Memory Lane: R.E.D.

Back when I was doing fanzines in 1996, I wanted to do EVERYTHING. Like, I couldn’t choose one genre and stick to it. So, when Lyonesse (That it’s in the Old Projects tab if you’re curious) was going to end, I cranked designs for about 5 different stories, draw two pages of it, and put it up to vote among the 300/400 readers that the Anime fanzine I edited with Gabriela Maya had. (Maybe there were more readers, I’ve got to admit that I never knew exactly how many people read us. I just knew they bought the fanzine at comic book stores, and that we had subscribers from all over the country).

R.E.D. -Professional Thieves, Anonymous Society- was not one of the most popular of those ideas, but I had a soft spot for them. I’ve always loved heist stories, so… I just wanted to do one. I just never developed them further after they lost (Out of the five, they were second to last in the voting process, although it was maybe due to the fact that it was the last preview we ran), even if I loved heists, mostly due to the fact that I finally debuted professionally around then and I started doing a lot more shojo stories. (They appeared in a Conque Convention special magazine, kidnapping the organizer, and in another one for the same convention stealing everything from the booths. I wish I still had those pages to show you guys)

(Of course, while the watercolor I did was directly based in their original looks, except for Diamond whom I decided looked a lot better with darker skin, If I do go back to a heist-based idea, it would not be women in brightly colored jumpsuits. THAT particular trend should’ve stayed in the 80’s)

Memory Lane: Lost

Going back to the beginning of my career, Lyonesse (That can be read about in this post) was a moderate success. By moderate I mean well,  it had about 20 readers (and I know this because that was about the number of copies we could print, and they tended to sold out). At some point during the second part, we moved it to the information fanzine we had started, named Animanga, mostly in order to make it have more pages, and then I kind of lost track of how many people actually cared for the story, but we never got complains, so I counted that as a win.

In any case, Lyonesse was drawing to an end, and I wanted to do something different. But I will be 100% honest, I do have a bit of an hyperactive muse, and I had more ideas than time (Or ability) to make them look good. So I had this crazy idea of showing five different stories, with a two page preview each, and let the Animanga readers vote for the one they wanted to see.

Lost won second place, but because the first place suddenly was picked to launch my professional career (more about that later), it was picked to replace Lyonesse once it ended.

The very first Lost drawing. I was so proud of it, back in 1995. (yes, you can see the signature there)

The story was pretty simple. An earth girl named Jan found a strange macguffin called the Chihenshinchikawasei (Can you tell I was starting to learn Japanese and had just got my first dictionary?) and since the thing opens wormholes, she gets transported (and physically transformed into a blue haired girl for… reasons) into a sand planet where two brothers find her and nurse her back to health. Due to language and culture clash problems, she thinks the brothers, Jial and Zahia, are girls, and Jial decides not to correct her. And then, well, they get adventures as Jial convinces Jan to use the macguffin to find treasures.

I honestly don’t remember what was I thinking, besides “I like Indiana Jones and gender-confusing characters”.

In any case, after publishing the first.. I think it was two chapters, or maybe it was just one, we (That is, Gaby Maya and I) decided to do a crossover between the Lost guys and her characters, the Pirates of Aquelonde, which ended up being the very last story published in Animanga. It was a very interesting exercise for me, as she drew most of the backgrounds and her characters, while I just drew mine and then she inked.

Now, unlike some other entries in this memory lane I’m doing, I did come back to the Lost guys in 2010. Not for publication, but for my portfolio. I made 3 pages, changing the concept a little bit, making the setting more steampunk, making Jial’s gender a bit more obvious as I had decided to go in a different route with Jan. To be honest, I am still thinking about working with this characters again, as soon as I find the right setting for them.


Memory Lane – Lyonesse

I started drawing (and trying to sell) my comics when I was 15.  I wasn’t specially good -between being a bit of a hermit, no internet tutorials, and a slightly over protective dad I was pretty much self taught. I still am, but now I actually talk to people and get their input on how to improve myself. Plus, I’ve got about 20 or so years of practice over my 16-year-old self 😉

My very first comic was a small strip I did for a baseball magazine. Unfortunately, most if not all of those strips are lost to time. If I find them, I might talk about them more another time. After that,  and after renting Otaku no Video and learning that in Japan fans did their own comics in very small runs and showed them to the public, I thought “Why not?” and with the help of some friends back then I made Lyonesse.

It was… a bit of a mess.

Lyonesse was a story about a planet ravaged by war, three races in an eternal fight, and some magic thrown in between to show that deep down we’re all the same.  It was divided in three parts, the first and second sold in 12 page, letter sized, photocopied issues (first issue had a run of 5 copies. I have no idea where my own copy is) -well, the second part had a couple of bigger issues, as it was published with Gaby Maya’s Pirates of Aquelonde’s first chapter.  First part was 5 issues long, while the second part was about 4 and then the third part was published inside my other fanzine, Animanga, which is where you can say my career started to lift off.

Lyonesse was the first (and for a long time, the only, to my shame) story I finished. And once I finished it, I closed the file and tried to forget about it. From time to time, however, I remembered the characters and wondered if I could write their story better with my new experience and better art. Then I decide that it’s better to leave them as they are, a nice memory and a teaching experience.

Still, when people say that art requires “born” talent and not practice, I like to see that first Lyonesse issues (you can see the cover, done last century) and then, just to make the point clearer, I made the watercolor that opens this post in 2017. Practice does pay off 😉

Funny thing, though.  I decided to make the watercolor off one of the most secondary characters. His name was Kyja and, while important to the plot, he LITERALLY only appeared in the third part, and in short flashbacks in the second. Still, he was one of the most interesting characters visually, and I had never done a full color illustration of him. So, 20 some years later, I had to give him his due.