In our latest and second manga competition, all winners--one grand prize and one second prize--are Asian artists. Although the the United Statesn team rem and bikkuri won first prize the last time around, Asian artists dominated that contest as well.
Asia has a long and deep history with manga. Other Asian countries have long familiarized themselves with Japanese comic styles, whereas Western countries have long histories of great visual arts known as comics, bande dessinee, cartoons, and so on.
Unfortunately, we did not receive many submissions reflecting that excellent history of work from the West.
While we call our competition the "Morning International Manga Competition" (MIMC), we do not use the term "manga" narrowly to mean visual art in "the Japanese style." "Manga" can also refer to any visual art that utilizes narratives, including comics, bande dessinee, and cartoons.
Generally speaking, submissions for the second contest tend to lack strong character development and characterization. While we do not necessarily consider that to be a bad thing, if works do not depict characters in depth, they should instead have other uniquely interesting features to strongly appeal to readers.
Based on their keen insights, Japanese manga artists have delineated many wondrous and fascinating aspects of humanity in order to achieve mass appeal, including adult audiences. The Morning and Morning Two manga magazine department, the organizers of the MIMC, have established an older readership. It can be said that one reason manga attracts not only children but also adults is its deep characterizations. Therefore we tend to automatically think that "manga is something that deeply and vividly describes human beings." This, however, could be an impediment to expanding our vision of manga.
Needless to say, manga is not limited to character description. Even if a manga work does not emphasize the many interesting characteristics of humanity, it would be fine as long as the work is attractive in other ways. When we evaluate some of the submissions by the standards of major manga magazines that have older readers, we think they “lack” character definition. But, from another point of view, they have different potential because they are not obsessed with or limited by the notion that “manga is something that deeply and vividly describes human beings and human character.”
It is true that manga does not have to describe characteristics of human beings at all. It is, however, also true that the human character is great material that makes manga very intriguing. If a manga work does not illuminate aspects of humanity, it should hold intriguing themes, designs, and/or story development instead of interesting characters. For example, it should have an amazing story that no one has ever told.
Although we acknowledge that, alone, depicting the fascinating qualities of humankind is not enough to create a great manga, we still believe human beings are one of the greatest resources available to make a manga entertaining. We are waiting for the submissions that will challenge this belief of ours. We always want to develop, improve, and change ourselves. We always want something we do not have, something different. When we are supported by Japanese readers because our manga depict what it is like to be a human being, we want manga that presents us with something interesting, told from another perspective. When we are supported by older Japanese readers, we want younger non-Japanese readers. And now, we want to have non-Japanese manga artists.
Felipe Smith (an the United Statesn artist who published his first series MBQ through TOKYOPOP) will make his Japanese debut in the June 21st issue of our monthly magazine Morning Two. While Mr. Smith's work did not come from the MIMC program, his new series, Peepo Choo, will give us many elements that we have not been able to offer before in manga. The series will be compiled into tankoubon (paperback graphic novels) in Japan, and will be published worldwide including the United States. While we believe that he can provide us with much that we don’t currently have, we also believe we can give him something that nobody but us can give.
As you want to read our manga, we really want to read your manga! The deadline for our third competition is September 30th, 2008. We are looking forward to reading your great works!
Eijiro Shimada Chief Judge
≪Story≫ A “black snow” curses this world by randomly robbing its inhabitants of something. One day, a boy who lost his name, a girl who lost her face, a dog that lost its mass, and a little bird that lost its ability to fly happen to meet, and they embark on a journey to get back what they lost!
≪Comment by the Second Prize winner≫ I’m so overjoyed I feel like I could have jumped through the ceiling of my room. It’s true. I’m extremely happy and I smile even when I brush my teeth. But, I have to control myself because I have to write my comment as a winner. Please forgive me for messing around with this. but I sincerely relish the pleasure of my first winning experience.
I grew up watching anime and reading manga, and because of that I feel Japan is a paradise of dreams. Every night I dream my works are published in that country. I feel extremely honored to have won the contest, but at the same time I feel nervous, wondering whether I can produce better works in the future.
I would like to thank my family and friends who have believed in me and supported me for a long time. I would also like to express my gratitude to Kodansha for their encouragement through this competition.
Thank you very much!!
≪Judge’s Comment≫ This work describes a fairy-tale-like world through a unique art style and a use of attractive colors. While we can’t publish the work in color in Morning Two magazine, the dusky colors used for the characters, buildings, sky, etc. match the story so well that they create an atmosphere where it is evident that something important has gone missing. We would like to point out that the artist uses a red color in an impressive way that adds sharpness to some pages of this entry.
This work depicts a fairy tale like world through a unique art style and use of attractive colors. While we don’t publish in color in Morning Two magazine, we would like to note that the dusky colors used for the characters, buildings, sky, etc. fit the story well and create an atmosphere where it is evident something important has gone missing. We would also like to note that the artist's impressive use of red on some pages of this entry sharpens impact.
In addition, the artist boldly changes the colors' tone at the end of the story when the scenes and mood have changed. This technique is great in that it gives readers an impression that the characters now see a different world. Through this technique we believe the artist has a remarkable ability to visually pull readers in to the story.
The story itself is a bit difficult to follow, particularly in the first half. Yet characterizations and the enigmatic dialogue of an older character become increasingly attractive toward the end. From the scene where the old man is able to meet again the person he lost when he was young, to the last scene when the main character utters a name that is familiar to Japanese readers, the story charms and surprises readers.
It is a shame the artist tends to use so many panels on each page, so much so that the pages feel cramped. Since he has such drawing skill, we encourage him to be mindful about expanding his layouts, and also to work on making his dialogue more sophisticated. With these suggestions in mind we believe he can improve his future work.
Having all said that, we enjoy reading this piece from the first page to the last, and we are pleasantly surprised and feel happy after reading it. We give the work the grand prize because of its comprehensive high quality.
≪Story≫ Joe, the son of a family of dentists, has been thoroughly trained to keep his teeth immaculate since he was little. His father also wants him to grow up to be a dentist; but Joe does not want to be forced. One day Joe decides his teeth are the source of his problems, and he tries to pull them out…
≪Comment by the Second Prize winner≫ When I heard the news that I won the grand prize, I was in the process of drawing a picture. Although I thought I felt very calm upon hanging up the phone, excitement built up within me little by little until eventually I couldn't hold still. I consider myself an ordinary person, but I couldn't stop imagining what would happen to me after the competition! I felt pressure at the same time, and that stimulated me to work even harder!
I take this honor as a great encouragement to my creative activities, appreciating the opportunity Kodansha has given me to have many people read my work. I’ll do my best and keep creating new stories. In addition, I would like to thank my dentist, who pulled a few of my teeth and inspired me to draw pliers advancing toward one’s mouth.
≪Judge’s Comment≫ The story and drawing style are so well-matched that they combine to create a heartwarming world. Like picture books, the plot develops through narration. Even though pulling teeth can be extremely painful, it would be considered a good feeling in this work because the boy only attempts to do so after giving serious thought to his problem. The composition of story is great/quite impressive; whereas the first half depicts the boy’s concern in a straightforward manner, the second half is full of energy and fantasy. We, the judges, want to see work from this artist where dialogue helps the story develop.
≪Story≫ Puppets normally exist on stage solely to entertain their human audience. However, THESE puppets have neither strings nor puppeteers, and what enables their movement is magic in their eyes. Audiences, fascinated by these eyes made of precious stones, are entranced first by their charm, then by the puppets' performance.
In time, one puppet begins to fancy himself human. The joy he feels is fleeting, however, and may end in tragedy...
≪Comment by the Second Prize winner≫ I am extremely overjoyed as this is my first attempt in an international manga competition. I did not expect to win any prize, so this result has been a very pleasant surprise. I started drawing my entry after the conclusion of my secondary school final exams. I took a whole month to complete the manga, but it would not have happened without the support of my family and friends.
I started drawing at the age of 10 and I hope to inspire others like me to persevere in manga art. I have long dreamed of expressing my stories through art, and I hope this accomplishment will open the doors to allow me to fulfill that dream. Thank you Kodansha for giving me this opportunity!
≪Judge’s Comment≫ Ms. Chong shows great artistic skill both in color and in black & white. Except for a few scenes where human beings appear, her story is narrated by the interaction of puppets that by nature should not have emotions and words. The puppets begin to gain emotion, and their faces that were once motionless miraculously become more and more expressive.
The artist uses great technique illustrating the puppets’ mood shifts without dialogue, solely through movement and expression. Although the work depicts a love story told through the body language of puppets, it is also a story in which the oppressed stand up against the oppressors.
We are impressed by the talent of a 17-year-old who creates this kind of story.
≪Judge’s Comment≫ With the use of unique lines, the style of art provides a distinct touch not present in the ones of Japanese artists. The artist shows originality in poses that the characters display; therefore the characters look attractive when they are standing still. The downside is, however, that the picture is not used to its potential in scenes that depict actions. In general, the drawings are great, but it takes more for the artist to commercially make his debut. For example, the characters and story require more work to give some novelty. That said, we see the potential for this work, and we hope he will submit his work to us again.
Andrea Iovinelli Massimo Dall’oglio／Italia
≪Judge’s Comment≫ The expressions that the characters display are very attractive, and the impressions in their eyes seem to signify something dark and deep. The story however is too simple. Although the submission seems to be the first chapter of a long story, the artists should first learn how to tell stories and know how to depict emotions of people before they try a long one. The artists might want to practice doing one-shot short stories (less than 50 pages) to develop their skills rather than trying to do long stories.
Anna Sergeeva Tsocheva / Bulgaria
≪Judge’s Comment≫ The female characters are drawn very cute in this piece of work. On contrast to that, the mysterious style of art also gives the work a tint of fearfulness at the same time. The style of art creates the atmosphere of the scene very well, but the story is hard to comprehend. The transitions between panels are not done well, making it very difficult to read through. We expect the artist to have an objective point of view on her own works.
≪Judge’s Comment≫ This piece of work seems complete as it is, but the style seems to be more of a picture book than manga. Both visual and color use has a distinct taste; we are interested if the artist is capable of drawing a manga with separated panels.
Byun ki hyun／Korea
≪Judge’s Comment≫ The artist possesses enough skills to draw a basic manga. We think that this is one of the most “skilled” works among the submissions. We, however, also feel that the work does not have many features that are unique to this artist. The characters’ expressions should change in a distinct yet subtly in each panel. The work draws the readers into the story at the beginning, but it has few explanations and gets difficult to understand toward the later scenes. Finally at the end, we were not able to understand what happened to the outcome of the story.
"THE LAST WEREWOLF/ FLYING FREEMAN"
≪Judge’s Comment≫ Although the style of art provided a strong impact to the atmosphere, the lack of originality in the world view and character settings was a disappointment. We hope to see a more original turn of events.
≪Judge’s Comment≫ By removing all wasteful nature, the art style left a powerful impression. The art was very stylish and different from that of the Japanese artists. The characters have a generality that Europe, Asia, or every part of the world can relate to. This is a talent that wouldn’t have existed ten years ago. The story, however, is not as good as we expected. The artist also seems to struggle in communicating what he tries to convey through the work. The structure is also very stylish, but it prevents him from making the story easy to understand. Some scenes may have been more impressive if the story was easier to comprehend. If the artist is confident in the story; the artist should work to make the story easier to comprehend. A story with profound meaning can be difficult to understand at times, but a work such as this can be misunderstood that it turns out to be actually simple even though it has a very deep meaning.