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HELLO SMA15 AWARD WINNER, monotone_ink!

SMA Editorial Dept. SMA Editorial Dept. 22/10/2021 15 min read
PROFILE Name: monotone_ink Country: Australia Favorite manga: “Freesia” Favorite movie: “Fantastic Mr. Fox” Favorite band/musician: “My Dead Girlfriend” Entry title: “Letter To You” Round: SMA15 “Moments of  CRYING, SMILING, or LOVE” Award: Excellence Award
“…Make it as easy to understand as possible! Also, as with all manga, focus on making it fun and memorable!”
  About SMA
  • How does it feel to win a SILENT MANGA AUDITION® award? It makes me feel very happy, but it’s also very overwhelming – I don’t know how in the world my entry got picked out of all the other amazing entries, but it did. I’m still processing it. That’s how shocking the whole thing has been for me!
  • What was the inspiration behind your winning work? I tried to think of the most romantic way two people could communicate, and then I remembered a short film by Disney called “Paperman,” where the main character tries to get the attention of a beautiful girl by throwing paper planes at her. That’s where I got the main gimmick of the paper plane. Also, I’m personally a very shy person and would have a lot of trouble confessing my feelings to someone in person (I’ve tried it in the past and failed miserably) – the only way I can really express myself in that way without being awkward is to write something. In essence, the manga is really about two people that are too shy to speak to each other face to face.


  • What challenges did you face while making your manga? How did you overcome them? I had a lot of trouble making the manga feel lighter and look cleaner – typically, I draw things that are very dark, rough and scratchy. With that in mind, I tried to slow myself down whenever I put down a line, and made sure not to press too hard in order to keep them light. Hojo-sensei said that it still looks like a name though, so I’m going to push harder to make my manga look more clean and complete! In terms of the story, I didn’t have too much trouble with the overarching story, however the sequence of panels were sometimes unclear at first. I asked my friends to read it and they told me where things could be improved – to be honest, my manga is only decent because they gave me feedback! A friend also gave me the idea of the flower withering near the end, and I took it along and pushed it further to have a new bud growing at the very end. I would credit the development of that idea entirely to him.

About your Manga
  • How and when did you start making manga? Any advice for beginners? I started drawing manga when I was 13 years old – I made a really crappy story about me and my friends going on wild adventures. I didn’t use any special tools either – I just had a sketchbook and drew the whole thing with a pencil and an eraser. From there, I kept practicing, started drawing with fineliners, and when I felt it was nice enough, I started posting more work online. My advice for beginners is to just start! You don’t need much to make an entertaining manga – just paper, a pencil, and maybe a pen if you want to draw final black lines. Additionally, if you want to study to get better, just copy your favourite manga! Don’t worry about trying to be original, your first priority should be to have fun and imitate the things you like.
  • What was the first manga you picked up? When I was 8 years old, I wandered into the manga section and picked up “Monster” by Naoki Urasawa. I didn’t know what manga was at the time, and I thought things like comics and cartoons were only for kids. However, my conception of that changed completely as soon as I opened it. The first thing I noticed was that it was right to left, so that was very novel to me. But the thing that surprised me the most was how mature and dark it was – I didn’t completely understand what was happening, but I was old enough to know that what I was reading was pretty scary and serious. From that day on, I started taking comics and manga more seriously, because I saw the boundless potential this form of storytelling had.
  • Which manga changed your life? When I was 14 years old, I discovered “Tokyo Ghoul” and fell in love immediately. I read things like “Naruto,” “ONE PIECE,” and “Gintama” beforehand, but to me “Tokyo Ghoul” was a story that was completely new – it was really dark not just because it was bloody and had ghouls eating people, but also because of the inner journey that the main character Kaneki had to go through. Sure, fighting other ghouls and almost dying is pretty scary, but I think the notion of having to question your own identity and having no place to belong to in the world is a much more terrifying prospect. I also thought that the way his personality would break down and reconstruct itself constantly throughout the story was really interesting, and made me more interested in the psychology of things. Furthermore, “Tokyo Ghoul” also made me start reading more older literature – I started reading Franz Kafka’s books, and remembered feeling really broken for a week or two after reading his novella “The Metamorphosis.” After that, I started seeking out more existential literature, and I’ve had a lot of fun since then. I recently finished “‘Brothers Karamazov” by Fyodor Dostoevsky, and I almost cried. However, I think the one big change it made to my life was that it inspired me enough to make my own webcomic, which I’ve been drawing for about 5 years now (excluding all of the previous versions of it that I scrapped). It’s called “Project SHaDe,” and it’s heavily inspired by “Tokyo Ghoul,” alongside other sources of inspiration like “NieR:Automata” and the videogame “Bloodborne.” If Sui Ishida-sensei ends up reading this somehow – thank you for making “Tokyo Ghoul,” my life wouldn’t be the same without you!
  • Which manga character do you most identify with? Why? think I identify most with Denji from Fujimoto-sensei’s “Chainsaw Man.” I identify with him because he’s an idiot, and doesn’t really know what he’s supposed to be doing in life – just like me! Also, a lot like him, I find myself attracted to femme fatale type characters all the time, both in fiction and in real life. This might be a problem.
  • What kind of manga do you want to make next? I’m not sure yet. I definitely want to make a manga with more complete looking art next time. However, I want to try making something a bit outlandish, either in its story, art style, or maybe even both. That’s something I will have to decide in the future.

  About monotone_ink
  • What do you do when you’re not making manga? How do you relax? Outside of manga, my main activity is studying and doing all of my university assignments. And in the case that I somehow find time outside of that, I’m exercising either by lifting light weights, or shadowboxing and practicing karate/Muay Thai. When it comes to relaxing, I like to sit back and play video games or read books. I’m reading through “Confessions” by St. Augustine right now, and it’s interesting so far – it’s like reading through someone’s secret diary. Other times, I’ll watch an interesting anime or movie, and if I feel like it, I’ll play random games with my little sister.
  • What industry do you work in (if manga making isn’t your primary job?) Right now, I’m a university student studying Communication Design (it ranges from illustration, to filmmaking, or typography work). Outside of that, I sometimes do commissions for illustrations online.
  • Where do you see your manga career in 5 years’ time? I’m not really sure, but I can see myself making more and more one-shots and participating in many more competitions. Additionally, I think I’ll continue working on my own personal manga projects – like the “Project SHaDe” webcomic I mentioned earlier – and posting all sorts of stuff online. It would be nice to get more of my work published in Japan in the future, too!
  • What advice would you give to people entering the SILENT MANGA AUDITION®? Keep it really simple! You don’t have many pages to work with, and you can’t use any words either, so make it as easy to understand as possible! Also, as with all manga, focus on making it fun and memorable – write stories that come from the heart! Also, don’t be too hard on yourself if the final result isn’t very good – you have many years ahead of you, and a million more opportunities to draw manga in the future. Don’t sweat it, you have time!


Thank you, monotone_ink! We’re eagerly expecting your future masterpieces and hope that thinking about entering SMA17 brings SMILES to your faces.  You have time until 31st January to WOW the readers and have a chance to develop your potential as a manga creator with us in Japan!

SMA Editorial Dept.

SMA Editorial Dept.