Showing posts with label manga. Show all posts
Showing posts with label manga. Show all posts

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Meet a Local Con Organizer: Ron Barba of AnimeUSA

101_4614 Deadpool
The Convention season has started again, with anime and manga focused-Katsucon having been at National Harbor last month, and Emerald City Comicon kicking off the comic book cons in Seattle this weekend. Six months ago, I attended AnimeUSA at the Washington Marriot Wardman Park, where it had moved after being in Crystal City in Arlington. The following interview was done with one of the con organizers, Rob Barba, for a Washington City Paper article that didn't gel. But everyone I see at AnimeUSA looks like they're having a great deal of fun, so perhaps it's not too soon to start planning to attend this September's event.

Mike Rhode: How’d you personally get into comics?

Rob Barba: I'm the writer for a webcomic, Claude & Monet (; due to its anime style, I felt working with a convention would be a good way to gain both exposure and experience. The former I've got, but the latter my cup runneth over. I can honestly say that in my eight years of working with Anime USA, it's been a worthy experience.
MR: How is AnimeUSA different than a standard comics con?

RB: We focus both on manga, manwha, and manhua (Japanese, Korean and Chinese comics, respectively) as well as webcomics. In the former case, these are the basis of anime, which has been on the rise for a number of years. For the latter, it will be the future of how comics are produced, and we felt it was important to be at the forefront of exposing our audience to this medium.

MR: How many years has it run, and how many years have you been a part of it?

RB: Anime USA has been around since 1998. I joined in 2004, after I moved into the area.

MR: How many people did you have?

RB: We had an attendance of roughly 3800 people. While this number is roughly the same as last year, we believe that the move to the new hotel as well as the tragic events of Hurricane Sandy had an effect on our attendance. We plan for greater growth next year.

MR: How did the weather such as Sandy and the following Noreaster affect 2012's con?

101_4604RB: Quite a bit, to be honest. The result was a wholesale cancellation of various panels, vendors coming from the north, and even many of our own staff. As mentioned before, attendance took a hit because of it. Still, I believe we did our best to regroup and move forward for our fans.

MR: Why did you move to the hotel in DC this year?

RB: The Marriott was best suited for our needs after an exhaustive search for a new location. With a layout suitable for panels, workshops and the like; plenty of picturesque locations for cosplayer photography, and room to grow, we were hard-pressed not to chose this site. Combined with the attentive staff of the Marriott, it sealed the deal for us.

MR: Any guests you are particularly proud of having come in 2012? Favorite guests of past years?

101_4606RB: Phil Lamarr, as he is one of the largest guests we have had to date. Caitlin Glass is also a fan favorite. The list of favorites for previous years is too long to mention, but includes folks like Steven Bloom, Monica Rial and others.

MR: Is there anything special about 2012 not mentioned yet?

RB: If people enjoyed 2012, wait until they see what we have planned for 2013. While I can't comment due to contractual reasons, I can say that the marquee guest for next year will be one the fans have been clamoring for, for quite some time.

Friday, November 09, 2012

AnimeUSA underway

I spent a few hours at AnimeUSA today and had a good time looking around at the art show, the dealers and the cosplayers. It runs for two more days. I've put some pictures up here and at Flickr.

Local cartoonists Jamie Noguchi, Tony Tribby and Alexa Polito have tables, as does the Snow By Night webcomic team.

101_4611 Jamie Noguchi

Jamie Noguchi, whose new book is Erfworld vol. 1.

101_4616 Tony Tribby

Tony Tribby, whose new book is 'Death is Good'.

101_4613 Alexa Polito

Alexa Polito, whose selling a minicomic sketchbook, 'Rough Sex vol. 1'.

...and there are the cosplayers too...


...I'm not sure that costume is anime/manga influenced, but the next one is Lady Deadpool from Marvel Comics...

101_4614 Deadpool

...and these are real police officers enjoying their surroundings.


Tuesday, November 06, 2012

AnimeUSA is this weekend

 AnimeUSA runs this weekend of November 9th-11th at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, DC.  This is always a nice, fun con, with a lot of cosplay. It's particularly good for teens. Things appear to start at noon on Friday.

Here's their first AnimeUSA podcast which features staff members Theo Bugtong (Director of Marketing), Tom Stidman (Director of Guests), and Mark Pope (Vice Chair of Programming).

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Meet a Local Cartoonist: Dechanique

Deanna Echanique, who cartoons as Dechanique, embarrassingly enough came to my attention through this Canadian interview done for the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) of all places. Her webcomic La Macchina Bellica is the gay-friendly story of elves versus humans in a world where magic and technology are both used in war,. Chapters 1-5 have been collected in a trade paperback and #6 is available as a comic book. She has recently started illustrating a new webcomic Kindling. She was kind enough to answer my usual questions.

Mike Rhode: What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

Dechanique: I draw primarily long-form graphic novels. I work all steps of the process myself (thumbnailing, penciling, inking, and occasionally coloring).  While I am primarily a comic artist, I also have illustrated children’s books and enjoy oil painting, book-binding, and sculpting.

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

It depends on the project.  For La Macchina Bellica, I pencil the pages print-sized on printer paper, scan them, and ink/tone them digitally in Manga Studio. I transfer the image to Photoshop for text placement and coloring (for the first half of Ch 7). Kindling is done mostly traditionally.  Pages are penciled and inked on 11 x 17 Blue Line Pro comic boards.  I used watercolors and a combination of Copic and Prismacolor markers to color the pages.  The upcoming chapters will be in black and white, penciled and inked in the same method, and toned digitally in Manga Studio.

For inking, I generally use a Pentel pocket brush pen, the Tachikawa school g nib fountain pen, and Microns of varying sizes!

When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

April 3, 1984 in Wilmington, North Carolina. TEXTBOOK ARIES

Why are you in Washington now?  What neighborhood or area do you live in?

I moved to DC after graduating from college in July 2009. I lived in by Navy Yard for a while, but relocated to Columbia Heights October 2010.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

I graduated from Salisbury University with a BFA in Drawing.  I never took any specific sequential art or cartooning courses- in that aspect I am self-taught.  I did, however, take a plethora of traditional drawing and painting classes, focusing on the figure.  The best training in creating comics I got was “on the job” - drawing lots and lots and lots of comic pages. Trial, error, practice, working outside your comfort zone!

Who are your influences?

My biggest influence has been growing up exposed to anime/manga. When I first started drawing comics, I was 11 and my classmate Chloe would loan me the French editions of Sailor Moon (Naoko Takeuchi) and Ranma ½ (Rumiko Takahashi). At the same time, anime started playing in the US more widely- Sailor Moon and G-Force (Gatchaman), Speed Racer, Tekkaman Blade. I was totally hooked! My art was pretty “generic” manga in my teenage years, but in my early 20’s began changing as I started taking traditional art classes in college (I’ve become enamored with drawing lips and noses!) and exposed to a wider range of classical art. Art Nouveau (and the Victorian era dressings/ Steampunk aesthetic became coming into my work.

My painting instructor at Salisbury University, Mr. Jin Chul Kim, has also been influential in my career. He was more or less my mentor during my years there.

More recently, my exposure to social media and broader range of indie and webcomics, and manga like Blade of the Immortal (Hiroaki Samura) and One Piece(Eiichiro Oda), all of which I feel has lead to my evolution in page layout and story-telling, and in creating a broader range of characters. Particularly Eiichiro Oda. I admire him greatly for his story-telling ability and character development, and he has no doubt influenced what I do today.

If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?

I would say my biggest “what if” scenario is how my career would have turned out if I had put together a portfolio and applied to art schools straight out of high school. I desperately wanted to go to SVA or SCAD, but when I graduated from high school, I had a full ride at a local university, so I opted to go there because I hadn’t prepared a decent portfolio, and was daunted by the cost. I got a BA in Psychology at Florida International University.

I ended up going back to a state school for art later but due to the fact I already had a degree, I didn’t qualify for any scholarships or grants (most specify it has to be your first degree). I racked up a crapton of student loans going back to school. Going to art school straight out of high school I would have spent about the same amount, and maybe would have been in a different place (technically/skill wise) now.

With all that said, however, I wouldn’t actually change what has happened to me and my decisions given the opportunity.  I did learn a great deal from being mostly self-taught as far as sequentials are concerned, I made many friends while in college, and while I might be further along in my career had I started younger, I don’t think I would be drawing the same stories or made the professional connections I have. I think I would be a different person than I am now.

What work are you best-known for?

My webcomic, La Macchina Bellica. :3

What work are you most proud of?

The work I’m producing for Kindling. Technically, it’s the best work I’ve put out and I’m definitely very proud of it! Having a talented writer turning my creative gears and pushing my boundaries has been super helpful. I have high hopes for this series after designing the characters and thumbnailing the first book. It’s got me really excited!

What would you like to do or work on in the future?

I desperately want to learn to animate! It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but wasn’t able to find a teacher (or figure out how to do it on my own). I dabbled with animated GIFs for a while, but I just can’t make the transitions nice enough.

What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?

Whenever I get stuck, I bust out some erotica! That usually helps break my art-block, though to be honest, I don’t find I get art blocks often. More likely, I’m just burnt out from deadlines and want to play video games and be lazy for a couple hours.

What do you think will be the future of your field?

Hahah, I’m not really sure! But my outlook is positive!

What's your favorite thing about DC?

Ease of getting around without a car. DC is super walkable/bike-friendly. I rarely ever use my car (except to go out of town or to conventions).

Least favorite?

The lack of parking. It’s a never-ending battle. There aren’t enough parallel spaces, we have to move our cars constantly for street cleaning, and I get ticketed for stupid things like, a $50 ticket because my registration sticker wasn’t properly affixed to my windshield (the glue is shoddy, it was hanging by one corner). I wish I didn’t need a car.

What monument or museum do like to take visitors to?

The Smithsonian Natural History Museum! It’s my favorite. I could wander around in there all day, staring at dinosaurs and stuffed creatures. Pandas – smaller than advertised. Lions – HOLY CRAP HUGE.

How about a favorite local restaurant?

Chix, on 13th and U St NW! Their food is fantastic – and they have a $10 wine bottle happy hour that is just faboo.

Do you have a website or blog?

La Macchina Bellica –

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Some surprising local publications

I went to a couple of booksales this weekend and found some cartoon publications with local ties that surprised me.

The New Yorker isn't based here of course, but they do specialty books on demand. Here's a local one that was probably a fund-raising premium for the local public radio and tv station:

New Yorker WETA Book of Cartoons

The New Yorker Book Of WETA Cartoons
New Yorker Magazine
New York: Cartoon Bank, 2004

The University of Maryland's Terrapin Anime Society (TAS) produced at least 10 issues of this Tsunami fanzine:

Tsnunami fanzine 1-9

Tsunami fanzine 1-10

This Fandom Directory out of Springfield, VA was a complete surprise to me. The online version lives at FANDATA:

Fandom Directory 2001 directory

Fandom Directory Number 19 2000-2001 Edition
Hopkins, Harry and Mariane S.
Springfield, VA: FANDATA Publications, 2000

When I finally get all of my local books and comics arranged in one place, it will probably be at least a bookshelf and not the Six Feet of Local Comics I had expected. I bought about eight signed Herblock books this weekend too which will take up most of a shelf by themselves.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Warren Bernard on the International Manga Museum in Kyoto

One of the nice things about going overseas is seeing how much more other countries respect comics than we do in the United States. Though indeed we invented many elements of the medium, we still are far behind our international counterparts in giving comics and cartooning their due in a museum environment.

I was in Kyoto, and decided to take a half day off from seeing amazing Japanese gardens and Zen Buddhist temples to go through the International Manga Museum that was conveniently a six-block walk form my hotel. A true happy accident of planning.

The museum is housed in the Tatsuike Primary School that was built in the late 1860s, when downtown Kyoto began to see a population explosion that required a number of schools be built to handle all the new students. Like America's classic central-city population migration to the suburbs, by the 1990's the school, along with many others, was closed. After having the property lie dormant and vacant, a partnership between the City of Kyoto and the Kyoto Seika University had the school renovated and made into a museum. They have kept two rooms as a museum to the school itself. One had portraits of all the principals that ran the school from inception -- a hard looking bunch if there ever was one.

This museum is in many ways very different from the Tintin Museum in Brussels or the Cartoon Museum in London. One of the main draws of the IMM is the availability of a library of over 50,000 volumes of manga that one can read there, although not take home as in a traditional library. I saw many people there who paid the admission of 500 yen (about $6.25) just to come and read. They were camped out, reading away, in the hallways of the old school or on the main floor at large picnic tables near the main entrance.

The Museum had a very small section of translated material from France, Germany and the United States, which you could also sit and read. But my Japanese is not that good (OK, it's non-existent...) and I already owned all the translated American material so I went to look around.

The manga volumes were stacked in floor to ceiling book cases, some of these reaching over 12 feet high. Computer kiosks were throughout the museum to help you locate a specific book in the densely-packed shelves. The manga were mainly grouped by styles, but in one section that appeared to be in the old gymnasium, they were grouped by decade.

Also in this old gymnasium was the main series of displays that showed the evolution of manga. It is a nice showcase as to the tools and techniques used by the manga artists. I had no idea that Japanese versions of Puck, the American political humor magazine from the 19th-early 20th century, had copycat versions in Tokyo, Yokahama and Osaka. That being said, this museum's view of history was about the development of manga, especially the explosion of it after World War Two. No Little Nemo, Superman or Marvel Superheroes are in this place.

There were three other exhibition areas, of one which had a great exhibit about French cartoonists doing stories about The Louvre. This was apparently the first exhibit they have hosted at the IMM from France and was looked at as introducing French "bande dessinee" to Japanese manga fans. These main exhibition areas were all in both English and Japanese, as were all exhibits I saw there.

But the best part of the trip there? I got the last Astro Boy mug they had in stock.

The next time you're in Kyoto, stop into the International Manga Museum and take a look around. You'll think, just as you wonder about the Japanese shinkensen (bullet train) and their mass transportation system in general, "hey, why don't we have one of these?"

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Otakon 2010 in Baltimore this weekend

Their website has all the information. Including a pretty complex schedule.

And here's how they describe it:

About Otakon

Otakon is the convention of the otaku generation: by fans, for fans; and we're back for our 17th year in 2010!

Join thousands of your fellow fans as we descend on Baltimore to celebrate all anime, manga, and all facets of Asian pop culture!

Ever since 1999, we've taken over a sizable chunk of Baltimore's Inner Harbor for a 3-day festival celebrating the pop culture that's brought us everything from Astroboy to Yu-Gi-Oh, from the Seven Samurai to Spirited Away.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Washington Post's TR Reid on manga

I just finished reading Confucius Lives Next Door: What Living in the East Teaches Us About Living in the West by T. R. Reid (Random House, 2009), and while I love Reid when he is writing for the Post, I've got a few issues with his conclusions in this book. Or maybe even his starting premises.

But that's not the subject of this blog. Reid has 2 paragraphs on his favorite manga, coming after a discussion of Japan's view of America as crime-ridden:

While in Japan, I became a huge fan of mahnga, the ubiquitous comic-book magazines that sell tens of millions of copies every week. It seems to be conventional wisdom in the United States that Japan's "adult comic books" are routinely "adult" in the sense of being filthy, but this is not accurate. There are some filthy mahnga - so bad that stores won't carry them, and you have to buy them at vending machines. But the vast majority of Japanese comics are family fare. Some are funny, and some are serious novels - serial novels, really, like the one-chapter-per-month novels that Dickens and Thackeray used to write for Victorian magazines. I was particularly taken with the enormously popular weekly comic Section Chief Shima, about a junior executive named Shima Kosaku, who works for a giant electronics firm and fights a never-ending battle for truth, profits and the Japanese way.

In one extended episode, Section Chief Shima is dispatched to America to oversee his company's acquisition of a giant Hollywood movie studio (just like the acquisitions Sony and Matsushita had made in real life). One thing that deeply concerns the young executive is the possibility of a U.S. backlash if an Asian company buys a famous American firm (just like the reaction to the Sony and Matsushita purchases in real life). But an American-based executive tells Shima he need not worry: "The government won't be a problem, because we've already put a half-dozen ex-congressmen on the payroll, and they are lobbying for us." This exchange didn't bother me excessively, because it's probably what big companies actually do when they plan an acquisition. But it was disturbing to see what happened to Section Chief Shima personally during his stay in Los Angeles. When he sets out to see the beach, his rented Ford breaks down. When he tries to negotiate his business deal, an employee of the U.S. branch of his company sells corporate secrets to a competitor. When he walks outside his hotel, he's mugged on the sidewalk. Just your typical American business trip.

Our family grew increasingly angry at this depiction of a dirty, dangerous, dishonest America, partly because we found it hard to avoid, anywhere in Asia.
(p. 208-209)

So 11 years later, I have no idea if this remains a common occurrence in manga, or views of Japanese, or even if Shima was ever translated. Reid is a good writer and a keen observer though, so I'm sorry the Post lost him as a foreign correspondent. He heads their Rocky Mountain Bureau now.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Gazette on Katsucon

Katsucon sets sail for National Harbor
Japanese culture, anime and manga convention moves to Oxon Hill for its 16th celebration
by Joshua Garner
Gazette February 4 2010

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Feb 12-14: Katsucon anime and manga festival

16th year at the Gaylord in National Harbor, MD. $50 registration at the door. See for more information.

Updated - Eden in the comments says "Saturday only is $35, which is reasonable. Sunday is also only $20"

Thursday, November 26, 2009

U of Maryland prof on atomic bomb manga

See "Writing Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the 21st Century: A New Generation of Historical Manga," by Michele Mason, Asia Pacific Journal: Japan Focus (November 23 2009).

I haven't read the article yet, but anyone who hasn't read Barefoot Gen,the older manga that is not the subject of the article, should make the attempt now. There's a new 8-volume set out in English now.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Onion interviews Schodt on Tezuka

For the forthcoming set of programs, the Onion talked to Schodt the premier Anglo-speaking manga expert on Tezuka, the 'Walt Disney' of Japan. See The "God of Manga," humanized: Osamu Tezuka scholar Frederik Schodt explains the anime pioneer, by Chelsea Bauch, Onion AV Club November 11, 2009.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Death Note 2: The Last Name at JICC

Death Note 2: The Last Name to be screened at the Japan Information and Culture Center, Embassy of Japan.

DC Anime Club in collaboration with Japan Information and Culture Center, Embassy of Japan Present screen Death Note 2: The Last Name on August 28, 2009 6:30 pm as part of inaugural showing for a new film series based on both Anime (Japanese Animation) and Manga ( Japanese Comics).

Yagami Light, a young man who resents the crime and corruption in the world. His life undergoes a drastic change when he discovers a mysterious notebook, known as the "Death Note", lying on the ground. The Death Note's instructions claim that if a person's name is written within it while picturing that person's face, that person shall die. Light is initially skeptical of the notebook's authenticity, but after experimenting with it, he realizes that the Death Note is real. After meeting with the previous owner of the Death Note, a shinigami named Ryuk, Light seeks to become "the God of the New World" by passing his judgement on those he deems to be evil or who get in his way.

Soon, the number of inexplicable deaths of reported criminals catches the attention of the National Police Agency and a mysterious detective known only as "L". L quickly learns that the serial killer, dubbed by the public as "Kira" (キラ ?, derived from the Japanese pronunciation of the word "killer"), is located in Japan. L also concludes that Kira can kill people without laying a finger on them. Light realizes that L will be his greatest nemesis, and a game of psychological cat and mouse between the two begins.

This event is free and open to the public. Reservations are required.


Seating is limited and granted on a first come, first served basis.

For more information please visit the Japanese Information and Culture Center website at  or visit the DC Anime Club website at

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Otakon starts tomorrow in Baltimore

The big anime/manga/Japanese culture fest starts at the Baltimore Convention Center on July 17th. Here's a profile and details - "Devotees of anime have a weekend of adventure at Otakon Convention," By Chris Kaltenbach, Baltimore Sun July 16, 2009.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

May 12: Yuko Ota,, A Japanese comic illustrator at Library of Congress

Asian Pacific American History Month at the Library of Congress has a cartoonist appearing -

PROGRAM II: Japanese Illustrators Then and Now

Date/Time: Tuesday, May 12, 12:00 noon
Location: Dining Room C
"Then" Speaker - James Miho, A Bauhaus Illustrator (a "lost art" of Japanese illustration)
"Now" Speaker - Yuko Ota,, A Japanese comic illustrator

2009 Webportal Link:

- thanks to Sara Duke for the tip.