Animefringe Cover Story:
Manga On The Web
By Steve Diabo (Kaneda) and Rebecca Lee
If you're an otaku and you spend a fair amount of time on the Internet, chances are you're familiar with the concept of online manga. Series like Wendy, MegaTokyo, Diesel Sweeties and Sinfest are well-known and well-loved on the web for their refreshing and innovative new styles, their indie flair, their addictive storylines, and of course, the fact that they're completely free to visit and enjoy anytime and anywhere!
The good staff members at your favorite webzine and mine, Animefringe, are no different than your usual joe schmoes. Along with breathing the air from the Earth's atmosphere and occasionally gorging ourselves on fried chicken, a good many of us are haplessly addicted to online manga, not entirely unlike the rest of our loyal readers. This article is the first of a series of articles to be seen in the coming months, showcasing some of the internet's more prolific online manga series. You'll be able to read about some of the web's greatest online manga offerings, pick the brains of their creators, and learn more about the black art of online manga than you ever thought possible. And, for the unenlightened few -- you can take this opportunity to initiate yourself into one of the web-savvy otaku's favorite pastimes. Online manga, here we come!
In our first chapter, we'll be taking a look at a charming young man who writes under the nom-de-plume of 'The People's Cartoonist'. His personal website, www.timedisorder.com, is home to his two manga series, 3rd Wish and Your Half. For the grand price of 0 dollars and 0 cents, you can read all the manga, view some animated shorts, and even play some interactive games based on the manga characters!
3rd Wish, his first manga series, is an ongoing glimpse into the life of Gibson Burroughs, a blunt and serendipitous young man who was "lucky" enough to have been given three wishes. For his first wish, he was granted a shape-changing girl named Dahlia, over whom he has complete control. His second wish, simply enough, was for immortality and invincibility for both of them. So what's his third wish? Well, when you have Dahlia and the condition of a God on Earth, what more could you want, really? 3rd Wish chronicles the life and times of Gibson and Dahlia as the roam the landscape, trying to decide what to spend that last incredible wish on.
On the other side of the coin, there's Your Half -- a comedy about a man on a mission, a girl on a bender, and all their wacky trials and tribulations. To the heroine, Melissa "Liss" Ogilvie, Kurt seemed to be quite the enticing man -- affluent, good-looking, with a certain sense of suave and sophistication. That is, That is, until she discovered (on their first date, no less) that he's a mad scientist with plans for world domination -- and he wants her to pilot a hardsuit with enough firepower to level an urban property of sizeable proportions with minimum effort. Well, I guess you can say Kurt and Liss didn't see eye-to-eye. Instead of allowing Kurt to recruit her as his own personal killing machine, she abandoned him and promised to ruin his plans with the aid of her newly-acquired hardsuit!
Animefringe approached TPC to see if we couldn't have a chat with him and learn more about his efforts, his influences and his alibis. He didn't put up too much of a fight, and we're glad to be able to publish this exclusive interview with the man himself. Enjoy!
AF: What on Earth possessed you to start drawing online manga, anyway?
TPC: I started drawing stuff with that splendid manga look because I didn't have anything else to do. I've always liked drawing but I was never very good, so I slowly taught myself to draw by using the anime style, primarily because it was rare (and therefore cool) when I started up, and also partially because it's so easy to draw. That's an undeniable fact. The worst amateur artists on earth all just happen to be anime fans. The reason I focused and started drawing my first series (3rd Wish) was because I had just been through an unrewarding relationship and I wanted to vent my frustrations -- that, and I suddenly had a lot of time on my hands.
AF: 3rd Wish -- interesting series. It's interesting how, as you say, an unrewarding relationship gave the inspiration to do the series. I won't go so far as to say it's light-hearted, because in my opinion one can't really classify your work as either black or white... but the common thread between your two series released so far, 3rd Wish and Your Half, is relationships. Is that something you intended on doing, and intend on continuing in future series?
TPC: Christ, I dunno. I suppose. Well, ok, yes. Both series have predictable plotlines based off of unrequited love. That's a very common plot device, and for good reason. Courtship is one of the very few activities that can go on and on and on without ever getting boring. I also want to admit that the reason my books have dwelled on that is because it's really easy to do. Unless pornography is depicted, relationship-based comics are pretty much just page after page of scowling, talking heads. I promise as time goes on, especially in Your Half, there'll be less chat, more splat.
AF: One thing I hope never changes about Your Half is some of the hilarious scenarios and sayings. It's definitely some of the funniest online manga anywhere. My personal favorite is the attack on the non-descript immigrant pretzel man. But with all the immigrant humor, cuss words, bold displays of *cough* exaggerated female anatomy and the "easy lay" antics of Jessica, has anyone ever complained about your work being too lecherous, too discriminatory, too bigoted or just plain too "wrong"?
TPC: Nah. No one has. People who read stuff like independent comics aren't the sort of people who get offended by things they read. Even though my books have been pretty rude at times, there's never been any outright nudity or uncensored language. I always thought people who use excessive vulgarity lack creativity.
AF: So what's with the moniker, 'The People's Cartoonist'?
TPC: There was this old comedy TV show from England called The Young Ones. It was a brilliant show and one of the main characters called himself 'The People's Poet'. I laughed and thought to myself, "Hell, if he's The People's Poet then I'm The People's Cartoonist." People think it's a funny pen name, and as you can predict, people constantly joke that I'm a communist.
AF: The Young Ones! I loved that show! That has to be one of my all-time favorite TV shows. The characters and storylines were all outrageously far-out and funny, not unlike your comics' own characters and storylines. It's a damn shame they don't air it around here anymore, but I've been looking for video copies. So would you consider The Young Ones, or any other TV shows, books, etc. for that matter, an influence in your comics and writing style?
TPC: Oh yeah. I wish they were more so than they currently are. There are loads of really super gags from TV and radio shows that I'd love to redo in my comics, but I can't. You see, comedy really depends on timing and delivery, aspects nicely broadcast through TV and radio but nearly impossible to distribute through comic books. It's a drag, but cartoonists do their best. I suppose the TV shows that I've watched the most often, and therefore would have the most influence on my material, are The Simpsons, Kids in the Hall and Monty Python.
AF: Do you have any favorite manga artists, or series for that matter?
TPC: The only manga I like and collected is a series called The Violinist of Hamelin. I don't know the cartoonist's name, or anything else printed in the books, but I do know that it's a brilliant and fantastically well-illustrated manga series. I've collected every issue, purchased from a Japanese bookstore in Edgewater, NJ. A few years ago it was finally picked up by the animation studios and made into a TV series and an OVA. The TV series was beautiful, but unwatchable from an American's point of view because it was all intensely dialogue based and difficult to understand. The video release was a lot of fun and very well done.
AF: Do you read any other online comics out there?
TPC: No. As the years went by, I stopped watching anime and reading manga, and I was never really a fan of American comics at all. There were a few daily syndicated comic strips that I used to follow, such as Monty (used to be called Robotman), Piranha Club, The Duplex, Zippy, and some others but nothing these days. I wish I could find a funny comic book series to be a fan of. The comics I've found that claim to be funny are usually a direct parody on other comics or commentary on some passing inane trend. I guess that's why I want to try to make a series that's fun and funny to the general public, not just to animation fans, computer users, or some other repugnant target audience.
AF: How would you rate your artwork on a scale of 1 to 10, and why?
TPC: 1 being bad and 10 being great? I'd suppose I'm a 5. I'm stuck in the odd position of being better than the average amateur or gag cartoonist, but not good enough to mix with real comics. I'm expecting it to take about 3 to 5 more years of independent practice before I'm good enough to really impress the masses. Or, at least, confident enough in my abilities to tackle that task.
And, well, there you have it. All the fun and frolic of The People's Cartoonist's excellent works can be found at http://www.timedisorder.com/, and I'm sure he wouldn't mind you stopping by. Tell him Animefringe sent ya!