We Asked Three Essay Manga Editors About the Secrets of Slice-of-Life Comics - How to avoid being too self-referential?
Article by: Ichibo Harada＠HEW
I would like to see something that moves me emotionally, whether it's joy, anger, sadness, or something else.
── This is the second round of the To Aru Nichijō Manga Shō contest. How many works were submitted last time? And what was the ratio of fiction to non-fiction?
── Saisu, you're the vice editor-in-chief. What do you expect from the To Aru Nichijō Manga Shō contest?
Saisu: There are a certain number of people, both creators and readers, who have a preference for the essay manga genre. By holding a contest around "daily life", a theme which has something in common with essay comics but is also open to a wider range of works, we hope to broaden the horizons of both artists and readers by encouraging them to try drawing (and reading) works other than essay comics.
── Sato, you were in charge of the previous first prize winner, Hime Baachan to Naito. What do you think is the appeal of this work?
Sato: The author, Isami Sakura, has been working as a professional writer for a long time, and they have put a lot of techniques into this short story. Even though there are no unconventional twists or turns, each character is charming, and the scenes of ordinary daily life are nothing but heartwarming. In fact, I believe the artist themself used to be very close to their grandma, who owned a Shiba Inu. I could feel her wish for a world where the elderly would not be lonely, based on the author's own experience, and I could naturally relate to the work's message.
Matsumoto: Being able to empathize with the story and characters is vital. I would like to see something that moves me emotionally, whether it's joy, anger, sorrow, or something else.
Saisu: Works that are somehow relatable make us want to keep reading more. A key point in the selection process is whether an entry makes you want to see where the story goes.
── The first prize winner, Hime Baachan to Naito, as well as the honorable mentions 1DK Maid and Mamechishiki de Seishinteki ni Maunto Totte Kuru Kanojo all have some kind of appeal that makes the reader want to see more of the characters' daily lives.
If you have some unique experiences on your shoulders, then good for you. But...
── The concept of anything goes as long as it's about everyday life is interesting because it allows some freedom, but for the very same reason it's also hard to tackle. For example, if I were to draw what I ate yesterday at lunch, the outcome would be plain boring and self-serving...
── Continuing with our example, when writing about my lunch, it would be tempting to come up with something unusual, a rare meal... But that's not the point, is it?
── Especially in the field of comic essays, many people seem to think that they can't draw because they don't have a huge wealth of experience.
How to avoid being too self-referential?
── How do you make your work interesting for others to read, rather than just a story about yourself?
── I see, empathy is key. However, some authors end up firmly believing that everyone will find their self-referential work appealing. How does one look at their own work objectively?
Be creative with your thumbnails to grab people's attention at first sight!
── What is a technique one can use to catch the interest of the editors who are screening their work?
* A 1DK apartment is a one-bedroom apartment with a kitchen and dining space that is separated from the bedroom. They are typically under 30 square meters (320 sq ft). In the abbreviation 1DK, D stands for “dining” and K stands for “kitchen”. Note that there is no L for "living space".
Human life and emotions never go out of style.
── At first glance, the subject of everyday life may seem unremarkable. Where do you think the fun lies in everyday life?
── If emotions are what move the reader's feelings, then comics about everyday life are all but unremarkable.
── Listening to your words, it has become clear that the To Aru Nichijō Manga Shō contest places importance on "how to draw" rather than "what to draw".
── Last but not least, do you have a message for all authors who are planning to enter the To Aru Nichijō Manga Shō contest?
Matsumoto: We can't give you a prize unless you enter, you know. (laughs) Actually, Yachinatsu's 20 Ji Sugi No Hokoku Kai didn't win a prize in the past edition of the contest, but nevertheless, it caught the attention of an editor and was published. Even if you don't win an award, you may still leave an impression on an editor (e.g. "This author is really good at drawing animals, although the story is not so good!") and you may be contacted for a new project (e.g. about animals). Winning a prize is not everything, and it would be a shame not to submit your work if you actually would like to. We will read all entries, we promise!
The 2nd round of pixiv Essay's "To Aru Nichijō Manga Shō" contest is underway!
The 2nd To Aru Nichijō Manga Shō contest calls for manga works about everyday life!