“Hoshizora ni uta e ba” by Masai Akiyosha

A 1950s shojo manga I bought online from a Japanese auction site, a relic of the era of kashihon, inexpensive rental libraries through which many manga books were distributed in impoverished, post-war Japan..   “Hoshizora ni uta e ba (If You Sing to the Starry Sky”) by Masai Akiyosha. Here are select pages, and my  non-Japanese-reading commentary/ guesses at what’s going on.   First, the cover and page one of the story.

hoshizora-ni-uta-e-ba-cover

The cover appears to be by a different artist than the interior.  Perhaps 勝山ひろし – KATSUYAMA Hiroshi?

masai-akiyoshi-hoshizora-ni-uta-e-ba-1

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“Lunatic” – Chapter 2 – The Process

This post will contain all the material that I produce while working on the 2nd chapter of my comic Lunatic: from thumbnails and sketches to finished pages.  Lunatic is a wordless story, with one image-per-page.  I’ll add new material to the top of the post as I do it.

April 19-May 5: Crawling to the Finish Line

Other nuisances of life interfered, and it took me ages to do the last page I had to do.  Not actually the last page of the story, but a transition page, to indicate that it’s morning in the last sequence.  It’s a repeat of an image I’ve drawn twice now, of the exterior of the girl’s house, roof, chimneys etc.  I’m getting kind of bored of drawing it, so I want to come up with something fun to do with this “morning” version.   A different angle, to begin with.  First, a light pencil sketch, just for composition:

p13 pencilsketch 4-19

Then, 10 DAYS LATER (!) (Really, I had other things to do.  Or was it the boringness of the page that kept me from getting to it)…. a couple more sketches: p13 pencilsketch 2 4-29p13 pencilsketch 3 4-29

Thinking of ways to make it interesting, I think of using masking fluid to define the clouds, with a light wash for the sky, shading the clouds to show the dramatic light of the sunrise.   A bunch of wash studies:p 13 wash studies 4-30

Letting the ink wash pool up at the bottom (on the tilted drawing table) accidentally makes that “burst” effect happen when it dries.  I decide to try and make use of that for the sunrise itself.

p13 wash studies 2 5-1

On to the final version.  The masking fluid is gooey stuff and hard to apply with precision.  I don’t really want to muck up a brush with it, so I used a pencil eraser to draw the cloud shapes with it:

IMG_20170502_134216682IMG_20170502_134300700

Brush on the washes, sloppily so that it pools up just above the roofline.

IMG_20170502_152705433

Et voila!

IMG_20170502_163544089

Once this is all dry, I peel off the masking fluid, so that there is a white edge to the clouds, with the darker shading in the middle.

Washes added to the building:p13 scan 1 gray

Ilm not sure if the wash effect feels like a sunrise… or is the building on fire?  But I’ll go with it for now.  It doesn’t have the dramatic lighting that I want, though… so I add more gray wash to the front of the building, and some cast shadows on the roof:p13b gray

Good morning, right?Continue reading →

BOOK REPORT: “Juliette: les fantômes reviennent au printemps” by Camille Jourdy

IMG_20170210_111255169Juliette: les fantômes reviennent au printemps (Juliette: the ghosts return in spring) is a 240-page French graphic novel, published by Actes Sud in 2016.  I don’t know much about Camille Jourdy : she’s done a lot of children’s books, and had a previous series of bd albums, Rosalie Blum, which I guess was successful, since it was adapted as a film as well.Continue reading →

“Lunatic” process 1/23/17: The Last Baby

8-2 grayscale

As I said, I wasn’t satisfied with the baby’s expression on page 8, so I drew it over.  I could have just redrawn the face and paste it in on Photoshop, but I really want the pages to be presentable as originals as well.

Anyway, this marks the end of the first chapter of “Lunatic,” in which the main character is an infant. I’ll now move on to Chapter 2, which will start with a lot of thumbnails and studies…

“Lunatic” process progress – 1/19/17

Okay, enough prep… ready to start on those last two pages of the chapter.

Actually, one more sketch:baby reach 1-19-17

…and NOW ready to go.  I will do the two-page sequence, of baby seeing the moon / baby reaching for it. Pencil, conte crayon and India ink, with white acrylic for corrections: Drew the second page first (page 9, in the current layout), because it was the one I was more nervous about getting right:9-1 FLAT

…and I think I did get it right.   I wanted them to be exactly alike in terms of composition, so I used the light table to lightly outline, then took it off the light box and went ahead with conte crayon and ink on page 8:

8-1 FLAT

I like the picture, in and of itself… but I don’t think I got the expression right.  The transition from 8 to 9 is to much.  The first page should show her beginning to react to what she’s seeing, leading in to the gesture on the next page.

“Lunatic” Process: 1/11-1/17/17

I’ve fallen off the “post every day” wagon this week, so here’s the work I did for this story over several days:

Continuing to work on the moon images for this sequence, as the clouds move over it, and the face is revealed.  I had penciled the final image (page 7, if the current layout holds), but I went back to work out the previous two (mostly so that I could have the cloud shapes consistent).  These are all done with black, white and gray acrylic paint, and conte crayon for the clouds.  A first try at page 5:

5-1 SCAN 1

I decided to reject this, because I wanted more clouds in the frame.  Next try:

5-2 SCAN 1

This (above) is after touch-ups in Photoshop, to darken the black and flatten out the texture of the black acrylic, as well as the warps in the page, which showed up clearly in the scan (as you can see in the top image).

Here’s the next in the sequence, page 6:
6-1

I decided that the eye and smile were too pronounced here (spoiling the impact of the “reveal” on the next page.  So I went back in with white acrylic and obscured them a bit:

6-1A

With these done, I went back to ink the final image of the sequence:

7-1 scan 1 flat

Over the next few days (the holiday weekend), I only managed a couple scribbled sketches.  Since I decided to draw the baby reaching for the moon (literally), after the face appears, I had a new idea for a final page of the sequence, baby’s point-of-view with her hand in the foreground.  Here is scribble of it, with some scribbled thumbnails next to it as a bonus:panel 10 alt sketch

I’m thinking that image might work better without the architecture between hand and moon, just black.

Then, unable to sleep one night, I did a few more sketches, some in preparation for finishing up this baby/moon scene, others in anticipation of the next scene to come.  This is all quick and dirty, but I’m being a stickler for completism — and also, these little scribbly sketches are an important part of the process.  So:

1-17-17 insomnia sketchs

“Lunatic” process, 1-10-17

Preparing to draw what (I think) will be page 7.  I don’t really know for sure how the pages will be ordered: though I have a plan, it might very well not hold. Since it’s one image per page, I think there will be a process much like film editing, where I have the “shots” and can play with different ways of ordering them.

Anyway, I felt a little uncertain of some of the perspective (though I’ve drawn this same scene several times by now), so I did a free-hand perspective sketch of the location:

1-10-17 building sketch reduced

The part I’m finding tricky for some reason are those brick things that slant down the roof from each chimney.  But I think I have it, more or less, so here is the penciled drawing for page 7:

p7 v1 pencils

That’s all, folks (for today)!

“Lunatic” process, 1-9-17: More moons

Still playing catch-up, in a way, after the 3 month layoff.  I’ve done pages of moon studies before.  But now I am a little more purposeful, because these studies are for pages I am actually about to draw: the gradual appearance of the face in the moon.  This page of sketches is not in the correct sequence.  I also took the opportunity to use black acrylic instead of India ink for the night sky.  I think I like the texture of it.

moon-clouds-studies-1-9-17Here they are rearranged into a rough sequence (and I copied and pasted the clouds in, where necessary for the flow of it:)moon-cloud-sequence

It won’t be a strip like that in the final — though looking at it makes me consider whether it should be.  I’ll draw the final versions now, taking a little more care with the placement of the clouds, and making their shapes more consistent.  And lighten up those craters a bit, next pass.  Of

“Lunatic” process – 1-7-17 – Page 4, again.

Completed the new version of page 4, with a more dramatic angle to the roof, and a bigger moon for more “presence” (the page, and the story, are about the moon, not the building, after all).   I used acrylic paint for the building and the moon, conte crayon for the clouds, and India ink for the sky.  Here it is, the raw scan above, and with photoshop touchups below:
p4-v2-scan

In Photoshop I darkened the black of the sky, then added more contrast in the roof, and lightened up the craters in the moon a bit.  It ended up looking like this:

p4-v2

Here, by the way (below), is the earlier version of the page, for compare and contrast. An improvement, I’m pretty sure (though I kind of like the big cloud in the older version better than in the new.  Oh well.)

First version
First version