SMA MASTER CLASS, the future manga stars from SILENT MANGA AUDITION®.
In this series of interviews we’ll uncover the secrets to their manga creations!
This weeks MASTERCLASS member is the rising Vietnamese star Lan Vu Dinh.
The advice Lan has received from his friends helped him achieve success in the SILENT MANGA AUDITION®.
He was kind enough to share his experiences with us this week.
Good Morning Lan!
INTERVIEW WITH Lan Vu Dihn
“The fan base keeps me going.”
1. We read you were at the Vietnam Comics Day 2016 in September. It looked like you had a fun time meeting fans and autographing copies of your manga Project ICON!
Vietnam Comics Day is kinda cool. I’ve got my second volume of Project ICON introduced there and got a chance to meet with all of the fans and readers and other artists from all part of the country.
Project ICON received quite good feedback from the readers. But it’s price is quite high compared to other Japanese manga, so it’s not really selling well. But the fan base keeps me going.
2. What’s your work space like? Do you usually play music when your drawing?
I have to have 2 desks for my workspace: one for drawing the manuscript, and one for editing and researching. I like drawing in traditional way. But sometimes my freelance jobs, like drawing comic for advertising products, you know, requires me to draw on the computer.
Normally, I’d clean up my work space after a few weeks. But it becomes a mess again after several hours. That’s why I sometimes go out and find some places like the coffee shop or my old school to draw. It helps my mood a lot when I change my workplaces often.
And music, like the Script, 911, Backstreet Boys, My Chemical Romance, etc., would come in handy when I start drawing the manuscript. But when working on the manga NAME, I find music a real distraction.
3. What kind of tools do you use and which is your favorite? Let us see it!
Here are my assistants! For the G pen, I used Zebra brand. That’s probably the best G pen brand that I’ve ever used. The calligraphy pen is from the Monami brand. I don’t know much about that brand, maybe it’s from China. I bought the G pen from a friend of mine who visited Japan before and other tools from an art shop in my area (I’m not picky about those tools). The big black monitor behind is a Wacom pen display, somewhat similar to a cintiq, but not for drawing purposes. But it serves me well anyway.
I use calligraphy pens a lot since they are somewhat similar to brush pen, and I don’t need to prepare the ink when I use them.
G pen used to be less preferable since the ink and paper quality that I had cannot support the pen (It made the tip rusty and broke after a few uses). But my Japanese G pen works like a wonder and could be my favorite if I don’t have to bring the ink bottle with me every time I want to use it.
4. Tell us about how you schedule your creations! How long does it take for each step in the process? Which step is you favorite and least favorite?
I don’t have a schedule for drawing mangas. I did try, but it never work the way I wanted it to. I guess artists are like that: we often slack off in the beginning and somehow speed up like crazy when the deadline comes.
Another thing is when other artists often finish the inking for one page before moving to another; I just sketch the whole chapter, and then move to the inking for all of these pages. I feel that drawing this way make it much faster for me to finish.
The least favorite process in drawing manga is the manga NAME. Unlike many others, the time I take for drawing name is much much longer than the time for me to finish the manuscript. It’s hard, but it’s irreplaceable.
“I just draw a lot of manga, and my skills just go up.”
5. Tell us about your preferences when creating manga!
For each panel in the manga, I usually start from the perspective first. If you can find the right perspective, the story can go smoothly the way you want it.
I never really practiced for drawing. I just draw a lot of manga, and my skills just go up. If you really like something, you will eventually find ways to get better at it.
6. Tell us about your preferences for manga storytelling!
I always want to make a story that create surprise for the readers. I often leave hints in my panels to connect them in the end.
For each panel, I want the flow of the story to go smoothly, so that anyone can understand what I’m trying to convey.
7. Where do you get ideas from?
Ideas come from anything around us! When I look at a house, I might think what would happen if it explodes or something. All of these things that I can see are parts of my ideas.
If you can take notes when a new idea comes to you, that would be perfect. Good ideas, for me, are not often get by brainstorming, but by chance.
8. Do you have any other skills or experiences that help you create manga?
Personally, I think that if I focus all my efforts into developing only one skill, that would be the best. But if gaming skills can be counted as a skill, haha. 😄
I’m quite good at strategy games, like Heroes of Might and Magic or Fire Emblem. Final Fantasy Tactics, too (I enjoyed it on Gameboy Advance). I like turn based strategy games because they give me time to think the next move, like playing chess.
9. Do you have a favorite manga or creator that influenced your creative style?
Death Note by Obata-sensei is what I considered the best manga style, that’s why I studied a lot from it.
I also like Eyeshield 21 by Murata sensei. It’s good at action scene and perspective.
20th century boys by Urasawa-sensei is also one of my favorite, though it’s quite difficult to learn from such an unique style.
“Good ideas, for me, are not often get by brainstorming, but by chance.”
10. Have you received any useful help or advice from the editor? How about your manga creator friends?
The SMAC! editors are the first actual editors that I work with. They helped me with many of my messy ideas.
In Vietnam, the manga industry has not been developed much and there is no specific editor position for a comic.
But I often get feedback from other creators and my artist friends, like criticizing my works, pointing out my mistakes, etc., and they help a lot. That’s how I keep getting better every time.
11. Are you planning any future projects? What genre would you like to try attempt in the future?
Right now, I’m running a series “Project ICON” in my country.
Project ICON is about a survival game. It’s kinda similar to Liar Game. I have a special interest in that type of story. The characters, a girl, Huong, and man with glasses, Trung, are chosen to participate in a TV game show for a grand prize. At first, the game seems normal, but then the players begin to find out that there are many mysteries.
I’m also planning for a new project, a “romance with twist.”
Actually, the series that I’m interested in creating is not really a romance series, it’s kind of the opposite… anti-romance, I suppose. I kind of have bad luck with girls, that’s why I want to transfer what happened to me into the manga.
Hopefully it can come out soon!
12. What are the specific areas you focus on when creating a manga for SMA?
Especially for the SMA, I focused on the storytelling and emotion of the characters. In fact, I’m not really good when it comes to story without dialogues, since I usually fill my manga with a lot of text. But after 3 attempts at the SMA, I finally figured out which part should I focus on.
I have to think a lot about how each panel play out, especially when transferring scenes. They must also bring about a movie-feelings to the readers.
Emotion is especially hard for me, since I used to get a lot of criticism that my characters are emotionless. But this competition has helped me figure out how to make my characters come to life!
“This competition has helped me figure out how to make my characters come to life!”
13. Are there any moments you felt, “I’m glad I entered this contest!”?
I must say this contest changed the way I draw comic. It helped me develop a lot. I also get the chance to know many artists from around the world and the SMAC! Team.
I believe this is a good base for me to create better manga in the future!
Lan Vu Dinh
Thank you for your time Lan senpai!
Your imagination powers us all!
We can’t wait to read your anti-romance series ( we all love romance as much as we hate it 😉 ) We also hope Project ICON will have a foreign language release in the near future!
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