Tonoharu en Espanol–Now on Sale!


Cover of Spanish edition of Tonoharu

This month the Spanish version of Tonoharu made its debut. It should be available right now in Spain’s finer comic book stores.

The book collects Tonoharu: Part One and Two into a single volume, much like the French version that came out last year. It’s the perfect gift for the Spanish-speaking, Japan-loving comics fan in your life. More details (in Spanish, of course) can be found at the publisher’s website:
http://www.sinsentido.es/noticias/editorial/132/

Fellow cartoonist Abby Denson was kind enough to snap a picture of the book out in the wild (look in the upper left-hand corner) when she was in Spain promoting her own book:
pic.twitter.com/fS9SL9NG

An editor at Sins Entido recently told me they’ll be sending me my copies of it, so I’ll let you know once I’ve had a chance to look at the real thing! Also, I’m not sure if/when it’ll make it to other Spanish-speaking countries outside of Spain; if I hear anything I’ll let you know!

“Tonoharu” dans un Livre Français de l’Architecture

The publisher of the French edition of Tonoharu, Le Lezard Noir, has put out a book entitled Mangapolis about the way Japanese architecture is portrayed in manga.

The book has a section about how non-Japanese comics portray Japan, and Tonoharu is among them, getting a two page spread. I also wrote a couple of paragraphs about Japanese architecture. Hopefully my uninformed opinions sound better translated into French than they do in the original English!


Sorry for the crappy photo…

Elsewhere in the book is a never-before published panel from Tonoharu: Part Three! O.M.G., right guys?!?!?!

So if you can read French and are interested in Japanese comics/architecture (and really, who doesn’t fit those two criteria) then check it out!

There’s also a gallery show coinciding with the launch of the book, running through June 16th 2012 at Maison de l’Architecture de Poitou-Charentes (thank god for cut and paste) in Poitiers, France. That includes some enlarged Tonoharu artwork:

So if you live in a Poiters area, do check it out. Details here.

“Tonoharu: Part Three” Progress Report #2


Progress Bar Key
Script/Story:
The Story/Script for the comic
Artwork: The Drawing, Inking, and Computer Work for the comic
Final Edits/Incidentals:
Post-Production Edits, Designing the Cover, Preparing for Press, etc.

(More information about Tonoharu can be found here.)

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I’ve just finished the artwork for page 39 out of a (projected) 117, which means the the artwork for Tonoharu: Part Three is now officially, exactly, ONE-THIRD COMPLETE! Hooray!

I won’t even make a wild guess about when Tonoharu: Part Three will be finished and available for purchase. I’ve missed so many self-imposed deadlines that it’s hard to say, especially now that I have a full time job again. In any event, it’ll still be a while yet, so don’t hold your breath!

One (small) piece of good news for those who are waiting for Tonoharu: Part Three: my job affords me a very generous 20 days of paid vacation. So far, after being on the job for almost seven months, I’ve used one of them. My plan is to take a whole month off this summer, and visit the US. Other than seeing old friends and family and such, I hope to devote most of that time to working on Tonoharu: Part Three. At best I might be able to finish ten extra pages or so, so I don’t mean to imply that a month of dedicated work will bring the book to the cusp of completion or anything, but hey, every little bit counts!

Oh, one more thing, in regards to The Kameoka Diaries, my new series of webcomics. You might be wondering if that’s slowing Tonoharu progress down even further. The honest answer is yeah, probably a bit. But actually, not too much. I tend to work on The Kameoka Diaries in places that I couldn’t work on Tonoharu anyway (cafes, bus stops, etc). Plus, I think it’s good for me to have something else to work on, to let off steam. If I never did any KD comics, I might have another 1-3 pages of Tonoharu done, but that’s about it.

Well, I’ll put up another progress report when the artwork for Tonoharu: Part Three is halfway done; probably show a couple of panels from the book then too. If you want more tedious, frequent updates, I tweet whenever I finish a page, so follow me on Twitter if you want. Peace!

Tonoharu: Official Selection at Angoulême Comics Festival!

Cool news! The French version of Tonoharu has been chosen as an official selection for the Angoulême International Comics Festival, Europe’s largest comics festival!

Tonoharu is one of 58 books chosen as an official selection. As I understand it, a few thousand books were eligible, so it’s a pretty big deal and a real honor.

This puts Tonoharu in the running for some of the most prestigious awards in comics. (And no, “prestigious comics award” is not an oxymoron.) Looking over my competition (which includes comics greats like Dan Clowes, Jim Woodring, Craig Thompson, and Joe Sacco, just to name a few) I think its fair to say I don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell at the top prize, or even the Angoulême International Comics Festival Essentials prize, which is awarded to five books. But I might have a shot at the best newcomer award or something.

Awards will be announced at the festival in late-January. I’ll keep you posted!

My sincere thanks to my French publisher Le Lezard Noir, (in particular Stéphane Duval and Anne Cavarroc) for producing such a beautiful edition of my book!

Angoulême International Comics Festival Official Selection List (in French)

Tonoharu: Official Selection at Angoulême Comics Festival!

Cool news! The French version of Tonoharu has been chosen as an official selection for the Angoulême International Comics Festival, Europe’s largest comics festival!

Tonoharu is one of 58 books chosen as an official selection. As I understand it, a few thousand books were eligible, so it’s a pretty big deal and a real honor.

This puts Tonoharu in the running for some of the most prestigious prizes in comics. (And no, “prestigious comics award” is not an oxymoron!) Looking over my competition (which includes comics greats like Dan Clowes, Jim Woodring, Craig Thompson, and Joe Sacco, just to name a few) I think its fair to say I don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell at the top prize, or even the Angoulême International Comics Festival Essentials prize, which are awarded to five books. But I might have a shot at the best newcomer award or something.

Awards will be announced at the festival in late-January. I’ll keep you posted!

My sincere thanks to all the people at Le Lezard Noir, (in particular and translator ) for producing such a beautiful edition of my book!

Angoulême International Comics Festival Official Selection List (in French)

“Tonoharu: Part Three” Progress Report

Progress Bar Key
Script/Story:
The Story/Script for the comic
Artwork: The Drawing, Inking, and Computer Work for the comic
Final Edits/Incidentals:
Post-Production Edits, Designing the Cover, Preparing for Press, etc.

(More information about Tonoharu can be found here.)

****

I haven’t done one yet, so I figured it was high time I put up a progress report for Tonoharu: Part Three.

I’ve been putting it off because I wanted to wait until the artwork was 25% done, because that felt like a worthy enough milestone to document. Or even 20% would’ve been good, since that would have been a nice round number.

But with all the packing and sorting for my move to Japan, I haven’t made any real progress on the book for the past few weeks, and now that I’m in Japan settling into a new life/job here, it’ll probably be a couple weeks before I can get back into work on Part Three. So I thought to heck with it. Rather than wait for a milestone percentage, may as well just update now.

Now that the script is mostly done, I can give you a fairly accurate page count: I’m thinking 115 pages, give or take a couple. This will put the book between Part One and Two lengthwise.

So the million dollar question is: what’s my projection to complete the book? And the unsatisfying answer is: I have no idea. Now that I have a “real” job again, that will take priority, and eat up a big chunk of my day. But on the other hand, I still am committed to working on Tonoharu: Part Three in evenings and weekends, so I hope to continue to make steady progress. I’ll probably have a better idea once I’ve had a chance to settle into my new life here, and can see how much time I’m able to devote to the book during my off hours. Look for that in my next progress report a few months from now.

But if you’re just dying for more frequent updates, I post on my Twitter feed every time I finish a page, so follow me there if you want to follow my progress in excruciating detail:
My Twitter Account

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Next week I plan to blog about my new home in Japan, so stop by next Friday for that!

Interview from “Standard” Magazine

The following interview ran in the French magazine Standard. It was translated into French (obviously), so the original English version has never been published. The interviewer, Jean-Emmanuel Dubois, was kind enough to allow me to put up the English version here. So here it is:

To what extent Daniel Wells is you?
I share some qualities with the character. Like Dan I’m introverted and somewhat socially awkward. And the situation I put him in—working as an assistant English teacher at a rural Japanese junior high school—was in large part based on my own experience. But I wouldn’t say Dan is an avatar for myself, contrary to what many readers seem to believe. I borrowed from aspects of my own personality in creating the character, but that’s true for all the characters in the book.

To you ever think of going back to Japan? Where do you live now and why?
Right now I live in Minneapolis, USA. It’s where I was raised, and serves as a “home base” of sorts between trips abroad. I’ll be heading back to Japan this July. In the past decade I’ve spent as much time in Japan as I have in the States, and it really feels like a second home now.

Is the town you live in was touched by the earthquake, the Tsunami and the Fukushima disaster? Do you still have contacts in Tonoharu? If so what did they told you?
I lived primarily in central and southern Japan, which was far enough away to escape the devastation. My friends in Japan were distraught over the events (as we all were) but thankfully no one I knew was injured.

Why did you decide not to translate what the Japanese people were saying?
Originally I planned to include translations, but as I looked over the script I realized it worked better without them. Leaving the Japanese untranslated more viscerally expresses the sense of profound isolation you experience when you literally have no idea what everyone around you is saying.

What’s your favorite comics or mangas about expatriate people or about exile or exodus?
One of the main reasons I originally wanted to create Tonoharu was because of the dearth of comics (and movies and tv shows for that matter) that tackled the experience of living abroad in an honest way. I hoped Tonoharu would help fill that gap. Since then I’ve become aware of a few good comics that deal with the expat experience; the work of Joe Sacco and Guy Delisle comes to mind.

Did you suffer during your stay in Japan of anti-American feelings? Did you meet any Japanese expatriate in the USA and did their friends and family blamed them to go to settle down in a historical enemy land?
Other American expats would sometimes complain that old Japanese ladies would glare at them on the train or whatever, but I personally never really noticed a strong anti-American/anti-foreigner sentiment. There was a Japanese guy who worked at my board of education who was always trying to talk to me about American military bases in Japan, but I never sensed hostility from him per se (just a creepy intensity). Likewise, I can’t think of any Japanese friends who’ve lived in the US who got flak about it. I think those xenophobic prejudices are becoming rarer, especially among members of the younger generations. I guess my grandmother was really surprised when I described how well I was treated in Japan. I think her understanding of the country was mostly informed by World War II propaganda, which paints a distorted picture to say the least.

In the first volume the relationship with the Japanese teacher seems a bit awkward and at the same time some American male are quite sexist toward Japanese women-What was in real life your relationship and your love life with Japanese women? What did you learn? What are the main differences between US males & Japanese women in your opinion?
Japanese society is still quite male-centric; the whole “ladies first” idea was never a part of the traditional culture. Japanese men expect a measure of deference from their girlfriends and wives that would be considered unacceptable in the West. So I think Japanese women tend to idealize American and European men, imagining them to be chivalrous romantics. Some Western men take advantage of this rose-colored perception to lascivious ends. I’d like to think that I wasn’t among them, but I’ll admit that it made dating easier. All I had to do was open a door or do the dishes every once in a while, and it was like I was Prince Charming.

What’s your main graphic & storytelling influences?
My influences are probably pretty predicable to anyone who knows even a little about alternative comics and cinema. On the comics side, Chris Ware, Seth and Daniel Clowes have all played a big role. For movies, I’m a big fan of Wong Kar-wai and the Coen Brothers, and their work has probably had some influence on my own. Like I say, pretty predictable.

Your comic is very sophisticated and graphically follow a lot of rules (like all the panels getting the same size, no black borders) what make you follow that path?
My overriding design principle was trying to maximize readability. I try to keep things consistent and straightforward unless there was a good reason for deviation. Readability isn’t sexy, but it’s important for longer books. Some comics have flashy layouts and character designs that look good, but don’t read good. Reading them is actually tedious. For Tonoharu, I didn’t want the format and presentation of the book to take precedent over its content.

What’s your comic projects for the future?
Once Tonoharu is done I want to write a non-fiction comic about East Asian calligraphy. From 2008 to 2010 I studied it at Shikoku University, and was amazed by how deep and unique the discipline was. I’ve come to believe that East Asian calligraphy is the world’s most sophisticated inking tradition, and that cartoonists and illustrators of all stripes could benefit enormously from its study.
There are already a number of informative books about East Asian calligraphy in English, but they tend to be very dry and academic. So I’m hoping to write something that serves as a fun introduction that could be enjoyed by laypeople.

Did some Japanese people read your graphic novel and how did they react?
Most of my acquaintances in Japan aren’t fluent in English, so I haven’t had much of an opportunity to discuss the content of the book with them.
That said, most were surprised by the look and format of the book. Japanese manga is much more standardized than American comics, both in terms of style and presentation. In the US, comics are marginalized enough that creators can seek their own path without needing to worry too much about reader expectations or editorial interference. Because of this, I think you see more diversity in American comics. Since most Japanese people have never read a non-Japanese comic, they were often surprised because Tonoharu doesn’t conform to their expectations for the medium.

Will you agree if i say to you there’s also an influence of European comics in Tonoharu?
I have to admit I’m fairly ignorant when it comes to European comics. As a kid I read some Tintin, and no doubt Hergé’s ligne claire art style has had an effect on my work. I’m also a big fan of the Norwegian cartoonist Jason. His panel transitions are among the most economical and artful that I’ve seen, and I hold them up as an example to be emulated.