Name/Pen Name: NASS
Country: United States
Favorite manga: Kono Oto Tomare!, Bungo Stray Dogs, Shortcake Cake, Orange
Favorite movie: Paradise Kiss
Favorite Quote: “Sometimes living can be hard! But it’s only because we’re alive that we can make each other laugh, cry, and be happy!” -Tohru Honda
Entry title: “Paper Cranes”
Round: SMA17 “Moments of HASTE, RAGE, or SMILES”
Award: Honorable Mention
“Take the reader seriously and learn how to structure your stories to be entertaining!”
- How does it feel to receive a SILENT MANGA AUDITION® award?
Aside from feeling very honored and grateful, I felt extremely relieved to receive my first award after six years of submitting to contests. I’ve drawn manga for a long time, and I felt at this point if my entry did poorly, then I wouldn’t be able to trust my own sensibilities. Then again, there’s a lot to improve on, and I’m a slow learner!
- What was the inspiration behind your awarded work?
I wanted to draw the emotional points with different kinds of smiles, and I liked the concept of contrasting personalities. It really evolved from the initial concept though!
- What challenges did you face while making your manga? How did you overcome them?
I always struggle with the deadline… Always! The storyboard takes too long and I end up doing most of the art a day or two before the deadline! (For this particular one, I sketched and inked 14 pages in two days…) I also really struggled with structuring the plot, and again and again I have to rethink who my characters are and why I’m writing the story, out of all the billions of stories I could choose. I overcame the first struggle with pure desperation not to let the deadline pass… And the second one was by thinking so hard that I broke out in cold sweats… So my process seems to be to cause myself as much pain as possible!
About your Manga
- How and when did you start making manga? Any advice for beginners?
Aside from drawing and writing all my life, I drew my first one-shot seriously when I was 16. It was after a period of thinking I’d never draw again, and I drew a silent manga about a boy desperately trying to succeed in music.
Having read a billion answers to this question over the years from different artists, I think most people fall into two groups and I have different advice for each. For the people who feel compelled to draw no matter what they do, and have no problem getting their hand to move because it flows naturally, I’d say “Find the message you want to tell. Whether it’s ‘Basketball is really cool!’ or ‘Face your problems head on!’ find a perspective you want to share with the audience, or show them, and then write your story as if you are trying to convince us that you’re right!
For the people who love the idea of making art but struggle with the motivation or inspiration to sit down and do it; Keep a notebook, or some sort of paper, nearby while doing work, riding on the bus, etc. And scribble shapes. Random ones. Move your hand, don’t think, just let the lines out. Once your hand is comfortable, I think you’ll feel an enhanced capability to put thought into what you’re drawing, and it will evolve slowly. For those that don’t struggle with this, I think we all did those very natural habits at an age too early to understand it or notice, and often you just need to let yourself go through that developmental period.
- Do you draw your manga digitally or by hand? What are your go-to digital or analogue tools?
Nowadays I use a hybrid- I pencil, ink and beta traditionally. I use the g-pen, maru-pen, b4 paper, india ink… Very very classic tools! Then I scan and screentone digitally. For that I use the free app Jump Paint! Screentones in that app mimic real-life screentone (you have to lay the sheet down and cut out your shape) so I feel happy using that process!
- What was the first manga you picked up?
Peach Girl was gifted to me by an older family member who was also an artist!
- Which manga changed your life?
Fruits Basket and Ouran High School Host Club. They were the first manga I read that made me think “Manga is better than anime!” Fruits Basket made me love emotional moments and deep character interactions, and Ouran made me love humor and fashion. A lot of what I draw is still influenced by those manga!
- Which manga character do you most identify with? Why?
Shizuku Mizutani from My Little Monster, because she is isolated due to her seriousness in studying and lack of social effort. I’ve felt for most of my life that being close to others isn’t important, especially if it will take time from achieving my goals. Even though I eventually realized you can’t write about people if you don’t know anyone, I still always feel uncomfortable and antsy when I’m not alone working. (Sorry if that sounds like I’m giving myself a lot of credit. I still slack off!)
- What kind of manga do you want to make next?
Since I love slice of life, I hope my next work can show characters who think deeply about the world and themselves, and use that to painstakingly change their own futures!
- What do you do when you’re not making manga? How do you relax?
When I’m stressed or need a break I go on drives with my mom! We talk a lot about deep stuff, and the area I live in is really pretty so we explore it together!
- Where do you see your manga career in 5 years time?
Writing for an ongoing series!
- What manga making advice would you give to your younger self if you could?
Stop watching videos! Also, don’t just draw whatever you want thinking it will be a masterpiece; take the reader seriously and learn how to structure your stories to be entertaining
- What advice would you give to people entering the SILENT MANGA AUDITION®?
Utilize their articles! Take notes! SMA helps you practice taking an idea, and using the medium of manga to get that idea across as quickly and as entertaining as possible, so use it as a tool to create better, longer manga in the future!
Thank you, NASS! We can’t wait to see what inspiration you will find for your next entry!
You have time until April 3rd to join SMA19 and have a chance to develop your potential as a manga creator with us in Japan!