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zenmigawa
  • Real Name
    Zen Migawa
  • Age
    34
  • Gender
    Male
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@WindowMaker: Ah, the Creative Commons license applies to the docu-manga itself only.
@WindowMaker: Think of "Takagi no Honozume!!" as the one-shot prototype version. A lot of elements in that will be recycled or reworked for "Masazume Wars".
Larger version available
SmackJeeves keeps resizing this double-page spread to the size you see here, making some things hard to see.

I uploaded a larger (i.e. more proper-sized) version here: http://imgur.com/ZamIVXm
Manga goes on, for eternity.
Seventh and last one-shot. That marks the end of this webcomic series.

To those who stuck with me from beginning to end on this, I hope you found something worth taking with you away on this, and I hope you enjoyed reading some of it.
Let me tell you a story of my people...
The seventh and last manga assignment: my graduation project. Despite the leaps and strides in progress I've made the last four years, I came into my last semester burned out from and disillusioned with manga - the pressure to meet deadlines, unrelenting criticism from teachers and editors, crushing self-doubt, and a complete lack of breakthroughs. (And this was only school, mind you!) I was ready to return to the States, and more than willing to forget the past four years ever happened to me.

But before that happens, I felt I needed to speak on behalf of the other students studying abroad in Japan, fueled by the dreams and admirations of the Japanese entertainment industry, only to slam face-first into a cruel thing called Reality. No one ever talks about their stories in depth, not even the teachers who've tried so hard to make the dreams of these foreigners a reality. A handful of foreigners succeed for a few years before returning to their home countries - the rest simply return straight back home, only to fade from the minds and memories of their Japanese environment.

There it was; I had one last mission to do before I disappeared myself. So I started writing...

27 pages, all digital, all Comic Studio EX. Drawing major inspiration from webmanga blog "AshiMeshi" and Hiromu Arakawa's agricultural comic essay "Hyakushou Kizoku."
And they soon form a central band of five!
Sixth one-shot down. It has everything I wanted to draw - shonen action, monsters and creatures, hot-blooded spirits, and LOTS OF SPEED LINES, and I loved drawing every page of it. It's also the first manga all my teachers jumped up and told me, "Hey, this manga's fun to read! This is it... this is YOUR voice!" So it seemed like things would finally fall in place with this one story.

Shown to: [Shueisha] Saikyo Jump, [Shogakukan] CoroCoro Comic
GRILLED FOR:
1) It's... not very well-planned. It reads like a dojinshi, where the author just lets his imagination run wild, with not too much foresight for plot holes and bad characterization.
2) Readers (read: Japanese elementary schoolers) may find the American setting alien and off-putting. It's best to have the setting as recognizably Japanese as possible. Use heavy references, keep detailed observation notes, and consult native Japanese as much as possible in that case.
3) The art's stabilized compared to past works, but there are still art inconsistencies from panel to panel, making the same characters look different as the work progresses. The art needs to improve.
4) Having a boy fight a girl is going to make readers uneasy, no matter how tough the girl is. Better to have the rival be another boy.

PRAISED FOR:
1) The author's burning sense of fun and enjoyment for the subject material, and the earnestness given to the story overall makes it very hard to reject.
2) While very rough in design, the conscious inclusion of monsters and gadgets as a central element of the manga will appeal quickly to kid readers, and opens the door to a lot of merchandising opportunities.
3) The overall composition, message, and feel of the manga lends strongly to the role manga plays for kids: giving them dreams and aspirations. This is an artistic direction the author should stick with.

[Received business card from reviewing editor at Saikyo Jump.]
@Green: Sounds about right. Practically everyone said the same thing.
It's avatar fightin' time!
Sixth manga assignment. Now that the teacher's made us rely on references to increase the believability factor in our stories, he now wants us do two things: 1) "show me the love!" (Draw something and prove to the readers that you love drawing it.) 2) Draw one panel that you absolutely, ABSOLUTELY want to draw, and create a whole manga around that panel. (Demonstrate that you know how to lead readers to a climax, or scene of most visual impact.)

I honestly thought he was jerking us around, but at this point he knows how much I've been burning to draw monster-characters and a cookie-cutter shonen action manga... the way I felt it was meant to be drawn. To ease the process of creating something original, I took my Pokemon Combat Academy dojinshi premise and removed the Pokemon element... and this was born.

40 pages, various pens and ink on B4 Muse manga paper (110lbs.-grade, I think?), touched up in Comic Studio EX. Originally translated fall 2012 and uploaded to FurAffinity and DeviantArt.
Thus begins the Wild West Show!
Fifth one-shot down. Used a lot of 19th-century America references to design this manga - Winchester rifles, prairie dresses, the works. The result is a more believable manga than the previous one... so my teacher says, so he was able to enjoy this manga as a reader more than the last.

Only problem... I absolutely hated drawing it. And people sensed it when reading it.

Shown to: [Shonen Gahosha] Young King OURS
GRILLED FOR:
1) For the target audience for Young King OURS, the content of this manga's too juvenile. It would be more fitting to show this to either a middle-school shonen manga editor, or a kids' manga editor.
2) Very hurried or throwaway art, as if the artist didn't care to really render the rifles cool-looking, or to make the background really 1800s' America-y.
3) Some editorial misses (at the time), like missing text in some speech bubbles, no page numbers at the bottom, etc. (Once again, shows artist didn't care for the work.)
4) Editors can tell... the artist didn't enjoy drawing this manga. No energy, no pep, no conviction. It was just a story.

PRAISED FOR:
1) Foreign-ness. Once again, maximizing my capital as someone born overseas.
A shot that rings in your heart!
Fifth manga assignment. This time the teacher wanted us to make heavy use of a manga artist's most treasured resource - REFERENCES. To teach us that the key to a good manga is masking the lies of fiction with "reality in details." Mostly assigned this condition as a reaction to the last manga my group drew, which he said "was fine, except it reeked too much of make-believe to be engrossing."

Once again, digging into my "foreigner-ness," I pulled out a little episode of a famous American sharpshooter of the 19th century...

36 pages, various brush pens on B4 Muse manga paper (110lbs.-grade, I think?), with Maru pens for analog effects, touched up in Comic Studio EX. This was done just after discovering the Scott Pilgrim series, and wanted so badly to figure out what Bryan Lee O'Malley's secret is behind his art style...
Idols stand tall.
Fourth one-shot down. While this is the one manga that's truest to what I really wanted to draw long-term, in hindsight this also ended up being the most "juvenile" of the seven - juvenile being that I just ran with whatever I wanted without really thinking it through in a critical sense. One of my teachers said, "This coulda been the one that got you an editor's business card, 'cept in the end... too many elements sorta didn't work out for the work."

Sigh...

Shown to: [Shogakukan] Weekly Shonen Sunday, [Shonen Gahosha] Young King OURS
GRILLED FOR:
1) Not... very thoroughly planned. Miharu's papa's influence isn't properly depicted, and otherwise a lot of fat could've been trimmed for a leaner, tighter, more impactful robot manga.
2) The art is jumbled and outdated. Can't tell what's going on in some panels, and otherwise not a lot of (shonen manga) readers are going to give such a retro look a second glance.
3) Poor art direction. Impact on a lot of very key scenes are wasted because of poor paneling (Featherline tackling the giant mutant cockroach should've been given a two-page spread, for example). No difference in line quality between machines/backgrounds and characters, making them blend together as one entity rather than being distinctly separate things.
4) A maid robot? (Yeah, in hindsight, that's my fault... it was a throwback to the story's original concept - a maid piloting a maid robot.)
5) The dialogue still explains too much to the reader; it doesn't read like regular dialogue, it reads like exposition. The author really needs to hold back on that, and focus more on exposition via actions and pictures.

PRAISED FOR:
1) (From a shonen manga editor's PoV) Compared to the previous manga I've shown, this one's more interesting to read.
2) The author's sense of fun and love for the work, the characters, everything can be felt with each page. If it had been more thoroughly planned and executed, it would've been printworthy.
3) Cute characters. Would've stood to be a little more cuter, but otherwise they stand out.
Because chicks dig giant robots cancelling the apocalypse.
Fourth manga assignment. I transferred into a new, four-year department, and the new teacher wanted to see what I was made out of, first. So the assignment was simply to draw whatever we wanted, except the characters needed "shackles" that weighed them down, somehow. (No one likes a Mary Sue.) 32 pages, G-pen and Maru pen with manga ink on B4 Muse manga paper (110lbs.-grade, I think?).

This is actually a one-shot version of an old dojinshi idea I cooked up while attending college in the States. This was finally my chance to draw what I REALLY wanted - furries saving the world in giant robots. :p I'd like to reboot the idea again one day, as a short series.
Godsend in one country, trash in another.
Third one-shot away. My first manga capitalizing on my "foreignness," as my teachers and editors would call it. It'll be a point that haunts me all the way 'til graduation, but to the average Japanese reader, it's my biggest selling point.

Shown to: [Kodansha] Shonen Rival

GRILLED FOR:
1) This is not a manga. Main character isn't very relatable, there's no plot, no real struggle... no story going on. It just shows stuff.

PRAISED FOR:
1) Graphically illustrating an intimate knowledge of cultural differences between two countries, which is a big draw for curious readers.
@SiliconMage: You'll never have to face that option in a convenience store in Japan.
When regional differences attack!
My third manga assignment - this time, with the goal of capitalizing on my "foreigner"-ness, as per the advice of nearly ALL my teachers and editors. 16 pages, G-pen and Maru pen with manga ink on B4 Muse manga paper (110lbs.-grade, I think?).

Little did I know how much angst trying to capitalize on my "foreigner"-ness would cause.
Wellllllll... I wouldn't say *THAT.*
Second one-shot manga away. I had a lot of fun with this one... 'cuz furries.

Shown to: [Kodansha] Weekly/Monthly Shonen Magazine, [Shogakukan] Weekly Shonen Sunday, CoroCoro Comic
GRILLED FOR:
1) (Prior to Comic Studio EX edits) It's VERY white, and the penwork isn't very dynamic, making the art very hard to make out.
2) Trying to draw a seven-minute Looney Tunes short within a 16-page manga. Doesn't work in terms of pacing and surprise.
3) Julius's presence is weak compared to Alexander, resulting in confusion over who's the real main character in this story.

PRAISED FOR:
1) Character designs are cute, and a sense of fun can be felt from the story.
Forgot to mention...
As for the text, my teacher took it upon himself to translate (read: fix) all of it for me. He read it and was like, "Yeah, no one's gonna get what you're trying to say with this level of Japanese." It stung hard, but he also made it better. :p

For a little while after, I re-studied my Japanese, wanting to make sure this never happened again. 'Cuz teachers don't have the time to fix just one student's dialogue.
Dehn deh-deh-deh deh-deh-deh-deh deh-deh-deh-deehhhhh!
Second manga assignment, this time as a "school manga," all analog, as the teachers instructed. 16 pages, G-pen and Maru pen with manga ink on B4 Muse manga paper (110lbs.-grade, I think?). When I asked my teachers if it mattered whether the characters were human or not, they said "just so long as it takes place at a school."

Then the floodgates opened.
The end of a new beginning.
Aaaaaand that's my first one-shot manga, took four months to do. Hope you liked it.

Shown to: [Kodansha] Morning, Afternoon, [Shogakukan] Weekly Shonen Sunday, [Shonen Gahosha] Young King Ours
GRILLED FOR:
1) While the story takes place in Kyoto, to the average Japanese, it doesn't "feel" like Japan. I haven't observed and researched daily Japan - and Kyoto in particular - to nail down the details that help suspend the reader's disbelief.
2) Too much text; it reads like an American comic.
3) Not enough practice with drawing in general.

PRAISED FOR:
1) Interesting premise: for an average bus driver to meet a talking crow is certainly a mysterious occurence.
2) Choice of words, particularly when the crow and bus driver talk about the niceties (or dullness) of life.
My year-end project, 2009
Mah verra first manga assignment. 16 pages, brush pen and G-pen with manga ink on B4 Muse manga paper (110lbs.-grade, I think?). I couldn't think of a bombbastic shonen manga to finish in 16 pages, so I copped out and did something seinen instead. :b Which kinda works out in the end.