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Another inteview with a manga artist from the UK, this time with Laura Watton Laura is known as one of the building blocks of the UK manga scene, and has been making comics for over 10 years, ever since she was 14. Spotted throughout the article are fanarts of Laura's many works. We now hand you over to the capable hands of camisicado to guide us through an interview with Laura Watton.

1. How, Why and When did you get into anime/manga?

Around 1994 ~ the Manga Video revolution had started, SNES games featured more and more anime-like artwork in their graphics, I had free time - and no friends. XD I had always liked comics, but discovering manga meant that I had found a medium that spoke to me, and did not patronise me or was too young for me. I was at that age where I still loved cartoons and comics (unlike everyone else, LOL) but these mediums did not provide anything for me and were not aimed at me at all. Manga was! I felt strongly that I could be a part of this stylistic teen comic thing (and pretend to be cool) by making my own. So yeah, in my teens, I started making comics! Tragic lifestyle! XD

2. When did you feel the urge to start drawing and when did it become more then a hobby to you?

I had always drawn stuff in my pre-manga making days - entering (and losing, LOL) a few school competitions and the like. To be honest I was always blinkered through education and never wanted to do anything but a job where I drew. This understandably worried my parents because art careers are close to zero availability, but none of us knew what path was best to take. Somehow I fumbled into an art-based job full-time, 18 months ago. It took a while though, and I always took drawing comics seriously while doing crap dayjobs by ensuring I tried my best with presentation and tried to make one comic a year - though I probably started drawing the most seriously since all these competitions started opening up around 2005.
Reiko by kurokumo

3. What would you say your main influences are, artisticly and in terms of writing?

Artistically, everyone initially points at my work and goes "RUMEEEKO TAKAHASHEEEE!" - and they're kind of right, though I can honestly say I am not only influenced by Takahashi (anime adaptations and comics), but by Johji Manabe, Akemi Takada - all the older stuff, like Dirty Pair anime, too. Adam Warren is a hero of mine, actually. He was pretty much one of the first - if not THE first - successful westerner getting his work published when drawing in a manga-influenced style. I was like, "I feel a gigantic urge to aspire to do something insane like that when I am more grown-up!" And despite the shockingly unrealistic expectation that was (including being more grown-up), look at all the amazing opportunities we have - getting comics in print, either by ourselves, online, or via publishers. Hooray!!

I didn't grow up with shojo manga - it did not exist in translated form, and there was no internet around! Shojo only started getting mainstream after I left Uni - and new drawing tricks are hard to learn sometimes, haha - so shonen manga is a big influence. But I do consume a lot of good shojo and josei stories these days, so I guess while my art isn't exactly pretty, my storytelling is (hopefully) moreso. However I fear that combination of art and story sadly ends up being EMO. XD
Wrist Killer V1 XD by Nere-chan

4. What would you describe your own art style as?

Heavy lines and very genki. People tell me I'm always turned up to 11 (which is kind of bad!) - whether I am happy or sad - but that's just how I am, so presumably that comes across in my comics... hopefully for the better! *Channels*
Biomecha Fanart by RilesThornus

5. You're well known for being one of the founding and core members of Sweatdrop Studios. How does it feel to have founded such a successful group, which has literally changed the face of UK manga?

I'm personally SO overjoyed that people enjoy making and talking about comics so much, to get to the extent that we have seemed impossible in the 90's. I'm ecstatically happy with what we make and how we make it. It was a mere dream to imagine Biomecha would get as far as it has (book format!), not to mention be able to find people who could help me achieve what I fluffily dreamed about doing with my art as a teen. So thank you all! And thanks to everyone who has shown support for this voluntary-run UK manga circle of ours.
Biomecha Fanart by kriffix

6. What inspired your on-going manga "Biomecha"? It's pretty obviously it's not a typical-run of the mill manga, which is of course a great thing

I think it was a combination of "Maris the Wondergirl", "Maison Ikkoku" and "Project A-Ko"..! But it turned into a teenage romantic comedy to... not so funny. I'd never even dated ANYONE at the time the comic was conceived, either. I was one of those sad kids who ended up loving their characters and the scenario to make up for my non-existing social life. It's a different story now, though! *Is relieved* (Both for my real life and in Biomecha!) I think because it has inadvertently got lots of life experience throughout it's creation, plus every issue changes quite drastically in terms of art style again due to experience, the amalgamation of manga influences gathered up over the years has turned it into what is is today. It's a bit of a mess in my personal opinion, but I have this urge to finish it. Seriously, even after all these years. Comic crack.
Biomecha - colour by MathewJPallett

7. What's the best and worst thing about being a manga/anime artist in the UK?

Best = Going to Expo and making comics into books! Meeting new and likeminded comics fans in the flesh and online. Seeing and reading comics that other people create. Discussing tips and getting my head round things like digital specifications with friendly people who are equally as hardcore about making comics as I am. Dream come true!

Worst = the pay. Being a comic artist in general does not pay so good. Hence why I still have a dayjob! Also, there's quite a few people who think "because you're not Japanese, you do not draw manga." This opinion is really upsetting. I mean in Japan, manga sections are sold under the header, "Kommikusu". Comics. Everyone should be drawing and reading comics, not dissing someones' work just because of their country of origin. It makes me sad! I draw manga-styled comics, and so what? I hope this opinion dies out soon, and everyone can just stop wasting time and get on with enjoying graphic novels and sequential art in general.
Sweatdrop Fanart by emmav

8.Where do you see yourself and the U.K manga scene heading from here?

Scary question! I honestly do not know. The UK has had so much manga lavished upon us thanks to US translations, internet sales, bookshop hosting and so on, we are tremendously lucky to be where we are today. I mean even where we - both as manga creators and fans - stand right now, I could not envision such manga-prominence even only a few years ago. So I think it is safe to say "who knows", but I know it's gonna be GREAT. I feel we're very, very lucky!
Nami by yun-min

9.Which would you prefer to create: Bishie Love comics that have little interlectual value and hated by critics but sell in the thousands/millions. Or super intense and smart manga that is lauded as the best manga ever by critics but doesn't fare well in sales?

LOL - I'm not capable of either! My art isn't deemed '';pretty'' enough nor are my stories particularly brainy. I'm the easiest person to ask this because I have often made my opinion known about pretty, but vapid, comics. XD I wish I was capable of writing a clever comic, though! I do admire the artwork from a lot of these bishie, empty comics. But I never buy them for the story. I'm also of the wrong demographic (double the age of the target audience!) to be able to enjoy the cheese in full. But, as I am a vast consumer of movie-fromage, it makes no sense regards why I am not a frothing BL fan, really. I don't like having "THIS IS GREAT!!!"-opinions shoved down my throat though, a lot of the time it's the frothing fanbase attitudes that repel me from such stuff, as opposed to the product itself. OBVIOUSLY not every BL fan, for example, IS like this. But I'm afraid the damage has been done from experiences in the past O___o
biomecha fanart, my first tone by badly-shaded

10. Any last words/advice?

Never give up, always ask questions! Improve or die and USE A RULER PLZ!
Sweatdrop Fan Doujinshi FC by igtica
Add a Comment:
Denji-chan Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2008
it's great to have a 'non-pretty' style and non-uhh...'clever' storylines? xD;; belive me, story lines that try their best to be deep and clever in my opinion end up being somehwat pretentious;; it's tough to get a balance between soemtihng entertaining yet something that doesn't go over your head too much =)

also, me and bex were discussing the idea of style (again) the other day, haha XD; such an argument! but we agree that your style is something else, you shouldn't tihnk it aint pretty enough, it's acutally very glamourous - i tihnk glamourous and fabulous and words like that are a great way to describe it! it's really come into it's own.
PinkAppleJam Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2008  Professional Digital Artist
I created a DA account (SHOCK!) just to reply to this thread! Thank you very much for posting the interview, guys! Much appreciated. I will have to pimp this around being as I did not knwo when it was going live and happily stumbled across it recently.

Interesting idea about the illustrations, it's so lovely to see other peoples' renditions of my characters (*cries a li'l bit with joy*) - though I was wondering if credit can be added to the artists and name the character? It would be a shame if their art went by uncredited :)

Thank you all once again!
PinkAppleJam Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2008  Professional Digital Artist
Oh I am SUCH a noob. Just clicking on the thumbnail takes you to the respective artists' gallery, which is wonderful :)

I spotted a weird error in the body text;
yun-min Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2008
The wonders of the dA thumbnail system. Very useful.

The P emoticon typo... that happens to a lot of people. It's supposed to be when you type ;p, but the emoicon system puts it in in other places as well, which is odd.
ArcadiaRonin Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2008
Good interview. It was very interesting to hear about Laura's influences and original motivations. These were a really good idea.
darksmoke101 Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
Heh, this is pretty awesome!!
You can tell Laura did it, I hope the same for sweatdrops future!! Hee, I might have to join SD soon!
Kitty-Cato Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2008
Great interview :)
But what ever happened to the club member's interviews?

yun-min Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2008
I never got everyone's back... ~Outlawstar8489 never got back to me with his answers to ~Naaya-Neko's questions, depite me asking him several times to get them back...

I should send him another note...
Kitty-Cato Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2008
You should just post up everyone that you've gotten, if there's enough. Then post the others at a later date. I'm interested in seeing them all ^_^

emmav Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2008  Professional Digital Artist
Nice interview, though it's a little weird that you've used none of Laura's own artwork - unless that was decided? It's all lovely fanart! But yeah, I'd recommend having some of Laura's work up there too ^_^
yun-min Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2008
Because it's all dA thumbnails, I can't stick any of Laura's work up there, as she doesn't have a deviantART account.

Thinking about it, I probably could have cooked something up, but ~camisicado emailed this to me a few days ago and it's been sitting around long enough.
emmav Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2008  Professional Digital Artist
Oh of course! haha - i forgot she didn't have an account!
Outlawstar8489 Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2008
Nice interview yet again, good stuff both of you.
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June 8, 2008


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