PROFILEName: Ouamara Meriem
Pen-name: Marika Mangaka DZ
Manga:The legend of TteryelRound:SMA14: “Creature, Spirits and Monsters”Award: Honourable Mention
Favorite manga: I don’t really know… I think Seraph of the End (Jpn: 終わりのセラフ)
Favorite movie:Waiting in the Dark, a Japanese movie I liked it because it’s calm and gentle with very little dialogue.
Favorite band/musician: Music is a source of inspiration for creating my stories. I like all the musical pieces of “Ivan Torrent”, they really inspire me.
QUESTIONSAbout the SMA
How does it feel to win a SILENT MANGA AUDITION® award?
I can’t express how happy I was when my manga “A Wordless Apology” was awarded a prize in SMA13! That was the best thing to ever happen to my dull life! It even eclipsed the day I graduated from high school, because manga is what I truly love. I was so proud, the first “full manga” I ever made won an award in a Japanese manga audition! I felt I have finally taken the first step to making it to the Japanese manga industry!
However, when the SMA14 results was announced, I was so disappointed, probably because I started to aim even higher? Or maybe because… I knew that “The legend of Tteryel” manga could have won a better award if I was able to cope with the endless challenges I had encountered while making it.
What was the inspiration behind your winning work?
I was inspired from one of our legends. It was hard to find anything suitable on the net, with most of the stories I found to be too bloody, like characters being eaten or with arms or legs being amputated! I only found one legend that was not that scary, which is the legend of Anzar, where the god of water, Anzar fell in love with a beautiful woman. It’s not a creature nor a spirit but a god, I thought that wasn’t not allowed so I chose the tale of Tteryel instead. She has thousands of stories where she is always the villain.
About the art, I thought such horror stories so used darker inking. I was inspired with the inking style from mangas such as Boku no Hero, Bride Stories and many others and tried to mix them.
I really learned countless techniques from SMA 14, the theme was extremely new to me…
What challenges did you face making your manga? How did you overcome them?
Hahah this is so embarrassing… because I actually couldn’t overcome them all! I wanted to create a story that was hard to illustrate so I could test my abilities. It was like jumping in the middle of the ocean, with endless struggles, endless details and I had to manage everything by myself.
Two weeks before deadline, the electricity suddenly started to cut off during the day… struggling to ignore how annoying it was, I clicked on the manga file and I stumbled upon the word “ERROR”, which means the while file was been damaged!! I got really angry that I broke some of my precious liners! (which was a problem later during the inking process). I then remembered that I had already saved a copy of the file on my USB! A miracle! However, it was an old version of the manga, so I had to redo many things all over again.
I thought if I overwork a lot, I will finish it in time for sure! but, I forgot that humans are not robots. I started to feel exhausted and couldn’t keep it up ‘til the end. At some point, it became so obvious that there was no way I could finish in time, no matter how hard I worked. The few days before the deadline was a real stress, where I thought about all sorts of things that might save my manga, but there was no other solution than ending it with a cliffhanger. That was the craziest decision I ever took!! I deleted the end I planned for! it was supposed to be 31 pages, but I ended up making it in 25…
Even after finishing it, I hesitated to submit it, asking myself “should I really submit it? wouldn’t it be so disappointing? I don’t want to be misunderstood; will this manga break the small success I made previously?”
But in the end, I submitted it because that was my first shonen manga, and I wanted it to see the light! After all, I entered SMA14 to show the judges how much I’ve improved from the past 6 months, there is no way I’m backing out now! I had to come clean about the cliffhanger to take a full responsibility of my work…
Making that manga was so dramatic! I felt that am playing a role in Bakuman… lol
How and when did you start making manga? Any advice for beginners?
Before I became a manga artist, I tried all sorts of art-based vocations: oil painting, pencil portraits, handcrafts… etc., but honestly, they all bored me. until I graduated from middle school in 2016, one of my classmates said I’m an otaku. I didn’t understand what that was, so I kept asking her questions and she told me about manga and anime. The next day, she brought a manga called Sket Dance and I WAS AMAZED!! How was there such a beautiful thing in this world I wasn’t aware of?! It was such a great discovery, and from that day on, I was determined to become a manga artist!
In 2017, I started making a manga called “Aiko days”, but I thought it wasn’t good enough, so I dropped it after making few pages. Same thing happened with my other manga “happy snail”.
I’ve always been avoiding competitions because my dialogue was always off… that was until I heard about the SMA. This was my chance to show off my skills to the world.
I have some advice for beginners, which I hope will be helpful:
*Practice daily, even if it’s for 5 min.
*don’t feel ashamed of using references when you are stuck, even professionals use them from time to time, but of course… do NOT trace over them, be creative!
*give yourself time, you are not going to be a pro in a week. It will take years, so do your best and never push yourself too hard.
*do not compare your art with the masters’, that will just break you and you may give up on your dreams.
What was the first manga you picked up?
The first manga I saw was Sket Dance, but the first manga I read was Nisekoi. I kept analyzing that manga for a whole year and learned a lot from it.
Which manga changed your life?
As previously mentioned, Sket Dance.
Which manga character do you most identify with? Why?
Hmmm, my personality changes so I would say “Sarab” from my manga, A Wordless Apology. She was actually inspired by my personal experiences. I was such an innocent, naïve and lowkey girl who got bullied by her classmates all time.
Now I think am more like “Kakeru” from the Run with the Wind anime, he just runs…. Runs and runs! He doesn’t care about what’s going on around him, he doesn’t get along with people and wouldn’t really want to work in a team because he is afraid, they will slow him down. He believes in himself and does his best to reach for the top. In the end he found out it’s not possible to achieve his dreams alone, so he ended up working with his teammates and got used to it. That’s what I hope will happen with me.
What kind of manga do you want to make next?
I’m currently working on my SMA15 entry. I was planning for a story based on a car chase, because I wanted to learn how to draw cars. But after changing the page limit to 17, I am obliged to make something more simple.
After this, I will keep making shonen style manga. I don’t like drawing flat panels as I find them boring, so I’ll keep working on dynamic, actioned filled panels from now on!
I’m a big fan of Kungfu, car chases and old kingdom kinds of stories, so obviously my next manga will include one of those topics.
What do you do when you’re not making manga? How do you relax?
I usually spend my time chatting with friends on social media, or trying something new related to art, Japanese voice acting, oil painting or handcrafts… etc.
What industry do you work in (If manga making isn’t your primary job)?
I don’t work.
Where do you see your manga career in 5 years’ time?
I can only see a future at Shonen Jump. I search a lot on the net to see if it’s possible for a foreigner to publish there, but the answer was always “NO”.
I can’t give it up just because of what people say though, so I will do my best and give it a try. No matter how long it takes… 5 years or 10, Shonen Jump will be always my biggest dream!
What advice would you give to people entering the SILENT MANGA AUDITION®?
If you are hesitating about making your silent manga because you think your art is not good enough, you better slap yourself and start NOW, because you will never be satisfied with your art! Perfection lies in every artist’s soul, so you can’t defeat it until you accept that nothings perfect. If you don’t, you will just keep on doing “nothing” flawlessly ‘til you die.
The SILENT MANGA AUDITION® is not looking for masterpieces, but rather a sweet story with a noble message. If you have the skills to convey your story in pages of manga without dialogue, just do it, and you will win for sure!