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!
≪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≫ C'è da apprezzare sulle espressioni dei personaggi. Danno forti impressioni gli occhi che ci parlano in profondità e nella nostra oscurità. Ma il contenuto è troppo semplice. Mi sembra che sia il primo episodio di una saga. Se gli autori volessero affrontare questo, prima di tutto bisogna studiare narrazione e dare più importanza alle descrizioni della psicologia interna dei personaggi. Penso che sia meglio iniziare a creare delle storie auto-conclusive (meno di 50 pagine) per poi acquisire tecnica narrativa.
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≫ 만화를 그리는데 있어 필요로 하는 기본적인 그림실력은 충분히 갖추고 있다.
응모작들 중에서는 가장 "능숙한" 작품들 중 한작품이라고 여겨진다.
그러나, 자세히 살펴보면 작가만의 개성적인 표현은 의외로 적은 느낌.
등장인물의 표정도 좀 더 매 컷마다 미묘하고 섬세한 변화를 이끌어내지 못한 점이 아쉽다.
스토리에 관해서도, 초반에는 마음을 잡아끄는 무언가가 있는 듯 하였으나,
후반부에서는 극단적으로 불친절한 전개로 인해 내용을 이해하기 힘들었다.
결과적으로 뭐가 어떻게 된 건지 통 알 수 없었다.
≪Judge’s Comment≫ I disegni fatti solo con le linee necessarie sono fini e ho notato con piacere il gusto diverso dai giapponesi e contemporaneamente le sagome dei personaggi hanno gusto universale che verranno accettate sia in occidente che in oriente. L'autore ha un talento che non esisteva 10 anni fa. Ho letto con tanto di entusiasmo, ma il contenuto manca la maturità. E' difficile capire l'autore che cosa voglia trasmetterci. Ha avuto troppo ossessione sulla costruzione con la finezza causando la difficoltà alla comprensione. E' peccato che alcune scene potevano darmi grande impressione ma non si sono raggiunti. Se l'autore sia sicuro del contenuto è necessario sforzare trasmettercelo. L'opera difficile spesso volentieri da impressione che in realtà non abbia un gran significato.