With the weather slowly getting colder here in Japan, what better time to visit the sunny Portuguese Algarve and say hello to Luis Eloi, the Sojo University Award winner in our recent EX3 Kumamoto Round contest!? Grab your beach towels, and sunglasses because it’s time to bask in award winning glory with the man himself!
“I started out with a cartoonish approach…”
Hi Luis! How’s life in sunny Portugal?
It’s actually pretty cold here right now.
Whaaat!? Oh well, never mind that, please allow me to start by giving you a huge CONGRATULATIONS on your EX3 award win!! How does it feel?
Thank you! Yeah it feels great. I still can’t believe it actually!
Yeah I can imagine it was quite the surprise! How exactly did you begin creating manga anyway?
Ever since I was very young, I always knew my future would relate to drawing. When I was around 14 years old, a friend of mine suggested I watch Naruto. At around the same time, Naruto Shippuden was about to air on Portuguese T.V. so, taking the plunge, I dived head first into anime culture from that moment on. Before long, my friend and I were creating our own original Naruto characters during our French classes at school!
Oh! So you speak French as well!
Nope! I was too busy drawing to remember any of the language! Haha!
Touche! (See what I did there?)
Ha! Actually that’s how I started developing my drawing skills. I started out with a rather cartoonish approach at the beginning, but I gradually began to shift to a more technical and anatomically correct style like I was seeing in anime. I was beginning to watch other anime shows and learn about the original manga works that these shows were based on, which was when I thought to myself “This might just be the path I choose to pursue”.
I see! So you were into anime first and then discovered manga after! I was the same actually. What other shows besides Naruto Shippuden were you into?
Yeah, that’s right. I watched quite a few shows, but one that had a big impact on me was definitely Full Metal Alchemist. I really loved that.
Yeah, I really dug reading that story too! Speaking of manga, how do you go about creating yours? What kind of process do you go through?
Like most people, I start by coming up with a concept. My method is a little rough, but I usually take a single sheet of paper and a mechanical pencil, and just brainstorm either in my head, or on paper. I’ll get inspiration and ideas from browsing the net, then jot down keywords, or do some sketches until I end up with a garbled mess that only makes any sense to me.
Then you start work on the name?
Exactly. For this entry I used sheets of A3 paper and divided each into 8 segments leaving me with an A6 dimension for each page of the name. My next rule is to go from each panel to the next and ask myself “what do I really need to show here?” and “what’s the best way to show it?”. That said, I actually have a bad habit of drawing my names in too much detail, so I kinda need to work on that…
Oh you do? I imagine that must be rather time consuming…
Yeah it does a little longer but I find myself doing it because I want to see how it will look with all the different tones and contrasts. The time consumption factor also varies depending on what work I’m creating.
I see! How do you continue the process?
I get inking, of course! I use a G-pen, a maru-pen, and an ink brush. For the occasional mistake I just a regular correction pen. Nothing fancy I know, but it gets the job done. I have white ink for that purpose of course, but a lot of the time I can’t be bothered to use it when a regular pen can bail me out of a pinch! The only, and most important tool that I insist on for quality, is the actual paper itself which I can only get from Japan.
Nothing wrong with cutting corners if the end result doesn’t suffer, right? What is your working environment like? I’m guessing you’re more of an analog kinda guy, right?
Absolutely. I work at a simple desk in my bedroom. I like to sketch a lot so I’m very analog and my minimalist work space kinda reflects that. Aside from my pens, the only unique tool I use, if you can call it that, is masking tape.
Yeah! It has quite a few uses for me, but one thing I find it really useful for is creating speed lines. By taping down an upwards pointing drawing pin, I can use the point as an affixed pivot for my ruler which is a big help. Of course, I have to be careful not to get the tape stuck to the paper but for the most part it’s really helpful.
Ooh, I like your ingenuity! Do you listen to music at all when you create? I know that some people like to throw on a classical music score to get themselves in the zone…
Yeah I sometimes do that too actually. I often listen to music on Youtube though. I listen to various genres but never have trouble finding a good compilation on there. Sometimes I’ll just throw on some power metal though!
ABOUT YOUR PLACE
“Manga creating is a very independent job here.”
So, fancy telling us a little about where you live? Any interesting sights?
I live in the countryside city of Lagos which is situated in the Algarve, the southernmost region of Portugal. It’s actually one of the most visited cities in the region, and the whole country for that matter. It’s well known for its beaches, cliffs, rock formations and medieval fortifications and gets crowded with tourists in the summer. Lagos also has a lot of historical importance too since it played a central role in the Portuguese age of discovery, which it sometimes celebrates with a medieval festival. You can eat a lot of different seafood freshly caught by local fishermen here too which is nice.
Wow, sounds amazing! As a Brit, I’ve many friends who have visited the Algarve and they all say it’s beautiful there. I hope you don’t get too inundated with British holiday makers though!
Haha! No, no. You guys are important to our economy and cause us no trouble at all so don’t worry! Haha!
Phew! I’m VERY relieved to hear that! What is the state of manga in your country right now? Are there any titles that are particularly well received?
I think that these days when one title becomes popular online, it kinda becomes popular all over the world. Based on this observation, and from what I can find in the few bookstores that sell manga in my area, I think it’s pretty safe to say that My Hero Academia is the hot new thing over here right now. Most of the manga we get over here is actually translated into English, though I have seen French releases before. That said, since the popularity of Death Note, more Portuguese translations have been popping up in recent years. Actually that title did so well in Portugal, that we can usually find complete sets on bookshelves, and even a special edition!
Oh nice! Any titles you’d like to see translated in Portuguese in the future?
Too many to count, but Golden Kamuy would be awesome to have localized!
Good choice! Do you have any favorite manga titles?
One Piece is hands down my favorite! There’s so much to love about it, from the unique art style to Oda-sensei’s level of creativity. The story is so engaging too despite being so long with no end in sight. It’s not surprising it gets as much praise as it does really! Full Metal Alchemist is my probably my second biggest inspiration. Oh to be able to create a story as amazing as that one! My Hero Academia would be third on my list too. It’s shonen at its best!
Those are some big hitters for sure! Speaking of manga popularity in Portugal, are there many locally created comics in your country? If so, do you know any of those creators?
No and kind of. There are people creating comics here in Portugal but it’s not such a popular medium. You could say it’s a very “independent” job. I’ve met people from JanKenPon at various events over the years. It’s a bi-monthly newspaper dedicated to comics and is created by a handful of Portuguese natives. It’s probably the closest we have to a manga magazine.
Speaking of events in Portugal, did you visit Portugal Comicon? We had a couple of artists decorate some cars with their artwork! (Editors note: Tune in next week folks for a full report of that event!)
Ah yeah I saw that but unfortunately I couldn’t make it to Lisbon. It’s kinda far and public transport here in Portugal is really expensive. It looked awesome though!
ABOUT YOUR ENTRY
“I knew I wanted to create something supernatural.”
Let’s turn our attention to your award winning entry “It Became Light.” How long did it take to create from start to finish?
From having the initial idea to finishing the final work, I would say it took me about a month and a half.
Where did you find the inspiration for your entry?
Everything came from the theme. I did some research on Kumamoto, and while its castle would have been an obvious choice of setting for the story, I opted to take it somewhere else. That’s when I discovered the Go-Hyaku Rakan (the 500 Buddha followers) and I was immediately like “This is interesting. What if they suddenly came to life…?”.
It’s an interesting choice for sure! What was the reason behind making the protagonist a shape shifting wolf?
I knew from the start that I wanted to create something supernatural, and have a story that takes place away from human eyes. I think that if I had gone with a human protagonist it would have hampered the mystic feel that I wanted the story to have.
Why did I go for a shape-shifting wolf instead of some other folk creature? I guess I chose the wolf because of his solitary qualities, and felt that a wandering creature like him would fit better in the lead role. That isn’t the only reason behind my choice though. After doing more research on wolves, and how they are viewed in Japanese culture, I discovered they were seen as benevolent, divine creatures and were believed to help humans. The fact that they are extinct in Japan nowadays adds a little to that mysticism too I feel. In the end, the main character was inspired by the okuri-okami, with its shape-shifting ability being an added liberty that I took whilst creating him. If only there was an expert in yokai around to explain a bit about the okuri-okami since I’m beginning to ramble now…
Luis, my man, I am the WEEKEND YOKAI HUNTER!! Hahaha! I know all about the Okuri-okami which is why I’m surprised you chose such a minor yokai to base your character on! Are yokai something you’re into then??
YES! Actually for the longest time now I’ve wanted to create a manga series that brings together Japanese yokai with western monsters!
Oh!! Like a massive pro-wrestling style death-match manga? Clash of the beasts??
Haha! Nah it would be a story telling of a journey the protagonist has to go through. The creatures would be the supporting cast so to be speak.
Ah, gotcha! By the way, what is the protagonist carrying in your manga? Is it a weapon, or some kind of tool?
Actually it’s a packed lunch! I based it on the ones carried by the mailmen from the Edo period. Saying that, much of the main character outfit was inspired by the mailmen of that time. I also added some “shide” to his headpiece to give him more of a sacred feel, since the wolf was also regarded as a divine messenger of the mountain deity (yama no kami). I like to believe he only carries food and other stuff he finds interesting on that thing though…
Yeah I really think the diagonal paper decoration (shide) looks great on him! One other thing I noticed about your entry was the lack of kakimoji (sound effects). Do you intend to use them in the future, or are they something you’re not so interested in exploring?
I didn’t use kakimoji because I wasn’t very confident in using them. I’m definitely planning on using them from now on though!
Which scene did you enjoy drawing the most? Also, were there any scenes that you gave you trouble?
I think I enjoyed doing the first panel on the 5th page the most. it was my first time trying something like that and I think it turned out pretty well. I actually used that masking tape trick I was telling you about to do panel! Haha! As for the hardest part, well it wasn’t actually anything drawing related, but I found it hard keeping up with the various faces of the rakan buddhas. Remembering what this guy looked like up here, and how that guy looked over there was confusing at times!
Are you talking about the guy with the bald head, or the one with no hair?
Which of the other EX3 award winning entries did you like?
They were all so good, but I have to say that Vu Dinh Lan’s Excellence Award wining entry, “Overflow” really stood out for me. It definitely made me laugh!
“I have a much better understanding now.”
Actually, your Sojo University Award win had an extra benefit too, right? You came and joined us in Kyushu for the Kumamoto International Manga Camp!! Did you enjoy yourself?
Oh most definitely! It was a huge honor and totally worth minute. I was very happy to be there!
You were also the only Non-Masterclass member to be there! How did that feel?
Yeah, I know!! Actually, I was unaware of that until a couple of weeks before coming so when I heard the news I felt really special! Definitely a proud moment for me!
Glad to hear it! What was your favorite part of the camp?
Too many to choose from, but I really enjoyed the Silent Manga movie. I totally wasn’t expecting that!
Yeah, it’s really something isn’t it? I love it but it I need a handkerchief in places since it’s so moving! Haha!
Haha! Yeah I saw a few people reaching for a tissue!
Now that you’ve joined the camp, do you feel that your understanding of manga around the globe has changed?
Yes, I have a much better understanding of everything now. Taking part in the international manga summit was a hugely rewarding experience for me.
Oh, we’re really happy to hear that! Arriving back home, do you feel empowered to work towards the growth and development of manga in Portugal now?
That’s a really hard achievement, but I’ll keep doing the very best I can!!
ABOUT YOUR FUTURE
“SMAC! is the place for you!”
Looking ahead, is there anything you want to create from now on?
Right now I want to keep challenging my own creativity, and keep practicing by sending more and more of my work to the SMA community. My monster/yokai mash-up is still on my future projects list though! Haha!
Very happy to hear that! Do you have any goals or aspirations you’d like to achieve by taking part in the SMA community?
I hope to improve my level of skill and become a professional mangaka in the future. Oh, and I wanna be counted among the Masterclass too, of course!!
Well you’re definitely headed along the right path! Is there anything else you would like to share with the community before you go?
I just want to say that this is an amazing opportunity and I’m really grateful to be part of it. This community is full of great people, and it has turned what was once a hazy dream of mine, into something much clearer and tangible. If any of you are lost but share the same dream as me, and are ambitious about it, then SMAC! is the place for you!
Wow! Thank you so much for the kind words Luis! We look forward to seeing more of your work in the very near future!!
You’re welcome, and thank you for your time!
And with that, we pack away our deckchairs and sunglasses, and bid farewell to one of Portugal’s brightest rising stars as we fervently look forward to seeing what he comes up with next!
As for the rest of you, your time is NOW! What better time to put your manga making skills to the TEST, by entering the exhilarating TRIAL that is the SILENT MANGA AUDITION® EXTRA ROUND FOUR (EX4) for your chance to win cash prizes and see your work on the screen! You have until November 30th to get your entries in, so be sure to mark it on your calendar! That’s not all however, as we have also announced the theme for SMA11 which is “PROMISE”! At any rate, let’s pick up those pens and wow the world! Penmaru and the entire SMAC! editorial team are looking forward to seeing what you’ve got!