Ashikai is the artist of our latest Premium title, Shamrock! Check it out in the Premium Section!
First off, well done on your promotion, Ashikai!
That’s my speechless face. Thank you much, kind sir~
We’ll start at the beginning, how did you get into the whole art scene?
Crayons. Crayons and finger paint. I used them to draw my scenes of art.
Seriously though, I was the child who wanted to draw on everything; the walls, tables, my face… I have pictures of me in kindergarten and first grade sitting in a classroom full of clean kids… except for me and my paint-spattered face. Good times. =u=
Besides that, my Mom is a pretty amazing artist, so I was around art stuff my whole life. I remember stealing her sketchbooks and trying to copy her drawings on the next page. She used to laugh when she’d open them up and find my hideous little attempts at replicating her art pieces in her books. I refused to believe her advice (“Use shapes when you draw! Don’t just outline!”) as a kid, though.
We moved around a lot to tons of different cities, and being an only child I had to find things to do, especially when I started at a new school and didn’t have any friends yet. Art was convenient, and it kept me busy… and out of trouble (which was probably more the point).
I understand that Shamrock isn’t the first comic you worked on, can you tell us a little bit about some of those earlier comics?
*insert sputtering noises here*
Uhhhhh… Welp, besides the odd Pokémon fan comic, I have a fantasy series called GreyRune, a golf comic called ParFour (joint project with a writer), a literary adventure comic called Pen15 (or The 15th Pen, also done with a writer) and a slice of life diary comic called Reality-U.
Reality-U is technically complete, very short, and was made as a documented history of the crazy times in college. Believe it or not, there are no strips about parties or anything like that. I just happened to have the weirdest classmates and even weirder teachers. Lucky me!
The 15th Pen is a moderately short story about a little girl who gets sucked into a Sherlock Holmes novel (literally) and discovers that literary classics are getting re-written. She ends up befriending a whole cast of characters from famous literary classics and they hop from book to book in order to collect the 15 pens of the authors in order to prevent the classics from being rewritten. It’s a cool project, probably about five-ish volumes total. I’ll probably pick this one back up eventually.
ParFour was a slice of life comic about a teenage kid who loves golf and a girl in his class… hijinks ensue. This was the comic that made me realize that slice of life really isn’t my thing. I completed the first chapter but never went beyond that. Don’t think I’ll be finishing it.
GreyRune is like, my comic baby. It’s the ultimate form of the first fantasy story I ever wrote, and it’s a story I really, REALLY want to
work on. It’s based on Norse Mythology and serves as an exploration of cultures, religions and politics around the world and what really makes them different. The story follows the adventures of a short-tempered dragoon-dropout-turned-blacksmith named Loki, as she accompanies Saelier, a young emmisary from Alfheim. Saelier is entrusted with the task of investigating the sudden decline in the world’s mana supply. This is the story that I’ll be working on after Shamrock is finished.
What was it about Shamrock that made you decide to work on this as a main series?
I don’t remember. Shamrock was originally a romance, you know; it was supposed to be about a bassist and a singer, and it was only supposed to be like, 50 pages. I don’t remember when or why it turned into a ghost story. Like I mentioned earlier, slice of life/romances are totally not my thing.
Once it turned into a ghost story, I thought Shamrock would be great practice for me before I startedGreyRune. It was only supposed to be three volumes.
That didn’t happen. >_>;;
You seem to put a lot of thought into the scientific principles behind the Gates and Poltergeists in Shamrock, was it difficult to put all that together?
Was it difficult? No. I love science-y things~~~
When it came time to address the battle aspect of this comic, I decided that I wanted to make it as fundamentally sound as possible. Rather than just say, “It works cuz IT’S MAGIC,” I wanted to make a system that was believable. I also wanted a female lead who was a science nut.
But there was this one moment when I was reading a chapter of YuYuHakusho… the main character, Yusuke, just kept pulling more and more power out of NOWHERE and then getting the stuffing beat out of him. He’d then miraculously pull our MOAR POWAH and… well, the battles just started lacking any sense of intensity. =\
That was the point where I decided that my main character should be relatively weak, and win with more eclectic approaches, or maybe some crazy science on the fly (like making use of the electrical conductivity of water or copper if the environment allowed for it, etc). The result was Sam. I’ll be honest, I think she’s just going to get crazier as the series goes on. Crazy is fun to write.
I love the designs of the Gates in Shamrock! How do you go about putting those together?
Oooo, uhh… hm. I don’t… know? ^^a
I actually really struggle with monster designs on most levels. I think Shamrock is good for me because there’s one really solid rule that I have to abide by whenever I create any Gate: it has to be based on a real object.
So if I need a Gate immediately, I just look around my house thinking, “What would be the most messed up item to turn in to a horror movie monster…?” I’ve mostly used mundane objects so far, partially because those are the easiest to recognized when they’re all mutated, and partially because… the gates encountered so far aren’t really important to the plot, so I’d prefer if they were less memorable.
There are cases in the story where a Poltergeist mutates just like a Gate would, and for that I normally free-form it. There’s usually a theme to the design that relates character, as well as the object that got mutated. I’d like to say that I really dig into a character’s psyche in order to utilize symbolism and stuff, but I don’t ever really think too deeply about it. Symbolism that appears is entirely coincidental. Ironically, there’s a lot of it. XD
We’ve talked about comics you’ve worked on in the past, but any series you’re planning for the future?
Like I mentioned earlier, I’m definitely working on GreyRune when Shamrock finishes. After that I’m not really sure. I’m currently writing a musical animated movie called The Goose Girl and a premise/plot for a video game (which I’m actually going to pitch so I can’t give details here for legal reasons). Other than that, not really. I’m actually one of those rare artists that doesn’t have many story ideas.
Any words of wisdom you’d like to impart on young artists?
Never give up, never surrender!
Oh, and keep moving forward. As tempting as it is to go back and redraw/rewrite your comics, try to finish a story first. If you never get passed the first chapter, you’ll never get anywhere, and no one wants to be stuck in the eternal re-do loop of doom.
O.o <–I’m watching you. No re-dos.
That’s great! Thanks for your time and best of luck with Shamrock!
Thank you. Best of luck to you all, and to all a good read! *twirls off into the sunset*
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