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|Title:||Introducing Minako; the new mascot of Anime UK News! An interview with her creator Outlawstar!|
|Published:||Mon, 20 Aug 2007|
Starting in July '07, we began our search for charismatic new mascot for Anime UK News. We had many great entries but in the end (and by general consensus I might add!), the winner turned out to be blonde-chibi Minako, designed by the talented Outlawstar. Over the coming months and as we further integrate her into the website, Minako will eventually become the unique face of Anime UK News, and so, as means of introduction, we present this interview with Outlawstar; spliced together with several images of Minako (with more on the way too!), we discuss a wide range of topics with her creator.
Anime UK News: Let's get some brief information on you first - how old are you? What's it like being an anime and manga fan in Ireland? Presumably you're studying art at college or university?
Outlawstar: I'm 18, and 4 months.
As for being an anime and manga fan, there is a great selection of both anime and manga here. Lots in the big bookshops and the likes of Tower Records and HMV, and its obvious its getting a bit more popular as the manga which, just 2 years ago would be at the back on a small shelf, now there is a prominent manga stand at the front, predominantly Tokyopop.
Of course there is obviously room for improvement, like releasing some more obscure titles that really showcase what a diverse medium manga and anime are. Who knows in the future. I hope anime over here in the long term isn't carried on the rep of one or two of its better known genres.
The downside is the amount of money I have to shell out, for anime in particular, but of course, I pay it, gotta have my anime. Hopefully prices will drop a bit as the industry heats up. but I cant see them dropping too much in the near future.
As for friends, well most of my friends know I'm into anime and manga and I've given them loads of DVDs, and generally they are impressed. Although they've never actually gotten any themselves. Unfortunately many people still suffer from the misconception of anime being "just for kids". Only a few days ago while I was buying an anime, the anime rack caught somebody's eye. He came rushing over saying things like, "cool, anime", whereas the girl with him just said, "God you're such a child!" Bugged the life out of me.
Yeah, I'm starting college this year. Doing an art and graphic design course with a lot of realism work, something, as far as I'm concerned that no aspiring manga-ka should be without. Hoping to work up a nice portfolio and then possibly go on to do an animation course. Who knows?
Anime UK News: The name "Minako", where did that come from? How old is she? Describe her personality for us.
Outlawstar: Well I knew before I began that I wanted her name to relate to her personality. Therefore I called her "Minako",which translates as "bright child" or "bright person". I also thought it had a familiar Japanese ring to it and it's also easy to say!
I like to think of her as around 19 or so. A teenage chibi, just the right age to complement her dress sense and persona.
She's bright, bubbly and enthusiastic about her new job.^^ She's also rather intelligent with a certain capacity for mischief. Minako loves nothing more than chilling out on a comfy chair reading a nice bit of manga, watching a bit of anime and playing the odd game. A true otaku mascot!
Anime UK News: How long have you been drawing anime-influenced art and why did you decide to get involved with the AUKN mascot competition?
Outlawstar: I've been drawing anime-influenced art since the first time I knowingly watched anime, Spirited Away.
Although before the last year or so it was on and off, stop and start. I would draw in periods, giving up and re-starting. But now I draw every day in the hope of one day winning one of the big manga competitions.
I didn't enter this year as I felt my character consistency and inking were too weak, although this competition has certainly helped me with that.
That's one of the main reasons I entered the mascot competition. I also thought it would be a good challenge drawing something that has been specifically stated, and to improve my ability to research and really think about what I'm going to draw before drawing it. Priceless practice!
This is also the first chibi I've drawn so it was a nice challenge in that sense too.
There are a lot of amazing manga-influenced artists in the UK and Ireland who I think can play a major role in the ever expanding industry and I certainly want to be a part of that! Winning this competition will hopefully help me in getting to where I want to be.
Anime UK News: You talk about these "big manga competitions", what are they?
Outlawstar: Well I'm talking about the likes of the Rising Stars of Manga competition, the Manga Jiman competition and the NEO mag competition. I'm still not sure whether, being Irish, 'Im eligible for the NEO and Jiman compos, but I will definitely be entering the next RSOM. It really is the head start of a lifetime, I mean the prize is a chance to pitch an idea for a manga to TokyoPop and get it published. What more could you ask for? One thousand pounds in prize money you say? Well you get that too.
Anime UK News: What were your references and influences when you first came to design Minako?
Outlawstar: I actually had a fair idea of what I wanted to end up with almost as soon as I sat down to start penciling.
I wanted Minako to be appealingly coloured and wearing a welcoming gesture. I also wanted her to have one or two "trademark" like features such as the mouse-keychain, the black-yellow hair combo, the Japanese themed gloves and even the Union Jack. I think this gives her a feeling of being an otaku herself which is something I wanted to get across.
All this combined helped me to come up with the Minako you see now.
Anime UK News: Outside of Anime UK News, how to do go about publisizing your work? Are you looking for a possible future in comic art? To that end, are you inspired by rising UK comic publishers like "Sweatdrop Studios"?
Outlawstar: For publishing my work, I have the darn-near obligatory DeviantArt account. Have not actually published in many places but there, but I will hopefully have a mini-comic up and running on my blog soon.
Certainly a future in the comic industry is the main goal. And yes I think what Sweatdrop Studios has achieved is probably my main motivation. They have some truly talented and dedicated members, backed up by the fact they have multiple RSOM winners in their ranks. Just their presence adds motivation to many a rising manga-ka I'm sure.
Anime UK News: When it comes to OEL or "global" manga, where do you stand on the whole "is it, or isn't it manga?" debate?
Outlawstar: OEL manga is a suitable name and that's probably how we should class our manga in the long-term.
Remove the rose tinted glasses and you realize that in Japan "manga" to Japanese people simply means "comics", not comics with people with big eyes etc.
What is obvious however, is that the Japanese way of making comics, and the American/English way, are very different, and I can see why, on those grounds, people would want to separate the two from each other. I mean I prefer to say manga; when I say comic, American comics come to mind.
What I'm trying to say is, let's pay respect to the country that gave us this type of comic and call it manga here also. There really is no need not to call Japanese-inspired comics "manga". I don't see debates raging over why we say creme brule and not burnt cream.
Anime UK News: If you could give one tip to your fellow artists, what would it be?
Outlawstar: I'm not sure if I'm established enough to be giving "tips to the masses" but if there was one thing it would be that no matter your level of drawing, no matter what style you draw in, draw what makes YOU happy.
Drawing manga is first and foremost for fun, otherwise you wouldn't have started it, right?
Draw what gives you that feeling of satisfaction you get when you know you've laid out something for yourself and you do it, not what burns you out and lessens you're desire to continue.
Obviously there will be times for one reason or another that you will have to bend these rules but as long as you keep them in mind, you've already taken another step to where you want to be.
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