How I got the Monbusho Research Scholarship (Part 1 of 4)

Welcome to the first in a four part series of entries about my experience applying for a Monbusho Research Scholarship (aka the “Monbukagakusho” or “MEXT” Scholarship). If you don’t know what the Monbusho is, I’ve previously written a couple other entries about it which could serve as an introduction of sorts, which can be found here.

I wanted to write about the application process because of the confusion and uncertainty I encountered when I was applying for one. The process is extremely long (about seven months went by from when I turned in my application until I finally found out I had been accepted), and the application guidelines could be maddeningly vague. Countless times I wished I could have access to a couple successful applications, just to give me some idea if I was on the right track on not. But despite tireless internet searches, I could never seem to find anything like that.

So I decided that if I got a Monbusho Scholarship, that I’d write a detailed account of the application process in the hopes that it might be of some use to future Monbusho applicants. I’m pleased to say that I did get it, and so here is my account.

Continue reading How I got the Monbusho Research Scholarship (Part 1 of 4)

Headin’ off to Japan! / Book Release Party Reminder / Review Roundup


This is the last entry to go up while I’m still on American soil; next Tuesday, I’m boarding a plane and heading off to Japan, to study Calligraphy at Shikoku University for two years!

What’s that you say, Twin Cities residents? You just couldn’t live with yourself if you didn’t see me at least one more time before I go? In that case, why not join me tomorrow, Saturday March 29 from 4pm to 7pm! I’m throwing a joint book release party with fellow graphic novelist Tim Sievert at Big Brain Comics in Minneapolis, to celebrate the release of our respective graphic novels, Tonoharu: Part One and That Salty Air! For more details, see this post.

But in case my imminent departure from the USA isn’t enough to convince the Minnesotans among my readership to come out to my little soirée, then how’s about these reviews/coverage for my book, Tonoharu: Part One?

The Daily Crosshatch / Brain Heater
Comics Waiting Room / Marc Mason
Comic Book Bin / Leroy Douresseaux
Read About Comics / Greg McElhatton
The Japan Times / David Cozy
Best Shots / Micheal C Lorah (Review of Tonoharu a little less than halfway down the page)
Booklist also reviewed Tonoharu, but I can’t seem to find a link to that…

Other Coverage
JETAANY / Alexei Esikoff
Roseville Review / George Fairbanks

It’s both bizarre and exciting to have complete strangers comment on my work; it gives me a whole other perspective than friends and family, whose criticisms naturally soften when confronted by my large, puppy dog eyes. I’ve been very happy with the critical response Tonoharu has received thus far. Most of the reviews I’ve seen have been quite positive, and I’m glad that I managed to communicate something successfully with Tonoharu. Thanks to all the reviewers & reporters for taking the time to read and evaluate it.

This entry is pretty short, but I tell ya, this month was exhausting with all the preparations for this trip, the book release party, the book marketing… I’m beat. So I think I’ll end it here. Hope to see you tomorrow at the party, otherwise, sayonara!

Actually, one more quick note: I figure for my first few weeks in Japan, I probably won’t want to have to worry about updating this blog, so I’ve prepared six blog entries to autopost for the next six Fridays. So continue to stop on by for those, (the first two of which will include shocking revelations that I dared not admit while still on American soil). And to read about my new life in Japan, check back on May 16 when I’ll post an entry about that.

The Future is in the Past

Artwork from Katsushika Hokusai’s Sketchbook

Hey Blog Readers,
Below is a press release I wrote to announce that I got a Monbukagakusho Scholarship, hence the use of the third person. If the editor of the
New York Times is among my readers (and I can only assume s/he is), please feel free to run this in your publication.  –Lars


The Future is in the Past
American Cartoonist finds Inspiration in Traditional Japanese Art

For Immediate Release

In 1833, the great Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai wrote about his artistic development. Although seventy-three years old at the time, his ambitions were far-reaching; he predicted that by the time he was 110, his artistic skills would be so great that “every line will surely have a life of its own.”

Hokusai may have been overly optimistic about his own lifespan (he died at the age of 89), but in the opinion of Minnesota cartoonist Lars Martinson, he achieved the level of mastery to which he aspired. And Lars would like nothing more than to follow in his footsteps, albeit in a medium that didn’t even exist in Hokusai’s time: comic books. Continue reading The Future is in the Past

Hurray! I got the Monbusho!


As my loyal readers (all three of you) may recall, several months ago I wrote about my application for a Monbusho Research Scholarship to study in Japan [Link to that entry]. Hoping that the Monbusho would become a big part of my life and that I’d eventually write numerous entries about it, I even gave “Monbusho Scholarship” its own blog category, as you can see to the left of this entry.

For months one lone entry inhibited the “Monbusho” category, because for months I knew nothing new to report. The application process was long and there seemed to be no end in sight. But just this week, I received final confirmation that my bid for a Monbusho Scholarship was successful! Yippie!

I’ll be leaving for Japan in April, for a period of two years. I’ll be living in Tokushima City, studying at Shikoku University. This is an incredible opportunity, and I can’t say how thrilled I am to have been selected.

As I mentioned in the first entry about the Monbusho Scholarship, I intend to write in detail about the application process and my approach to it, in the hopes that such an account might be useful to future applicants. But it’ll probably be at least a couple months or so before I get to that, so interested parties should check back later this year for that.

So now I gotta start getting ready to go to Japan–I’ve only got six weeks to get everything in order. Yikes!

In other news, I’ve just recently gotten copies of Tonoharu: Part One in. An entry about that, as well as details on how to purchase it, will come next week.

An Introduction to the Monbusho Scholarship

Pictured: Me, in the Future (???) 

As mentioned in my first entry, I’m currently living off my savings and cartooning fulltime. My hope is to make fulltime cartooning a sustainable reality, and as such, money is the predictable bottom line. If this venture fails to earn me at least a living wage, I’ll be forced to abandon it (or at least abandon its fulltime pursuit).

But as important as capital is, if I devote too much time to the pursuit of funds, then I wouldn’t have any time to devote to my artwork, thus rendering the whole endeavor meaningless. So there’s a delicate balance that needs to be reached, between time spent on my art and time devoted to the logistics of getting by. Only in rare instances are these two factors in harmony with each other. One such instance is in my pursuit of a Monbukagakusho (or “Monbusho” for short) Scholarship.

Continue reading An Introduction to the Monbusho Scholarship