My first aspiration during college was to become a manga artist. A friend of mines had me hooked on manga. I read all genres of manga–Dragonball, Hikaru no Go, Rough, Break Shot, etc. I thought to myself, “These manga artists seem to release a chapter a week. I should be able to do a strip a day then!”
Unfortunately, I ran into the proverbial writer’s block experienced by many aspiring authors. I had no idea how to start. Should I sketch out a rough plot? Should I just start drawing and let my imagination wander? How do these guys do it?
After a bit research, it turns out many manga artists draw from what they know or experienced. At the time, I was just going through the motions of a usual college student–wake up, get dressed, go to class, go home, do homework, and sleep. Not much to write about there.
But I had a friend who lived a very eventful life outside of class in the workforce. He was the perfect subject for my first foray into drawing a comic strip. I came up with a strip called “Lifer”, featuring my friend’s real-life work experience with some exaggeration thrown in for fun. Here are the two strips I ended up with:
The strip turned out pretty well. But, the whole process took a lot of time. I did all my work in MS Paint. Drawing stick figures is pretty tough with an unsteady hand and the pencil tool. But this venture did not last. My muse left to attend college elsewhere and no new ideas came to me.
I now let the professionals handle the work. Being the reader instead of the writer is more my style anyways. I supplement my manga reading with online web comics. They remind me of what I could of been.
I started off on Sluggy Freelance which was about a psychotic killer rabbit, Bun-Bun, and his gullible owner, Torg. Torg seems to get into ever increasing unlikely situations and Bun-Bun shows us how terrible rabbits could be if they were carnivores and carried switchblades. Pete Abrams, the author, made my dream a reality of releasing a comic strip everyday.
The next strip I followed was MegaTokyo. The strip followed the adventures of Piro and Largo as they find themselves stuck in Japan with no way to get back home to America. Piro is a Japan-aholic and is able to integrate himself well into his current situation. Largo does not know Japanese and speaks in 1337 almost all the time. To sum up the series, you take one emo, add Rambo, drop them into a volatile, idol-worshipping Japan, and let the mayhem begin.
I was introduced to Edenworld Saga the other day and the strip is pretty interesting. The author, Christina Crontiris, seems to have created her own world involving humans, mecha, and magic. The mecha race seems to have lost the war against the humans or Norns as they are called and are forced to steal for a living while being hunted at every turn. Speaking of turns, I can really see this comic made into a turn-based RPG like Final Fantasy Tactics or that turn-style Mecha game whose name escapes me at this moment.
The last comic strip I followed was a classic in my mind. The strip ran in the newspaper for a number of years and had its own television show. The scenarios the protaganist gets into really spoke to me. I felt a bit of truth in each scene. The strip is none other than Scott Adams’ Dilbert. The strip is about your typical office worker, Dilbert, going through life while being hounded by his mean-spirited boss, named The Boss. And his canine life-partner, Dogbert, who puts down Dilbert at every turn. Hilarious, deep, meaningful, truthful. I’ve run out of adjectives to describe this strip.
I’m always on the lookout for more online web comic reading material. If anyone has a suggestion, don’t hesitate to leave a link in the comments section.