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The Art of Manga

The Manga club, led by Helen Chen and Cindy Xin, have presented their third manga project with the theme of "Young Adults." Read on to discover, Helen's, the president of the club's perspective on the medium of manga, and each member's description of their respective manga art piece.

Photos are all from ehsmangaclub.com

Q: Can you define what manga is?

To me, Manga is an art form of portraying a story by dividing it into illustrated segments in a panel, adding dialogue between characters to make sense, involving lots of technique arranging what’s inside the panels, but how the panels work as a whole. For me, Manga is the most powerful medium that most directly, effectively expresses one’s idea. I think so because it is a combination of literature and images, the most commonly used mediums in delivering stories with various techniques available to use.

Q: How do you believe the medium of manga delivers its message? Why did you want to start your club?

It was something I always wanted to do when applying to high school in the USA. The more I got into society and the atmosphere, I realized that this medium of manga is viewed with prejudice when I believe it can be truly used for artistic purposes. For me, manga is powerful and is a rising medium, especially utilized in commercials, such as the McDonalds commercial. I remember that McDonald's made a contract with a very famous manga company, to create figures just for McDonald's. There’s also, in China, a famous anime based on a popular novel, that contains many advertisements of McDonald's. It’s being recognized in being china as a tool to deliver a message, so I would want such a trend to also be brought to the US.

 

Q: What emotions does manga provoke for you?

Think about when you were young, and you want a dollhouse. Your mom doesn’t let you get the dollhouse. When you grow up, you see the same dollhouse. Even though it might be something that’s only in the past, but somehow it would make your heart flutter and feel a sense of nostalgia. That’s manga for me. Simply holding a book of manga makes my heart fly. Manga is my passion. Old manga I’ve seen in the past makes me feel so accomplished and fulfilled.  I think it’s a reflection of myself. It’s a part of myself.

 

Q: How and why did you come up with the third project idea of young adults?

When Cindy and I were planning for this, we wanted to do something rebellious, opinionated, serious, and it also reflects back on the original intention of the club: we want to be able to deliver strong stories, that the audience can relate to. We wanted to prove that personal expression is possible through the medium of manga.

Manga project "As a Young Adult"interviews:

Cindy Xin

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On the Edge of

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Eighteen

Q: Your piece for the 3rd project, On the Edge of Eighteen, has some noticeable features, such as bright, vivid colors, bold lining, and generally happy faces. Could you explain this artistic choice?

 

The bright colors were simply used as I like the way they look, it makes me very happy to see such vivid color combinations, and I view it to be beautiful. The style I have in drawing characters, with generally happy expressions on their face is simply the way I draw in manga. This style differs from how I would draw still life sketches or paintings where I would depict what is seen exactly in reality.  The bold lining was used as it was default setting when I drew the pieces on the computer.

Q: How did you think of imageries such as the Rubik's cube, the protective bottle and the book held with happy faces drawn on? Was there a reason you chose these specific imageries?

These imageries were used to serve my storyline. The Rubik's cube was used to break the notion that there are two sides to everything, but that there are vague grey areas to different issues. Also, the cube rotates and spins in different directions-this conveys how issues can be complicated that one seemed right at first may seem wrong later. The world is always changing, the only thing that isn’t changing is change itself.

Q:(Ccntinued) How did you think of imageries such as the Rubik's cube, the protective bottle and the book held with happy faces drawn on? Was there a reason you chose these specific imageries?

 

The bottle was used in 2 different ways. The first was in the sea when I’m floating on a table. The second is when I’m in the bottle, protected by my parents. These imageries express 2 contradicting ideas. The first portrays independent freedom. The sea defines the world, and me floating on it expresses that I can see whatever I can in the world. In the second instance, in the scene with my parents, the bottle is a protective, comfort zone, where I am protected by my parents. I’m like a little child in this scene. The time of the day also differs in these two scenes. In the sea scene, it is morning, when I head out to school, outside of my house. In the bottle scene with parents, the time is night, when I usually come back home after a hard day at school.

The imagery of the book was simply used to cover up one’s true facial expression. There is not a particular reason why I specifically chose the object of a book.

Q: What is the overall message you want people to get out of this piece? What do you want people to think of you from this piece of manga?

Well, it is a selfish purpose, which is I want people to see my story, and what I think. But I also do want to see that we are all in this awkward phase between childhood and adulthood together. I am in this process, and so are you. I want people to reaonsate and to relate to this anxious and nervous feeling so that they can feel better about their current situation and status. The last panel that portrays me in the future, would probably view that whatever bothers me now wouldn’t in the future. That’s why she tells me ‘no rush at all.’ i think it’s important to take time in life. The precious memories will derive from such hard times.

Q: What is the overall message you want people to get out of this piece? What do you want people to think of you from this piece of manga?

Well, it is a selfish purpose, which is I want people to see my story, and what I think. But I also do want to see that we are all in this awkward phase between childhood and adulthood together. I am in this process, and so are you. I want people to reaonsate and to relate to this anxious and nervous feeling so that they can feel better about their current situation and status. The last panel that portrays me in the future, would probably view that whatever bothers me now wouldn’t in the future. That’s why she tells me ‘no rush at all.’ i think it’s important to take time in life. The precious memories will derive from such hard times.

Manga project "As a Young Adult"interviews:

Karen

 Zhang

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Learning to

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Breathe

Q: YoYour piece for the 3rd project, learning to breathe has some noticeable features, of a bold lineart, simplistic coloring, and a general color palette of peach, pink, dark green, and light blue. Could you explain these artistic choices?

 

I like simple styles, and I generally use bold lineart because it makes the art pop a bit more, especially with flat coloring. I used the pastel color scheme because they were my favorite colors, which I found very warm and cozy. The teal and coral scheme also contrasted with my first manga publication, which was black, white, and grey. This hints of growth in maturity as well as a growing hope for a bright future.

Q: What significance does the last imagery of the shower and the act of watering plants have? Does it in any way fit to the line of pouring to an empty cup?

 

Taking a shower is my symbolic representation of self-care. I always feel refreshed and renewed after showering, and the time alone in the hot steam is always a way for me to forget all the stresses I face. I wash away my fears and when I step out, I feel revitalized and confident. After I took care of myself, I was able to tend to and water my plants, which is analogous of my work and duties, as well as the needs of other people. In a funny way, I "watered" myself before I watered others. As my manga stated, "you can't pour from an empty cup". You are important too. Take care of yourself!

Q: What is the overall message you want people to get out of this piece? What do you want people to think of you from this piece of manga?

 

I hope that everyone reading my art piece will realize that it's okay to put yourself first. Taking a break or taking care of your own needs is not being "lazy". As humans, we might need water, air, and food to stay alive, but we also have psychological needs in order to stay happy. It doesn't do anyone any good if you run yourself to the ground. I believe there has to be a balance in how life should be lived. Don't be afraid to be happy.

Manga project "As a Young Adult"interviews:

Helen

Chen

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Comparison

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Q: Your piece for the 3rd project, Comparison has some noticeable features, of a black background, white lining of objects, and simplistic backgrounds. Could you explain these artistic choices?

The black background was used to fit the dark story of a heavy subject matter being portrayed. I personally went through this, and i’m still overcoming through it, so i know of this feeling of being constantly compared. I changed this storyline slightly from a negative chain of constant comparison to a storyline that ends with sense of relief the girl feels at her state of being.

Q: (Continued)Your piece for the 3rd project, Comparison has some noticeable features, of a black background, white lining of objects, and simplistic backgrounds. Could you explain these artistic choices?

The white lining, not only was to show the lines against a black background, but also to fit the asian setting of the school, where classrooms often had blackboards. I almost wanted to make it seem as if it was a story drawn on a blackboard.

Q: (Continued)Your piece for the 3rd project, Comparison has some noticeable features, of a black background, white lining of objects, and simplistic backgrounds. Could you explain these artistic choices?

 

The simplistic background was drawn, as i thought adding too much detail with the white lines would lose the focus of the drawing. I wanted the focus of the manga to direct to the protagonist. Except for circumstances introducing the setting, there aren’t many elements in the background. There are many students in the foreground, where the students crowd around the girl in the center to express that there are so many sources where we compare ourselves to. We focus on people and see themselves as sources of comparison and feel infuriated from it. The desks were also drawn reptitively as the same objects, to express the emptiness one feels in the classroom setting, to realize how weak and tiny, compressed by the mental pressure they feel.

Q: When scrolling through, it can be seen that the frames flow rather seamlessly, without its borders bolded to distinguish each frame. Is this intentional?

Yes, once I created a black background, I almost wanted to make the panels emersed into the canvas, and not restricting the flow of the characters into a single frame. I wanted to focus on the flow of the interactions of the characters. I believed that this would not be as impactful with a set border, that provides a reader a sense of direction to guide their attention, I wanted to give the audience freedom to interpret the piece

Q: What is the overall message you want people to get out of this piece? What do you want people to think of you from this piece of manga?

 

I want people to embrace their imperfections. In the description, I wrote how we are not as good as other people in so many different ways. However, we still have our distinguished individualities. I think it’s important to be comfortable with our flaws to see our sparkles and realize their importance to us, as we don’t want to lose our individualities from constantly comparing ourselves to others.