Posted in art school life, comic reviews, study abroad

I’M IN HONG KONG!!

Man oh man. SO, I’ve been semi-offline for the past couple of days because I was having a hard time locating plug adapters for a) my phone charger and b) my laptop charger. Yesterday we went to a mall and I checked all 5 electronics store and NONE OF THEM had the type of adapter I needed, so I couldn’t use my laptop at all until this morning because my nice new friend Kathie who is familiar with HK and went downtown yesterday found me the perfect adaptor for 10 HKD (about $1.30 USD.)

I don’t feel like typing walls of text right now, so I’ll just post the pages of my travel diary comics I’ve been making since my flight here late Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning.

The highlight of this trip so far has been the food. Like, even the cheap instant food. Even the Starbucks. Everything is new and different and better-tasting here. Do you know how many more flavors of Pocky there are here than at the Asian Food Market back home? So many. I had green apple and mango and blueberry pocky…all of which were delicious…

And strawberry marshmallows filled with chocolate, purchased in Muji of all places. MUJI. WHICH THEY HAVE, RIGHT IN TUEN MUN.

Here is a selection of pictures from my first few days in Hong Kong. First, my dorm. SCAD rents out several apartments in the Gold Coast Apartment complex, and every student living on-campus at SCAD HK gets a room. My room’s the biggest in my apartment, with a bathroom inside it. Sheets and towels and things are provided, which is super convenient for me. Also, it’s the rainy season, so everything is damp and unpleasant. Not as hot as it could be, though. There’s plumeria trees right outside my window, and the flowers are so, so beautiful.

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I made a snail friend yesterday, while waiting for the SCAD Bus to take us up to The Peak. IMG_20170617_164450694

At the Tuen Mun shopping complex, there was a store selling these super cute chocolate truffles. I wanted to buy some, but the store didn’t take card and I also just spent a lot of money at Muji, so. IMG_20170617_130843355

We also visited a wet market (a market that sells raw fish and poultry and even live animals for cooking purposes) and a guy in our group bought a whole cooked chicken and ate it. I can’t stand the smell of fish, so I spent as little time in there as possible. Still snapped a picture though.IMG_20170617_135512973

Then we went up to The Peak, which has the best view of the city ever, as well as two more shopping centers. I guess HK people love to shop. I went to a Starbucks and got a green tea frapp with earl grey jelly at the bottom, and I think it tasted better than green tea frapps in America. Two levels below the observation deck, there was this traditional HK-style restaurant that was hella fancy, and it had the same nice view of the city as the observatory, and my roommate and I had dinner there. I got noodles with duck and vegetables. They were extremely delicious. I’ve basically been subsisting on noodles with things in them and interesting pocky flavors. I should go grocery shopping today.

Classes start tomorrow! I’m taking Travel Portfolio and Hong Kong Comics. For Travel Portfolio, we already got a pre-quarter assignment. “Students will Research and Collect images and other reference from a journey, holiday or distant memory of a place. Consider computer print outs, photocopies, stills from moving image, found text, ephemera. This research can include primary and secondary sources. Students will make a collage of one of these memories in their A4 sketchbook pages. Write a brief story about this memory with emphasis on neat handwriting in your A6 sketchbook (150 words.) Produce one illustration in your larger A5 Sketchbook in response to all the
information gathered.”

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So, yeah! HK!

Oh wait I forgot to mention: when I went to SCAD on Friday for Orientation, I stopped by the library and checked out Truth is Fragmentary by Gabrielle Bell and I Kill Giants: Titan Edition!

Reviews: Truth is Fragmentary made me feel self-conscious about my own travel comics, but also I don’t really like Bell’s style. Lots of words. Maybe I’m not ~deep~ enough to get the appeal, though.

I Kill Giants I’d read before and loved it and it was great, but I hadn’t read the Titan Edition before. Titan in this case means in addition to the story, the book came with character designs, breakdowns, original scripts and insights into the creators’ workflow. Which was amazing to see. Definitely worth checking out.

Posted in art school life, comic reviews

Summer vacation and seeing old friends

So, I’ve been fairly busy this past week.

Wednesday, I went to get dinner and see Wonder Woman with two of my close friends. I really enjoyed Wonder Woman, but I’m not a big DC/Marvel fan, and I made the mistake of binge-watching Every Frame a Painting the day before, making me be super critical of the editing choices and the generic soundtrack.

Thursday, I went to Princeton with several of my friends, and then we ran into two more friends, and then we all went to my high school literary magazine’s end of the year party and spent some time hanging out and talking afterwards. I drew.IMG_20170608_193738.jpg

I went to Barnes and Noble and picked up a print copy of My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness, which I reviewed on this blog a few months ago, and I was really pleased with it! The print edition includes an extra chapter and an epilogue, and the author is in a much better place after her worked received the positive attention it deserved.

I also picked up Kase-San and Morning Glories, which is a cute fluffy yuri manga. I was alerted to its existence by this semi-viral animated short and decided I had to read it. It is extremely cute.

Then Friday I met up with a friend in Princeton, again, this time so she could enable me to buy a lot of books and two Haikyuu! folders. (I like volleyball anime now, apparently. I don’t know what happened either but I finished the anime and am on chapter 71 of the manga and I’m mildly embarrassed but not enough to stop myself from buying these.)IMG_20170609_190923805.jpg

I’ve finished reading Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda and Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel (enjoyed both, viscerally offended at the blurb on Simon that says it’s a cross between John Green and Rainbow Rowell because how rude), haven’t started I’ll Give You The Sun. I’ll make a post about my LGBT book and comic recs soon, because it’s Pride Month and that’s my job.

Saturday my friend group and I went to Grounds for Sculpture and then to a friend’s house to play a board game, eat fruit, and relax. Grounds for Sculpture is a central Jersey thing featuring famous paintings turned into sculptural figures, and also weird modernist sculptures. Modern sculpture has been ruined for me since I took 20th Century Art History and realized everyone is copying Henry Moore, David Smith, and Alexander Calder. Here’s a picture of me and my friends posing with Manet’s Dejeuner sur l’herbe.19030509_892074567599479_8080471439124986116_n.jpg

Then, I took a train to NYC and saw Hamilton. On Broadway.IMG_20170610_212109.jpg

I still can’t believe it really happened, but it did. My train got delayed and I ran into the theater like 5 seconds after the opening song started and had to find my seat between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, Sir, but it was so amazing. Google play says I’ve listened to Hamilton all the way through 7 times, and to my favorite numbers 16 times. I know all the words to all the songs. I bought the ticket way back in September, justifying it as a birthday gift to myself, and I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did after so much time has passed. But, I did enjoy it a lot. I loved how the set stayed more or less the same, but the dramatic lighting cues changed the shape and tone of the place to feel like different locations whenever necessary. Burr and Jefferson were both played by chubby guys one of whom was genie in the Aladdin musical apparently, and it was weird at first but they were really good at it. Eliza smiled too much in the Schuyler sisters and did burn as if she was literally in the middle of crying, which was interesting. The new Hamilton played it a lot more comedically and kind of overacted at some parts but his voice was nicer. Overall, extremely enjoyable, except for the part where I missed my train by 2 minutes and got home at like 2 in the morning.

Then today my mom dragged me to the circus. Yeah. The Cirque Italia, or something like that, is open in the parking lot of the local mall, and I have a 4-year-old sister. So we went. It was pretty cool, but the tent was so humid and dark I felt like death.

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Artwise, I finished this four-page comic, and some commissions!

You too can commission me! For $10 I can draw your face or the face of a fictional character you like. Email 6masha@gmail.com for more!

Posted in art school life, comic reviews

HerCampus Sketch Crawl Exhibition and other fun things

Okay so, last Sunday I joined the HerCampus sketch crawl trip to the Atlanta Zoo, and did some drawings. I submitted one of those drawings to the Sketch in the City show HerCampus held yesterday, and it was really nice! It was one of their favorite pieces of the night, and they even featured it on their instagram account!

 

On Friday, Marksmen had a combined meeting with the improv club where we drew the improv kids while they played funny games. It was really fun and I got some great gestures.

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Besides that, there’s new graffiti on the side of the Spring House dorm. It looks super cool. I don’t really know why it’s there now, but it is and it looks great.IMG_20170513_122344773.jpg

Reading: I stayed up late last night catching up with Shimanami Tasogare and, OH MY GOD, WORDS CANNOT DESCRIBE HOW MUCH I /LOVE/ THIS MANGA!!!

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First of all, even if you’re not a member of the lgbt community desperate for representation, you have to admire the art. It’s gorgeous. Every panel is worthy of being framed. It has this lovely magical realism element to it that makes the world of Shimanami come alive.

The story follows a high school student coming to terms with his identity and finding a place he belongs. He joins a sort of club for renovating abandoned houses in the area that doubles as the nexus for the local LGBT community, and there’s a lot of discussion of homophobia, both internalized and from the character’s friends and families. It’s really emotional and resonated with me hardcore. I caught up in like an hour and now I can’t wait for the next update, and I need everyone I know to read this immediately and then talk about it with me. If you need more information here is a great review of it I just found that goes into way more depth.

Also, here are this weeks Mermay drawings!

The may 11 drawing was of my bff Margarita, because it was also her birthday that day. I also drew her a portrait. We became friends in freshman year of high school when we were in the same French and Bio classes and also joined the same nerd club (academic decathlon) and now we’re bffsies 4evers. She’s great.

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I also illustrated an article for The Connector a few weeks ago and it finally went up today!

I’ve also been drawing a lot of fanart for Tanya Grotter, the Russian children’s series of books that was originally supposed to be a parody of Harry Potter and then immediately went way, way off the rails. It’s really inventive and really funny and really fun, and I’ve been rereading the books lately and remembering how much I loved them as a kid, and how interesting these characters and the situations they end up in are. So I’ve been drawing them. A lot.

The goth girl is Tanya’s bitchy roommate she’s the worst and I love her.  She is literally ebony dark’ness dementia raven way’s life goals. Her name’s anya but she named herself coffinya cryptova and everyone just goes with it including the teachers. She’s super popular because she accidentally scored a goal in a game of dragonball, she’s tall and pretty and has different colored eyes and does everything by magic and HATES the protagonist, but not in an obsessive “will actively do things to hurt you” kinda way they mostly just sass each other amusingly. In the second image she’s paying a mafia cupid to shoot this rich famous british boy full of love arrows to make him fall in love with her but she doesn’t actually care about him she just wants his bank account and fame. In third image tanya’s annoyed w/her so she casts a spell that makes coffinya’s pet skeleton come to life and start dancing w/her. She’s so funny, so overdramatic, so active, she’s my favorite.

Don’t forget to check my instagram @mashazart for updates on my 100 days project, which is still going strong!

Posted in art school life, comic reviews

Free Comic Book Day 2017!

HEY GUYS HAPPY FREE COMIC BOOK DAY!! This is actually the first time I’ve been able to get myself to a comic book store and take advantage of the free comics. And then buy some more comics, because I like to support small businesses and I am very weak.

But for those of you who don’t have access to a physical comic book shop, Gaming Fridays by Tristan Yuvienco is free today if you input the code fcbd2017 at checkout! I just got it and it’s really cute.

Anyway, my loot today:

I went to Oxford Comics in Atlanta, which allowed customers to pick up 6 free comics and had a lot of other stuff half-off today.

I got: I Hate Image, Guardians of the Galaxy, Barbie, Fresh Off the Boat, Betty and Veronica, and Buffy.

Thoughts: I Hate Image was cute and funny, but I’d probably appreciate it more if I was more familiar with Image’s lineup. It definitely made me want to check out I Hate Fairyland. I loved the gentle mockery of Chew and Paper Girls and The Wicked and The Divine.

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Guardians of the Galaxy: Eh. Still not much of a superhero person.

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Barbie: I would be all about this if I was eight but now I realize I am not the target audience for Barbie comics.

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Fresh Off the Boat: Cute, funny, really dynamic art style, definitely recommend to any fans of the show.

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Betty and Veronica: The art is really pretty in some places and in other places the layout is muddy and the faces are like, uncanny-valley. Also, the plot doesn’t make any sense. I don’t think I like this one very much, which is disappointing.

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Buffy: Cute, but the art’s kind of bland. Not a fan of the color choices. Not a fan of the plants vs. zombies bonus story.

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Additional, not FCBD purchases: Steven Universe 2016 Special: adorable!

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Giant Days: I love Giant Days so much John Allison is my favorite if you want to read good free webcomics please check out Bad Machinery and Scary Go Round do it it will improve your life.

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Shenzhen Travelogue: Guy DeLisle is a good dude. I’ve read…Pyongyang, Jerusalem, and The Burma Chronicles by him so far. Really excited for his new book.

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Blacksad: A Silent Hell: I only actually bought this because there’s a discussion of the artist’s process at the back of the book and I need to know how he does watercolor like that. It’s so beautiful. What the hell.

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Tina’s Mouth: An Existential Comic Diary: this one was half-off and so far it reminds me of Diary of a Teenage Girl meets Amelia’s Notebooks, but about the South-Asian Diaspora and existentialism. The narrator has an older sister named Anjali which is the name of one of my best friends ever (hi, Anjali) so I had to buy it.

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Speaking of comics, here’s the 1-page comic I drew for my Intro class!

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I’ve also been working on mermay drawings this past week!

Besides that, yesterday was Out To Launch, a reverse career fair for SCAD Atlanta students where seniors, grad students, and alumni all have tables and important industry people come and talk to them. I walked around and saw the stuff the illustration, animation and sequential majors were showing off. They’re all so cooooool. I hope I can be that good when I’m about to graduate. And that I can get a job/internship when I’m about to graduate and don’t need to have a table at the event. They also gave out a lot of pins and stickers, which was nice.

I also went to the High Museum to get field trip credits for art history yesterday. I wrote a short paper about it. TL;DR: I love N. C. Wyeth deeply and I wanna go home.

And that’s about it for now!

Posted in art school life, comic reviews

Week 3

Okay so first off I WON FIRST PLACE IN PLEIN AIR AT THE ART THROWDOWN LAST SUNDAY!

I was going to update the last post to add that but then I realized no one was gonna look at it anyway, and then the Connector asked me to do an article about the event, so here’s a link to that article instead for more info.

this is the piece that won! It’s in marker on an 18 by 24 inch piece of paper, and took me about half an hour to draw. It was really fun to do!

Yesterday morning I went to the SCAD Student Leader meet-and-greet in the SCADPad. the SCADPad is part of the parking garage attached to the main building with fake grass and comfy chairs to turn it into this hangout spot and place events are sometimes held at. It’s. Strange. But the meet and greet was nice, we played dumb ice breaker games and learned about important dates and deadlines. I learned that as an Ambassador and Orientation Assistant, I get paid for both going to the meet-and-greet thing and the biweekly meetings as well as SCAD Days. So that’s nice.

After that I stopped by the Digital Media Center for the Collab fair, an event where senior animation majors recruit underclassmen to help them out with their senior films. I put my name down for colors, backgrounds, and storyboards for a lot of films, but most of them weren’t interested, which is fine.

Then, after that I went back to the main building to go on a tour of SCAD Fash for my Art History class. We got a really in-depth tour of Omar Victor Diop’s exhibition, Project Diaspora.  It was absolutely fascinating, though I feel like as a white girl it’s really not my place to analyze it critically I liked looking at the photos.

Then after that, I ate brunch and then went to the wood shop in the basement where I got a wood shop certification. I was terrified of all the saws and things, but it wasn’t that scary and I got to try all the tools. The wood shop manager gave me a tape measure for my trouble. I only went because we needed it for my 3D Design class, but maybe I’ll need it for something eventually. I also heard we have a laser cutter somewhere at SCAD, which would be cool to try. I don’t know, I’m not really a super crafty person.

Then after that, I finished inking my comic strip for sequential art!

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The prompt was “a turtle wants to cross a busy street, so he does.”

I’m still doing the 100 days project, and still doing Camp Nanowrimo. Check my tumblr tag for the 100 literary characters.

I also drew this comic.

Reading material: I finished Lynda Barry’s One! Hundred! Demons! and started reading What it Is, and I really really love it? I love how she combines autobiography and fiction and the handmade collage elements are so cool to look at, and she’s so funny and emotionally true and talks about her childhood in a way I can connect to. I am a huge fan of autobio comics in general, but like, her comics feel so fresh and new and I can’t believe how long it took me to discover her.

I’m also thinking of starting a youtube channel, but that’s still up in the air until I actually get some free time to make one of the videos I have in mind.

And I’m going to Hong Kong this summer to study abroad! Visa’s in the process of getting approved and plane tickets have yet to be purchased but the paperwork’s all done and the classes have been registered for so it’s like, 89% definitely happening.

So yeah!

Posted in art school life, comic reviews

MoCCAFest 2017!

So I went home this past weekend and missed a day of classes because of my flight time, but all of that’s irrelevant because I went to MoCCAFest yesterday and it was amazing!

MoCCAFest is a small indie comics convention in New York City, hosted by the Museum of Comics and Cartooning Arts at the Society of Illustrators. This is my second time going, and I managed to have some self-control this time around and not buy everything.

I got a sketchbook review from K. L. Ricks! It was really encouraging. They’re very nice.

I drew things for Wendy Xu, Gene Luen Yang, and Meredith Gran, and they were all really nice about it and liked my things and signed my comics that I bought from them immediately. American Born Chinese is one of the graphic novels that got me into comics back in middle school but I only borrowed it from my school library and now I have my own copy with my name in it, so yay.

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There was a great moment where Gene Luen Yang asked me “So how is SCAD? Would you recommend it to people? Because I get a lot of questions from high schoolers about colleges and I don’t know anything…”

Lucy Bellwood was really nice and easy to talk to, and I wish I’d had more money so I could buy more of her books. I got Rim to River, about white water rafting in the Grand Canyon, and it made me actually want to go there someday.

I also picked up No Ivy League by Hazel Newlevant. I don’t know what I expected from the title, but what I got was a really sweet grayscale autobio comic about a summer volunteering thing. It was nice. Hazel spoke at the Diversity in Comics panel and had some really interesting things to say about publishing and editing comics.

I went to two panels: Diversity in Comics, and Q + A with Cliff Chiang. I learned Cliff Chiang went to Harvard, is older than my mom, and doesn’t know how to ride a bike. Does know how to draw amazing comics though.

I bought. So much. Stuff.IMG_20170401_222214514.jpg

My favorite things I bought were Diana’s Electric Tongue, by Carolyn Nowak, and Add Value/Add Time by the Dandelion Wine Collective (probably because I spend a lot of time on trains).  Diana’s Electric Tongue was weird and wonderful in an almost magical-realism, Haruki Murakami kinda way, except the tone was extremely low-key and slice-of-life-y at the same time, it’s great, I love it. Add Value/Add Time is a really tight and coherent anthology, especially for college students. It’d be cool to start a collective like Dandelion Wine here at SCAD Atlanta.

Also Soviet’s Daughter, by Julia Alexeyeva, because it’s a comic my grandparents were actually interested in reading! And a comic by a Russian-American about being Russian-American!! MY FAVORITE THINGS! I gave my copy to my grandfather and didn’t take it back to SCAD with me though.

And Baopu by Yao Xiao, about a lot of things, all of which I can relate to somehow. I walked past the table and was like oh my god, someone UNDERSTANDS. It was a very emotional moment for me.

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After MoCCAFest I met up with my friends from summer camp and we all hung out and got banhmi and it was really nice. I’ve missed them. I don’t get to see them very often, especially now that I’m all the way down south.

I’ll make a separate post with the work I’ve produced recently later, I’m running on like 4 hours of sleep and I am basically not functioning right now.

Posted in art school life, comic reviews

What I did during Spring Break

Spring quarter starts tomorrow! With that, I’m ready to recap how I spent my break.

The first few days I mostly sat in my room and worked on a comic. I’m adapting a book I liked as a kid into a webcomic format, because that seemed like a good idea at the time. You can read what I’ve got so far here. 

I saw Lego Batman with a friend, and it was really fun. My grandparents came and took me to do touristy things I didn’t have time for during the quarter. We went to the aquarium, stone mountain, the botanical garden, the civil rights museum, the art museum, a bookstore I had heard about at a con last year, and finally to Ruby Falls in Tennessee and Vanderbilt University to see my best friend from high school. Here’s a random collection of photographs from these trips.IMG_20170321_145103308.jpgIMG_20170320_163813854_HDR.jpgIMG_20170320_113825657.jpg

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book reviews! I read a lot of books this break, and I want to talk about all of them. Here’s most of the books I bought at Little Shop of Stories, a super cute bookstore in Decatur focused on children’s books and graphic novels (aka my two true loves)IMG_20170319_192141720.jpg

Every Heart a Doorway- Oh my god, an asexual protagonist? Portal fantasy?? Feelings???? SIGN ME THE HECK UP. I heard there’s a sequel coming out next year and I am so ready for it you don’t even know.

Men Explain Things To Me- A collection of essays, which reminded me of AP Lang where I also had to read a collection of essays. These essays were good though, engaging and enlightening.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here- Books that make fun of standard YA tropes cleanse my soul and water my crops. I love this book. I love the premise of this book. Everyone with even a passing interest in YA Literature should read this book.

Newsprints- I got this book because I love the author/artist’s webcomic, Saint for Rent! I love how everything seems to glow with light, and how dynamic and fluid the characters and their movements are, and how tight and unified the color choices seem to be. Newsprints is about a steampunk world in the midst of war, and some kids delivering papers in it. There’s birds and flying and science and feelings and my favorite part was the sequel hook at the end, because that means there’s more to come.

Well, That Was Awkward- A modern, middle-school, Cyrano de Bergerac retelling. Hilarious and cute, and made me feel slightly intellectual because we watched Cyrano de Bergerac in french class in junior year and I could recognize the references. I loved the use of texting and social media to tell the story- that’s how I communicate w/my friends these days.

Books I read over break that are not pictured here:

The Cute Girls Network- a very cute sort of romance story featuring a diverse cast of wonderfully drawn girls. I kind of wish a woman had worked on it, but it was still good. Funny, and an interesting concept.

Pretty in Ink: A History of Women Artists in North American Comics- Really inspiring and beautiful. I got really into the flapper comics style of inking and hair drawing and copied a few of them in my sketchbook. Nell Brinkley is an underappreciated star. IMG_20170313_195004118_BURST000_COVER.jpg

The Gingerbread Girl- Weird, ambiguous in an annoying way, but cute and a really interesting narration style where the point of view keeps shifting.

Hot Dog Taste Test- Weird but pretty and funny. I like the bold watercolor style and I kind of want to t0 try doing something similar eventually.

Uncanny Valley High, volume 1- Funny, weird, cute, good. Will probably read the second one.

My first day of Intro to Sequential Art is TOMORROW! So, pretty excited. Yeah.

Posted in art school life, comic reviews

Week Three and A Half: Projects and Stuff

Next weekend is ATVFest, midterms, and lots of other stuff. This week though, I had critiques for my first drawing and design projects!
Drawing: 88, need to fix proportions and tighten up edges some more, but I don’t think I’ll do the corrections because I value my time.
Finished the marker portrait and spent over a hundred dollars on markers, I hate my life choices but I like the result.
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Color Theory: Not graded yet, but here’s what it ended up looking like! I am terrible at cutting things and have been since the dawn of time. Craftsmanship? What’s that?
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CMPA: We’re making logos in Illustrator and I came up with a pretty neat one for SCAD’s LGBT Club, but it’s really simple and the club was pretty eh about it, so it probably won’t end up being used. I need to reduce the spacing between the lines but that’s a quick fix so not a big deal.

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Sketchbooks: We didn’t have life model drawing last week, so I did gestures of people around me for that week.

For Color Theory I had an extra help session last saturday where my professor gave me advice on the Transparency and Luminosity assignment that was giving me trouble, and it looks considerably less bad now. I’m not posting pictures of the transparency one because I still don’t like it but Luminosity looks good.
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I also started painting my Complementary Color Scales, which show smooth transitions from one color to its complement. I took a break from these because I spilled my paint water and decided to write this post instead of crying about it. The green and red one isn’t crooked, I just cut it out of bristol and didn’t glue it down yet.
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SCAD Life things: Pixar gave a presentation on Tuesday! They talked about how great it is to intern there and what they look for in interns. I’m obviously not ready for an internship anywhere, much less at Pixar, but it was cool knowing that SCAD is a place they recruit from.
There was a workshop for freshmen and sophomores by the Career and Alumni Success Office, which I went to. I got a little piece of paper that told me what kind of jobs you can get with my degree and what companies might hire me and what I should put in my portfolio.
I also reserved a place on the bus to the SCAD Career Fair in Savannah. I’m a little uncertain about going, if only because I need to be on that bus at 5:30 AM, but I think it could be a good opportunity.
Career thoughts are stressing me out a bit because I’m super torn between going more into the animation and storyboarding direction or literary graphic novel direction, so on a completely unrelated note, there was a pajama par-tea last night where the RAs taught us all about healthy sleeping habits and we drank herbal tea and ate popcorn and decorated mugs for more tea. Very sweet and pleasant. I still ended up going to bed at two, though. I love to make bad choices, I guess!
What else…the comic I posted here before, House Helpers, got published on The Connector site, and two of the clubs I’m in are doing zines this quarter or maybe next quarter and both zines are themed around monsters and creatures so I’m going to try to double up and use the same concept for both, or something. I don’t really have any ideas for those yet. But yeah that’s about it for now!
Oh wait, readings: I checked out Blue is the Warmest Color (the graphic novel) and Diary of a Teenage Girl (the novel with illustrations and comic sections) and A Graphic Guide to Queer Theory this week. Thoughts: Blue is a story I’ve definitely read before and generally not outstanding, Diary is disturbing, and Queer Theory is confusing but intriguing.
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The library was doing a thing about civic engagement this week.
I read Pink by Kyoko Okazaki a few weeks ago and it was really really cool. It reminded me more of western manga-influenced comics than actual manga. Like a strange, R-rated, depressing version of Scott Pilgrim. It was bizarre and beautiful and I still think about the messed-up ending three full weeks after reading it. God.IMG_20170104_172819716.jpg

Posted in comic reviews

Webcomics vs. Webtoons

So recently I’ve started reading more translated Korean webtoons on sites like Webtoon and Lezhin, and I’ve noticed a significant difference in how webtoons are formatted, paced, and designed vs. western webcomics.

(Disclaimer: I haven’t actually read that many webtoons but I’ve read a lot of webcomics)

And most of these differences boil down to one simple difference:

Formatting for Print vs. Formatting for Mobile Devices

Most western webcomics are shaped like pages in a book, or newspaper strips, out of the expectation that they will eventually be collected into a print volume. Korean Webtoons are formatted to be read conveniently and efficiently on smartphones, and are usually very narrow and vertically long, with a lot of scrolling. Webtoons are also updated by chapter or part of chapter once a week or so, while webcomics are usually updated page by page several times a week, though the exact schedule depends on the comic.

Part of an update of Cheese in the Trap side-by-side with a page from Never Satisfied.

You can also see that Cheese in the Trap has considerably more gutter space- or space between panels, and that speech and thought bubbles tend to bleed into that gutter space. In print, having a lot of white space is inefficient, but for comics designed to be read scrolling on a smartphone, the wide gutters are used to create breathing room between panels.

Part of an update from the webtoon Her Pet. Note how the text breaks the borders of the tiny panels.

Western webcomics tend to use techniques and styles from print comics, probably because America has a strong, well-established print comic industry that a lot of webcartoonists work in or want to work in. A webcomic is very rarely someone’s full time job, simply because webcomics are usually put up online by the creators for free and are supported through ads, merchandise, and patreon.

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An early page from the webcomic Monster Pulse. Look at the screentones and thin gutters, and the wide layout. This shows influence of both manga and american print comics.

Webtoons in Korea are separate from print manhwa entirely- hosting sites like Naver and Daum pay the creators to host their comics, unlike in the US where everyone puts their comics up for free and hopes for an eventual financial return. It’s rare to find a webtoon on its own in the wild or on the author’s personal website, while most popular western webcomics are on their own sites. Western webcomics hubs like smackjeeves and tapastic have no barriers to entry and are free to use, not curated like Korean webtoons are.

Instead of expecting a print volume of a webtoon, a TV drama series is more likely. The aforementioned Cheese in the Trap aired in Korea on television between January and March 2016, six years after the webtoon was launched on Naver. Webtoon fans and creators also refer to story arcs as episodes, and multiple episodes as seasons, as though they were TV shows. Western webcomics, in contrast, are comprised of pages and chapters, echoing the print comics from which they came.

Webtoons are also a lot more decompressed. Decompressed storytelling is common to Asian comics- it basically means there’s a lot more focus on mood, atmosphere, and space and there’s more panels and spaces that aren’t 100% necessary for moving the plot forward. Scott McCloud talked about it in the books Understanding Comics and Making Comics. 

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Part of an update from the webtoon White Angels. Look at all that white space.

While a western webcomic has to have something happening each page to keep current readers interested, a webtoon that updates in longer bursts can have more breathing room. The Print vs. Digital thing comes into play again here: the longer and more leisurely the pace, the more it will cost to print.

 

The one thing I’ve noticed that runs counter to the print vs. digital idea is that western webcomics are more likely to use animated panels or pages for effect than webtoons. I haven’t read any webtoons that made use of animation to any extent. I’m guessing it’s something to do with the way they’re distributed, but I don’t know.

The last thing I want to mention is how some webcomics creators have started using webtoon techniques in their work, in addition to more traditional american stuff. I really love the webcomic Octopus Pie by Meredith Gran, and I love how much it’s grown and improved over the years. Gran uses animations, pages of varying lengths and widths, vivid colors and white space to create an emotionally impactful, atmospheric work.

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Part of the most recent Octopus Pie update. Here there’s both a lot of white space in between certain panels to create a sense of time passing, and panels on top of each other to create immediacy.  This update is as wide as a page of a printed book would be, but as long as five or six pages stacked on top of each other- it’ll look nice when printed out, but it’s meant to read well on a computer screen too.
Posted in comic reviews

Comic Review: My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness

Seven Seas Entertainment recently aquired the rights to Kabi Nagata’s autobiographical manga, The Private Report on My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness. The first volume will be released in the states in June 2017. Until then, we can read unofficial fan translations on the internet and #gethype, because My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness is amazing and you need to drop what you’re doing and read it immediately.

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MLEWL is raw and intensely personal, as can be expected from an autobiographical comic with that title. The first four chapters include mentions of self-harm, eating disorders, suicidal thoughts, and depression. The Dynasty-Scans translation even tags it as #depressing as fuck. And that’s one of the reasons I’m so drawn to it. I look at Nagata’s struggles and see myself, my friends, a real twenty-eight year old with real problems.

What’s really interesting about it, though, is the way it frames its pages. A lot of manga, especially introspective manga, feature many aspect-to-aspect transitions, or sequential panels that show different parts of the environment or setting of a certain scene. In MLEWL, panels that focus on setting and environment are very rare. Even though the entire comic is from Nagata’s point of view, we don’t see the world so much through her exact eyes as we see it from an outsider’s perspective, looking in. Most pages are also simply laid out as columns of three wide panels, with boxes of narrative text framing art from left and right. This layout gives very sad and serious content a more comedic tone, which, rather than accentuating the dramatic elements, makes it feel more realistic.

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I think that’s part of why MLEWL is so appealing to today’s readers. A lot of internet humor revolves around making depressing things funny by phrasing them in a certain way. Though MLEWL isn’t exactly that- it is still sad, still introspective, still thoughtful- it does use a style that reminds me of the jokes I see so often on Tumblr and Twitter, and it feels more relevant to me that way.

The art is very fluid and dynamic, more exaggerated than most manga art styles. Instead of relying on standard expression tropes Nagata exaggerates poses and facial features in a really funny and charming way, and the visual techniques she uses make for a very pleasant read. I love the combination of pink with the black and white. (Fun sidenote: in Russian pink is slang for lesbian.)

Anyway, I really enjoyed what I’ve read of this so far and will be preordering the print edition the moment I can do so.