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SMA Editorial Dept. SMA Editorial Dept. 12/10/2023 11 min read

Pen Name: xarem (name: Daniela)
Social network profiles: Instagram: @_xarem
Country: Portugal
Favorite manga: Many! But right now it’s Blue Period by Tsubasa Yamaguchi.
Favorite movie: Also many! But I watched Inu Oh (2021) recently and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days.
Favorite quote: Stories are everywhere.

Entry title:Absent
Round: SMA19: “Overflowing Tears”
Award: Excellence Award Runner-Up

If you enjoy drawing manga, keep doing it.

About SMA

How does it feel to receive a SILENT MANGA AUDITION® award?
I’m very happy about it! I know I worked hard to get here but I think I have a lot to learn, so I was honestly very surprised when I saw the results!

What was the inspiration behind your awarded work?
I wanted to make a story with fairies, who are often beautiful and cute but also enigmatic and a bit malicious in old tales. Since the theme was around tears, I went for a story that dealt with sad themes.

What challenges did you face while making your manga? How did you overcome them?
I was afraid it would be a bit similar to my past SMA18 entry “Flower Festival”, being also a story that dealt with loss and family. But as these themes are so universal, so I tried not to let it bother me too much and just focused on the story I was trying to make. Approaching similar motifs but in a different way, in a different setting, and with different characters.


About your Manga

How and when did you start making manga? Any advice for beginners?
I have liked comics since I can remember, but I only tried to make them more in earnest in the past 10 years or so. If you’re a beginner I think if you’re starting out try not to worry too much and to just get one panel, one page done. It’s normal to doubt yourself, but once you start seeing final results it’s easier to get pumped up. I think contests are a good way to get started and get used to an audience seeing and judging your work, but I also think it’s fine to start making comics by yourself and keeping it within your friend group or your own page. Self-publishing online or making your own prints at home can help you both get better at manga/comics and showing your work to outsiders.

Do you draw your manga digitally or by hand? What are your go-to digital or analogue tools?
Yes, I use Tachikawa nibs and pens, ink and other drawing pens. For corrections I use acrylic paint. I mix analog with digital, as I always need to clean up my pages and apply screentones. I want to try and get better at making manga on Clip Studio as well.

What was the first manga you picked up?
The first manga I saw were Akira and Mother Sara which were published in Portugal in the 90’s. These versions were in full color flats, mirrored in order to be read from left to right and the size of a French BD Album. I tried to read these at the local library but I remember I didn’t understand them much, but it was the only manga available then.

Portugal has had some type of anime broadcasting since the 70’s, but has only started to publish more and more manga since about the 2010’s, after a few attempts in the 90’s and early 2000’s. It’s a very small publishing market and manga is still considered “niche”, but that is changing little by little.

Which manga changed your life?
Discovering shōjo anime and manga was very important to me in my childhood and early teens. Sailor Moon and Card Captor Sakura are very popular with people in my generation and I was also very fascinated by Rose of Versailles when I found out about it.

Recently Blue Period by Tsubasa Yamaguchi has really impressed me, as someone from a fine arts background to see it incorporated in manga and I am enjoying that work very much. When I visited Japan in 2019 I was able to see a few originals at an exhibition for The Poe Clan by Moto Hagio, and while I haven’t finished reading that manga yet, it was very awe inspiring and amazing to see the pages from a living master!

Which manga character do you most identify with? Why?
I don’t really identify with one single character, but I often like everyday characters in melodramatic or strange settings, and stoic characters with hearts of gold.

What kind of manga do you want to make next?
I have a few projects in the works, so I hope to keep working on them this year. I always enjoy working with historical or fantasy settings.

About you

What do you do when you’re not making manga? How do you relax?
Interacting with nature, going to the beach… and taking naps. I like watching movies, especially at movie festivals, where you can see more independent and experimental projects.

What industry do you work in (if manga making isn’t your primary job)?
I work as a freelance artist (comics and illustration) and also in education. I have also had odd jobs in the past before, while I worked on art on the side.

Where do you see your manga career in 5 years time?
I would love to progress and have published one more book or two by that time. I hope to get better and achieve my goals, and get better at time management, since it’s very easy to feel frustrated with making art with limited time.

What manga making advice would you give to your younger self if you could?
I would say to my younger self to stop doubting so much, and to try and make more short stories. It took me so long to believe I could make comics, that I just want my younger self to know that anyone can.

What advice would you give to people entering the SILENT MANGA AUDITION®?
I think we are all trying our best, and if you enjoy drawing manga keep doing it. Read past winners’ works for example, or manga/other comics you like. What do you think worked best in their stories? What do you think you could learn from these other stories? And more importantly, what kind of story do you want to make? There are infinite stories to be told and infinite ways to tell them in manga.

Thank you, xarem! We’re eagerly expecting your next manga masterpiece!

There’s time until December 4th to join SMA20 and have a chance to develop your potential as a manga creator with us in Japan!

SMA Editorial Dept.

SMA Editorial Dept.