Friday, April 23, 2010

Otaku Art

The painting above is called "Samehada Strikes." If you are a geek or a fan of the manga Naruto then you may know what Samehada refers to and therefore what this abstract image is named after.
If not, you can still enjoy this somewhat brutal image, which appears like the waves of an ocean, with a geyser of blood emerging from behind them.

I painted this piece and a number of other pieces last weekend in preparation for an event coming up next month called Otaku Recon. Its a manga, video games and anime event which will be held on May 15th at the Holiday Resort and Spa in Tumon. For more information you can check out the website by clicking here. There's plenty of info and links to check out. They'll be cosplay, contests, screenings, and what I am most excited about, artist displays and tables.

For the past few months, because of work, family and dissertation related afflictions, I haven't had much time to create art. I've made a little here and there, such as I painted a portrait of former Congressman Robert Underwood's mother, the late Tan Ester Taitano Underwood, last year. I also created a series of paintings for each of my classes last year, which were meant to reflect the time that we had spent together last semester.
For example, I'm pasting one of the images below.

The title was "Sleeping in Class," because as I told my students who received ut, they were the class which had the most people who regularly feel asleep while I was lecturing. Even though as a class we learned some things, had some laughs, shed some tears together, the memory which was seared most prominently into my mind, was that of people peacefully slumbering while I spoke about the horrors of Guam's colonization. Ai adai, ayu na klasi, puru ha' mangga'mumaigo' siha.

But when I first heard that the Otaku Recon would be having tables for artists who wanted to exhibit or sell their work, I decided that I would push myself to create some new pieces. First, I decided to produce some pieces like the one I began this post with. Abstract imagery which was in some way, because of a line, a form, a color, whatever, was reminiscent of some manga or anime character or theme. Since Naruto is one of the most well-known mangas out there, and one of the few popular mangas that I read regularly, I decided to draw alot of the images from that world.

So for those who didn't know earlier, Samehada is the name of the sword of Hoshigaki Kisame, formerly of the Mist Village, now one of the few remaining members of the Akatsuki, which has been the main source of evil and chaos in the world of Naruto the past few years. Samehada is a giant, living sword, which like its owner has distinctly sharkish features. The sword is covered with rows which look like scales and teeth.

In addition to these abstracts however I'm also working on creating some ashcans to sell at Otaku Recon. For those who don't know what ashcans are, they are comics which artists and writers create for a particular event or venue, and either give them away or sell them there. Sometimes these ashcans are nicely printed and look very sharp, other times they are simply photocopied sheets of paper, stapled together at Kinkos, an hour before a convention opens.

In 2006, my brothers and I had a table at the Alternative Press Expo (APE) in San Francisco. That was the last time I ever made an ashcan comic. Myself and my brother Jack and Jeremy worked on creating four stories that we combined into two different ashcans. We printed up about twenty of each, but only sold about five of each issue at the APE. Considering that the comics were a bit funky, and probably a bit too theoretical and philosophical for any casual reader, we were lucky to sell any.

The last time I bought an ashcan however was in 2008, when I went to Comic Con in San Diego, California. There I got to visit the table of the writer and artist of one of my favorite longstanding comic series, Stan Sakai who makes Usagi Yojimbo. For each convention, Sakai would put together a small sketchbook ashcan, which would collect various sketches and drawings that he had done over the years. Some of the images would be from the comics he had published, others would be sketches he hadn't eventually used in his comic, and finally some would be for random projects that he would do for fundraisers or as favors to friends and family.

Like any "too cool for school" fanboy, I didn't hassle Sakai while he was talking to other artists and fans. I just purchased an ashcan and some other comics that he was selling and then later covertly took a picture of him. It was one of my proudest, "not much of a moment"s.
You can't blame me though, I'm not really one of those fans who would know what to say to a creator, except for perhaps, put fabot, usuni fuma'titinas este na kamek! Please keep making your comic! That's why, if I ever happen to meet Kentaro Miura, the maker of Berserk, I think the only thing I could ask him is, "Why are you so slow?!"

I'm still working out the details now as to what ashcan I'll be making. I've only got about three weeks until the convention so I better hurry. Mungga maleffa! Don't forget! If you like manga, anime, or just looking at crazy people dressed up in brightly colored garb, come to the Otaku Recon on May 15th. Head to the website for more information on tickets.

Before I go today though I wanted to share with you one of the images from the Usagi Yojimbo ashcan that I bought. One of the unfortunate things about being on Guam is that there is no comic book store here, and so its been more than a year since I've read Usagi.

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