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.

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


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!




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
Erica Ward
Tania Vicedo
Craig Atkinson
Carin Ogawa
Odding Wang
Jess Whitfield
Mariko Jesse
Lori Ono
Felipe Kolb Bernardes
Louis-Étienne Vallée
Chizuko Tanaka
Shingo Nagasaki
Kaori Noda

I Don’t Scare Easily

A quick comic related to the post Listening to Scary Stories.img_4655img_4652img_4654

So how do scary stories affect you? Do they keep you up? Do you need the light on? Is there only one type that freaks you out? Maybe they’re no problem whatsoever.

What’s the scariest story you know?

The Adventures of Super Dango: Origins

ballad of superdango_v1w

About Last Gnat: the adventures of Saigo-kun

The following comic is about my jogging life. One aspect of it, anyway. I decided to tell this part about jogging in Tokyo from the point of view of Saigo, the Gnat.


Interview with Manga Artist, Angelo Levy

Angelo Levy at his booth at Tokyo Art Book Fair 2014.
Angelo Levy at his booth at Tokyo Art Book Fair 2014.

Angelo Levy is a Brazilian manga artist, part of the Wonderworld team. He also organizes the Tokyo Comic Artists meetup which is a great resource for anyone interested in Manga, particularly for foreigners due to the international make-up of the members. He kindly took some time to talk with me at the Tokyo Art Book Fair 2014.

Where are you from and what brought you to Japan.?
I have been in Japan for 8 years. I first came to Japan in 2000 as a high school exchange student. After majoring in Fine Arts and Animation in Brazil, I got a scholarship to do a masters in Animation in 2006 in Japan.

How did you transition from animation to manga?
I was interested in comics as a student and took comic drawing classes in Brazil. During university I was into animation but after I realized my biggest passion is comics. They seem more accessible. They have more room for imagination. The reader has to participate more actively. You can have your own pace as a reader.

You mentioned that this is your first time at TABF, what do you think?
Many people from the creative field are here, so the understanding of art is a bit better. At Comiket (a comic market held twice a year in Tokyo), people are looking for comics so something different is more of a surprise. Here people are not surprised by something different.

Can you describe your work?
I’m working with fairytales, adopting them to modern Tokyo. The visual is contemporary but the structure is the oldest you can research.

Cover of Akazukin Chan. A modern retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, set in Tokyo.
Cover of Akazukin Chan. A modern retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, set in Tokyo.

What are two things you want people to know about your work.
First, fairytales are not meant only for kids. As adults, it’s interesting to take a look at them again and think about what are the deeper messages. What is it that makes the story immortal? They work like symbols. Depending on how you look at it, you can learn different things.

Second is connected to using black and white in my manga. Today there’s a tendency to have realistic content but on the other hand, it’s entertainment that won’t stimulate your imagination. So by working with black and white, the reader has more room for imagination and therefore, more interaction with the work.


Thanks for your time! Do you have a website where we can see more of your work?

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