For the second consecutive time, our grand prize winner comes from Taiwan. The winner of the Third Morning International Manga Competition is Huang Chun-chan "Poor Knight". In this gem, a funky tone and a great tempo set up a wonderful sense of youth often found in "standard manga" style.
The runner-up, 林, is also from Taiwan. 林's "Shinigami" has much to offer on each page, in part due to innovative use of color and inking as well as Lin's deft artistic hand. With humorous flavor and a charming design and plot, the brilliance of "Shinigami" touched our hearts.
Outside of the top two--which we intensely debated over--we found a gap in quality for the other entries. Furthermore, despite the number of submissions, the judges struggled to collectively find intriguing elements we could all agree upon; resulting in a splintered vote where we could only award a single second prize winner. The factor common to the two winners is fascinating characters. Undoubtedly also critical to a comic's success, we believe a character's charm is one of the greatest ways to truly inspire readers.
The Grand Prize winner's comments--"It's difficult to earn a living drawing manga in Taiwan"--are timely given the current worldwide recession. The current economic climate has affected all corners of the globe, and in many countries has had a negative impact on manga markets. Obviously, Japan is also suffering from the recession, yet in spite of the current economic climate the Japanese manga market remains healthy as we continue to release new hit titles. With many other countries suffering from the financial crisis, we understand that it may be difficult to support new artistic talent. Therefore, we intend to pour more of our energy into this endeavour. Because our editorial department is based entirely in Japan, working with international talent based overseas is not a simple feat. Nevertheless, we want to announce that the Grand Prize winner for the Second M.I.M.C, YOVOVA, will have a 50-page short-story in the March 21st edition of Morning Two magazine; furthermore, there will be a full-color chapter header and an article accompanying the comic. We worked closely with YOVOVA, asking him to revive the story two or three times over a series of editorial sessions, but his efforts have paid off resulting in a great new story. Also, the runner-up of the same edition of the M.I.M.C., Kinono (creator of "Joe's Teeth"), is currently appearing in Morning Two, with chapter #4 coming soon. We want to apologize to our international readers as they cannot read these titles firsthand, but they can be confident that this will be resolved soon.
Finally, as has been the case in each of these contests, many of the current entries have focused on bishojo, giant robots, ninja and the like, leaving a very narrow impression of "manga" style. As the judges are Japanese, we are biased toward a more creative association for the word that foreigners have come to know as "MANGA." We cannot define exactly what manga is, but our version of manga is much broader in context and content. Nowadays Japan uses labels like "the United Statesn Comics," "Bande Dessinée," and "Cartoons." Ten years ago, however, the Japanese language would apply the word "manga" to encompass all sequential art. With that in mind we originally called this contest the Morning International Manga Competion, but that name is no longer adequate. So, from the Fourth Edition on, we call for a greater variety of genres in your submissions as we rename the contest the MORNING INTERNATIONAL COMIC COMPETITION.
Eijiro Shimada Chief Judge
≪Story≫ The main character, a college student, works at a local convenience store to earn a living. One day, two young thugs pass by his store acting like costumers and decide to tie him up. Being goofy and incompetent, the two criminals struggle to crack open the store's safe. While the burglars are preoccupied, our hero awakens a Binbougami (God of Poverty) who's been haunting the store's old cash register for a long time…
≪Comment from the Grand Prize winner≫ First of all, I would like to thank all the judges for rating my work highly. Learning that my comic won the Grand Prize was an exciting experience for me. In Taiwan, making comics is not considered a real profession, and comic artists have a hard time making a living. However, through their own efforts they continue to quietly create new works without resentment. I’m one of them. What keeps us artists going is our passion for comics. I really appreciate Kodansha’s Morning magazine Department for having the competition to give international comic artists an opportunity to publish their work.
Prior to submitting my entry, I showed it to some of my friends. They had a variety of opinions. As they discussed the pros and cons of my work, their comments gave me some creative power. But, what encouraged me most was winning this competition. It inspired me to have confidence in my work, and more than ever encouraged me to keep drawing better comics to share with everyone.
Finally, to all those who will come to enjoy this comic, I would like to again thank all the judges for rating my work highly and inspiring me.
≪Judge’s Comment≫ "Poor Knight" has all the necessary elements present in a great gag comic. The dialogue flows at an upbeat pace with an amusing tempo. Furthermore, the artist utilizes a well-known construct in "Poor Knight," where the protagonist and the Binbougami combine forces to become a single superhero. The result is a cheesy looking "hero" with dubious outlook who leads readers to a series of humorous action scenes that do not fail to pack in laughs.
While there is no question that the idiot thieves are hilarious, what we found most entertaining was the depiction of the Binbougami. Given his status as a god of poverty, this character lacks class, but even so he is quite charming. After the Binbougami re-emerges from his cash register on page 27, the tempo picks up quickly as each page is filled with more and more jokes, and as the pace accelerates, readers find themselves finishing the piece before they know it.
In contrast, the first half of the story where the two thugs are introduced drags on, and should be cut in half to improve its pacing.
What is considered funny depends on culture, but the gags in this work come across as universal and easy to understand. Therefore, we have great expectations for his universal sense of humor.
≪Story≫ A girl witnesses a mysterious figure appear before her. It's a Shinigami (grim reaper), who wants to become an angel.
≪Comment by the Second Prize winner≫ First, I would like to dedicate this comic to a friend who died in an accident last year. People say she was an angel going back to the place where she belonged. The incident made me start thinking about life and death. These thoughts lead me to reflect upon issues of fate, and how helpless human beings are over their fate and destiny. All these thoughts deeply influence the themes and ideas in this entry.
When I heard I won second prize I couldn’t believe my ears and my hands started shaking with extreme joy. It was like my dreams came true because I never thought I would win a contest like this. Aside from how fun creating can be, artists in general strive to have their work appreciated and accepted.
To my family, friends, and all who have taken an interest in me and my work, I would like to say thanks for helping me with this achievement. The kindness of these people inspired me to take my time drawing, and develop my characters more. I would also like to thank Kodansha’s Morning magazine department for giving me the opportunity to share a few of the precious thoughts behind my comic.
≪Judge’s Comment≫ The heavy use black in this entry initially gives an impression that "Shinigami" is a horror comic. Surprisingly, the story is quite heartwarming; depicting the interaction between a girl and a Shinigami (grim reaper) who wishes to become an angel. Throughout the comic, the artist attempts to draw in readers through enchanting imagery like his stunning full-page close-up of the Shinigami and the panel where the Shinigami wears an angel costume. The story is designed in a thoughtful manner; whereas scenes from when the Shinigami first met the girl are linked with her present life to illustrate his gentle nature. The originality manifested in this entry impressed us so much that we anxiously await reading Lin's next comic.
≪Judge’s Comment≫ In "我的奮斗," an eccentric angel soars in a beautifully depicted sky. Subtle shading and color, together with distinctive looking clouds, create a mysteriously restricted and closed sense of space. Furthermore, Xie's rendering of the transformation of the clouds' temperament connects brilliantly with an unexpected ending. For a short story the theme is simpler than it needs to be; and while "悔恨在心" is a black comedy, the humor seems almost too cruel!
≪Judge’s Comment≫ We found the main character's wife enjoyably/extremely unique in this entry. Unfortunately, it is difficult to fully enjoy the content because there are so many loose ends. This submission is the first chapter in a series, and we would expect the threads to come together in future volumes; however, the first chapter may currently be too confusing to keep readers' interest.
≪Judge’s Comment≫ This story should be familiar to most readers, as it lacks originality. However, thanks to a skilled layout, this comic is very readable. We also felt that facial expressions in general were well-designed; the wily look on many characters' faces is exceptional. Regretfully, this submission's most important scene--where Maria tries to shoot and her gun misfires--is poorly executed.
Seah Ze Lin／England
≪Judge’s Comment≫ We found the wild, endless chain of images in this entry quite entertaining. Normally a simple technique like this would be utilized selectively and in short bursts, as it is common in manga and can bore readers after a couple of pages. Yet the sequence in this piece continues for thirty pages, never failing to please. The journey is spectacular, like traveling up a long spiral staircase. However, the judges’ opinions are divided, as some feel readers may get lost in the middle of the story.
≪Judge’s Comment≫ In this wonderfully-composed comic, two stories--one about a dream train, and the other about an island of glass sculptures--progress together, as if on a shared axis. If Shen develops each story a little more, the next chapter will be even more inviting!
≪Judge’s Comment≫ While the atmosphere of the work's art shows skill, the characters all speak too much, sadly cutting into the enjoyment that a reader feels when using their own imagination. The work should be a better one if the author gave more thought to how the reader reads it. However, knowing exactly what you want to say and convey in a work is also commendable, and we look forward to the artist's future works.
"KAMI NO KAMI"
Eduardo Damasceno/Luis Felipe Garrocho／Brasil
≪Judge’s Comment≫ "Kami no Kami"s setting and design go hand in hand to create a heartwarming experience for readers. The theme, however, needs work. An origami crane flying in the sky comes across as a fantasy that could never represent reality, only to be seen in pictures. That form of cliched sentimentalism alone will not stir readers' hearts.
≪Judge’s Comment≫ This entry lures readers in with skillfully presented action and touching emotional scenes. Furthermore, the characters are fully developed. However, if the entrant wants to effectively express the interaction over time between the "God Tree of Mountains" and the "Guardian of the Forest," it might work better not to have the grandfather character and his granddaughter alive during the same period in time. Instead we suggest having the grandfather communicate with the "God Tree" during his lifetime; then, after his death, his granddaughter can begin her interaction with the tree. Otherwise, their roles overlap and muddle the story.
Gratiot Florie senri／France
≪Judge’s Comment≫ Senri's planning ability allows the artist to get the message across clearly, creating a comic that is very easy to read and understand. However, the art is practically void of contrast and inorganic, making each page look very empty, almost blank. We also felt that overall mood stemmed from vague and stiff facial expressions on the characters. We hope to see this artist improve the ability to draw emotions such as delight, sorrow, anger, and happiness.
Park Song Yi／Korea
≪Judge’s Comment≫ This story's concepts and the characters’ facial expressions are very attractive. However, it is difficult to follow scene transitions and the flow of time. This prevents readers from becoming absorbed. If the artist modifies the points above it will improve the comic dramatically.
Yu Jae Wan／Korea
≪Judge’s Comment≫ The quality of this composition and the panel layout are exceptional. The images are so amazing, readers may feel they can smell the locales depicted! However we feel that this entry will fare better if the artist focuses more on capturing a "true to life" feeling.
Ho Seng Hui／Malaysia
≪Judge’s Comment≫ The design detail of the three sibling characters in this entry is impressive. We can clearly see the effort put into each one's unique wardrobe. Ho Seng Hui's drawing skill is obviously very high. However, unless he defines his setting more clearly, he will not attract many readers. The characters' superhero powers, and the fight scenes that comes with them, not only entertain readers but are critical to the story. Yet the plot is not well defined. Did their mother die in an accident? Why are people not allowed to live in the deserted house? Readers are likely to have these questions, and they will wonder what the characters are fighting for.
≪Judge’s Comment≫ The artist was a finalist in the previous competition, and the last entry more like a picture book than a comic. We are not certain, but this seems to be a sci-fi mystery revolving around Chinese kanji characters... This year's submission is drawn in a traditional comic format with multiple panels on each page. As in the previous entry, motion rendered in "倉頡密碼" is excellent. Furthermore, the artist’s female characters are so attractive we wish we could have seen more of them. Regrettably, while most of the story is interesting from start to end, the very last scene is so difficult to understand that we were very disappointed.