Archives for posts with tag: storyboard

When the place you inhabit becomes too narrow for your dreams, move out!”

… said the bird to the wanderer, so wander we did.

manga lucid global village bird and wanderer
When a journalist recently asked me to draw a manga sequence for a TV feature about two Japanese players from the Berlin based football club Hertha, it kinda made sense. I’m not that big of a football fan, but this year’s world cup saw me taking more interest in the game than usual. Starting with a first excitement about (the Chilean) outsiders who went for unexpected chances, eventually closing the chapter of former (Spanish) domination…

…I gradually went more emotional seeing the German soccer team making its way til the finals – and beyond. Around the games I found small hints of what I think really matters in a good teamwork: a kind of fair play and moving on together that transcends the sport context.

Three months later, the idea to use manga drawings for a TV feature on football came quite out of the blue. On the occasion of an away game, the rbb regional broadcasting station’s journalist Christian Dexne figured out an unconventional story hook: portraying two players of the local team who hadn’t really been in the spotlight yet, using a typical medium of their far away Japanese homeland.

Both Hajime Hosogai and Genki Haraguchi are relatively new in Berlin. Meant as an encouragement for them, this visualization project actually became a great motivation to me, as well.

After a friend had already filmed me drawing for a documentary project, this new experience gave me an even deeper look into the whole process of professional TV making. From first idea discussions to interviews, filmic execution, cutting and sound recording, I learned in a few days what has interested and bothered me for years now. How to plan a sequence of scenes, how to decide on what to cut away and what to keep in, how to synchronize the music with the visual content? Is the work of a sports journalist that different from mine as an urban researcher, when we skim our documentation material for decisive hints – for foul play on the football field, for signs of social appropriation in contested urban spaces?

We actually took chances. Before knowing how Hertha would play, we made a big fuss about how they were maybe going to win.

And they wouldn’t win, at first. The TV feature was broadcast shortly after Hertha lost a match against Schalke. One week later, though, our “motivational medicine” took effect:

Playing in Hamburg, Hajime Hosogai managed to realize what his comrade Genki Haraguchi had promised, enchanted, after seeing my manga depicting himself:

We’ll make these pictures come true.”

Sometimes, life is made of second chances. If being seen is what matters most today, then changing the script of how you’re perceived by others can be crucial. Switching from raw sketch…

manga illustration storyboard
…to final picture always ends up reinforcing my confidence and the will to experiment. Nowadays, I’m realizing things from a bucket list I haven’t even written yet. Teamwork has often been the key to realize the most difficult steps of worthwhile projects, and making it happen is what counts most.

I guess, I’m kind of a football fan, after all.

manga YOLO bucket list
*The colored pictures shown here were made last Saturday at this year’s AniMaCo. Inserting them here means checking another item from my unwritten bucket list: show more of your drawings at a faster pace, since you can do it.*

The vertical four panel comic is a format commonly used in Japan, for good reason. A yonkoma, as it is called in Japanese, serves wit and humor in a nutshell. It provides a reduced, very efficient framework to train visual narration – a reason why I’m using this format in my workshops to get creative processes going. The more people contribute to a yonkoma development, the easier it gets to bring diverse matters into a smart sequence of images. And the richer the result.

Yonkoma four panel comic storytelling

After years of training varied audiences, I decided to introduce this interactive storytelling method to the Berlin Manga Club. Since we first teamed up in 2009, we’ve been working together on eight now published manga anthologies and numerous drawing workshops, sharing manga related talks and literally never getting tired of it. Drawing yonkoma is nothing new to most manga artists, but creating them together is something different.

So I was really looking forward to see the outcome of such a teamwork-storytelling. And I wasn’t disappointed: When you get interested and skillful people to interact, the learning process becomes both dynamic and playful. Before long, vivid cooperation among seven artists led to a row of seven entertaining short stories, done in about an hour. Guiding that process, I realized once again how much I love to encourage and to channel teamwork, and how well-suited yonkoma comics are to do so.

A couple of years ago, what I needed most when I started to draw comics on a professional level (i.e. getting paid for it) was the confidence of not being alone with my interests. To be able to make a living only out of comics (manga and western style alike) may be still somewhat exceptional in German culture, but we passionate artists don’t come alone, there’s a bunch of us. And this is what ultimately gives us strength, I think. Every now and then, we come together to produce something new, and since it is fun… chances are high there will be sequels. So be on the lookout for more to come!

After leading a workshop, I rarely have the time to pause for a review, following projects and deadlines in queue. Yet a growing reservoir of teaching experiences calls for closure, be it only momentarily. So I’ll go with a fragment for now, resuming some of the recurrent key issues I often address with the participants of my manga and storytelling workshops.

glossar manga drawing workshops

On a side note, I’m realizing time and time again that making workshops is not so much about teaching as it is about inviting people to activate their knowledge and to discover their very own, unique capabilities. A rewarding task, if you ask me.