The Magic Box

Did you feel that?

… It happened again.

I don’t quite know how to describe it. They say it has a name. I don’t know what it is.

I felt it as I looked on the monitor. I have been staring at it for a long time in my dark pitch black of a room. It is filled with lots of things. Things, I personally created. Some great, some not-so great, some I adore, some I feel disgusted with, some I wonder how it came to be.

My gaze is still affix on the box. In some ways, it is a magical box. Β It emits a huge beam of light and beautiful images. Some people would argue it is the devil sucking you in and ever so slowly killing you inside without your knowledge. The others, say that it is like paradise. Everything in once desires can truly be granted.Β A world were everything is in a click of a button.

Yes, truly those people were both right. For an artist like me, it is a dream come true. The box has become a helper to my needs. Instead of paper, pencil, easels and paint, I can all do it in this magical creature. Anything that I need, it answers my prayers like for example inspirations. Lot, and lots of them are found every minute, every hour and every day.

It has been my constant little friend, this enchanting little box. I’ve found friends in the same community as mine, artists like me who can understand perfectly well my doubts, fears and joys. We get together, with the use of my little friend, the box. We show within ourselves our worries, triumphs and most of all our works.

However, every creature has it’s flaws. This creature, has one too. You see, even though I have attain my so called friends, this creature of a magical box doesn’t let me see them. Yes, I’ve seen them, but in the form of an image. You can say I have never interacted with them physically. And so here I am, back in the pain numbing sensation.

I’ve been staring at the box, the light beam has been consuming my eyes for a long time yet I don’t feel the pain on them. I feel it on my chest. It is burning like a fire ready cook meat. My eyes cringe but not because of the light beam but because the burning sensation has been consuming my heart for so long.

What is this? I want it to go away!

Then for a small amount of time, my senses are back. Slowly, I can see clearly what my eyes were staring at. It wasn’t the box itself. I was looking beyond it and the light beam. It was an image. And boy, was I drawn to it like a moth to a flame.

I wondered. ‘Why do I feel this burning sensation? This monstrous feeling inside me when I see this magnificent image? This beautifully painted picturesque of a painting. WHY?’

Ugh! There it is again. Now it is becoming unbearable. It has eventually reach a point in my chest so devastatingly painful my brain shouts of pure agony. I want it out of my way.

And there it was… below the beautiful painting. It was quite small, you see. Didn’t notice at first glance.

Or did I? And I just didn’t want to remember. Did not want the horrible truth.

It was a name. A lovely name actually. And indeed said that to her.

I typed. “You’ve got a lovely name, Alana. Do you know it means beautiful?”

“No, but thank you.” She replied back in an instant.

I formed a smile.

But what has that got to do with this aching and unbearable sensation. It just got worse when I saw her name. I do not understand and so I suddenly closed the image. Hoping the feeling will go away.

I slowly breathed, to calm myself down. Then I looked up.

It was a painting. Not just any painting, a current painting I am working on. My eyes cringed at the sight of it. It was horrible. Just utterly displeasing to the eyes, my eyes. I suddenly felt the pain jolting right back in my chest.

It was more painful than before. My eyes suddenly watered and tears came down in an instant.

I want this feeling…this unbearable feeling to go away.

‘Juuhh…” I muttered something. It was a faint sound but I knew I was saying something.

“Juuuh…loou” My mouth kept stuttering. The pain in my chest was overpowering my voice.

At that moment, it went completely dark. My poor lit room didn’t help. Sometimes, the poor little box cease it’s beam of a light and rests for a bit especially when I am not using it.

I turned my head to the box and there in some ways I saw myself…staring back at me. I didn’t know why I could see my self so clear in this darkness. I guess, my eyes adjusted so fast that I can see transparently.

I was panting hard, my hand clutched on my chest. I can clearly see how much I was clutching it so tightly. My vision slowly came above. My mouth slightly opened trying to get air as much as I can. I can perfectly hear my hard breathing. Then I saw my eyes and I saw my whole self.

‘Jealousy’ My mouth uttered. It was faint, just like a whisper. But in this dense dark place I call my room, I can perfectly hear it.

And soon the tears turned to long streams of water…pouring in just like a waterfall. But it wasn’t any kind of waterfall, it wasn’t beautiful, it was destructive and aggressive.

The hand that was clutching my shirt suddenly shifted on my face. I placed it right in front of my tightly sealed eyes. I kept it there, hoping to hide my shame, my being, my self. I was so embarrassed, guilty and sorry for myself.

Alana’s work was magnificent and lovely. I was proud of her, I was really happy but why? Why, this hideous feeling? Why do I feel Jealously creeping and actually infesting my very being? Why? Why?

I loathed myself. But equally felt sorry for myself. I hated myself becauseΒ not only I felt this hideous feeling but I was angry I couldn’t produce and create something as beautiful as Alana’s work. It was just horrible! An ugliness I will never learn to love and accept.

More than anything, I want to get pass this. I want this feelings to go away because it’s wrong. It was terribly wrong! I shouldn’t have those feelings. To be a great artist one must not feel this. One must be strong to survive!

I shouldn’t be jealous, I shouldn’t compare myself to my dear friend, Alana. She is a sweet and talented woman. I am different from her. Yet, here I am feeling these annoying and pestering feelings. I know in the end what is right but why do I have to go through this agony! WHY?!?! The tears came running down my tired eyes and my breathing became rapid.

“Bear it.” A voice inside my head replied. “Bear it my dear child.”

My breathing became slow.

“Because the only way you’d understand what you know, is through going through it.”

Slowly, the aching stopped, my eyes couldn’t drop one more tear, my nose was ready to blow the sniffles away, my hands wiped away my tears and left a huge crease on my shirt.

The voice inside my head was right, I know very well I shouldn’t compare my self to dear Alana. I know I am not her. I know my skills aren’t yet up to par but with perseverance I can, I know, I know, I know. However, I have to feel these, to understand what I must do, why I must know these things. I must endure and pass these challenge to be a better artist…to be a stronger artist! That is what makes a great artist.

It is easy to say, we must rise up after we fall. But I think it is important to learn and understand why we must fall and not only to look forward to the ending. There is a saying ‘It is not the destination we must remember but the journey’. Okay maybe not the exact words but you do get the idea.

And so, I finally lit up the tiny box and looked once more in Alana’s work. I smiled and was glad the horrible feeling was gone. I immediately put the image aside and went back to my painting.

Yes, it was utterly displeasing to the eye but I can make it better. I can create something amazing. I shall persevere and work hard to attain a great skill and create an amazing work.

So, you see… we will never know if the little box is a devil or a door to paradise. It actually depends on the person. For me, it is neither but I can assure you it is a companion you must have.

That was a tad bit long, sorry about that. Just was in the moment there. πŸ˜› Hehe BTW, it’s a story just to clarify with a part of me included. I have no friend called Alana, but I did experience this…millions of times as an artist. Well, budding artist…I am not quite the artist I hope to be yet. So much to learn, so much to understand, so much to be put into practice.

But I am learning everyday. It is amazing how much an artist can gain. Not only new skills but things that aren’t easy to obtain and are not tangible. Well aside from creativity like patient and perseverance.Β 

I do not know if other artists out there have experienced this. Maybe you guys haven’t and found this extremely odd. Though, if ever someone has experience this and stumbled upon my blog, here is a comforting note, ‘you are not alone’. πŸ™‚ You’ll make it through! Just keep working hard! πŸ™‚ I know there is that doubt and questions inside your head like “Ya, I keep working hard but when will it end? When will I know I should stop digging and finally find the sweet treasure I’ve been working hard for?” Well, just keep being busy drawing, painting, practicing and you would be surprise you have dug the treasure out. πŸ™‚Β 

It’s weird saying this because I am not one of those artist who found success yet, like having my own gallery, working in the company I dream about, sold so many painting or work, have a fan base who loves my work and follows me and more. I am just like you, trying to get in in the industry of my dreams. But I confidently say these comforting words because I too am experiencing this. We are artists, who feel the same way. We should help and comfort each other. πŸ™‚Β 

So, do not forget this! πŸ˜€ We can do this! πŸ™‚ And for those people who just stumbled upon, thank you for reading and even reaching to this part πŸ™‚ I know it may be a bit of a drag…too long to read but I appreciate you reading until this bit. You might not be an artist, but I hope I’ve sparked something within you. πŸ™‚ Maybe in some ways you are struggling, don’t give up. Hang in there!Β 

Comic Thoughts: Sarah and the Seed

Web Comic: Sarah and the Seed

Written and art by: Ryan Andrews

This web comic is the reason why I would love to be in the sequential art industry and one day hopefully create something as heartwarming and beautiful art and story as this guy did!

Did I mention I am a huge fan of Ryan Andrews? Yuuuuup! Sure I am!

Not only does he create comics, he does amazing illustrations! πŸ™‚ Just ever so lovely.

Ohhhhkaaay! I am getting out of topic in here (Sorry! Bit Excited. :P) . So, Let’s get back to it, shall we?

So, Sarah and the Seed is about an old couple who wanted to have a big happy family but unfortunately couldn’t. Then miraculously, the wife suddenly is pregnant and gives birth to a seed!

It might seem weird telling you this and reading the synopsis but booooy it is a heartwarming, whimsical, quirky, cute story.

One of the things I love about it is how Andrews used the web format to his advantage on telling his lovely story. πŸ™‚ He knows how to change a mood, from the first panel which is happy to the next which becomes really sad. And he did that by utilizing the use of scrolling down. In some ways it became an extra help in transitioning from one scene to the next, or one mood from the next. It also helped with the suspense, surprise and thrill.

Even though it’s dialogues were limited, it had that personal touch and subtlety that worked on his advantage. Β I felt that it had that “a man with a few words” kind of vibe. In someways, it became more poetic and beautiful. I don’t know if it’s me or it really did work, however I am such a sucker for personal or first person kind of stories. It has that intimacy you will get to experience with a character. It’s like the character is letting you enter his world with no prohibition and that is quite a privilege because you get to understand, experience and feel what this character is. You are able to see through his/her eye. And that for me has, a more lasting impression…not only in comics but books as well. πŸ™‚

Another thing that I fell in love with is, it’s ART STYLE! Ohmy! I just love Andrews’s work! I don’t know why I have a thing with textured art style. It can be anything really, illustration, animation art style, backgrounds used in it, concept art…anything really that deals with textured art style has my full attention! πŸ™‚

Now that’ve mentioned it, he used really beautiful compositions and layout it pretty well for the readers to smoothly understand the story. He knew where to block his designs for you as a reader go to its focal point then smoothly ease through to the next panel.

His use of variety of sizes for the panel are actually a part of that…easily making the visual storytelling through.Β And even the spaces…if your keen about it you’d see it, and man was that also a part of a breathing space and a way for the reader to take it all in…and make you feel calmer.

His use of dark pitch black screen had also some use. It’s evident on a page wherein his character is feeling anxious and has fallen to slumber. And ever so slowly, he was starting to have a nightmare. With the use of the ‘scrolling down’, pitch black background and the intelligent use of different sizes of panels (from a huge panels…it became small panels)…you’d feel claustrophobic and then BAM! A HUUUUUGE panel of this hideous creature. Wouldn’t you wake up horrified? Well, his character did and I bet you as a reader will too! And just like that Andrews, did it so brilliantly! πŸ™‚

Not to mention, it’s art style watercolor kind of effect after every panel helped as well in the transition. All the things he’d done for this comic just came quite together.

So, my verdict? OF COURSE I LOVE IT! πŸ™‚ And I highly recommend you guys reading it and who knows be enchanted by it! πŸ™‚ It’s story not only has a uniqueness and surprising twist on it but makes you think as well.

The great thing about this web comic, is it’s available on his website. Just click here to get started! πŸ™‚

If you’re interested on his illustrations and other things just click here to start checking this amazing talent! πŸ˜€

Comic thoughts: 3am Dangerous Zone

Comic/Graphic Novel Manga: 3 am Dangerous Zone

Author and Artist: Nemu Youko

Alright, it is a manga but it is still in that category. Anyway, I am dumbfounded how much I totally forgot about this manga. Well, to give you a bit of a background. This manga was recommended to meΒ (scratch that) whole class by my professor in Sequential Art for a class. Thankfully, I stumbled upon it again.

I just have to say this: I just simply fell in love with the art style (specifically the cover arts of the mangas). They have that simplicity but readability where the focal point is. Even though the only present are the line art and a few colors it speaks of the mood.

The color choices are just spot on! Very calming in the eyes and appropriate to the feel of the concept. Don’t you just looooove theeeem!

It was well drawn layout wise. All the lines are going to the direction where the artist’s want the reader to look at which is the focal point of everything, Momoko. Even the choice of color and where it should place did not become a hindrance for the reader to look at her. They were just a tool for you to feel what Momoko feels!

I think these works are just superbly done! So lovely! πŸ˜€ What do you think?

Unfortunately, the summary didn’t quite give the final kick after seeing the gorgeous illustrations. Β It didn’t have that umph! thing I was looking for. It was actually a simple story but my professor did recommend me to read it, so I just went and dug in.

I am actually liking the genre “josei” in the manga world. To give you gist, mangas have different kinds of categories for different age groups. So, to name a few, there are shoujo for young girls, shonen for young boys, seinen for adult boys and this manga is josei for adult girls. (Just to give you a heads up! It’s not what you think “Adult” more of a mature, interesting stories for young adults and beyond.) And this specific manga is off that bat!

It may seem very slow but I quite like it. Compared to a shoujo manga, by the first chapter the main protagonist, Momoko, would have a love interest but this manga deals with women in their young adult problems. For Momoko, we are introduced to her in the first chapter that she is in a relationship. Not only dealing with romantic problems but real post college dilemmas… JOBS! And those nagging questions “When will I do my dream job?” “Do I have to keep doing this job I don’t really strive to be in the future?” “Suckie job V.S. Great people to work with?” “Am I ever gonna get some sleep or even get home?”

These constant question and the the ever growing numbers of them as you go through life are the main topics discussed in the manga.

You’d notice as you keep reading that you’re not reading anymore a shoujo manga because there are several chapters talking about other than romantic life. If you haven’t read any shoujo, most of it would be lovey dovey problems of a high school girl. You can tell that you’re reading one when the protagonist is just thinking about the guy and isn’t even showing signs of studying or worrying about exams or her family. Just pretty much all about her love life. (Though, I am not saying ALL of shoujo mangas are like this. There are actually quite a few that are amazing! πŸ˜‰ I shall share them one day!)

I actually liked one chapter because it discussed what a life of a post art student. You see, Momoko’s major was Illustration and would love to have a career in the illustration industry but got a job in a design company for Pachiko. And even though she has plans to resign and finally do what she loves, she just couldn’t because of the pile of work and there were no right timing. Eventually, out of frustration from quarreling with her co-worker, she shouted she will quit because the work is purposeless. Suddenly the boss went up to her and frankly (and scarely) said: “Then quit!” After that Momoko faced embarrassment and constantly conscious of what she is doing. She felt guilty and bad about what she said and had done. For the whole time she kept contemplating and have that constant stress and felt she didn’t deserve to stay. At the end, she didn’t want to quit and the boss did that for her to realize that, that even though her current job isn’t her dream job- treat it with respect.

I just love how Youko brought that up. I don’t usually see that in any manga. She not only dealt with the anxieties of a post art student graduate but deal how to overcome and especially commented to “respect” a job. It doesn’t have to be you’re dream job that you work hard for. It has to be any job. Because this is still a job and some people taking these jobs seriously. You cannot possibly just take it as a joke, it is disrespectful to your co-workers.

And she showed how that art student reacts to it. That feeling of devastating feel of paranoia and stress from embarrassment was spot on. Anyone who is a post art student could relate to that. Maybe not even them but for someone who was splashed with cold reality. And for me that was just gold. Beautifully done! πŸ™‚

For the romantic aspect. It was nicely put. As I said above, Momoko was introduced in the beginning to be in a relationship. It is an interesting take because even though this is a josei, the author could readily made the character single and while managing work, find love as well. Yet, she did not. I found that quite refreshing and an interesting tool for story telling.

It dawned on me, she did this because really, the main focus is her dream to be an illustrator and it’s a josei. We are waaaay past from the “lovey dovey this guy is the only thing I am going to think about or our relationship” stage.

What she did was, introduce the relationship briefly and talk about work and her dream. And as the work piled up we see she isn’t paying attention to the relationship. And that my friend is the reason why Youko “briefly” introduced the relationship. She wanted the audience to feel what Momoko feels.

To be honest as I was reading it, I didn’t quite understand their relationship. I thought they were siblings, or childhood/best friend who she just hangs out with. And that, is what she wanted. For you, readers, to be confused!

Isn’t that a genius move?

And the amazing part is, for Momoko’s new love interest… do you know how Youko introduced him? It is when she misses a familiar, warm touch of a person. Not in a romantic way BUUUUT, in a way, a lonely person who has been working non stop, never have the spare time to go home, and never seen a familiar and warm person. And when they connected…it was platonic!

That my friend is genuine and sincere.

And this is how a real relationship happens. Not the love at first sight, or the first time he saw you, or the first time you bumped into each other. Relationship takes time. And here at that time, it was developing! It starts platonic or just a simple “I miss people” in general and then as the chapters keep going they get closer.

That bit, is beautifully done! πŸ™‚

The manga isn’t don’t yet but I am in a lookout! πŸ™‚ If you guys find it interesting, english scans are up on mangafox or mangareader. Just type the title! πŸ™‚