This week’s Good Morning MASTERCLASS we conclude our three week MASTERCLASS 2017 Indonesia special with the cheerful duo – CHESS ☆
CHESS is always upbeat, but when it’s work time they get serious in gathering inspiration from all around them!
Today they showed us how they illuminate all our lives with their cheer 😉
Good Morning CHESS!
INTERVIEW WITH CHESS.
“…ever since I got an award, it gave me the drive to create more”
-Congratulations on becoming MASTERCLASS. Any fun celebrations with each other or family?
Cherie: Well, my family was really happy, especially my sister, Maudy. But, because I am far, far away in Malaysia, I could not celebrate with them right away.
Tessa: I was in Indonesia, while Cherie was in Malaysia when we heard the news…so we couldn’t really do anything.
But, my family boasted about me to another family about how I was invited to Japan lol. It was…weird because comics aren’t something that my big family acknowledges since our roots come from doing business. And suddenly they took interest like, what am I writing, what it looks like, where the idea comes from, and kept saying it was good while I know they didn’t really understand how to read comics lol.
-About where you live. Anything the world should know about the place?
Cherie & Tessa: We both grew up in Bandung, Indonesia. It is the most beautiful town for us (of course). The city is surrounded by mountains, so compared to other big cities, the weather is quite cold. Bandung has many delicious choices of food and also factory outlets (they’re not only affordable, but also provide high quality products at the same time).
But right now we live in different places: Cherie in Malaysia (for work) and Tessa in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia.
-It must be really sad being so far apart from each other. I bet seeing each other is a real treat now?
Tessa: Yes of course. I always said to Cherie, “Don’t be in Malaysia for too long!” I’ll just have to go to Malaysia, abduct her, and bring her back to Indonesia…or Japan. Probably Japan!
-Any memorable events, in your manga creation career?
Cherie: The first time getting an award in SMA. I never expected that (I mean, it’s Japan and it’s an international competition) and ever since I got an award, it gave me the drive to create more.
Tessa: Eumm…I think our most memorable event until now would be the time we won a comic competition in Indonesia. We got invited to the capital city, Jakarta, stayed in one of the best hotels, got treated to a very famous seafood restaurant, and had a press conference. At that time I thought, “Wow this feels so real…it feels good to have a real appreciation of our work.” But, in the end of January this memorable event was renewed with a new one fufufufu.
-Any artist who had effect on your manga style or you respect?
Cherie: I have admired a lot of artists. The top two who have influenced my manga style are: Aki Irie-sensei (my favorite mangaka from Japan. I love her fantasy-themed comics, and her detailed artwork is really beautiful) and Zao Dao, an illustrator from China. Her expressive lines, ethnic-themed, and detailed illustration impress me (yes, I love details). I’m amazed by their unique art style and I like illustrations which tells a story. Also, the fantasy genre always makes me excited because it’s full of imaginative things which are very inspiring.
Tessa: I don’t think I get influenced by genres other than my favorite genre, psychological horror.
My most favorite psychological horror comics would be “Kamisama no iu Toori” by Muneyuki Kaneshiro, and “Real Account II” by Okushou. Those kind of comics taught me in what kind of moments humans give and feel suppressed to the point of wanting to die. And they also taught me about things that scare humans so badly that they’re willing to sacrifice anything just to avoid it. I can’t make a story like that, lol. But, it gives me inspiration of course!
“Sometimes just by listening to the music in the game gives me inspiration to create the mood in my comic”
-Any specific titles that influenced you, like movies, dramas, or games?
Cherie: Mostly from games, like the “Final Fantasy” series, but my most favorite title both in artwork and story, is the “Professor Layton” (Reiton-kyōju) series. The character design is really unique. Also the beautiful background music. Everything. Sometimes just by listening to the music in the game also gives me inspiration to create the mood in my comic.
Tessa: “Alice Academy” (Gakuen Arisu) by Tachibana Higuchi and “Myth Promise” by Zelda Wang. Both titles, “Alice Academy” (Gakuen Arisu) and “Myth Promise”, taught me how to make dialogue that can make people mad, cry, and sad…because for me, a story also needs very good dialogue to make people want to read the comic, especially to make them cry. I also love how they see the world, their ideas to create a conflict.
-Speaking of music influences, you both said “Für Elise” by Ludwig van Beethoven inspired you in the creators comment for “Unchained Melody” (SMA4).
Cherie: The entry itself is purely inspired by “Für Elise”. But, while creating the story I kept listening to all classical music to help for the inspiration, especially a violinist from Korea who has a youtube channel called “JuNCurryAhn”! I kept listening and even using him as a reference to create the work (I just love his work!).
–Did creating manga have any effect on your life? In what ways?
Cherie: Well a not so good effect is this ‘nocturnal’ life the mangaka has. The first time I pulled an all-nighter was because of creating manga. It was our first comic, so we took a lot of time and needed more time to finish it. Ever since that then, I feel comfortable working at night when everybody sleeps, because there is no sound other than the music I listen to.
Also, I got a lot of experience, like meeting new friends/other mangaka, going to new places, leveling up my drawing skills, getting appreciated, and so on. I became to value my art more and am glad that from creating manga I can influence people in a good way.
Tessa: I think it made me space out a lot more than I should…cause when I think of a story I don’t really pay attention to the surrounding and just stare at every place lol. It also made me look at people much longer than I should because I keep analyzing how people act for character references. Thankfully none of my friend ever asked what’s wrong with me lol.
-Where do your CHARACTERS come from? Your Inspirations, imaginations, or influences?
Cherie: Mostly I observe from real life people. I want the readers to relate to the characters I make. To make the readers feel sympathy. I also get inspiration when I watch movies, especially animation, and from games.
Tessa: For series, the characters usually come from real people. Whether it is an actress, model, or a person close to us, looking up at their characteristics, their uniqueness, and their habits makes my characters as realistic as possible.
-Cherie, you say your inspiration for characters comes from animation. A Japanese or American animation studio, maybe?
Cherie: Yes of course, studio Ghibli and Disney are both legendary. Their character gestures and emotions/facial expressions are so genuine. The fantasy movies that Hayao Miyazaki made, like “Castle in the Sky” (Tenkū no Shiro Rapyuta), “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind” (Kaze no Tani no Naushika), “Princess Mononoke” (Mononoke Hime), and “Kiki’s Delivery Service” (Majo no Takkyūbin) are my favorite. All the character designs are very interesting and unique and the main character is always a strong heroine—I want to create a manga with strong heroine like that!
“I want to create a manga with strong heroine”
-Tessa, you focus on the uniqueness of your characters. Why is that?
Tessa: Observing a real human make you realize how different each person is. Knowing their habits, the things that they’re scared of, and their uniqueness will make the characters more alive and feel relatable to the reader.
Sometimes creators forget that their characters are basically just humans in the world that they create. We have weaknesses and a uniqueness that make us human and it shows in the way we eat, the way we sleep, and every basic little thing. And sometimes we don’t have an idea how to make the characters different unless we really see how every person does their little things.
-We say, “Breathing life into characters” is the magic of manga artists. Cherie, how do YOU cast that magic!
Cherie: One thing that’s important for me is the personality of the character and the contrast between each characters personality. I try to make each character have different personalities that will make the story interesting. Also, the character appearance and the expression is important. So I try to create a unique look that can be easy to distinguish between one character and another.
For example, my entry “Trails in Snow” (SMA5) has 2 characters that are very different. At first I thought about making a friendship between a child and a robot because it would be interesting. The robot, which can’t show any facial expressions and a lively, expressive little girl. I originally planned to make the communication tools from the robot signals, but changed it later to the interactions with the child, like how the robot pats the girl head and carries her.
-Please say ONE THING about the Manga NAME (DRAFT STORYBOARD)!
Cherie: The NAME is essential for creating manga, without it it’s just like wandering aimlessly. So it’s definitely an important stage in creating manga. Do well on NAME stage and the flow of the manga will be smoother.
“The NAME is essential for creating manga, without it it’s just like wandering aimlessly”
–How do you schedule your work? Do you have horror stories so dark they’d send a chill down our spine?
Cherie: After we discuss the idea of the story, I begin to create the NAME first. I take my time because creating the NAME is the most important part. And then for inking, to make it consistent I do the characters first, then I continue to the background, followed by screen tones.
Oh, so many horror stories indeed if you rush on deadlines. One time I got too intense on drawing an entry until my right hand felt really painful and couldn’t move much. The pain was different than usual and I was really scared I wouldn’t be able to use my right hand again. Fortunately after 2 or 3 weeks without drawing (and consulting a doctor), I recovered. After that experience I try to be careful, rest well, and not to rush. Sometimes if you rush, bad luck just comes.
Tessa: Well…about horror stories regarding deadlines, once we joined a competition where the entry needed to be sent in by mail. It was almost the deadline and we just need to send the entry through shipment office. But, it was almost too late so we went running from the printing shop to the shipment office as fast as we could. Then on the way…Cherie almost got hit by a car. Thankfully, both Cherie and the entry were safe. I took that as a warning to not be too late or rush something.
“Sometimes if you rush, bad luck just comes”
-Those are some scary deadline stories! How about good experiences?
Cherie: Hm, the good thing is when we are in deadlines, we can meet more often. Actually, it’s quite fun. From deadlines sometimes I discover a shortcut/trick to do the work efficiently. And also, if we make it to the deadline it’s a good experience for us 😀
-Any other good tips to share?
Cherie: I always try reminding myself to create balanced artwork, not too detailed nor too simple. Give a reader some space to breath.
In “Delivery Quest” (SMA6) I did this by putting details, but kept it clean by creating a balance between panel with blank spaces (no background) and detailed backgrounds. I used the blank space when I wanted to highlight the character’s emotions or panels with the actions that were important. For example, when the kids transform, I didn’t put in any background so their ‘transformation’ could be seen clearly and readers could understand better. After that I put a spread page with a detailed background to give some impact.
Tessa: Read a lot of books regarding how to make stories, how to make a character, and how to make dialogue, and then practice by making a lot of short stories, cause nothing better than repeated experiences <3
One of the best books that I recommend is Brian McDonald’s “Invisible Ink the Understructure of Story”. It really opened my eyes on how to make a story. A very good book indeed.
I also learned from youtube videos called, “Lessons From the Screenplay”. It teaches you several storytelling techniques that movies use. Because, some people aren’t born geniuses (me for example), we need to read/watch and learn how to make a proper story. What are the do’s and the don’ts, what makes a story good, and what kind of elements are needed. At the very least, learning the theory gives you a heads up on which track you have to take. That’s why learning from the theory and practicing will eventually lead you to create a great story. I’m still on a very long road to achieve that! LOL.
-Is there any moment you felt, “Ah I’m glad I entered this competition”?
Cherie: Yes, especially entering the MASTERCLASS. It’s an honor to be invited, meet the professionals and discuss comics. We can meet other contestants from around the world as well. Also, I feel I have improved in many ways after entering the competition.
Tessa: Definitely when I was invited to Japan for the MASTERCLASS Certification Ceremony. Going to the place which gave birth to the comic that I love is certainly a magnificent feeling. And meeting real professional people from the manga industry is like…“wow…I’m okay to die now…my whole dream is granted.”
“I feel I have improved in many ways after entering the competition”
-How do you feel about joining the SMA MASTERCLASS?
Cherie: It felt surreal. I still can’t believe it. All the hard work and sacrifices we made paid off. And to have my work being appreciated is a real boost to my confidence. Joining SMA MASTERCLASS is really a big chance to become professional manga creator, since we could get advice directly from the expert. I feel so blessed!
“All the hard work and sacrifices we made paid off”
-Speaking of coming to Japan, was there a pro. manga creator or SMA creator you couldn’t wait to meet?
Cherie: Hojo-sensei! The one who has always judged the SILENT MANGA AUDITION. And SMA creators, I want to meet…Andrea Jen! I love her premise about the girl who is looking for her father in a bird island. I love fantasy genre like that! Not too heavy but still presented beautifully!
Tessa: Yes, the same goes for me as well. (*w*)// And I cannot wait to meet all the SMA MASTERCLASS 2017 members!
-Any specific areas of focus when creating your SMA entries?
Cherie: For this competition, I focus on the visual narrative (like the use of panel to panel layout and page turn), since it is the way we communicate with the readers, especially because the SMA manga has no words. I like to experiment with my art style to match with the mood of the story. “Reminiscence” (SMA3) is more of a semi-realistic style and I actually use old time Indonesia as setting. Our second entry, “Unchained Melody” (SMA4) is shoujo-ish style, while “Trails in the Snow” (SMA5) and “Delivery Quest” (SMA6) were more cute style since the main character were children.
Tessa: I usually decided the goal of the main character and what kind of message I want the reader to experience from the comic first cause, after all, it will be the driving force of the story. After that I make a connection between the character and the message that I want to show and the who, what, why, where, when, and how a character does ‘something’ that results in the message I planned from the beginning.
–Any advice to those who want to join the MASTERCLASS?
Cherie: Let’s see…I got a lot since we already joined this for 4 round.
The most important thing is determination, challenging yourself. Even if you fail or if not you’re confident with your art, try again and again. Draw the things you love. You will improve every time you finish one comic, so keep joining. And don’t think too hard (something that I always did before).
“The most important thing is determination”
-Now that you’re in the MASTERCLASS, is there anything you can’t wait to learn?
Cherie: How to make a better story and be better at story telling of course!
Tessa: Yes, I agree, because we are going to make a manga series which is different than the short stories we usually do.
-Have you received any tips from a SMAC! editor or other editors?
Cherie: Taiyo-san introduce us to the simple steps to create a manga series which is easy to understand. It’s really helpful because sometimes after I get an idea I always overthink the story. The tip I got is to only think about ideas to certain depth then really focus more on the characters, imagine being them, “seeing” through their eyes, and feel the world they (I) live in. After that just let the character we made (their personality and background) create the story itself!
I have done when making “Trails in the Snow” (SMA5), because I thought about the character first. It is true that it felt easier to think about the story when the character background is clear.
“it felt easier to think about the story after the character background is clear”
–What do you wanna create, from now on?
Cherie: I am planning to create a time-travel related story for my next comic project or something that has a surrealistic theme, like dreaming. Wish me a good luck ☺
Tessa: If someday I can make a story for SMAC! THE WEB MAGAZINE, I would like to make a fantasy story that happens in the real world or something related to angel, demons, or witches. But still, a fun and light one, not going to be dark and horror genre lol.
-Finally, any last words for the readers?
Cherie: Keep supporting the mangaka you love and spread the joy of manga!
Tessa: I hope you guys learn something and feel happy when you read our entries for SMA!
Thank you for your time CHESS senpai!
We can’t wait to see your surrealistic manga with time-travel!
Indonesia is a hot-spot of manga creativity. We can’t wait to see more creators from Indonesia show us their manga on their journey to the MASTERCLASS!!
All the SMA MASTERCLASS 2017 started their path to the MASTERCLASS by submitting one entry. We want to see you take the same journey by entering the SILENT MANGA AUDITION® today!