Reaching out to touch someone

I’m sure many people would have their treasured memories of this. What I’d like to share with you guys today, is what drawing Manga means to me.

Candy Candy was the very first Manga that I got my fat grubby fingers on. Way back when I had just graduated from toddler-hood and I could barely read, the frilly, dream-like world of Japanese Manga, with its beautifully drawn characters, overwhelming presence of decorative flowers and bubbles, and its ever romantic nature, grabbed me instantly. I marveled at how a story unfolded within the beautiful drawings. I think I was already bored to death with snow-whites and sleeping beauties and all the princesses and princes and wicked witches. Candy Candy appealed to me in a way fairy tales didn’t – it was real and it was tangible, and yet it held an intriguing story of friendship and romance, deceit and honor, and of a faraway country with beautiful gowns and horses. Most importantly, the drawings were so beautifully done that I would spend hours attempting to recreate the frills and gigantic eyes it contained within.

From there on, my obsession with Manga took on a slow but steady progress. In the late 80’s and early 90’s, (or maybe because I was just a kid) Manga wasn’t as readily accessible. Those that were commonplace were Dragonball (an older cousin donated his entire Dragonball collection but mother threw them out T_T) Doraemon, and some Taiwanese and Hong Kong comics.

Then, the Manga era boomed to life with a vibrant but strangely silent roar in the mid 90’s beginning with the Sailormoon and Ranma1/2 anime that were being aired on TV. Manga shops sprang up all over the place and I soaked in the Manga atmosphere greedily. I would spend 3/4 of my daily allowance on a book or two each day faithfully, accumulating to shelves and shelves of Manga – Inuyasha, Fushigi Yuugi, City Hunter, Tokyo Juliet, Eiji, BOY etc. .

It was during that period that I began drawing Manga. I would churn out 2 pages a day of not-so-bad looking Manga (at least, not-so-bad to me, when I was 14). I drew Manga in class, I drew Manga while watching TV, I drew Manga during my exams. My stories were mostly cliched (my very first male protagonist was a tall, blond stud with waist length hair, who tended a dessert shop), and the faces I drew were probably more than a little skewed. There were many starts, but middles and ends were never to be seen. Despite all the flaws though, I remember feeling very happy, and contented, and most importantly, something was beginning to fill in the empty gap inside me, something that made me feel like I was truly ME.

Somewhere in the middle though, I went slightly off track when I discovered CG – or Computer Graphics illustration. I was happy then too, but looking back, my love for Manga was and still is, the most longstanding of them all.

It wasn’t several years after I’d graduated from DMD (NYP) and began working as a CG artist/graphics designer, did I rediscover my love for drawing Manga – the rush of adrenalin when an idea, a story, or even a scene hit me, and how I wanted so badly to share stories that swam in my head, the fullness in my soul that made me cancel a date or two with friends just to stay home to draw, the little author’s notes that I pictured myself so proudly penning at the start or end of my Manga, thanking my readers and people who encouraged me.

I remember once, I was visiting someone at a hospital when a strange scene outside the hospital lawn caused me to stare very openly and rudely – a young, roguish-looking man in hospital garb swathed in bandages, with a drip still attached to his hand and the the drip stand propped carelessly beside him. What struck me was that he was sitting on the grass, cross-legged under a tree, and puffing lazily on a cigarette and gazing up at the sky. That scene left a strong imprint in my mind, and I was dying to recreate it on paper.

Then there would be times when I would be taking the MRT train home, and strange, beautiful people would catch my eye – a frail, petite girl with porcelain skin and jumbled hair, dressed in layers and layers of colorful clothing, and mismatched socks, and the tall, stoic, immaculately dressed boyfriend beside her, in a dark shirt and pants and shiny leather shoes, clutching firmly at her hand. Or two old Eurasian ladies with flaming, red-white hair, one slightly younger than the other, both tall and statuesque and clearly fiery beauties in their youths, with a bible in one hand and a string of rosary beads in another.

The idea of sharing ideas, appeal greatly to me. Strange little scenes that most would simply discard (or maybe post on STOMP?), attach themselves firmly to me and refuse to be removed until they are put on paper. The itch in my hand to just draw until my fingers cramp, is a force to be reckoned with.

So here I am now, with my Manga drawing pencil – or rather a wacom tablet and photoshop – in my hands, and a passion for my beloved Manga. And to make my dream somewhat easier to achieve, is the world wide web, a valuable tool to those of us striving to be Mangaka =)

I want to create, I need to create, and hopefully in the process of my creation, I am able to reach out to touch someone, just like the author and artist of Candy Candy had reached out, so many years ago, to touch me.

annhell (kujo)