Congratulations on your 2nd Grand Prix win! How are you feeling right now?
I feel so satisfied and grateful! It’s… so hard to express this feeling!
How did everyone around you react, compared to the last round?
Well, there wasn’t any difference in my immediate surroundings, but there were many new people whom I’ve never met before that came to congratulate me.
How was the creation process different to the last round? Was there a lot of pressure to win?
Yes, I definitely felt the pressure this time.
I learned how to draw by myself, so in the beginning, I wasn’t really sure how good I was. When I entered the first round, I just wanted to test my ability. And you can imagine my surprise when I won the Grand Prix! I was extremely happy then, but as time went by, I started to have doubts. I began to think “What if I was just lucky?” So I decided to enter SILENT MANGA AUDITION again. Now I’ve proven that I wasn’t just lucky, I really have enough skills to impress someone!
I’m my own worst enemy, so I’m always afraid of standing still or going backwards.
Did you read the other award winning manga? Which is your favorite?
For the previous contest, I really liked the manga “Forward” by Yoonmi. I really think that she should have won the Grand Prix. I like the way her manga flows, it’s just so beautiful! The manga by dee Juusan also really amazed me. She sure is good at drawing. I envy her for her skills, to be honest.
This time round, I liked Roberto’s “6 reasons”, Dos Drive’s “Without You”, and Ero-Pink/Saga Kuroi’s “Mamma Meow”. I honestly felt that the winning manga for this round were all drawn very beautifully. It was all so awesome!
Yoonmi “Forward” (2014)
dee juusan “Drawing a Smile Out” (2014)
Roberto F. “Six Reasons” (2015)
Dos Drive “Without You” (2015)
Ero Pinku & Saga Kuroi “MammaMeow!” (2015)
Has anything changed in your life since you entered SMA and won the Grand Prix?
Well, after I won the award, I received some job offers. But most of them were asking me to draw someone else’s story (sometimes without any payment!) So I said “NO WAY!” because I want to create my own stories.
How long did it take you to complete your manga for this round?
I came up with the idea in a flash, and creating the “name” took about 2 days. Then, at a pace of about 1 page a day, it took me 11 days to finish the final piece.
For this manga, where did you get the inspiration?
I got the idea from the title of a Radiohead song: “Subterranean Homesick Alien”. They’re one of my favorite artists to listen to.
I like music in general, especially listening to songs that match my mood. It’s hard to decide who’s my all-time favorite, but I think it would be Avantasia, a metal band from Germany. I like their concept of making a “Metal Opera”: metal music with a story.
How did you draw the “outer space” part of the story? Those aren’t scenes that you can see in everyday life.
I first did some research, and found some real pictures of outer space and space stations on the internet. Then I imagined my own version of it, and just put it down on paper.
What is your mother like? Is she like the mother in your story?
My parents are quite open-minded people. They always support my decisions, and never tell me what I can or can’t do with my life. If I say “I wanna be a football player/manga artist”, they’Il say “Okay, give it a try. It’s your life, and your decision”.
In my manga, the mother encourages her daughter to go for her dream, and gives her a lot of support along the way. So in that way, I think that she does reflect my own mother.
What made you start drawing pictures and manga?
I started drawing when I was 9 years old. I was inspired by “Spiderman”, which was the first comic I ever read. I really love the way that Spiderman always helps people without thinking of personal gain. At the time, I mostly drew Spiderman and Dragonball characters (from the TV anime).
Then when I was 12, I read “Rurouni Kenshin”, and Watsuki-sensei’s style really blew me away! That opened me up to the world of manga, and I went on to read Shaman King, Saint Seiya and lots of others.
My favorite manga ever is “20th Century Boys” by Naoki Urasawa.
Why did you choose the pen-name “Ichirou”?
(Editors note: Ichirou is a fairly classic Japanese name meaning “first son”.)
I have some friends in the Japanese community in Brazil, and because my real name is hard for them to pronounce, I go by “Ichirou”. This nickname was originally given to me by my teacher, and since it means a lot to me, I decided to use it as my pen-name as well.
Last time you drew a robot, and this time a rocket in outer space. You must really like the sci-fi genre! Who influenced you?
Yeah, I love sci-fi. My favorite author is Phillip K Dick. I like the way that he uses the sci-fi setting as a mask, but always has a deeper, more philosophical theme running in the background. Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, William Gibson are also great authors.
I’m also interested in cyber punk stories. Most people imagine a clean, bright future through technology, but I think that science can have both good and bad effects. Stories like Katsuhiro Otomo’s “AKIRA” shine a light on the darker side of science.
What kind of practice do you do to become better at drawing manga?
I often just sit down and sketch what’s in front of me. Sketching from real life is a great way to improve your drawing skills.
When I was learning to draw, I also read a lot of theoretical books on drawing comics, such as those by Warren Ellis, Scot Mccloud and Will Eisner. Warren Ellis gives some really good advice: “If you want to draw comics, STOP READING COMICS!” Read more novels, watch movies and listen to good music. If all you read is comics, you’ll get stuck in a rut.
Reading up on movie creation was also really helpful to learn about story-telling, camera angles, direction etc. Movies and manga are very similar in some ways, but what’s great about manga is that everyone reads it at their own pace. If you give two copies of the same DVD to two different people, they’ll finish watching it at the same time. But if you give them two copies of the same manga, there’ll be a big difference in the time they spend reading. They can spend as much time as they like on each page or each panel, so manga is a lot more personal. It’s like a relationship between the artist and the reader.
What do you focus on when drawing manga?
The first thing I focus on is panel layouts. You have to take care in how many panels you put on a page, and ensure that each panel is big enough for the picture inside. I also make sure that the panels flow smoothly, with nothing interrupting them.
Scott McCloud says “If your characters feel something, your readers should feel it too”. In HOMESICK ALIEN, the protagonist is in a zero-gravity environment, so I tried to do the panels in a way that the readers could also feel this.
Is there a large manga fan community in Brazil?
Oh yes, in Brazil, manga is sold in comic stores, newsstands and at certain events, and the fans are very passionate and engaged! They not only buy the books, but also do cosplay and stuff.
There are also lots of American comic book fans. Some people tend to draw a distinction between manga and American comics, and only support one or the other, but I think that’s very limiting. Read anything that is good! Enjoy what we have!
Besides anime & manga, are there any other Japanese things that are popular in Brazil?
A lot of Japanese idols and J-rock/J-pop bands are very popular in Brazil. Some of artists have even come to Brazil to do concerts. I personally like JAM project and Onmyoza. Baby Metal also has a large following but I’m not really into them.
What kind of manga series would you like to draw? Do you have any ideas?
I have lots! I’d like to do a story about people who can travel between dreams, or a story where some kind of incident connects different people around the world.
I’m still working on these ideas, but basically I want to do a serious sci-fi story that deals with real-life problems.
What is your current dream/goal?
My next goal is always to create another good story.
Please give some advice to all the manga artists out there!
STOP READING COMICS! Go look at other stuff. Study! Read books! Watch movies! Listen to songs! Then come back to manga, and you’ll have a lot more ideas and inspiration for it! You’ll definitely be able to create something better than before!