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SMA Editorial Dept. SMA Editorial Dept. 11/05/2022 10 min read


Name: Don Age: 29 Country: From Finland, lives in Sweden Favorite manga: Recently I’ve really enjoyed Dr. Stone, BL Metamorphosis, and Bloody Sugar Laughs at the Night. Favorite movie: The Shape of Water and Contact Entry title: Dear Sketchbook Round: SMA16 “Moments of  FEAR, JOY, or LOVE” Award: Honorable Mention
Ask someone you trust for honest feedback early on! It can really change the way you see your story.
  About SMA
  • How does it feel to win a SILENT MANGA AUDITION® award? I was so happy! It was really exciting to scroll down the results announcement and… there was my entry! Many people helped me polish my manga, so I’m really grateful for all the help I received.
  • What was the inspiration behind your awarded work? “Dear Sketchbook” is not the first comic I’ve made about self-esteem and comparing yourself to others. I wanted to tell a positive story where the main character experiences a switch of focus, going from feelings of depression to pride. Perhaps like many of us, the main character feels down about their art when comparing it to the art of strangers on the internet. In the end they remember the child-like joy of making art and feel grateful towards their past self for always trying their hardest. I definitely based a lot of the story on feelings I’ve gone through myself.
  • What challenges did you face while making your manga? How did you overcome them? Landing on a design that I like for the main character was a struggle. I sketched variations of their face for what felt like forever, and it still feels like the one I ended up with appeared by accident. I just wanted to have a main character that would be fun to draw and to look at, but it was unexpectedly difficult.


About your Manga
  • How and when did you start making manga? Any advice for beginners? I’ve drawn comics for fun for as long as I can remember and made fan comics based on my favorite series occasionally. It was only in 2019 when I was invited to a retro manga inspired comics anthology that I started making manga and comics actively. I guess my piece of advice for anyone would be: why not do a fun fan comic based on your favorite anime sometimes? You can learn a lot by using an already existing world and characters, and it’s a great way to see what you enjoy drawing and what you don’t.
  • Do you draw your manga digitally or by hand? What are your go-to digital or analogue tools? I like the hand-drawn “aura” of traditional, nib-on-paper manga. I love the thought of the manga page I’m reading existing somewhere as a physical object, and the warmth shines through even in print. I think it’s interesting to look at manga drawn by others and try to guess which parts are digital and which are traditional. I’d love to do my pages 100% traditionally, but I’ve ended up using digital screentones.
  • What was the first manga you picked up? Like most manga-interested Nordic people of my age – it was Dragon Ball. Dragon Ball appearing in stores started the Nordic “manga boom” of the early 2000s, when I was little. I was of course swept completely into the “boom,” since I’d been interested in all things Japanese since kindergarten.
  • Which manga changed your life? Shaman King by Hiroyuki Takei. I discovered it way back in 5th grade. The artwork of the first chapters was unlike anything I’d seen before, and I initially didn’t like it (I was more of a Tokyo Mew Mew kid!). But after I gave it another shot, it grew on me and Shaman King became my everything for many years. The main character Yoh’s worldview left a huge impression on me and I think it shaped me as a person.
  • Which manga character do you most identify with? Why? A friend told me that Urara in BL Metamorphosis (by Kaori Tsurutani) reminded him of me when I was younger. Thinking about it, though our personalities are very different, Urara’s fear of facing the things she loves was very relatable to me. Her journey was depicted very delicately and beautifully.
  • What kind of manga do you want to make next? I’d like to try drawing more manga based on real-life experiences…but also stories taking place in cool fantasy worlds that would make the reader want to create original characters based on that world!

About Don
  • What do you do when you’re not making manga? How do you relax? I like to visit cafés and draw for fun.
  • What industry do you work in (if manga making isn’t your primary job?) I’m a freelance comic artist and illustrator.
  • Where do you see your manga career in 5 years’ time? My life has changed so much during the past 5 years, I don’t even dare guess what’s to come.
  • What manga making advice would you give to your younger self if you could? If I could time-travel to encourage my past self I would say, “Keep up the great work! Thanks to your effort now, I’m having even more fun drawing in the future. Bet you can’t wait to see!”
  • What advice would you give to people entering the SILENT MANGA AUDITION®? Ask someone you trust for honest feedback early on! It can really change the way you see your story.

Thank you, Don! We’re eagerly expecting your SMA18 entry and we wish that drawing makes you feel even more AFFECTION for manga creation!

You have time until August 1st to WOW the judges and have a chance to develop your potential as a manga creator with us in Japan!

SMA Editorial Dept.

SMA Editorial Dept.