Taiyo Matsumoto on Storymaking

(on the right, always in hat)

This interview‘s been floating around in my ‘must blog’ list for too long.  Taiyo Matsumoto talking about his latest manga, Sunny, and the various ways his mind/his practice works.  I’ve snatched out two sections that struck me as particularly revealing.  Not in a ‘OH so THAT’S how you write a story!’ way, but in a ‘what a beautiful human, look at him through his work’ kind of way:

‘Matsumoto works at what’s considered a steady clip, and says he always starts with the artwork before the story. His settings and many of his establishment shots in “Sunny” appear to be single thoughts, and stories often build into the background through secondary dialogue. He works for the most part without assistants, though his wife, the artist and manga illustrator Saho Tono, helps in prepping and coloring while occasionally giving editorial guidance.’

I’d like to give a little more credence to my sketchbook scrawling; pick up on characters that materialise out of no direct purpose and develop an idea from there.  I imagine it as a method of storytelling that speaks quite directly to emotions, the main focus being the atmosphere of a particular scene.

‘“I knew each character was based on someone, but I couldn’t attribute anyone’s behavior (to anyone specific),” he claims. “And I couldn’t avoid making them all me.”’

This is a perfect summary of engaged character-creation/design.

I haven’t read Sunny just yet, but now the dissertation is behind us, it is an important feature in the stack of literature I’ve built up as a treat for finishing.  I’ll be blogging about them on here then, hopefully along with gradual development of my own work (whatever it may be).


First Life Drawing Session of the Term

and the best one I have ever had.  Something just went very well in this session – I was on a high for at least 16 hours afterwards.

First some 2/5 mins (the first-first 2 mins bundle was on a sheet too big to scan):

Life 1





5/10 mins:

Life copy


Life 7


This next one was about half and hour or 40 mins, but I wish I had just stuck to regular pencil and taken multiple sketches – getting decent studies of the hands and feet – instead of this pinkness.  I don’t know why, but the only colouring pencils I had in my pencil case were three different shades of pink.  I mean I like pink, but this is a bit too much, even for me:

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 16.10.57...Help.

Jean Giraud/Gir/Moebius documentary

You know when someone’s talents move you so much that the very pit of your stomach tightens and comes too close to your diaphragm, paralysing you with nausea; making profanities spill from your lips and tears form in your ducts?  The work of Jean Giraud does this to me.  He talks in this documentary about putting all his energy into his drawings, making them ‘vibrate’, and talks about being a human.

He says:

‘The only way to allow the reader to identify is to create a character who resists.  Who doesn’t understand and who doesn’t want to understand.  Who is in total denial.  That’s the only way to attract a modern audience.’


Just viewed the prologue of new painterly Ghibli film Kaguyahime No Monogatari on Halcyon Realms (a great blog altogether), and I am too jittery to type very efficiently.  But look, and rejoice for such gorgeous animation techniques being employed in a feature film by one of the world’s biggest animation companies.

Also, watching this fills me with the urge to get back to animation (with a boxful of watercolours and slick brushes no less), while simultaneously making me think positively like I might have even a chance of getting a job doing something I like some time in the future.

Lovely interview with Yuko Shimizu

This interview from young Colombian illustrator, Tatiana Córdoba with that lovely Yuko Shimizu sez keep going:

‘I went to the MFA program at School of Visual Arts and Marchall Arisman, who’s the head of the department, used to say always that word [voice] and I think that’s an appropriate word for it. So things look in certain way because of who you really are, my work looks Japanese, I can’t help it, I’m not doing it superficially to make my work looks Japanese, it just happen to be that way for my background, but if someone call me and says, “I need an illustration of Mesopotamia”, I can do some research and make some images that evokes the mood of Mesopotamia, although it might still have the touch of Japan because I can’t erase that and it is not limiting me. If something limits you, if it is something superficial that you can easily change, I think that’s style. However, something that comes more for inner self is personal voice. And what is the best way to approach it? It is very difficult question, but often people start worrying too much about style too early, like: “What do you think, I mean, I have all these different styles, which one do you think fit me the best?” And ok, you know all of these are good but how many of each have you done? If you only have five or ten and is not enough, you’re not having conversation with yourself enough, I don’t know how much is enough, but is like 10.000 hours you have to put in. I think Malcolm Gladwell said it was 10.000 hours. You know Malcolm Gladwell? you should look him up, but Malcolm Gladwell is a really good writer, not a fiction writer, he writes some really great nonfiction books to help you, not self-help but to help you to think differently, I don’t know in which book he says that, but he says something like it takes 10.000 hours to be good at anything, I mean, to reach the master level, if you want to accomplished something, you need 10.000 hours and I believe it, but if you’ve only done five pictures or ten pictures and ask yourself “what is my style?” I can’t told you which one is good, but maybe you just need to keep doing it more and see how it feels, what feels more comfortable and see how which one evolves, because you have to naturally let it evolve, and then you should think about what do you like, what you don’t like. I use to make my fourth year college students make a list of their influences but specifically not from the field they want to get into, and then I ask them how they influenced them, I think it’s maybe a good start to think what exactly influenced you, What do you love, why do you love it, what do you hate it, why do you hate it and that’s a good way to start.’

Bradford Animation Festival


(sketch taken from Melanie Friend‘s photography series, The Home Front, exhibited at Bradford 1)

– scan in tickets and pass –

Sort Shorts, my favourites:

Invocation by Robert Morgan

Dave McKean




Lee Hardcastle


– scan poop sketches of the Animate folks and talk about that –

– talk about shortage of funds, lonesome travelling, and Saturday Art School –

Leeds International Film Festival – Volunteering


I love you, Leeds International Film Festival.

This year I had the pleasure of joining the red army of volunteers for the 27th installment of LIFF – this time round it was a two-week-and-one-day-long party celebrating a wide range of fine films.  As well as the obvious joy at the promise of viewing many, many films for free, the experience of meeting some of the many unknown, beautiful and kind faces of Leeds was too much of a draw for me.  If they’ll have me back next year, I have every intention of rejoining the ranks for another few weeks of intensive consuming – my ass won’t thank me for the hours of sedentation, but it’s a small price to pay for free deep-brain stimulation therapy.

I wanted to do a quick run-through of the films I did manage to catch, but will do a separate post for those that seem more relevant to my Context of Practice module (keepin’ tags right, keeps my schoolin’ right).

Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey

[link to its own post]

Carol Reed’s 1949 thriller, The Third Man

The premise was enough to send me goofy: a film noir mystery set in post-war Vienna, haunted by Orson Welles’ elusive on-screen alias, Harry Lime.  It was a gorgeous film, with enough skewed camera angles to leave even the least engaged viewer feeling unbalanced.  I gave it five, for five was well deserved.

Ask Hasselbalch’s Antboy

This was a pleasantly goofy Danish kid-superhero-kinda film.  The Danish pronunciation of ‘Antboy’ was my favourite thing.  The costumes were great too, in particular, the placing of a Dark Knight rip-off, imitation-Kevlar Ant suit on a round-faced little pre-teen – that made me larf.

Jindrich Polák’s Ikarie XB1

[its own post]

Sci-Fi Fanomenon Shorts Special (list these)

Hiner Saleem’s My Sweet Pepper Land

Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust (+ Q&A with director and ‘making of’ documentary)

Unfortunately, I was quite drunk and fell asleep soon after the film started.  The Q&A with Ruggero Deodato was great fun though – he seemed a lively, chatty man, with no qualms about defending the gore in this film.  He said he’d never repeat it again though – the live animal slaughtering and whatnot.  A video of the event.

Fanomenon Anime Day:

Shinkai Makoto’s The Garden of Worlds

Gushy, slushy Shinkai Makoto!  He really loves his melodrama.  The animation was very, very beautiful, but I feel as though this short can be judged only by a moisture detector.  The first short I saw of his was She and Her Cat, and still remains my favourite by a long way.  While the animation was as detailed and the plot as heavily melancholic as the others, it was from the viewpoint of a gorgeously-drawn, plump little cat who is completely in love with his owner.  This slight subversion in what would otherwise have been just another tale of unrequited love gave it so much more self-awareness, and a little humility, which has made it stand out as one of my favourite anime shorts ever, not just those created by Shinkai-san.

Ryōtarō Makihara’s Hal

This was another fairly wet piece of romance.  It did have some fun, subtle future-visions of slightly more developed technology (aside from the humanoid replicants), such as beads that work as memory banks which can be placed onto a projector and replayed instantaneously, but it does stay fairly sober in regards to any other major developments.  The robot(s) concept wasn’t very convincing here – with no real insight into how they are made, powered, or any kind of technical difficulties with the actual machine.  This is difficult to discuss without revealing pivotal plot points and being a big fat spoiler, so I will leave it at that.  Eyes too big, protagonists too gooey, but the secondary characters were more fun, and again, the animation was very impressive.

Yasuhiro Yoshiura’s Patema Inverted

I got a burrito instead of watching Steins;Gate.  I do not regret this choice.

Evangelion 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo

[this gets its own post]

Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira

This marked the climax of the anime day: the 25th anniversary release of Akira was (as expected) superb.

Sean Noonan: A Gambler’s Hand

Some sketches from this ‘live collision of music, film and storytelling‘.  Drawing in the half-light of the Hyde Park Picture House was a challenge, but the dramatic, frantic playing from the string quartet (even the cellist with his sunglasses) was something I wanted to remember.



(I’ll be making some form of forced meatballs later in the week)




Short Film City: World Animation Award 2

Cargo Cult by Bastien Dubois: Unfortunately I missed this one due to door duties, which – now I’ve seen the trailer – I am displeased about, as the animation looks great!

Guilt by Reda Bertkute: Again, I missed the first snippet of this, and so I thought maybe I had missed out on a pivotal plot point, but I wasn’t too keen on the heavy use of sketchy animation as it felt a little too much like an attempt to distract from the lack of content in the story.  The character was saggingly melancholic, and the scenes of disturbing surrealism worked well to create a sense of growing paranoia, but I wasn’t fully won over.

Punctuwool by Jacob Streilein: I really wasn’t expecting to be so enamoured with this animation at its opening – I felt a growing sense of dread at the premise of another animated short about clouds – but this was a really lovely piece of work from a very talented student at Calarts.  The textures and tonal work that could only really have come from use of traditional drawing techniques gave a warm dimension to the beautiful bounce in Streilein’s character animation.  The concept for the piece felt fresh too – the different emotions played out by the cloud herd were well thought through, and though their shepherd was a bit of an over-actor, the fact that his madness was softened in the end gave him a pleasant human depth.

A City on Fire by Michelle Tsen: The crumpled paper cut out technique was alright – not the best of the set.

Electric Soul by Joni Männistö: This was a gorgeous short.  Very impressive gait on those little LED lights – one of my favourite animated walks ever seen.

Winter Has Come by Zima Prishla: This was my favourite of this set.  The central fox character felt novel and fresh, the lace patterning was tastefully selected, and I loved the fact that their actions were somewhat sinister, but absolutely unopposed.  The oncoming winter cannot be stopped.

The Visitor by George Dechev: This was pretty cool, all full of beautiful young people as it was, and based on a piece of old literature.

The Nether Regions from Wonky: I found this one fairly annoying.  Not even the beloved voice of Brian Blessed was going to save this for me – the jokes were poor and actually surprisingly old.

The Missing Scarf by Eoin Duffy: Very impressive, but I couldn’t get past the infographics aesthetic.  I just felt like someone was selling me something – something old and tired, reimagined for a very contemporary world.

In the Air is Christopher Gray by Felix Massie: I think I had a similar problem with this one, but I thought the title (and opening line of the story) was a beautiful bit of worduse.

Rabbit and Deer by Péter Vácz: This was pretty.

Short Film City: World Animation Award 3

Futon by Yoriko Mizushiri

Ham Story by Ela Liska Chytkova

The Maggot Feeder by Priit Tender

Tap To Retry by Neta Cohen

Whaled Women by Ewa Eihorn and Jeuno JE Kim

Rhino Full Throttle from Kamerapferd

Devil in the Room by Carla Mackinnon

I Love Hooligans by Jan-Dirk Bouw

Subconscious Password by Chris Landreth

Then there was Yuichi Fukuda’s HK: Forbidden Superhero

Finally, Masterpiece: Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns from Alexander Gray and Jeff Maynard

Light Night Volunteering

So this year I was a bona fide Arts Support Assistant and Visitor Guide at the annual culturebash that is Light Night Leeds.  Playing out my deepest chaperoning fantasies proved to be some fun – watching the Great Big Paintings enabled by the fancy folk of the Garforth Arts Festival was a particular high point.  That was a very popular piece, and the only one I actually remembered to photograph.  But of course I lost my memory card immediately after this, so no one will ever see the lovingly crafted digital painting of Adventure Time’s Finn the Human projected onto the side of Leeds’ Art Gallery through the lens of this gal’s camera.  Shame – it was a beautiful thing.

Volunteering errywhere in a bid to know Leeds, and force Leeds to know me.