No group of artists is more under-appreciated than fanartists. Whether we’re talking about music, fanfiction or designs, people seem to think that an artist working with material originally made by others is somehow lacking in comparison to the “competition”. I think otherwise. Cases like that of Saeko Doyle prove that artists who draw inspiration from already established characters can be just as creative and productive as those who create their own material. I asked Saeko to join us for an interview where talk about her work, the fandoms she loves and her future plans.
Neko-chi (N): Introduce yourself to us.
Saeko (S): Hi ! I’m Saeko Doyle and I’m a french freelance illustrator. Please excuse my poor english.
(N): What got you into drawing and what inspired you to start sharing your work?
(S): Like many artists I’ve been drawing ever since I was child, inspired by anime like Sailor Moon. I love drawing fanarts about manga or TV shows I love, but I began my career as an animal artist. First I made animal portraits and then I moved on to doing children’s books as an illustrator. Now I mainly work for adult or young adult material as comic’s assistant. That means I do things like putting screen-tones and drawing backgrounds. I have worked on Angélique, [Casterman Edition] and Save me Pythie [Kana edition]. Both of them are french comics.
(S): There are always images in my head I just have to draw, especially when I am listening to music. I love to sketch on paper with pencil, then I proceed to ink and colorize it on the computer. I have a Cintiq Companion and I use Manga Studio or Photoshop. I can’t really tell you how long it takes to complete a project -it depends on whether the illustration has backgrounds or not.
(N): Most of your work is compromised of manga and anime fanarts. What do you find attractive in that particular drawing style?
(S): I only read manga and I watch anime a lot, so I don’t have another style in my mind. Even though I am from France and we have many B.D. (Bandes dessinées), but I don’t read them that much. I like anime colors, designs and dynamic frames. I also love monochrome frames in manga.
(N): I want us to build a little on the previous question. What inspires you in a character or an already established story so much that you’ll draw fanart?
(S): Most of the time, when a character has a developed story, interesting personality and good design, I will want to draw him/er immediately. But sometimes, it’s just because the character is cute, but I need more of his/er story to start drawing. I can’t draw a character who doesn’t have a background story. That’s why you never see a random character in my gallery. Except one time when I drew a random “megane guy” (a guy with glasses). But after I drew him, I wanted to write a story about him. That’s how I drew my doujin M.P.C., an entire story with this random guy! I admire artists who create many original characters because I can’t do that. And when I think about a story, it takes me a lot of time. So it’s easier for me to draw fanart. When I draw fanarts I always want to have a character of my own with an equally interesting story as that of the character I am drawing. I work hard for that.
(N): Let’s discuss each of the fanbooks and doujinshi you’ve released so far. Please share a behind-the-stage story about each book and tell us what makes it special to you.
First of all, your two Fanart Collection books.
(S): My first fanart collection contains my favorites anime, I put inside some fanarts of titles I mostly watched during 2014, like Love Live, Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, No Game No Life, e.t.c… I just wanted to put my favorite ones in a book.
My second one, is focused exclusively on megane boyz, because I’m addicted on virtual characters with glasses! I really love the design of the megane guys, they are my weakness. So I put some characters I like very much in the book that.
(N): The CLANNAD Fanbook.
(S): I did this one because I was so moved by the anime I wanted to pay my own tribute to this series. I love the slice-of-life genre and I love sad stories! CLANNAD is one of the most beautiful and touching stories I have ever watched!
(N): A la recherche du café perdu.
(S): This is a doujin I made with Nao Yazawa, a japanese friend who is also a mangaka! She’s the mangaka of Wedding Peach. We met on Facebook and get along well. When I came to Japan, she asked me if I wanted to draw a doujin with her for the International Manga Festival in Tokyo, a convention that accepts applications from foreigners. It was my first convention in Japan! And I was so happy to be exposed at Comike, a place at Tokyo Big Sight. This was a dream of mine. There I could meet Japanese editors for the first time and listen to their advices about my work. The doujin talks about a cursed french girl who turns into coffee and splats on a manga, then she is stuck in the manga’s world. This a crazy story, because I and Nao made two pages successively, without any knowledge what the other side would draw. We just talked about the beginning and the end of the story. Will the protagonist be able to return in her real life?
(N): M.P.C. Consultant.
(S): This was the first doujin where I wrote the whole story on my own.
Kyоsuke Morikawa is a brilliant M.P.C consultant (Management Planning and Control), well-known for turnaround management, and for his unconventional methods. Among his requirements: love between coworkers is considered as counterproductive and so is strictly forbidden. This workaholic refrains from falling in love at the office, but his new assignment may change his mind.
This was the story I wrote for my random megane OC. I had a lot of fun drawing this! I studied in a management school before I switched to being an illustrator, so here I write about things I know from experience. This is a slice-of-life story (and some anecdotes here are true!). I want to draw more of this story.
I created this comic because I went to Japan for vacation, and I wanted to meet Japanese publishers there. My doujin was translated in japanese to show them. I met four editors (Shueisha, Kodansha, Shogakukan, Kadokawa) and it was so interesting! The situation was very similar to Bakuman; they read the whole story in front of you, then tell you what they think about it. We (myself and my translator) stayed almost one hour in each place. It was definitely a motivating experience! This doujin is available in french, english and japanese.
(N): Hot Spot
(S): Hot Spot is a R-18 side story about the french light novel Blind Spot I worked on. Myself and the author wanted to do a hentai doujin about two characters from the light novel, just to have some fun! Ayako is a partially-sighted seiyuu, and she’s in love with her manager. This doujin shows their first time together.
(N): Of course I’d also like to hear what you’ve got to say about your upcoming project, the Psycho Pass Fanbook you’re currently working on.
(S): Psycho Pass is one of my favorite anime of all time, I just want to pay tribute through the fanbook. I also want to do a doujin about it. But since I’m doing it in my free time, I can’t work as fast on it as I would like to.
(N): After these publications, what have these experiences taught you? Are there things you’d change if you could go back in time?
(S): Since I didn’t go through art school, all these experiences were necessary to progress. So I wouldn’t change anything.
(N): How much has your style evolved ever since you first started publishing your art?
(S): My style often changes because I admire many different types of drawing. I try to find “my” style but I’m never completely satisfied. Since I’ve started publishing my work I hope that I am getting better at drawing, lol, especially when it comes to anatomy, I always work more on it to progress. I’m rarely satisfied with my work, you could say I’m pretty harsh with myself. I simply want to draw better.
(N): Your shop is based in France. How difficult is it to make a career drawing manga when you live so far away from Japan?
(S): France has a huge manga culture, we have a lot of translated titles in our book shops. But you won’t find many french manga yet, even though many people want to draw in that style now and, I think, their numbers will be increasing in the future. My work in children’s books has been published but my comics haven’t yet. But I’m really happy that I work as an assistant because I am learning a lot and I am capable of performing many tasks quicker now! Because we have deadlines, and so we have to work fast. However, if I could speak japanese and live there, I think I would be happy to work in japanese manga too! It’d certainly be interesting.
(N): I’d also like to know your point of view on whether it’s better to work independently or under a publisher.
(S): It depends on the publisher. It’s great when they are serious because they can take care of many things like book fairs, signing sessions, stock management, advertising and more of all that stuff. When you’re independent you have to manage everything by yourself and that’s a tough job! But I think if you succeed it’s really great to have your own business because you’d free to put whatever you want in a doujin. But if you have a publisher who can advice and coach you, that’s an ideal situation, I think.
(N): Let’s talk about feedback. How much attention do you pay at other people’s opinions?
(S): I am always open to constructive advice. But a Japanese publisher said to me that you can’t listen to everyone, the most important is to have fun when you draw! Drawing, no matter what, everyday. And respect the deadlines too, lol.
(N): From your list of drawings, can you pick one you feel the most proud of?
(S): That’s a hard question, but I think I like these two very much. A Madoka Magica fanart and a No Game No Life fanart, because I took more time for the coloring than usual, lol.
(N): What should we expect from Saeko Doyle in the near future?
(S): More original doujin I hope!
(N): Is there anything else you wish to share with our readers?
(S): Thank you for reading it! Do not hesitate to contact me on my one of my social networks!