Ask Boichi Festival – The answers!

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Boichi-sensei recently had a week off after finishing the work on Dr. Stone volume 1.
For the occasion, he told us he was ready to answer his fans questions and so we launched the first Ask Boichi Festival.

Let’s get this Ask Boichi Festival started!

  1. A restaurant recommandation by Tristan Slam
  2. A mangaka’s personal style by Raiqui Zer
  3. Antagonists and influences by Garrett Nicholas Cole
  4. Pages after pages after pages by Razvan Bronescu
  5. A sequel to Sun-Ken Rock? by Damien Melanie
  6. An autograph please? by Totoj Totoj
  7. An anime please? by Damien Melanie
  8. Dr. Stone cast’s favorite food and birthday by Gleribian Glerbien
  9. Sun-Ken Rock in anime by Lucien Essouffi
  10. Tips for backgrounds by Luis Quinones III
  11. Learning anatomy by Symon Miyamoto
  12. Tekken by Enzo Lucchese

1. A restaurant recommandation

Please tell sensei that following his recommendation I was finally able to eat at the Caletta restaurant and it was delicious. Tristan Slam

(context: Tristan met sensei at the Japan Expo in Paris 2 years ago and sensei recommended him to eat at this restaurant next to the Vatican city)

I’m glad to hear that you had a nice meal at that restaurant!! To tell you the truth… I haven’t eaten there yet…
My wife and editor ate such nice meals there and talked to me about how great their menu were!! Dang it!! (If you don’t mind, please send me pictures and your opinion about the food and the restaurant!!! I’m so want to see it!)

But it’s so nice to hear that my recommendation allowed you to have a good time there! Thanks!

–Boichi


2. A mangaka’s personal style

Hello Boichi-sensei, I was wondering on something most likely important for any mangaka. How to stand out from the crowd and create “his personal style” of drawing. Do you have some tips or explanation from your experience on how to build it? Raiqui Zer

At the age of 20, when I became a mangaka, I wasn’t really worried about my own style or standing out from the crowd (my fans and the readers).
I had my debut before being ready for anything.

When I graduated from highschool and entered the university for physics, my goal was “Don’t be a hikikomori”.
In other words, it means that I wanted to become a mangaka while being a college student.
Because my family was poor, I would worry my parent if I couldn’t make money after graduating from university.

So I somehow went to debut as a mangaka while I was a student.
I did not do anything other than school assessments and manga studies while in college. I focused all my time and energy on drawing manga.
Even on my birthday, my friends would come to visit me to celebrate my birthday and I was just drawing manga on my table. While they decorated the cake with candles, sang the birthday song and finally leave. (Of course they are still my strong supporters and best friends.)

I had no time nor money to go out to play, sometime not even enough to buy rice.
The first time I used manga screentones on my work was for my debut work and it was my friends and family that bought it for me as a birthday present.

Until then my goal was only to debut as a mangaka, I couldn’t think about styles or the readers and a troubling price had to be paid after the debut.
I became a very foolish mangaka and made many mistakes.

Serious anxiety came after I started working in Japan. It was 2004.
At that time, I was worried about just one thing: “Why would Japanese manga readers need a foreign mangaka like me?”
For me, a poor and unemployed mangaka, I really needed a Japanese fanbase.
Only fans can give me a chance to work and live in Japan.

The Japanese manga circle is a dream place for all mangaka in the world. However, what about Japanese manga readers? Do they really need me? Then why?
It was my question.

In fact, I watched a lot of Korean mangaka (Manhwaga) and students who wanted to become pro mangaka in Japan. They tried to enter into this circle to have a chance to make some money and opportunities.
Everyone I saw swore to themselves “‘I’ will make it in Japan” but none asked themselves why Japanese manga circles needed ‘us'(foreigner mangaka).

The real important question is why would the Japanese manga publishers and editors choose them and why would Japanese readers pay and read their manga?
I was the only one who asked myself seriously “why would Japanese manga and readers need me?”

I believe that question made who I am today.
Making your own style is not such big problem.
My trouble was that my style was too old fashioned.

my old drawing styles from 2003

One time, the editor in chief saw my old sketch drawings and he said “Why didn’t you draw the manga with these styles? They are so good! Draw them like this!”

So I used two main styles, one was Space Chef Caisar for the new style and when working on Sun-Ken Rock I mainly used my old style.
As you know, Sun-Ken Rock is my main style.

But, the style from Sun-Ken Rock is not exactly the same as my old style.
Cleary all my research looking for a new style influenced my drawing while I was working on Sun-Ken Rock.
While I was doing Sun-Ken Rock, this new style was also used in H.E with some changes, I adjusted it and use it now for Dr. Stone.

The question about the readers in 2003 was such.
I need the Japanese manga circle and its readers.

No doubt about it.

But before that I asked myself “Then for which reasons does Japanese readers and manga circle need me?”
Every time this question rose from my heart, I could feel what I needed to do in Japanese manga circle.

You first need to be a good mangaka, then job opportunities will come knocking and your manga will sell on their market.
This is the main rule, especially for a place such as the manga kingdom, Japan.

–Boichi


3. Antagonists and influences

When creating the antagonists, what are some of your character and stylistic influences? For instance, when creating characters such as Kim Ban-Phuong and Ryu Yoshizawa, where did you draw your inspiration for the character, was it an actor, a personal friend, etc?

Also if I could get one more question in, what was your influence for the White Dragon Clan? Thank you. Garrett Nicholas Cole

What I consider most important when creating antagonists in a story is the same as when I create every other character.

First I make the idea of the story.
I think that the story is made for a theme and the characters are needed for the story. The antagonists are created in it.

One thing that is necessary is to have the charm points lacking to the heroes or main characters, be present in the antagonists.
It’s not the part that readers hate in them but the one they like.
The charm points of bad guys, sexy women, mature or of old age, a sad past and their backstories or how they keep walking their own path no matter if it’s wrong or not. Those things makes them so awesome.

And from a creative point view, they should be fun to draw too.
They should be interesting characters so that you can keep improving them as the story goes.
Sexy or fun, whatever makes you want to keep drawing them.

When I first started on the concept of Kim Ban-Phuong, he was to symbolize the apology for Vietnam War’s history. And also for the discrimination and treatment of Vietnamese workers in Korea while talking about human rights issues.
I wanted to apologize to Vietnamese people and make a character to ask for their forgiveness.

So I created a man whose father was a Korean who fought in the Vietnam War. A man who loved his father’s country and wanted to live there happily but lost everything, his hope and expectations, in his beloved father’s land.

However Kim Ban-Phuong should not just look filthy.
He is tall, handsome and strong. Like Vietnam, a strong and passionate country.
And I made him a character that shows that irresponsible sins from the past can one day lead to horrifying terrors.
So he is a good person but also a terrifying character.

From the design point, the Thai action movie star Tony Jaa is his model.

Ryu Yoshizawa is a pure evil person so I focused on the purity of evil.
He pursues all kinds of power more than anything else.

He wants to invade Korea and other countries in his own way.
It’s a character who never regrets or hesitates, does not apologize and never asks forgiveness for what he has done.

Ryu is different from Ken, but in his way also a different character from Kim Ban-Phuong.

He is not one who regrets, suffers and make amends for his sins. He is truly on the opposite side.
So I did not model him from a specific person.

The White Dragon Clan was conceived as a violent crime group, with the organization and rules of the existing Yakuza.
They deem themselves a Yakuza clan but they are ignoring the law and history of the Japanese Yakuza world.

So I imaged the White Dragon Clan not as any Yazuka, but rather a more radical and violent crime organization.

–Boichi


4. Pages after pages after pages

Boichi-sensei, I’m extremely curious to know how you manage to do 160 pages monthly. Do you have tips for increasing drawing speed? Thanks! You rock! Razvan Bronescu

Thanks for your kind words.
But I have only done 160 pages a month a few times. I can’t do it every months.

For now, I work two weekly magazines and have seven deadlines per month, 136 pages is the average. Including tankoubon works, color works, etc…
It seems to be tougher now that I’m doing 136 pages a month than when I sometime do 160 pages.

If you ask me how this is possible, my answer is that everything is possible.
I never thought that I have an ability to be faster or better than others.
I have no better skill or special talent compared to others.

So what I can do is what everyone can do.

But I think there are some necessary preparations.
The most important thing is to have a team that can do backgrounds and screen tone works.

Even if the mangaka can do it but the assistants can’t, then it cannot be done.

Find someone who can handle the works, and train their ability.
This is a very hard job, but I have to do two weekly series at the same time.
Otherwise, I would have to give up the quality for those two weeklies.

I always schedule so that I do the most work by working steadily every days instead of 3 days of working days and nights.
I work regularly but I have almost no day off, I just have a holiday once a month.

Maybe I can do this because I have no day off ^^

As for the speed of my drawing… On days like this, it usually takes an hour or hour and half for a page.
If I need more detail or complicated drawing, then it can take me two hours for each drawings.
As for today, I drew 9 pages of Dr. Stone while I was answering your questions.
There may be some mangaka who are slower than me, but there are a lot who can draw much faster them me.

I believe that speed of drawing is not important for a mangaka.
The most important things is to never give up if you are dreaming to be a mangaka and to work on a regular schedule.
I think anyone can be a mangaka when they are ready for this.

–Boichi


5. A sequel to Sun-Ken Rock?

Hello Boichi-sensei, as a fan of all your works published in France, especially Sun-Ken Rock, I wanted to know if you were thinking about redoing a story with the characters of Kitano Ken and Yumin? Those are my favorite. I’m eager to read your new manga Origin which seems to be a killer! I hope to be able to read you for many years. Damien Melanie

Really, really thank you!
With fans like Damien, I’ll be able to live and work as a mangaka even in the face of adversity.

The after story of Ken and Yumin is always in my head, but it’s very difficult to have them return in another story soon.
Hum… But I’ll tell you a secret plan that I made once.

The truce is…
Actually I was planning to serialize a Sun-Ken Rock Side Story this year from January to March.
The stage is Paris, France!!
This side story is for everyone who loves Sun-Ken Rock but especially for the readers in France.

The main character of this story is French. One of my good friend in France gave me this great ideas about the concept of main character and the story and I really like them, but I’m saving them for now. Who knows what will be happen in a near future ^^. Ken and Yumin are also appearing in the story for more or less important scenes and Benito is the most important character (a villain or not) in the story.

Sadly I couldn’t start on this Sun-Ken Rock side story because I received the project for Shonen Jump last December.

That is why I had to abandon the plans for this side story and cancel the trip to France to meet fans this November.

I really feel sorry but on the other hand I think that working in Shonen Jump is probably the biggest gift for my fans who gave me so much support!

Also thanks for the comment about my latest work, Origin.
It is my first SciFi series and I’m working very hard on it.
I hope it will published in France soon.

–Boichi


6. An autograph please?

Hello Boichi-senpai. I’m a big fan of your works since your firsts tankoubon published in France. Would it be possible to have an autograph? Totoj Totoj

As I wrote in my above response, I wanted to visit Fance in November this year so that I could have a chance to meet with my fans whom I love so much and say hello. To share stories, give them my signs and take some pictures with them.

But I’m really sorry I can’t do that.

I feel very sorry. I had called my friend in France to say I could have time to come because the magazine I’m working on will have a break in November “Say, can you make a special event for the fan?”.
But sadly his answer was “I’m Sorry. Unfortunately in France, the bookstores are closed in December and there are no comic events. And everyone has their own break. However June or July would be perfect to visit.”
Too sad…

But one day I will visit France again! And I will meet you there! I promise!

–Boichi


7. An anime please?

Will we be lucky enough to one day see an anime by Boichi? Damien Melanie

I’m so sorry. I do not have enough skills to create Sun-Ken Rock’s art style in animated version.
As you can see, my art style in Sun-ken rock is very difficult to create as anime.

In that case I’m really sorry for my fans who want to see the Sun-Ken Rock anime.

In fact, there was an Anime proposal once but my editor told me “It’s a good sign that an offer is coming. But this production is not enough to create a good anime, so we should refuse this time and wait for another offer.”
And I said “Sure…”, but there were no other proposal… -_-‘

I am trying to be a better mangaka and hope that someday my work can be animated, so I’m asking for your patience.
Thank you so much for your support!

–Boichi


8. Dr. Stone cast’s favorite food and birthday

Well my question is what are Senku’s, Taiju’s and Yuzuriha’s favorite foods as well as their birthdays? Gleribian Glerbien

What a good question! I’m curious about that too!
Senku, Taiju, and Yuzuriha… They are all original characters by Inagaki sensei.
I guess I need to ask him next time.

But I just imagined and pondered deeply myself about the characters of Dr. Stone. Senku might like to eat his food with soy sauce on his birthday!
Soy sauce is a very scientific seasoning.
If I’m Senku, I would like to make soy sauce in the Stone World.

Taiju want to eat warm white rice and Tonkatsu on his birthday.
As you know the Stone World where he lives right now is the stage of a primeval forest in Japan after 3,700 years.
There is no rice.
He lives in a world without grains.
For the same reason, there is no panko to make Tonkatsu.
To make panko, he’d needs flour.
Also there is no amount of oil to fry the pork meat.
So in this cruel environment, Taiju will miss white rice and Tonkatsu very much.

For Yuzuriha… I think she misses her mother’s lunch bento set and sharing food with her friends during school’s lunch time.
I believe that she misses so much about her happy and good memories from the past, before the stone world.

–Boichi


9. Sun-Ken Rock in anime

Have you planned to adapt Sun-Ken Rock in anime someday?? Lucien Essouffi

I always hope that my works turn to be anime or live action films, but sadly I’m not good enough so Sun-Ken Rock didn’t have the chance to have an anime version. I’m really sorry to the fans who love Sun-Ken Rock.

To tell you my opinion, if Sun-ken Rock were to receives an offer to be adapted into a movie, I hope that they will make the live action in France rather than an anime in Japan.

I already wrote the concept for the French film. In the story, a Japanese girl (a Yakuza’s daughter) who became a French Police Officer and a Japanese boy who wants to be an officer in France but became a gangster in Paris… and… and….
Hello? Hello?

–Boichi


10. Tips for backgrounds

Tips for background art. Luis Quinones III

For me, I start by setting the horizon when beginning to draw the background.
Once the horizon is set, I add the important elements of the background and draw the composition to finally pass the page to my assistant to complete the Background works.

Origin sketch 1

Origin sketch 1

Origin layouts before starting to work on the background’s drawings.

Drawing backgrounds in Manga is a bit different from Western comics.
In western comics, their background drawings are often structurally stable with a three point perspective.
But in Japanese manga, we often use one and two point perfective, and sometime a deliberate depth deletion.
There is a tendency to express the three point (or more) perspective of space only when absolutely necessary.

Working manga in Japan on series in monthly, bi-weekly or weekly magazine means to create manga as a team.
Nowadays, many young pro mangaka don’t hire assistants for backgrounds and some may use photos or Photoshop to that end.
In Korea, many creators tends to work with “Sketch-up” for BGs.

But for me, if I use recent trends there would be restrictions in the picture’s style.
Personally I will keep working as a team, hire assistants and teach them as much as I can.

This way… Yeah, I know it take so much precious time and ressources.
But I will keep doing this way until the end.

Please visit our website boichi.com and ask me your questions or tell me the curious things that happens when you draw manga.
I will tell you what I can about it!!

–Boichi


11. Learning anatomy

How much time did it take you learn anatomy and any advice? Symon Miyamoto

Well… I’m not in the position to give any advice about drawing human anatomy but I’ll tell you what I know.

Studying human anatomy is very similar to studying math or learning a foreign language.
Or maybe playing football.

When you study foreign language, you study their grammar, memorize vocabularies, practice listening, reading and speaking a lot. And making friends who are native speaker and converse with time.
These will help you learn a foreign language.

For example, if someone wants to study a foreign language and only study the vocabularies, then he cannot speak.
If you do not study grammar and only have experience with conversations, you will not able to employ beautiful words and it’ll be impossible to teach this language to others.
Learning foreign language with the only goal of dating someone, that is just a Casanova, not a language magician… (Wait…Casanova was a language magician wasn’t he? Cut it!! Cut it!!)

Anyway studying anatomy is something similar.
Grammar is the principle of drawing human body, its vocabularies are the muscles, bones systems and poses.
Listening, writing, speaking are croquis and life drawing.
And making native speaker friends and get a job is submitting your works to the publishers.
It is very similar.

Here’s a list about how it works.

• Grammar = Keep studying what the human body looks like.
Where are they, what do they do, how do they pose? Keep drawing until you have them memorized in your head.
I kept studying this for 10 years.

• Vocabularies = Bones, muscles and poses.
Memorize them!
I won’t say do 100 pages a day or draw 100 parts of the human body a day!!
Do as you can 3 pages a day or 2~3 human parts for 2 hours. But do so every day.
Don’t do many, but little by little for 10 years.
I did this everyday for 10 years since I was in highschool.
Of course I still keep doing this. (Not every day but often.)

• Reading and writing = Croquis, life drawing and sketching.
One thing I’m strongly warning you about: do not copy someone else’s drawing.
Draw your own and improve your style. It’s okay if the first times your drawing style may seem immature.
Don’t worry about it.
Just keep drawing and then one day you will discover that you have developed your arts skills.

• Keep Practicing = drawing manga.
Everything comes from practice.
However, those that are only practicing are like those who play football without running or training. It’s a bit stupid.
Everyone can talk with a foreigner with 50 words but if you want to write a novel you need to know 150 000 words at least.

• Making friends (getting a job or entering college) = submission to the publishers.
It’s your goal for now, however it is not the finish line but another beginning.
Rethink about why you started learning human anatomy and study some more.
Then you will find better ways to study.
Keep it up!!

–Boichi


12. Tekken

What is your favorite character from Tekken? Enzo Lucchese

I’m sorry.
I haven’t played Tekken in 14 years.
I don’t play any games these days.

It doesn’t mean I don’t like playing games. I love games.
Now, sometimes I collect screenshots from popular games such as Tekken, DOA and SKYRIM.
But that’s all for now.

However, instead of playing game, I can have more time to focus on my works.
This way is good for both fans and me, I believe ^^

Oh, once when I played Tekken, I loved to play Ling Xiaoyu. She is my favorite character in Tekken.

–Boichi

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