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SMA11 Interview #4 – ASN Studio

Christopher Tordoff Christopher Tordoff 17/12/2019 10 min read

Team name: ASN Studio

Name: Amna Muswafi (artist)

Age: 33

Country: Yemen

Favorite manga: Naruto

Favorite movie: I don’t watch movies

Favorite quote: “If a fool speaks to you, do not answer him, for the best answer is silence. If you speak to him, you have delighted him. If you leave him, he nearly dies in anguish.” – Al-Shafi‘i


Name: Sara Lardhi (writer)

Age: 22

Country: Yemen

Favorite manga: The promised Neverland

Favorite movie: Mulan, Disney

Favorite quote:One day I’ll say it wasn’t easy, but I did it”


Name: Nawal Bakhet (writer)

Age: 21

Country: Sudan

Favorite manga: Shigatsu Wa Kimi No Uso

Favorite movie: The Pursuit of Happyness

Favorite quote:The harder I practice, the luckier I get”

  “Critique your own work, you’ll understand more…”  


1. How does it feel to win a SILENT MANGA AUDITION® award?

Amna: I feel so great! It’s an indescribable feeling to see our manga approved by 5 Japanese manga professionals! When I first saw the grade we got, I couldn’t believe my eyes, so I told everyone in my family and friends that we finally won! I didn’t expect it at all.

Sara: A feeling of joy and achievement after a lot of hard work. It wasn’t our first attempt, so we learned from past experiences to make this entry. It’s both surprising and motivating for what’s next!

Nawal: I still can’t believe it, we’ve been participating since the 3rd SMA Round, so it definitely felt like a dream! It’s heartwarming and motivating to keep working on more manga.

2. What were your first impressions of the theme?

A: So warm, I liked it. I knew it would be fun to express our feelings in the manga… in fact it’s the kind of theme I love.

N: Certain feelings came rushing into my heart, all the childhood promises that we kept, it was a warm and fuzzy feeling.

S: Promise is a word that holds a lot within it, and it’s connected to everyone’s life. Everyone of us has made a promise to someone at some point in their lives. Driven by many emotions, the theme was full of concepts and ideas and connected to the heart.


3. What was the inspiration behind your winning work?

A: I’m the illustrator so I’ll let my two friends answer this one.

N & S: This time we decided to put our feelings and emotions into the manga (keeping a promise). Experiences, from the beautiful friendship the three girls had to the struggles they went through, were all committed to keeping a promise. We wanted to send a message through this story which is, if a door closes, another one opens. Even if it takes a long time, the fruits of your hard work need time and care to ripen.

4. What challenges did you face making your manga? How did you overcome them?

All: Writing, inking and time!

S & N: The writing part took a lot of time, then we were left with a few months to draw the manga. Plus Amna (the illustrator) got extremely ill so she couldn’t draw a thing for weeks.

A: Funny thing, when finished drawing the manga name and started on finished manuscript, we weren’t happy with the ending. It was boring and expected, so we had to change the end by creating a different plot! It was a very stressful tome for us to ensure we finished the manga on time. But with the help of my friends, Sara and Nawal we took turns in inking the final pages. 

S & N: It was the first time that both us writers worked with the illustrator on inking and adding tones! So we learned the basics and had to work fast. It was tough at the beginning, but the more we worked through the pages, the easier it got. It wasn’t professional but a great experience.


5. What did you learn from making your manga? Did you pick up any new skills or techniques?

A: I learned to criticize myself and others to improve the work as much as possible. I also learned to focus on drawing more detail too.

S: I learned to be patient with the storyline and allow it take its time. Every time we participated in a story, we learned something new. This time it was focusing on a satisfying ending, thanks to a witty revision by Amna.

N: Expressing of emotion in the story, as well as the technical skills of inking and toning. I’m really grateful that I got to learn that from Amna. Overall, we learned to pay more attention to detail and how to evoke emotion, how to make people feel the story. Watching a lot of the silent manga tutorials on YouTube helped us a lot! 

6. How important is entering the SILENT MANGA AUDITION® in relation to your professional goals?

All: really important, winning an SMA award was a dream we’ve had since the 3rd round! The award has allowed us to prove ourselves in the manga world with learning and understanding of how it’s professionally done. It’s also challenging in a way that makes us push ourselves to give the best we can.


7. What advice would you give to people entering the SILENT MANGA AUDITION®?

A: Never give up, whatever your drawing skill level is. Always push yourself to give the best you can and never avoid drawing detail. Learn composition and panelling so your manga is easily read, especially if you have an interesting and unexpected ending.

S: Always be confident and let it show in your hard work. If you can’t reach that, keep trying and you’ll learn something new every time… Critique your own work, you’ll understand more… Watch, Learn, read and you’ll find your way. 

N: Believe in yourself and never give up! Through this journey of learning, you don’t just learn skills, but lessons of life… such as how to deal with criticism, how to find information, being patient and noticing the small details. Details always make for a polished work.

  Read ASN Studio’s SMA11 EXCELLENCE AWARD winning manga, “Keeping a promise” by clicking the image!    
Christopher Tordoff

Christopher Tordoff