The third and final interview this week in my series on Christian OEL manga is with Sean Lam. Sean is an artist who has illustrated each of the series produced by Manga Hero.
Sean: One day I was just casually browsing through some online classifieds when I chanced upon an ad looking for a manga artist to help create manga based on bible stories. it was as though fate led me to look into it, something which I rarely do on the net. The idea of working on a biblical manga series immediately hit me as something both cool and with a good cause. Without second thought I immediately contacted the publisher, and that was when I get to know Jonathan Lin, and Manga Hero.
TWWK: Manga Hero’s releases involve both yourself and a writer. How does the co-creator process work? Who creates the storyline? Is the art done before dialogue is written?
Sean: It is always a team effort for any manga we produced to date, with Gabrielle and Matt, both amazing writers who came up with wonderful takes on Paul and Judith series, as well as the latest mangas “Many Are Called” and “Habemus Papam!”. As an artist, I work with them seamlessly throughout the entire production, from translating their initial ideas into concept visuals, to converting their scripts into manga panels. For characters and scene concepts – I will first go through the whole script to immerse myself into the story and feel for the characters. Then with the aid of characters and a scene breakdown description sheet from the writer, I will start conceptualizing the designs and turning them into visuals.
TWWK: How would describe your experience creating these manga works?
Sean: I really enjoyed working on all the Manga Hero books to date, as every book brought me a great sense of responsibility throughout the whole process. It really felt good when you contributed your best abilities and knowing your works are reaching out to the society with an even more important role to play than just being a recreational product.
Manga is another comic art style in story telling, but it can deliver emotions faithfully and carries vivid messages to readers, evoking a sense of reality in the story. I hope our books can cater to a wider audience from all parts of the world and encourage teens of today to read more, as well as remember the wonderful traditional bible stories of yesterday.
TWWK: Have there been any particular challenges in doing the art for the Manga Hero series?
Sean: The challenge was always to keep up with the beautiful scripts and matching them up with the correct feel and art direction. Another difficulty is to create the biblical characters true to their origin, believable, yet manga-like. And lots of research and reading up on the bible stories is a must to illustrate the large enticing world depicted in the scripts.
Manga…can deliver emotions faithfully and carries vivid messages to readers, evoking a sense of reality in the story.
TWWK: Whose work has particularly influenced you as an artist?
Sean: Countless! I’m a sucker for everything comic and manga, regardless what genre it may be, ranging from Marvel and DC Comics to Japanese manga. I like to keep an open mind to art and just enjoy the different artworks that comes before my eyes, it helps me to maintain a more flexible creativity approach to creating an original art style. If I must say a few of them are Steve Ditko, Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, Hayao Miyazaki, Katsuhiro Otomo and Yoshitaka Amano.
TWWK: What advice could you give aspiring artists who want to work in the anime or manga fields?
Sean: I would advise them to get started immediately once they realized this dream they have. Take it both seriously and fun at the same time, one can bring out his best and improve endlessly only when he enjoys his trade. The passion must always be in your heart and burning non stop, to give you strength and keep you in high spirits as the road gets tougher. Observe surrounding life and objects, practice drawing a lot, and built on the fundamentals, before moving on to create your own anime and manga.
Head over to Manga Hero to see the manga that Sean has worked on and for information on purchasing them. And please come back tomorrow as I wrap up the week by reviewing one of Sean’s works – Paul: Tarsus to Redemption.