Anime published in Japan during the 1970s-80s may often seem more simplistic than modern titles, yet one can’t deny that some of the most popular anime concepts and cliches were born at that time. Tough young men fighting for justice, beautiful strong women that accompany them, supernatural enemies from other dimensions and so on. Though it’s been a long time, there are still many fans of that era all over the world paying tribute to the awesomeness of retro anime.
One of them is Mane, a Spanish artist who currently resides in Japan. She designs fanarts of titles like Getter Robo, Saint Seiya, Devilman, Ashita no Joe and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure like only a small number of people can. It’s worth mentioning that she is among the few that make little adjustments on the original material instead of completely changing it. Thus, her work is very close to the retro feeling. That doesn’t stop her from adding her own perspective on the stories and their protagonists.
We’ve wanted to interview her for quite some time. Now, with the release of her latest doujinshi “Dynamic Fiesta Heroes”, it felt like the perfect chance to ask. Friendly, talented and full of enthusiasm, we present to you, Mane.
Neko-chi (N): Introduce us to yourself.
Mane (M): Hello!! My nickname is Mane, but my real name is Carolina! When I was younger, I used to do engravings, and my most favorite technique was the mezzotinto (or manera negra). That’s the reason I chose Mane as a nickname, because I love challenging difficult and laborious things!
I’m Spanish, but my English is bad! Please, excuse me in advance!
Combining studying with my hobby as an artist is not always easy, but I can’t live without drawing, so… I spend all my time looking at a computer or at a paper XD Now, I’m living in Japan, and I like so much going to a karaoke or shopping (manga, of course!).
I also love going for a walk, listening to good old rock bands (Queen, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Eagles, etc.) and eating chocolate. But the thing I love the most is… DRAWING!
I’ve been drawing fanzines since 2004. Harry Potter, One Piece, Dragon Ball, Saint Seiya, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures and works by Dynamic Pro are the main object of my parodies.
(N): At what age did you start drawing and when did you began thinking of this as a profession?
(M): I started drawing when I was 4. My elder cousin drew very well and I was envious of her, so I started copying her pics of Candy Candy. I created my first illustrated “book” back in those days. It was a story about a bad witch and a little girl who managed to destroy her powers! I didn’t know anything about manga and anime, but that story had many such elements (not only the style, which was a poor imitation of my cousin’s Candy Candy pics, but also some narrative notions).
To be honest, I thought of art as a profession only a couple of times. I’m a Fine Arts graduate, so I wanted to do a job related to arts. But once I knew how the art world works, I gave up and started considering art as a hobby. The second time I thought I could become a professional artist was when I saw my fanzines were favorably received by Spanish readers and they started telling me “I want to see your own story! Not only parodies!”. Those kind of comments really make me rethink about it, but the professional comic world is hard and I still want to draw only what I want! That’s so egoistic but it’s the truth! XD
(N): Could you describe your creative process?
(M): It’s so simple! I always draw the outline with pencil (either a normal or a light blue pencil) and ink (with calibrated pens or brush). I don’t like drawing directly with pen tablet, I think the result is not spontaneous! Analog techniques fit me better! I use Photoshop or PaintTool Sai only for coloring.
The process is the same for comic pages. But before drawing the whole page I do very little sketches of each page. Those storyboards are useful but not definitive, so, I can say I create everything from scratch.
The panel distribution is perhaps the most difficult thing for me. As a comic reader I grew up with Spanish comics (Tebeos), which have a very simple panel distribution. When I started reading Japanese manga I was very surprised to see that original panel distribution and tried to imitate it. Actually, I’m still trying to create pages of Japanese manga appearance.
(N): You’ve recently released two doujinshi, “Getter sen ga ippai” and “Dynamic Fiesta Heroes”, dedicated to the manga Dynamic Heroes. Tell us about these projects: how did you decide to do them, what was the procedure until their release and whether you’re satisfied with the result.
(M): I decided to rewatch “UFO Robot Grendizer” thanks to two friends and great artists who uploaded beautiful fanarts of Kouji and Duke. Suddenly, I remembered I used to watch Grendizer when I was a kid and I was caught by the seventiesness of its protagonist, Duke Fried (or Fleed). After that I watched Getter Robo, and to be honest, I love Getter Robo more than I love Mazinger or even Grendizer. Three heroes provide much more fun and make the series more dynamic (hehe…) When I arrived in Japan last year I found the manga Dynamic Heroes and I loved the way all those temperamental heroes can interact together (of course, I watched that movie where we can see them together, too!) So, I decided drawing a douji while taking advantage of the 40th Anniversary of Getter Robo (which is this year).
Moreover, here in Japan, there is a fandom for each existing manga or anime, so thanks to twitter and pixiv I noticed that I could sell a Dynamic Heroes doujin (which is inconceivable in Spain). So, I did it! I thought a funny story in order to show a more humorous aspect of the characters and drew the pages as usual. A friend of mine helped me with the Japanese dialogs and I sent it to the print house I work with here in Japan. I reserved a space in order to sell it at Comic City Spark and that’s all! Before that, I sold an introductory doujin at Comiket, at my friend’s space.
(N): What have you learned from this experience?
(M): I learned that, despite being a foreigner, if you can communicate with potential readers, you can sell anything here in Japan. I also learned that Dynamic Pro’s works still have a strong fandom. It’s small, but so active thanks to twitter and pixiv. So, the Dynamic fandom will go on! In fact, any fandom is able to go on!
(N): This is simply my humble opinion, but I think that “Dynamic Fiesta Heroes” builds well on what you created with your first doujinshi. It’s like seeing your work grow. What are the things you focus on the most when you look at your past works in comparison to what you do now?
(M): Thank you so much! I did the first doujin “Getter sen ga ippai!” while I was drawing “Dynamic Fiesta Heroes”, a friend of mine told me if I wanted to share space at Comiket and since it was one of my dreams I accepted, but I was not in time to release “Dynamic Fiesta Heroes”, so I did “Getter sen ga ippai” as a kind of introduction to “Fiesta”. I drew that doujin in two weeks.
When I look at my past works I try to focus on both good and bad things. But I don’t try to improve skills in a conscious way, I take every new project as a new challenge, not as an opportunity to correct past mistakes. (Continue to the next page)