Manga Big Bang!'s Avatara manga artist Andrés Zerpa did it again! Winning entry for Silent Manga Audition
Andrés Zerpa, the artist of Manga Big Bang!'s comic Avatara has won the Editors Award this time in the prestigious yearly manga competition, Silent Manga Audition 2017 held by Coamix corp in Japan. He had previously won the Excellence Award in Silent Manga Audition 2016 along with his co-creator, the story writer of Avatara, David Thomas. What is the driving force that keeps Andrés' performing at high level? Manga Big Bang! editor Tiffany had interviewed him to get a glimpse into the life of this emerging star.
Grace Flowers from Avatara
Andrés' winning entry at Silent Manga Audition 2017
Hello Andrés Zerpa, you’re already part of the team of MBB but can you please tell us a bit about yourself for those new readers?
I am 22 years old, I live in a city called Mérida in Venezuela, and I am 100% Christian. I decided that this is what I would do for life, so I started getting serious about drawing Manga since 2012. There have been ups and downs along the way (many more downs than ups) but I have continued giving my best despite all the circumstances. I see myself drawing for ever, with wife and kids, maybe in my country or in Japan drawing for one of those big and prestigious magazines, well... unless The Lord has other plans for me.
Could you tell us about the implications of being an artist in your country?
Being an artist in my country is like riding a bike... but through burning lava. In Venezuela the situation is really delicate, in the economic aspect having the current highest inflation in the whole planet; in terms of security one of the most dangerous countries and not having a good leader to try to fix things up, really limits an artist work because almost nobody is interested in buying art, but staple foods, medicines and basic items. But thanks to The Lord and because I did not give up and continued straining, I am currently hovering over the lava, working for Manga Big Bang, winning SMA contests and designing characters for someone overseas I have been able to live of my drawings.
We know you’re a manga artist, but are you planning to write your own stories in a future? if so, what would you like to write about and why?
Oh yes definitely! I would like to write a "shonen" story like Saint Seiya wich is my favourite series. A story where the hero continues to fight up against really powerful enemies, that may look impossible to defeat in order to save the earth, but by the power of the will and the support of brave friends he can overcome all and defeat them in the most wonderful way. That! is the type of story I would like to draw.
Tell us about the process of being the manga artist for Avatara
It has been wonderful working in the Avatara project, thanks to the stories of my friend David Thomas who portrays the scenes in the script in such way that manga panels in my mind just start to flow like a river! Also with the advices of a pro Mangaka such as Miss Vivian (Dr. Vee), my brother in Christ and editor Ricky Hardjono and the help of my very talented assistant Alcula. I have to say it is hard to draw an action story with few people, but with them its not impossible.
On 2016 you won along with David Thomas the Excellence Award from Silent Manga Audition, with the title “Clowning Around” and this year 2017 you won for the second time the same award with the title “Boogy Boogy”; talk to us about this contest, award and the experience of competing with other artists around the world.
Winning a Silent Manga Audition award was my dream since 2012, its one of the most prestigious world wide contests on the planet with very talented judges. This been said, obviously the competition is hard, there are exceedingly talented Manga artists in the most unthinkable places. Despite the "easy" guidelines for the silent manga, it is difficuld to portray the story without words but it is the essence of Manga; the text is suplementary, Manga should be like a silent movie on paper, to be able to entertain the reader with performance is the heart of Manga, what makes it unique from the other type of comics. This contest has taught me all of that, I am not saying that I am an expert or a proffesional in the field of Manga, but I will continue to work hard in order to fulfil my dream.
Impressive enough, Alcula, assistant to Andrés Zerpa, also got a nomination this year in SMA with the title “Spicy Love”. Alcula also happen to be a member of Dr.Vee Mangaka Club, online manga mentoring program founded by Dr.Vee the chief editor of Manga Big Bang! and is currently studying at level 7. We have included a brief interview with Alcula below.
From Alcula's nominated entry, Spicy Love
MBB would like to know how did you met your teacher; what did you gain from the experience and your future plans in this amazing industry.
I met Andrés sensei about 2 years ago. I don't know what the exact story at that time but apparently he need an assistant to help him draw (mostly) background for Avatara. So my teacher Dr. Vee sensei introduced us and then we started working together.
I was never drawing via digital media before and he taught me really patiently.
And then there is Silent Manga Audition. I joined it twice and I got much more than an improvement in my skills. The first time I joined SMA, I got my mental and mind blown because creating a "good" manga is not as easy as I thought. It's different from when I was an assistant because no one guided me in the process of making manga. Becoming an assistant is easier because you just need to draw what the mangaka (*manga creator) tells you. I remembered that I almost gave up and I also remembered that I cried with a so-not-manly-tears when I finished the silent manga.
The reason for my tears is because: first I finished the manga and second is because I know that no one in the right mind want to read this (sorry for my language) f*cking piece of sh*t. Even so I still submit it to the audition knowing that I will not get any award because I felt something special in it. It's like a mark in my life which I can't never forget. It teach me to have a mindset of grit, perseverance and not giving up because I believe that failure is not a permanent condition.
Sorry if I talk to much because I don't think that the reader will understand if I only say that "I got a slap from reality and learn to become more perseverance" from my first experience in SMA.
In the second time I joined SMA, I used my experience from my first audition and somehow got an "award candidate". It's an improvement although I felt there is not much I gain other than improvement in skills and a bit of joy.
For future plan, maybe I'll join the next SMA round and I considering to go publish via web comic. But still, I really want to try to publish my work in Japan so I need to learn Japanese first, mainly kanji.
Thank you very much Alcula for sharing your experience frankly. It is inspiring and insightful, and we hope that it will be a source of learning for budding creators out there.
Links to read Andrés Zerpa and Alcula's winning entries at SMA 2017:
Manga Big Bang’s creators David Thomas and Angel Andrés Zerpa won an award at Silent Manga Audition 2016
Avatara creators David Thomas and Angel Andrés Zerpa won the Excellence Award in prestigious yearly manga competition, Silent Manga Audition 2016 held by Coamix corp in Japan. The winning title is “Clowning Around” where readers are first taken into the fantastical world of sci-fi warzone as the story unfolds revealing the actual event and an eccentric character of an animated old lady. Mr Negishi, one of the jury for SMA 2016 commented, “Didn’t I mark this one with the highest score? THAT grandma may possibly be the best animated character of SMA6. Why not try creating a story with just her?”.
Andrés on winning the award; “I cannot express how happy I am, I dreamt to win the SMA since its first round! Thanks to The Lord after so many years of effort and sacrifices I was able to win the third place alongside David. Next year we will get the top spot!”
Writing for this SMA entry gave David some ideas for future graphic novels, which might involve a blind girl who sees dead people.
David’s craft in story writing teamed up with Andrés’ highly expressive and unique manga style creates a highly dynamic combo of great manga creators. Their affinity for eccentric characters is also seen in the pilot episode of Avatara featured in Manga Big Bang! Prototype Book where the villain Byron Grimm, a corrupt politician is pictured as a pervert who drools and licks a doll made to resemble the female protagonist, Grace Flowers.
David who had been a horror novelist and script writer had derived the inspiration for Clowning Around by imagining what a hard core 12 year old gamer would be doing in 50 years time, where they would be playing games with their grand kids. “When David came up with the idea of a gamer grandma, I remembered a video of a whack old lady playing GTAV like a pro, and boom!! Everything started to flow,” commented Andrés.
Before the script for Clowning Around was finalized, there were 4 to 5 scripts that didn’t make it, though it contained something good in them. After much brainstorming, some parts were included in the final script. According to David and Andrés the old lady character is completely fictional and is not based on any real person. David has no intention of reusing this character in the Avatara series but Andrés might include her in the background as extra so watch out… she might appear anywhere!
The Avatara series is in production at the moment. The second and third story is already mapped out with the help of editor Ricky.