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Manga & the RUSSIAN ELEMENTS – Hello AWARD WINNERS!!! #03 Nao & Ivan Navinkin

Enrico Croce Enrico Croce 22/08/2017 13 min read
Sometimes, doing less rewards the most! SILENT MANGA AUDITION® EX2 award winners from Russia Nao and Navinkin have not only won another award in SMA7, but they did it with the least number of pages for a Judge’s Special award. Ryuji Tsugihara sensei always talks about how “short, focused” stories win the hearts of the readers, and the duo seems to know the mastery to create such stories. Another merit of keeping it short is that you can create an award-winning manga in just ten days! Let’s ask how they did it. Hello, Nao & Ivan Navinkin!
Could you please begin by introducing yourselves, “using only three words”? Nao – Doubtful, meticulous, kind Navinkin – Persistent, responsible, inquisitive

Nao & Navinkin, self-portrait

  “I made my first Manga for my friends.” 
How did you begin creating Manga? 
Nao – Since I read “Alice 19th” by You Watase, I wanted to create fascinating and exciting stories as this Mangaka does. My very first manga was published six years ago, called “Rough copy.” I made it for my friends with no high expectations, but then I was able to publish it through a local Magazine called “MNG Publishing.” My Manga creator experience started from there. Navinkin – I began working on Manga after meeting Nao. I always had a passion for Manga thanks to “Naruto,” but due to my lack of ability in drawing, I never thought Manga creation was something I could achieve in the future… but now, I’m having an interview with you! How do you start off your new Manga project? 

Nao – I draw the Manga and the character designs by myself. Ivan helps me by doing the Manga name and also giving me useful ideas to create the story. Navinkin – We used to have a conversation around the drawing board where Nao draws. While Nao does some sketches, I explain my vision of the story. The final version is always a Manga both of us approve 100%.

One of the very first manga page by Nao

“Russia is literally at the crossroads of several cultures.” There’s something you want to share with the community? Nao – I love the nature around me and the open spaces. I’d like to have more time to go and have long walks. Navinkin – The surroundings here in Tyemen are excellent. You should come to visit its great national parks. I also love Russian folklore tales.

A nice view of Tyumen

  Can you tell us your favourite folklore tales? 
Nao – “The Wolf Pastor” (Volchii Pastyr)—the dark lord of thunderstorms and wolves. When Russian people see the dark clouds in the sky, we see them as the representation of wolves. The dark lord controls the rain storm and the wild wolves, two of the most feared natural phenomena by rural villagers. The dark lord is neither evil nor good—or even neutral. I see him as the representation of the natural equilibrium, and that kind of mysterious figure always interests me. Navinkin – I was born in Tobolsk. In this city, the tale of Konyok-Gorbounok (often translated as “humpbacked horse”) is very popular. The main character of the story is a character called Ivan the Fool. Ivan is helped by Konyok to take precious objects from the Tsar (the king). In most of the Russian folklore tales, who seems to be stupid is the one who will win at the end of the story. How do people around you see Japan and her culture? 
Nao – In Russia, creators have great inspirations from Japan and Japanese culture. Some took the step up to create manga themselves. Comics Factory is a manga publisher that publishes manga from both Russia and Japan. I’m so into Japanese culture that my favourite food is sushi! Navinkin – Russia is literally at the crossroads of several cultures: being located between Asia and Europe allowed the idea that there is no difference among the countries’ Russian borders’ reach. However, Japan and its POP culture are fascinating more and more Russian people year by year.

Nao’s favourite food: SUSHI!

  “About the entry idea, I have to confess a crime. When I was a child…” Congratulations on your award win! How did you come up with the idea? Nao – After talking with Taiyo, a manga editor from Coamix, we decided to join SMA7 by creating a Russian environment-related story. We didn’t have too much time to make it, having just ten more days before the deadline, so we combined Russian elements into a good but simple idea. Can you tell us more about those “Russian elements”? Nao – Many, many little and diversified features. The house is the typical wooden house often described in Russian folklore tales. The characters’ clothing comes from Russian tradition. The old man’s clothes and his character design was inspired directly from the Russian movie “Tri Bogatyrya” (Три богатыря), based on Tikhon’s character.

“Forbidden Fruit” by Nao & Navinkin (sketches)

  Is the Manga story based on a tale or a personal experience? Navinkin – It looks like I have to confess a crime. When I was a child, in the garden, one of our neighbours’ ripe berry bushes was just outside the fence. Together with my friend, we would push aside part of the fence and eat the berries. The idea for the story came from this experience. Which SMA7 Award winning entry do you like? Nao – I loved “Our Promised Land” by Zevania & Nattorin. Drawing, character design, story – everything is wonderful! By reading a few pages of that manga, you can feel the protagonist’s difficulties and how much he’s giving his best to achieve his mission. Navinkin – I liked “Granda’s Flavor” by EUDETENIS. I’m amazed by their decision to make a Manga with numerous pages, yet it is so clear and smooth to read.  
“We want to create stories about ordinary people who become heroes.” What do you want to create from now on? Nao – I want to draw a Manga in the fantasy or horror worlds I always had a great passion for, but I think I still don’t have enough experience to do it by myself. I hope to do a better job by working together with the SMAC! editorial team. Navinkin – Our primary goal is to create stories about ordinary people who become heroes due to the circumstances. What do you expect by collaborating with Japanese manga editors? Nao – I’m hoping to be guided during the creation of a manga that best suits me and my storytelling the vision. Navinkin – To improve even more my creativity by making stories suitable for Japanese readers. Anything else you want to share with the community? Nao – As I answered the very first question, I’m a doubtful type of person. I’d like to encourage all the community to take part in SMA and believe in themselves. Don’t be insecure like me! Navinkin – I hope you will enjoy our future projects. We will do our best to entertain you more and more. Thank you very much! —— Thank you, Nao and Ivan! 

We hope to create the next horror manga hit together! Thank you for reading! Do you think you can win an SMA award with an even fewer number of pages than Nao and Ivan did? You may be surprised what you can achieve! The 30th September is the deadline for SILENT MANGA AUDITION® round 8, and the theme is “Fair Play.” We are waiting to read your entries! We will bring you more interviews with SMA Award winners. SEE YOU NEXT TIME!
Enrico Croce

Enrico Croce