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アバター Penmaru 09/09/2016 14 min read
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! The 3rd master class is Mikko Raassina from Finland! Many of you know the popular 4-koma (4-pannal) series on SMAC! Web Magazine  “THIS WEEK @ SMAC!“. His manga are full of humorous and unique characters that always entertain us! 
INTERVIEW WITH MIKKO RAASSINA 1. What’s your work space like? Do you usually play music while drawing? My workplace is quite spacious and tidy. But, after I start drawing all kinds of pens, papers, and ink bottles (what I have been collecting all these years) take over the desk. I’m overwhelmed by them!

A simple desk with only a PC and desk light. But, when he starts drawing….

I can’t really listen to music while I’m drawing the pencil lines or other doodles because there is too much brainstorming going on. The music comes to the picture when I’m inking. Usually I like to listen to something that matches the mood of the story. For instance, when I was drawing a manga NAME (draft storyboard) of a new one-shot manga, I was listening to AVANTASIA’s “Lucifer.” Its melody really fits to the battle scene! And I also like Gloryhammer, Pyramaze, and some game music like Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid. I love metal music! 2. What kind of tools do you use and which is your favorite? Let us see it! Like most manga artists in Japan, I also draw traditionally with nib pen, brushes, and ink. It took years for me to find the perfect nib and ink combo since there are so many different variations. My current favorite nib is the Gillot 1068A, and as for ink, I use Pilot brand.

Mikko’s favorite tools. Nothing special but refined.

Paper type isn’t that important to me, but it definitely has to be thick enough, so that the ink doesn’t absorb through it. Any of these items cannot be found in the stores of my town, so I have to order them online. 3. Tell us about how you schedule your creations! How long does it take for each step in the process? Which step is your favorite and least favorite? Writing is clearly the hardest part for me so it takes a big chunk of the process.

NAME of the manga series, “THIS WEEK @ SMAC!” In a 4koma-manga, organization is more important than drawing.

At drawing I am slowly starting to get faster though. I like to do lot of hatching and small scribbles, it’s calming to do them while I am listening to music/podcast. Some kind of self-therapy, I’d say. 4. Tell us about your preferences when creating manga! After I have a rough plot/idea I usually start with the characters since they are the most important part of the story. When I start designing the characters I want them to have an interesting shape that matches their personality. If my character’s design is too boring or missing altogether, I can’t get into their heads so easily and their dialogue becomes wooden. I can see the characters move in my head like actors but it’s hard to get them to do the same on the paper. Those damn buggers won’t listen to me!Need more work on that aspect. For practice, I try to draw something every day. Even something little. That keeps my drawing hand in good shape.

Funny and unique characters. What’s inside Mikko’s head…?

And colored monsters. Can't stop flooding ideas and imagination!

And colored monsters. Can’t stop the flood of ideas and imagination!

  5. Tell us about your preferences for manga storytelling! Layouts in manga are very different compared to other comics, so I try to look up panel layouts in manga more closely. Usually I want my own panels to go a very simple and easy to understandable way, but in certain scenes it’s good to spice things up by putting really interesting panel choices. I tried the same thing at SILENT MANGA AUDITION®, too. About the facial expression, it’s hard to say where it comes from. I think they shape in my head. When I’m drawing, all the faces that the characters make are mirrored on my own. Like this… I heard that many artists do this.

Mikko’s face must has been like this when he was drawing Taiyo!

  6. Where do you get ideas from? For me the best ideas come when I’m laying in bed trying to sleep. All kinds of characters, plot points, and ideas just start popping up in my head so I have to get up to write them down. Still, most of the inspirations comes from the world around me. Manga, comics, tv-series, movies, games, books, or anything else can cause a spark for a new idea. 7. Do you have any other skills or experiences that help you create manga? I’m not sure if I would count it as a skill, but I tend to be a little bit of a perfectionist. It hinders my working pace a little, but the end result is always better. 8. Do you have a favorite manga or manga creator that influenced your creative style? I have many! Akira Toriyama (Dragon Ball), Eiichiro Oda (One Piece), and Hirohiko Araki (Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure) are probably the ones that has influenced my art style the most.

Mikko’s Vol.1 collection. We can find “ONE PIECE” and “Astro Boy” and some textbooks.


Dragon Ball, Hunter×Hunter, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind… Great sources of imagination!


“JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure” by Hirohiko Araki sensei.

Of course, there are others as well and especially many western comic creators too, like Dave Sim, Hunt Emerson, James Stokoe, Stan Sakai, Jack Kirby, and Jean Giraud. Of course, Finnish creators like Tove Jansson and Mauri Kunnas had influenced me so much! Some of my other influences comes from 2D animation, historical art, and fantasy/sci-fi movies. 9. Have you received any useful advice from the editor? Yes, I have got great tips and hints from my editor. We have been discussing a lot about manga creating process, especially how a good story will flow on a consisted pace. It’s great to have feedback from someone who understands what my strengths are and guides me to get better results. That is when I feel “I’m glad to have entered this contest.” I still have much to learn though, so I occasionally make my own research on storytelling. 10. Are you planning any future projects? What genre would you like to attempt in the future? I am working on a one-shot at the moment. Very excited for it but more about that in a short time. In the future I’d like to try and create more mature and compelling stories. Of course my trademark humor would still be present, but slightly on the background. That’s what I have been thinking about lately. We’ll see how it goes soon!

Mikko’s self portrait

Master Class Profile: Mikko Raassina Finland

The Excellence Runner Up Award Winner of SILENT MANGA AUDITION Round1


The Excellence Award Winner of SILENT MANGA AUDITION Round2




Serialized manga on SMAC! Web Magazine, “THIS WEEK @ SMAC!”

Thank you so much, Mikko senpai! His character drawing skills and story-telling skills are cultivated by his daily effort. So keep on drawing and thinking with the rest of us! Please send us your manga! Hopefully you, too, will join our SMA MASTERCLASS and create the future of manga together!