What got you interested in comics? Any cartoonists that you look up to?
Alex: As a lifelong fan of anime, it was only natural to be drawn to the original source material that a majority of series are adapted from, manga. I especially enjoyed the simplicity of the yonkoma (or 4-koma) style, which are gag comic strips that follow a consistent, 4-panel format. Also, one of the ways I taught myself English outside of school as a kid was reading the comics section of The Sunday Oregonian!
When it comes to cartoonists, Mayumi Azuma is perhaps my biggest source of inspiration. She got her start with manga adaptations of Darkstalkers, a Capcom fighting game series, and Star Ocean: The Second Story, an RPG franchise before finding moderate success with her original work, Elemental Gelade, an 18-volume series that branched off into an anime (albeit a crappy one) and spin-off manga. That’s a level of success that I can only hope to reach someday…
As far as other cartoonists? Bill Watterson for Calvin and Hobbes (cliché, I know!), a quintessential part of any aspiring cartoonist’s repertoire; Nobuhiro Watsuki for Rurouni Kenshin, the series that first got me into manga, and for the kick-ass action sequences; Sarah Andersen for her relatable, self-deprecating humor… Ah crap, I have other questions to answer!
Can you tell us a little about your comic? How does it speak to the theme of the anthology (uncharted territory/unversed)?
Alex: As the title suggests, Love Unfolds chronicles a love story. More specifically, that of a first love, which is as exciting an experience as it can be a terrifying one. Having dealt with that myself, I developed the story to serve as a sort of escape from the harsh realities one inevitably faces with love, and opted for an innocent narrative with a more optimistic outcome.
What was the inspiration behind your story?
Alex: This past winter, I experienced my own first love. It was an uplifting, euphoric period, and developed during a time when I was deeply depressed, but things ended almost as soon as they started - which certainly doesn’t help things when you’re coping with depression! In fact, this came about at the start of this project, and my initial idea for a story went down a more darker path, but love fortunately won out at the end. Though it was fleeting, it had a huge impact, and ultimately bestowed some important lessons in my approach to the concept of love itself.
What challenges arose during the course of this project? Takeaways?
Alex: With the exception of a few sound effects, this is a silent comic, which meant that I had to rely solely on the visual elements to tell the story. Not having to struggle with lettering and dialogue meant that I had to allot the time I saved to other details, such as rendering backgrounds (ugggghhh…), making facial expressions more emotive, etc. Being that this was my first silent comic, however, I’d say that was the biggest achievement. This of course means that many mistakes were made, but will only result in that much more for me to learn from them going forward.
Can we expect more comics beyond this project?
Alex: As much as I claim to love comics, I certainly hope so! My goal for this summer is to practice with the 4-koma format in a series of (possibly) daily comics, while beginning work on a one-shot comic to submit to various contests later in the year.