I am organising a contest via my website in collaboration with Camaloon, where you can win a skin to customise your iPhone4 or iPhone5. To be one of the lucky 3 winners you only have to choose between the 2 illustrations I've designed for this contest, hosted until 15th October 2013.
Both PinkAppleJam and Camaloon will publish the list of winners on 16th October 2013 with the chosen Squishy-chan themed design!
You vote by clicking on the heart of the design (click on image below);
"We are Camaloon - a young, multicultural and multidisciplinary startup-company from Barcelona. On our platform you can create and buy your own products (such as buttons, stickers, magnets, skins and wall decals) or browse and buy products made by designers for you!
We're always working to deliver:
- the greatest quality product that makes your designs shine,
- the most excellent customer service always available for you and
- the fastest delivery all over Europe.
Our main product lines are buttons, stickers, magnets and mirrors. All designed by you."
Good luck and happy voting!!
"A couple of weeks back, prolific UK manga artist Laura Watton (check out her work at pinkapplejam.com) challenged me to play cover-artist for her popular Squishy-chan character, the lovable miniature octopus from the ongoing Biomecha series.
I think the result is a lot cuter than you might have expected, but perhaps less than Squishy may have hoped for. Be careful what you wish for Laura…"
As an anime fan since the mid-90s it's been problematic to say the least! When anime was climbing mainstream it was all "eurgh you like all that tentacle porn" (I was buying Takahashi comedy manga and playing Street Fighter II on my SNES O_o) to "eurgh you like all that Pokémon childish stuff" (I was buying female-oriented manga for my gender/age group after a steady slew of shonen translations from 5 years prior, while finishing off my degree dissertation O_o), and...now?
Now, it's a weird sort of middle-ground style that has become popular. A massive slew of a certain style of CG arts appeared over the last 10 years and a lot of them stem from ero[tic]-game and CG art. It's sort of generic and after Broccoli, I can't tell who drew what. It's also sort of annoying because at one point in fandom's life you could tell who drew what (I guess I'm not hardcore enough anymore!)...
Sexy 'toons are a staple in any animation fan's life, after all Barbie's predecessor started off as a pocket sized sex-aware character ("in interviews on the Lilli-inspired Barbie doll Eve Ensler efers to Lilli (without elaboration) as a "sex toy"."), everyone knows who Jessica Rabbit is and Betty Boop was not without her fair share of wardrobe malfunctions.
So anyways even though Betty Boop had a tiny body, she is obviously still an adult, right? And ironically, a massive influence on "anime style" (whatever that is nowadays), back in the day.
[Betty Boop, Max Fleischer, 1930]
I think my first experience of reading about an underage character was Minnie May in Gunsmith Cats. Even though she was under the age of 18 she had an adult lifestyle and experiences that allowed her to function in an adult world (part of a Gunsmithing bounty hunting team). She was pretty much in charge of her relationship with Ken and had an expertise in technical bomb creation.
[Gunsmith Cats, Kenichi Sonoda, 1991]
Moé, it always has been around. Described as "The word has come to be used to mean one particular kind of "adorable", one specific type of "cute", mainly as applied to fictional characters", it evolves a lot. I recently finished watching Puella Magi Madoka Magika (below). I guessed, I fit into this category being as I'm a fan of magical girl shows from my teens? So I watched it, and it was OK. I'm a big fan of the cheeky 70's Cutey Honey, and remember seeing Devil Hunter Yohko (both pretty adult) in my 90's anime watching days. But then I had a discussion on Twitter about Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha and realised that these shows are aimed at the otaku 20-30yo male One of the many "magical schoolgirl shows with a darker edge".
[Puella Magi Madoka Magika, SHAFT, 2011]
Good article in Metropolis about the "big friend" syndrome of "adult buying", which about 90% of you folks reading this have immersed yourself in, like I have, for the past decade or so, after leaving education and getting some sort of disposeable income. The term i otonagai “adult buying", and Japanese-based otaku do it better than everyone else. But what do they buy? By the looks of it, shedloads of crazy special edition BluRay discs with plastic figurines, artbooks and something extra that legitimises spending $200 on one purchase, more if it is archival. Is it honestly these customers that are keeping this mutated portion of the anime market afloat? Is that why moé is so ka-boom?
I guess personalised by the Studio Pierrot brand of (the unfortunately named) "Creamy Mami" (below), there is a gigantic large chap who is the friend of the male lead in this series, who is in junior high school, and runs around after Yuu (the blue haired girl who transforms into the 14yo Purple haired Pop Idol Creamy Mami)... Yuu is about 10. He tries to peek in on her changing etc etc. This is in the 80s! At the time I suppose it would have seemed more innocent? Now it just reads clearly as the fetishisation of the younger moé girl. (Luckily Yuu kicks shins and everything, just like a good tomboy should.)
This is literally a show aimed at small girls and features a Magical Angel pop idol, but did it's creators knew who to also aim at?
[EDIT:: Néojapanise, 2012 - An interview with Patrick W Galbraith on Otaku Culture, Part Two]
The following year, Studio Pierrot produced another magical girl anime, Creamy Mami, the Magic Angel, which again attracted older male fans. In a personal interview, Nunokawa Yūji, representative director of Studio Pierrot, told me that he was aware of older male fans when producing Creamy Mami and was far less upset by them. So this is something of a turning point in awareness of, about, and among otaku."
[Creamy Mami, Studio Pierrot, 1983]
So lolicon has always been around... but stylistically now it's overt, uncomfortably obvious, more than ever before? To me that blog article describing lolicon doesn't apply to characters who are aged 14 for the story but even to me as a 14-year-old-anime-fan they always looked older, but now are they supposed to be 14 (over the lower end of Japanese consent) but look like an actual child?
[EDIT :: AltJapan article, 2011]
Amazingly the Southern Cross arc of Robotech could have looked very different.
"When Tatsunoko, producer of the hit anime series Macross, was casting around for talent to design characters for the sequel,Southern Cross, they actually turned to Uchiyama. As you might expect, Uchiyama's character studies were so over-the-top "loli" that Tatsunoku got cold feet. They quickly replaced him with a pair of more experienced anime designers who turned out more conventional designs."
From this concept idea to Southern Cross production art in 1984.
Nowadays it would be reversed, right?
Is the upsurge of moé due to the popularity of a more inane female protagonist and lack of popularity for a more antagonistic, 80's/90's style heroine? Fetishisation of the more softer, simplistic type of femininity pioneered by Oh My Goddess' Belldandy character, but in a childlike "younger sister" form? Is this linking to a popularity in a "wanting to control" something in a relationship? Can it be accredited to the baby boomers, debt accumulation and Parasite Single lifestyle?
Hideo "Disappearance Diary" Azuma is widely credited as the "godfather" of lolicon from 1979.
On a more alarmist note, this article was written in Anime Vice (you will recognise the shots from MCM Expo last October), what do you think?
I will happily rake through the anime catalogue created between 1960 to 1995 and watch everything that Japanese animation has to offer me as an older fan, though; and gems such as Redline will continue to shine through, and losses such as Satoshi Kon and his genius will be sorely missed.
"Different times, different tastes. People want to be entertained faster and on a more superficial level these days. Life's on the fast lane now. "
"The studios need to step up their game and try to cater to draw in more new viewers instead of catering to only the current fanbase."
::EDIT :: [Néojapanisme, 2011, I don't wanna grow up... because maybe if I did I'd have to date 3D adults, not 2D kids
"Modern otaku culture is increasingly less about nostalgically clinging to the anime, manga, or toys of one’s youth, and more about a single-minded obsession for simulations of little girls in tender fetishwear. Lolicon never went away; it blossomed into the trend now known as “moé.” Little did Ejisonta and Nakamori realize that their allusions to this superdeformed sexuality were merely a preview of things to come: an (economically) apocalyptic future in which the lolicon otaku represent the last saviors of a crumbling consumer kingdom."
"[A]s a famous lolicon manga artist once said: “Even otaku boys have a chance to meet girls, so don’t lock yourselves up in the dark. Go out and make friends!” Damn straight."
Basically... the anime fanbase outside of "current" have been pretty grossed out by 'sameface', cutout moé-moppets for a pretty long time.
:: Great things ::
- Western karaoke room in the Chillout area! Made so many new chums!
- Amazing auctions for charity, £300+ whipped up from the crowd in change in 10 minutes
- Partying, dancing, being able to stop selling and start partying on the same campus (no B&Bs, travel or driving)
- Brilliant breakfasts, delicious Brioche toast!
- Pristine manners and cheeky fun from the Keele uni and bar staff and security
- Meeting up with fellow dedicated hardcore con oldskoolers!
- Having a great con buddy & table helper, wyldflowa
- Polite and respectful people, people happy to talk about art and anime tropes over breakfasts
- No screaming weeaboos, for example extremely few free huggers and space invaders
- Great dancing music, and bar prices!
- Incredible range of cosplay
- Catching up with J-pop Go (eyes on this space!)
- Bargains from the Bring & Buy & Dealer's Room
- Live Twitter feeds and updates, LiveStreaming
- The feeling of inclusion as an artist dealer
- A beautiful accommodation room with en-suite bathroom and spacious bed, plus fluffy duvet!
- The freedom of partying as a punter in the evenings
- Dance floor parting to show dancers with impromptu dance offs, congas, macarenas, you name it.
- No food to buy after 4pm on Friday in the Student Union U_U If there was, a bunch of us missed the adverts. The difficulty of having a con on campus. Dominos Pizza was oversubscribed. We got packets of crisps and pints, and camped outside the greasy spoon van with insane looks in our pupils til 9pm, when it opened!
- Friday - No food from 4pm-9pm
- Saturday we stocked up on pot noodle, didn't see many food options
- Sunday - not even a pastie left in the cornershop.
- Improvised by eating yoghurt using a banana and sticking one half of the nana on a coffee stirrer stick, carving out a concave bit of banana with our teeth and using the 'nana as a spoon. I MEAN, SERIOUSLY. (It was funny by this point though.) Shop needs moar sandwiches!
- Certain awkward people just talking about themselves, no interaction skills, derailing conversations to also direct to themselves (le sigh.)
- Lots of hardcore. I loved having a dance - just wondering though, hardcore 2 nights in a row? The western songs in the AMV disco was great warm-up fun. IMO, needs moar memes and anime/Jpop tunes (No Kyari, no Panty & Stocking? Sadface!)
- Noisy, NOISY people in Lindsay Court student lounge. Loud noises until 3:45am. This would be absolutely fine, but all the windows were open... paper thin windows and walls meant yes we heard all the renditions of "Ring of Fire", NUMEROUS TIMES. >_< At least people were having fun though, and not being dicks like running, banging on doors etc. Awkward accommodation positioning there...
- A good amount of panels on the schedule, though personally some were a bit too early, and some a bit too late, only based on our personal arrival/departure plans though. I look forward to catching up on the "Changing Face of UK Anime Fandom" one online at some point.
- Unfortunate traffic bonkersness on the way up. At least the drive back home was painless ^_^
- Chopsticks/fork/spoon, a big mug, flask, small bottles of water, non-caffeinated teabags, soundproof headphones for sleeps.
- Probably a freeze box to make Saturday food up from.
- Decent shoes (my Primarni specials got rained out on Sunday).
A few things I have realised which may explain my comfort over the weekend. I feel UK anime & manga conventions have gone from this to this since the 1990's to the 2010's (a very rough approximation!);
- People drawing pinups & comics, some people doing cosplay, VHS fansubs
- A good balance of all of the above, internet subs
- An internet influx of cosplay, people not buying comics because they were not made by Japanese people, crossover of licensing laws meaning only UK subs can be shown
- Small press boom; comic events open to anyone who makes comics of any style; anime conventions being more for cosplayers, showing DVD releases of UK licensed titles, more comic and Disney themed cosplays
- A boom of artmakers, print sales and original art; cosplayers cosplaying more and more comic, film, game & TV characters than only anime characters.
It is also flattering to hear I don't look my age (shut up Laura, you love it you slag), haha. 8D
Thanks to all the event organisers and the attendees for being polite, respectful, courteous and overall FUN to be with! I may even have the post-con blues! ♫
Anyways I thought I could change UK comics in my late teens and early 20s. You think "I like this, other people must like this, hey maybe I can monetise this, some people have said I am good at this, manga will be popular" etc etc etc. I guess that's what happens when you are the only illustrator in a very small town.
There are problems to be aware of in the UK, as a "mangaka" (manga creator), whatever that means today. For example, to be aware of not biting off more than you can chew and become frazzled about stuff like I have.
Lessons learnt and assumptions made are;
- Some people develop at their own pace, other people learn very fast and others do not like to be poked. Either camp are fine, some people fall into only one camp, some are happy with both. One is NOT better than the other, so this line must be made clean and people must respect each camp. Having said that, some amateurs do work for pro mags. Some pros make their own comics. The line in the UK is SO SMALL and feint. So just act as if it is this big blob, where everyone is welcome, as there are no definitions. Art is subjective, anyway.
- Why emulate the Japanese? Make your own thing. Amalgamate all your loves.
- You can draw as many PG13 15+ or mature style comics and print them as you like, but UK teens maybe won't buy them I guess in case people their age laugh at them (see UK Victorian comic culture below); they would happily read online though, also teens usually do not have enough money. Maybe if they grew up with the series, they would buy a graphic novel of the series. This is quite a shame, because the thing that motivates most UK folks to make their own manga is reading a series as a teenager that speaks to them. This is usually done via shonen (boys) and shojo (girls) manga, as a lot of UK and USA comics do not cater specifically for this age group, it is polarised with kids/violence/adult niche comics.
- If people are not buying your series; people expect a series to finish because they have possibly been burnt by loving an unfinished series and left hanging. This happens in both small press and with publishers. Perhaps people are just not spending money due to the recession, too. The series has to finish, or look insanely pretty so that it is worth having on your shelf as a coffee table book. So, complete story, or pretty visual goodness. Somewhere in the middle isn't cutting it right now, to sell books.
- Mainstream comics and strips that sell in the UK are aimed at a young audience, so cater for quality storytelling in an acceptable styling which also showcases your art flare. Anything that would enrage a parent if they picked up your comic (heaven forbid a tween girl having a crush on a tween boy in speech bubble format!) will not make your series pitchable.
- We are in a recession, so chances taken on new material are quite low. Adaptations of already established IP are likely to be more successful. If you freelance you will likely be helping out on someone else's work or somebody else's IP.
- The UK's Victorian history of comics has marred development of readership. Penny Dreadfuls but were never taken seriously. Thematically, comic stories did not develop with age generations, instead they were passed onto the next. During the war comics were thrown on the fire and seen as frivolous, or (better off) donated to the paper collection efforts.
- European attitudes to nudity are different to the UK. France, Spain and Italy DID grow up with comics; this is reflected with nudity in Bandes Dessiné (unless it is aimed at 8YO girls or boys). The UK has a Victorian attitude to sex. Drawing something more mature seem immature to most people. UK people majorly can't deal with grown up comics. Instead we get purile shit like UK Viz.
- The UK has a culture of growing up youth very fast, too fast. Comics are seen as childish. Girl's comics stuck in the 60's-70's, written/drawn mainly by guys and stuck with boarding school and horseriding tropes ("this is what girls may like"). Photo dramas and stories remained, not illustrations (only for girls mag content such as quizzes). We would never get a comic like Paradise Kiss (manga) serialised in a UK teen fashion magazine equivalent like Zipper (Japan).
- When Europe got W.I.T.C.H., a title acquired by a massive name like Disney, the UK magazine did NOT get the comic serialisation section. Girls still buy comics though, they bought Tokyopop shojo (girl's stories). But after a while these stories' themes didn't develop, readers got bored, and instead of moving onto josei (great women's stories - but what got published were poor sellers).
- Comics that sell in the UK are bought for children. The Phoenix, Cinébook Publishers/9th Art etc are concentrating on quality storytelling that transcends age and brings together generations. European comics really love all sorts of styles. Their hybrid stylisation WORKS. I love
- Japan refined their storytelling/narrative market after the nation was bombed - and new companies just blatanly continued regardless of being crushed, or started up afresh.
- UK Newsagents fees are VERY expensive. Startup mags can make huge losses which is why some do not make it past issue 2 or 3.
So my personal goals and aims are as follows.
- To finish Biomecha and all my shorter stuff. Draw a line under it. Manga is, and was, SO IMPORTANT to me, but in this day and age is is never going to help me pay the mortgage where I stand. This is quite sad as I have such a love and affinity for the comics, the style, the imports, and I always will. I believed in it, but I was never aware of anything like recession, internet, oversaturation and freebie culture age 14 when I set upon this path.
- The time I have invested into my comic has not balanced correctly or remotely lucratively, come 2014 that will be almost 20 straight years. O_o So I have to forge my own path. I am a Thursday child, we have far to go! Basically... take what I have taught myself from the manga scene and just develop my own COMICS better in general. It taught me a lot ^_^ And at 14 I never thought I would have a graphic novel out, let alone potentially 2.
- Money I get from drawing manga comes from personal things; portraits, commissions of caricatures, this is quite fun and has even bought me a pair of Vivienne Westwood shoes (trufax). I'll save this for fun and conventions for sure.
- I really have to work on polishing stuff that isn't specifically manga oriented. I think I always took it for granted that people assumed I could draw "in other styles", I've been drawing comics and cartoons since I was a wee one, but people need to see it on my website.
- Do more colouring and inking samples as well as character designs. I have started to do this last year and I am building up a great selection for Pinkapplejam.com.
- If I want to pitch a comic to a US company, I have to go to a US con (!). Most companies do not accept unsolicited pitches. So I have to make a portfolio of stuff, and work on something I want to pitch from scratch. If I can be arsed (!) ¦D
So yeah, I also booked myself up for Amecon, Thought Bubble (confirmation pending), hope to do London Expo as well, to sell my stock to help fund a print run of a final issue of Biomecha. <3