Ask Boichi about Manga 1 – Alexandre Desmarecaux

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Sensei answers Alexandre Desmarecaux’s question.

“Ask Boichi” (about Manga) is a special corner on Boichi.com where I answer the fans’ questions about what I know and think about manga. It’s also a place where we can share our ideas and talk about anything related to the topic of manga.

I may even give you some advices and lessons on how to draw manga if that’s what you wish.

I’d also like to inform you that our exchanges in this corner, your questions and my answers may be published as part of my future manga tutorial books. It’s only a possibility for now but I would like to ask your permission, if you don’t want put your name and questions in my books, please let me know!^^

But in that case my partners will not select and send your questions to me! (laugh)

Well, let’s get to answering your questions:

What are your inspiration sources as a mangaka Boichi-sensei? What were you reading as a child? Thanks for your work as an artist, you have gold in your fingers, a real talent with your work and drawing…

– Alexandre Desmarecaux

Dear Alexandre Desmarecaux,

Thanks for your kind words and your question.

The source of my inspiration as a mangaka has evolved between what it was in the past and today.

Originally I was taking inspiration in many different ways. My biggest sources of inspiration came from books. I always try and hope to find creative ideas through reading books. Of course, “manga” is also included.

Whenever I read renowned creators’ or my friends’ works, I think to myself: “ What would I do if I were the one working on this manga?” and I rewrite the ideas.

But the ideas I get from it are mostly about “genres”, not the stories nor characters.

When you read great works of arts (including manga or movies, you name it!) you feel the desire to create your own manga swelling up, your creative soul is trying to come out! That’s a start.

That is why I believe manga is an opportunity to study the genres you love and make them a part of your own creative world. 

For mangaka (and all the creators in art circles), “Manga” is an opportunity to see a great variety of genres. Therefore, good manga is always a great inspiration sources for mangaka as to learn their genres from it.

But the one thing you need to be very careful about, when learning from other manga works, is to focus on their genre. Not the characters or stories from other manga.

New ideas from other works have a sign that say “Hey, no stealing! Mine!” so you should be very careful as what you want to learn from other people’s works.

If you are studying manga, you should chose your favorite mangaka, admire his works and learn from them as you’d do with textbooks.

For similar reasons as with studying manga, but for me, watching movies are a good way to get inspiration. I’m still watching movies for that same reason, but now something changed from before.

In the past, I watched movies to get inspiration for a work plan. But now, most of my projects are coming to me when talking with the editors in their department and after watching movies as a reference material while preparing for the works. 

Have I ever told you that I had a chance to work on a Japanese Ninja manga? (Of course not. This is the first time I ever mentioned it to you.)

Back then, I tried to find books and movies about “Ninja” but it’s not easy to find a version translated to Korean!! But when I searched on Google Play, there were some Ninja movies with Korean subtitles. Google Play is where I find most of my sources nowadays.

Now, it’s time to tell you about what I read in my childhood. My family wasn’t really well off back when I was a child.

It was very difficult to buy the books I wanted to read because my pocket money was only the equivalent of a dollar a month until I was in middle school (Grade 7 to 9). So I mostly read my parents’ books at home and I sometime borrowed from my friends.

I still have one of the book collection I read when I was a kid.

Book collection

One of my book collection.

These books were published in 1987 so they date from when I was in middle school. These are the oldest books in my bookcase.

It’s the Korean version of a book collection originally published in France about western civilizations and history. The contents and illustrations of these books are very detailed.

For me, material about the Middle Ages and the Ancient civilizations are a very important resource.

To reveal two creative secrets to you, the idea for the weapon from <Origin> chapter 19 is from these books and they are an important resource for <Dr. Stone> as well. 

In the winter of 1987, the second grade of middle school, I was thinking about what I needed to find a way to become a mangaka seriously. I didn’t have any informations about how to become a mangaka, I didn’t even know where to start.

I just thought a lot about it.

The conclusion that I came to by myself was “I don’t have to study for school works. Getting good school grades are not a necessity to become a mangaka! Mangaka need only to know what’s needed for drawing manga!”

Oh!!!! Every time I remember how that it was a really, really stupid decision I made!!!

Even in the 21st century, many people still make that same stupid decisions over and over again, as I did, because we don’t want to study at school!!! PLEASE DON’T DO THAT!!!

Anyway, at that time I made this stupid decision and decided not to study at school and only read the books that I wanted to. But I didn’t have money to buy books and there were no library nearby.

There was not a single book in the school library (back in th 80’s and early of 90’s, many Korean school didn’t carry books in their students library). And at home I only had access to a complet encyclopedia my parents had bought a long time ago.

So I decided to read the whole encyclopedia collection at home.

I thought it would be a good idea to read these books as to find many sources when creating my own manga. A total of 30 volumes encyclopedia were the source I chose to be a mangaka since the very beginning.

I started to read the first volume from this collection during the winter break of 1987. I read and wrote notes together when I found good ideas from the books. I reached the end of volume 15 over the winter break.

After winter break was over, I had to go back to school and take exams and failed horribly. Both my parents and me were shocked about my terrible exam results. So I restarted to study for school.

So I finished to read only half from the 30 volumes of encyclopedia and even though that encyclopedia collection disappeared a long time ago, two of the notes I wrote back then are still on my bookcase.

Notes

One of my notes.

When I was in the 3rd grade in Highschool in 1991, SciFi Novels became very trendy on the Korean book market.  I always wanted to be a SciFi mangaka, so it was a great time for me to learn and read many kinds SciFi contents.

I have read about two hundred SciFi novels over that year, and read them over and over again. Of course, most of them are now gone, but I still have some.

The picture below is the SciFi novels still remaining in my studio.

Needless to say, these SciFi novels are an important source of my ideas and greatly influenced my SciFi manga <Hotel> and <Origin>.

SciFi novels Collection

Sometime back in highschool, I don’t clearly remember when but I read an interview from a mangaka. He said:

You have to write 100 stories to become a mangaka.

These ideas and the stories you create before debuting as a mangaka will keep helping you after becoming a pro mangaka.

Before your debut, you have to envision the stories to be used for a lifetime.

Hum, it is difficult to say but I personally agree with him. 

But at that time, I started to wrote my original stories on my diary, as what he said. Putting numbers on each stories and ideas.

The first manga with a story I created was when I was 11, so that is the first one. Starting from the second one, I kept putting numbers on every stories and ideas I come with… After that, miraculously, I debuted after I wrote those 100 stories.

Boichi's diary

This is my diary where I wrote my ideas and stories.

Ideas and concepts

Can you see the red numbers?

I debuted as a mangaka in second grade of college when I was 20, this number had just passed 100. Some ideas and concepts have yet to be drawn in manga so I blurred them to protect my future plans. I hope you understand, but I’m not sure these ideas will become a manga.

And my 104th story was published as an oneshot manga in 1994. The title was not yet set at the concept level, but I named it “LTU” after it was announced in a girls manga magazine in Korea.

If we’re able to do what we plan to with Boichi.com, I may be able to announce my works here.

Début work

My 90th original story became my debut work. I wrote the idea at 19 and it was announced as my debut work when I was 20.

This is what I did when I was young. I sometime made good decisions and some other times, bad ones. But each of them were meaningful to becoming a mangaka. 

I didn’t have the informations to become a mangaka when I was young, but on the other hand I tried very hard to be one, so that I could not turn away a single line of this mangaka’s interview that I read.

For now, unlike in my past, the ideas and concepts does not come from books or movies. I usually come up with ideas for my works when meeting with editors.

<Wallman> and <Origin> came up at a meeting with my editor.

<Sun-Ken Rock>’s concept idea came out on a morning walk, while I sitting on a small bench of a college’s park.

The concept ideas for <H.E> came out on March 11th of 2011, after the great earthquake in Japan. That time, I had a conversation with my assistants, about what we can do for the world, Japanese readers, and Japanese manga circles.

I hope my answer helped you.

– Boichi

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