive. Trust your instincts. If something gets your nerves up, trust yourself and don’t rationalize it away. Maybe that message is the biggest difference between these stories and the news.

Channels I’ve been listening to:

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