Name/Pen Name: Brandon Chen (author)
Country: United States of America
Favorite manga: BLEACH
Favorite movie: Spirited Away
Favorite Quote: “If I follow my dream and it shatters – I can accept having to regret that. But I don’t want to regret not pursuing it in the first place.” – Bakuman.
Name/Pen Name: ComiPa (artist)
Country: The Philippines
Favorite manga: Air Gear, Tenjou Tenge, Macross 7 Trash, Chrono Crusade
Favorite movie: Macross – Do You Remember Love, Evangelion, Gundam Char’s Counter Attack, Redline, Top Gun
Favorite Quote: “Yamete Kudasai” “Iyaaa-da” “Ara-ara” “Mo-e” “What is a death game?” “~~~yaro”
“It is better to start with a simple and small concept and build out.” -Brandon Chen
“Keep the reader engaged, and your story interesting and believable.” -ComiPa
- How does it feel to receive a SILENT MANGA AUDITION® award?
Brandon Chen: It feels incredible to have our work and talents recognized by professionals in Japan. It is just solidifying that we are on the right path in building our skillset within the manga medium. I’ve found many times that publishers, particularly in America, have historically not taken international mangaka very seriously. But with recognition from Japan’s creators and professionals, I feel more confident than ever in our ability to tell stories!
ComiPa: I feel very honored that professionals and legends get to review our work as well as relieved that my questions were finally answered.
- What was the inspiration behind your awarded work?
Brandon Chen: My life! I used to work in finance and followed a career that ultimately was unfulfilling, but I pursued it because many people in my life always told me that it was the best route. However, my passion has always been in story-telling. Since then, I have managed to quit my finance job and make a career out of developing stories and intellectual property, heavily inspired by the manga and anime stories I’ve always loved. Like the young dreamer in our silent manga, I decided to take control of my destiny.
ComiPa: I would say “Brandon” 😀 because of his perseverance asking me to do an entry with him to the point that I finally caved in to one of his scripts.
- What challenges did you face while making your manga? How did you overcome them?
Brandon Chen: I think that the struggle was really conveying the “twist” in a way that was not too predictable, but also made sense for the reader. My biggest concern was that perhaps the twist would be too “cliché” or obvious. However, after getting feedback from some friends and readers and some iterations of the manga storyboard, I feel that we managed to get it right.
Don’t be afraid to ask a friend to read over your manga storyboards!
ComiPa: The most challenging was trying to fit as many panels into a single page without straying away too much from Brandon’s vision. It was really a good thing that he left me 7 pages to spare and play around with.
About your Manga
- How and when did you start making manga? Any advice for beginners?
Brandon Chen: I started writing manga when I was 19. Before that, I came from a background of novel writing. My advice is always that it is better to start with a simple and small concept and build out. It is easier to expand an idea than it is to condense one. Also, begin by developing a logline for your story before getting too deep into development. If your story concept is strong from the simple logline, then you’re onto something and it will be easier to build around that.
ComiPa: I started working on making manga about 23 years ago with the use of Grapic-Sha books out of curiosity.
- Do you draw your manga digitally or by hand? What are your go-to digital or analogue tools?
Brandon Chen: I am just the writer. If I am doing a storyboard, I will use an ipad, apple pencil, and procreate or clip studio paint.
ComiPa: I’ve been drawing Digitally since 2006 using MangaStudio EX, now known as Clip Studio EX, and have been using a Cintiq nowadays. but I started drawing manga using Felt tip pens and a G-Pen.
- What was the first manga you picked up?
Brandon Chen: Dragon Ball! I was in kindergarten when my mother brought me volume 1 from the library. It was quite inappropriate for my age, I must say.
ComiPa: I still remember picking my first copies of Ranma 1/2, 3×3 Eyes, and Ah! My Goddess at my local comic shop. I didn’t even know it was called “manga” back then.
- Which manga changed your life?
Brandon Chen: Bakuman and Naruto.
Bakuman was what inspired me with the guts to chase after what I wanted. Naruto was what inspired me, from a young age, to never give up and to persevere. Writing Naruto fanfictions was also how I got better at writing when I was a kid. My first novel, published when I was 17, was heavily inspired by Naruto as well.
ComiPa: I guess I would say Air Gear and Tenjou Tenge made a huge influence on how I draw. I really like how the author does his foreshortening, action shots and ummm… female characters. 😊
- Which manga character do you most identify with? Why?
Brandon Chen: Takagi from Bakuman. I am a writer with enormous passion and imagination! I love collaboration and working with artists. Like him, my ultimate dream is to get an anime adaptation of one of my intellectual properties one day!
ComiPa: Hmmm… This is quite a hard one…
Probably… Narusegawa Naru and Asuka Langley Sohryu… probably because my closests friends always tell me I’m Tsun-Tsun a lot of times and become Dere-Dere when I’m really happy with something.
I know female characters right (LOL)… it’s mainly because I can’t recall knowing any real Tsundere male character.
- What kind of manga do you want to make next?
Brandon Chen: Contrary to my silent manga audition submissions, I am actually primarily an action/shonen author. I would like to showcase my abilities in that genre/demographic and see how the Japanese audience reacts!
ComiPa: To be honest… I really don’t know as I only work with things that interest me and just follow the flow.
- What do you do when you’re not making manga? How do you relax?
Brandon Chen: I make videos! A big part of my career is sharing my projects online and talking about the manga/anime/entertainment industries and my opinions on social media platforms. It taps into a different part of my creative mind and I enjoy connecting with my audiences through videos.
ComiPa: I do more manga when I’m not making manga and relax by doing more manga… wait does this even count? 😂just kidding.
There’s a lot of things I do when not making manga. It’s usually browsing the web for art and references, eating lots of food while watching movies, chatting with friends, casual gaming with friends… If I decide to take a long break, that is. And most importantly……… SLEEP~
- What industry do you work in (if manga making isn’t your primary job)?
Brandon Chen: I write serialized shonen-style stories for webtoon publishers. I consider myself a story-merchant, because I will develop a story and staff an art-production team. Because of my relationships with many webtoon publishers, I operate as my own agent and pitch to the publisher with the story pitch and art teams. If the project gets picked up, I will then write and produce the serialization!
I also have written for manga, novels, and video games.
ComiPa: Illustration and streaming.
- Where do you see your manga career in 5 years time?
Brandon Chen: I hope to have a manga serialization! My goal was to get an anime adaptation of one of my intellectual properties by the time I turn 30. I am 25 now, so we’ll see how that goes.
ComiPa: I really can’t say at the moment where I would be in 5 years. But this I know for now…SMAC ignited my passion to do manga once again.
- What manga making advice would you give to your younger self if you could?
Brandon Chen: Don’t get too attached to one particular idea. You will have many ideas in life, each better than the last. Try new ideas, try and fail and grow. The best way to become better is by failing and learning.
ComiPa: I would not really say this would be advice but rather search…
“When you get access to the Internet… look for ‘Brandon’ and ‘Beatrush’ and be really good friends with them as both can bring out the best in you.”
- What advice would you give to people entering the SILENT MANGA AUDITION®?
Brandon Chen: I believe the hardest part of the silent manga is the twist! The twist is ultimately what brings emotion in the reader. So, making sure that you get that twist in the KI-SHO-TEN-KETSU manga structure is really important, otherwise your story might feel too linear.
Start with a small concept, develop your twist, and try many times and learn from each one! “My Future” was my fifth submission to SMA!
ComiPa: “Practice; sleep when you’re dead… 😱” …heh, jokes aside… Best advice would be…
Keep the reader engaged, and your story interesting and believable.
Your choice of page layout, panel layout, camera angles and character emotions matter.
Build up your story and save the cool stuff where it is significant.
Thank you, Brandon Chen & ComiPa! We’re eagerly expecting your next manga masterpiece!
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!