The doors open, the crowds flood in, the event halls fill up with excited bodies and the convention truly begins! It was the first day of SMASH! 2014 and one of the first small events that helped kick off the weekend in a huge way was the Making Manga Workshop, lead by two Sydneysiders who both happen to have an undying passion for visual storytelling and sequential art.
Going to conventions, I feel as though most attendees feel safe; they know they’re in an environment that only supports fun and they know that they’re surrounded by thousands of other people with, for the most part, the same interests and one of the interests I found to be in the majority is that of becoming a Manga/Comic Book artist.
Most convention-goers, especially those into Anime and Manga, have somewhat of a common goal and I feel as though one day making Manga is one of many. At some point in any Pop Culture fan’s life, they’ve wanted to try their hand at drawing. At least, that’s what I’d like to think. This is why art workshops at conventions are so damn popular!
As two young men who’d one day like to become Comic Book artists, fellow writer Kane Bugeja and I made it a mission to be present at this workshop. Come hell or high water, we were going to be there with sketch books in hands and with minds wide open. Unfortunately we forgot the sketch books but we doubled our mental capacity and aimed to absorb as much information as humanly possibly to make up for our lack of…equipment.
Both ladies were incredibly talented and experienced but it was their opposite schools of teaching that really allowed for some great lessons to be taught. Han learned to draw herself by studying the Anime and Manga she followed rather than just watching them. Alex, on the other hand, was literally schooled in the art as she attended COFA (College of Fine Arts) and recently graduated at the time the workshop was held. What was fantastic about bringing these two together for one workshop is that they appealed to every single audience member.
If someone watching happened to be a little more like me and wasn’t too into a formal art education they could learn from Han, if an audience member was instead more interested in formal education than they could listen more to Alex. It was the best of both world and, looking around the room, I could without a doubt see that the audience was absolutely engulfed by the words of these two ladies.
Backing up their statements and adding to the overall lesson of the workshop, the ladies had set up a series of slides used as examples…unfortunately though, much like many of the other panels and workshops I attended over the weekend, the two were cut short due to scheduling issues. The second half of their lesson was skipped over entirely and it was obvious that the audience wasn’t too happy, especially because Alex and Han were making such brilliant points.
Had they been given the proper time, the two had plans to go through each and every single aspect of creating your very own Manga or Comic. From writing the story to design the characters and even ways to get publication, it was all outlined at the very start of the panel but unfortunately there was no time for them to be able to fully make their points.
I enjoyed myself a great deal and, apart from the obvious, so did the rest of the audience. Walking out of the room I could definitely feel a positive vibe coming from each and every individual that sat in on the workshop and I can only hope they walked away with a new found love for illustration in their hearts and a plan in their heads for the future.
Alex is an amateur comic artist with big dreams and a passion for visual storytelling. Having grown up with web comics, manga and indie comics has lead her to develop a very mixed art style. Alex has recently graduated from a fine art degree at COFA, and hopes to publish her own graphic novel next year. For the time being she is working on a number of short comics. She is also the founder and President of Sydney Comics Guild.
Han Nguyen is a self-taught artist, with a preference for manga and the comic book medium. Her style tends towards detail with a little seriousness, mixed in with some quirkiness and humour. Recently, Han has been self-studying human anatomy, and is currently working on a couple of short comics.