SMA 10 Interview #2 – Katja Hammond
Name: Katja Hammond
Country: United Kingdom
Favorite manga: I don’t really read manga, but I love the Mahou Shoujo genre and Junji Ito
Favorite movie: Nightcrawler
Favorite quote: “You’ve got to run the race to win the prize!”“…I love solving puzzles and was up for the challenge!”
1. How does it feel to win a SILENT MANGA AUDITION® award?
I wasn’t expecting it at all to be honest! With what I had drawn, and not having entered before, I wasn’t sure if my works really fit in with the SMA sphere – but I thought I’d have a bash anyway. So when the results were announced and I spotted my characters on the announcement banner, I laughed and couldn’t believe it! But it feels good; I rarely draw comics or much personal art anymore, so being acknowledged in this manner, despite everything is a personal victory!
2. What were your first impressions of the theme?
It sounded very happy, determined, and hopeful, which is an interesting attitude for a cynic. However I love solving puzzles and was up for the challenge!
3. What was the inspiration behind your winning work?
Visually, I was quite inspired by the horror game Little Nightmares, the film Coraline, and had recently discovered Junji Ito. I like cute things and horror, so it was a fun challenge trying to define the traits that make cute things cute, and creepy things creepy and then trying to find a middle ground that captures both without being gratuitous. Did I succeed? I’m not sure, but I’m very happy with the effort so far, and wouldn’t mind exploring it further! Subject-wise however, I was inspired by the fact that everybody is different, and with each person comes new skills, perspectives and ideas. Imagine the kind of magic you’d make when of a group of individuals combine their strengths to overcome problems!
4. What challenges did you face making your manga? How did you overcome them?
Given that this is my first comic in a couple of years, the entire process was a rusty experiment with many mistakes and unnecessary steps. Upon review, the process can be refined by quite a bit. The biggest challenge however would probably be that I’m somebody who loves to write, loves to sink into stories and details, and loves to let things flesh out at a leisurely pace … and this competition emphasises silence, and a low page count. I think you can see the problem! Fortunately I overcame most of these obstacles by planning out my manga in the form of concise bullet points, with each point representing a page. This helped me visualise them early on and lay a solid and manageable foundation, then thumbnails came a lot more easily. Then whenever I started feeling discouraged about my entry, I’d just flick back through all the pages I had worked on so far and see how much I’d achieved, and how much more I could achieve if I kept on trying!
5. What did you learn from making your manga? Did you pick up any new skills or techniques?
Working on this was a massive learning experience! I actually feel like this comic was a whole course on how not to draw a manga! I fell over at every hurdle, somehow survived with just a few scrapes, bandaged things up as best as I could, and next time I expect to have an actual plan! My favourite thing to learn from my mistakes though, is how much simple lineart could carry. When expressed correctly, the weight of the lines can portray just about anything you need to communicate a story by itself. No amount of shading and tricks can make up for bad lines, as I came to discover rather late in the process; it should only serve to enhance what’s essentially already complete. I couldn’t utilise it this time, and did my best to patch it up, but next time definitely that will be a top priority!
6. How important is entering the SILENT MANGA AUDITION® in relation to your professional goals?
If I could find the time to put all of my stories on paper, I’d be a very happy person. The Silent Manga Audition seems to be a step in the right direction!
7. What advice would you give to people entering the SILENT MANGA AUDITION®?
It’s good to let ideas stew and mature over time, so that your story develops a stronger theme and identity. However sometimes you don’t always get the luxury of time, so instead I’ve learned to not spend too long fussing over a character design, and instead have a loose idea in mind when you start sketching the manga, with nothing set in stone until you’ve sketched out the final page and reviewed what you’ve done. Stories change when you’re finally making them real on paper, and you start thinking about details and practicalities that only experience brings, so it’s natural for you to evolve when sketching the story out, and only natural by the end that your character has also evolved and developed their identity. Through that journey you learn what works better for them, so when you jump back to the start, you’re able to update the old design with something more appropriate. It’s better to figure this out early than inking the whole thing then suddenly realising ‘Wait! I actually prefer drawing him/her like this! But it’s too late to change now!’. I suppose the same goes for environments, objects, or anything else you’re having trouble thinking up at the start – the main idea is not to get too bogged down with details too early; you need to stay motivated for this whole trek; learn to prioritise your problems and relax!
Thank you Katja!A sample of Katja’s amazing work…