Interview: Hu Jingxuan, mangaka of LAMENT

Hiya guys~! Today I have the privilege of interviewing Hu Jingxuan, thanks to the heads-up by annhell. =D

When and why did you go into manga drawing?

Since young, I had been enjoying cartoons and animations. The first few series that really sparked my interest in manga creation are Saint Seiya, Sailor Moon and Dragon ball. I started seriously drawing manga in 2003. I joined the Student Manga correspondence in Singapore Press Holdings and I submitted my works to be published in Friday Weekly every now and then.

Of all art forms, I especially love drawing manga. It is an escape from the real world into my own fantasy world. I can tell my own stories through manga and create characters based on personal experiences, making sure they are neither absolute monsters nor angels. But most of all, I love the challenge manga drawing requires.

Once I started drawing manga in 2003, I had decided that I would want to do this for the rest of my life. Since then I had been working consistently towards this goal.

Being a manga artist in Singapore is not easy, how did you manage to juggle both real life and drawing?

It had been really hard at first. Lament was produced when I was still in NUS High School. I had to balance between homework, exams and producing about 20 pages of manga per month. But I guess ‘when there’s a will, there’s a way.’ My passion had kept me going.

How long do you take to produce a page and where did you get your inspiration from?

It varies. It’s usually the concept and planning of the page that takes time. Inking takes around less than half a day usually.

I’m enchanted by myths and the ancient civilizations. Much of my comic and illustrations has setting in a fantasy or ancient world. My subjects tend to be mythical guardian beings or angels.

Over the years, I have developed an ornate and gothic art style. I’m obsessed with details, techniques and visual impacts. I put special attention to designs in my work, be it the clothing design or landscape design. Though I like painting and experimenting with colours, I’m more interested in the sharp visceral feeling created by the medium of micron pens and markers. I want to create in my art a surreal nightmarish dream realm. A worlds like an entangling spider web, where everything is crawling with pseudo-organic ornamentation and decaying roses.

You managed to publish “Lament” with the help of MDA and Chuangyi. Could you tell us how that came about?

I submitted my proposal for First-Time Writers and Illustrators Publishing Initiative in 2007, and I was chosen. Since then, I had been working on ‘Lament’. I had gained a lot through the process.

The experience and insights gained from working with editors. Lament is created from the team effort of me and the Chuangyi editors. Comic drawing is no longer a simple individual affair. It involves the combined effort in drawing, scripting, page layout and story development.

Along the way, I picked up invaluable tips from the editor’s suggestions. The main editor and Team Cy has helped me to develop my plot from its shaky beginning. They showed me how to add tension to the story. And with their help in scripting, my story becomes more polished and smooth. This project is a proper training for me to prepare me for future challenges.

Chuangyi and MDA had been selflessly promoting our works through conventions and autograph sessions. My experience at STGCC recently has really been fruitful and fun. Chuangyi had done a great job creating publicity for our works in STGCC from both the public and other publishers. I also had an interesting experience overcoming my shyness and learning a few promoting skills from Chuangyi. ^^

It’s an honour working with Chuangyi and it’s really a huge dream come true for me. At this moment, I need to say a loud, thank you for making it happen!

I still remember the first time I met the manager in Chuangyi, he looked at my art and told me that my works and my unique gothic style have the potential to go far, it has been one of my driving forces when I was drawing Lament =>

What was it like to contribute to “Liquid City”?

I felt both excited and honored. It’s a platform for me to polish my skills at telling a story in less than 20 pages. It felt totally different from drawing a long story like ‘LAMENT’.

Publishing anything of any sort is really challenging in Singapore, how would you advise an aspiring mangaka to see his/her dream come true in publication-land?

I would start by submitting my works to competitions and proposing my ideas to different publishers. Also, set up a good professional website to showcase your works. Or even start a webcomic to get feedback and create a fan base. And there’s always the option of self-publishing if you are confident that your work has market value.

Thanks to Jingxuan for granting us this interview. Check out her artwork at Deviantart. You can also find out details to purchase Lament there.