Award winning Pinoy mangaka international artist on making comic books for a living
With the short-lived, artist stints of some Pinoys on western comics disheartening, it is an inspiration to note that Pinoy mangakas--the opposite of Pinoy superhero comics artists--are doing very well with freelance projects and local comics series because we belong to the awesome Gundam Generation. Western superhero fare is only successful for movies but the comics side of their industry is barely holding together and even the most talented Filipino artists get passed over via an imposed rotating talent pool that demands any hired hand to produce bestsellers within the short window that they sit on a book. Only few make it and endure.
On the other hand, we have plenty of successful Pinoy Mangakas: Jayron is the creator and
artist of Elevatress on our website's Imaginarium comic book section.
Jayron Zapanta used to be a long-haired artist not so long ago getting
his feet wet doing personal indie manga projects before getting a big
break illustrating the covers of Psicom's Dark Fiction and Kilig YA
novels. He also was the artist-creator of Black Ink's White Wings,
another romantic manga story which became the 2nd best selling comic
book of the company in 2014. Jayron also has an online fantasy manga
series called Magnolia Online.
Image Credit: Jayron Zapanta used with permission Imaginarium Comics by Jayron Zapanta for reach-unlimited.com
He has won various manga fan site awards for his work and is still a dedicated DIY enthusiast and comic book self-publisher. We
talk to Jayron ( who is also part of an artist group with Columbia Kho)
about his craft as well as take a look at his artist workspace. Hello
Sir Jayron! Thanks for giving us the good opportunity to talk with you
about mangaka DIY work and your commercial art projects as well,
REACH: My favorite work of
yours are the Silent Manga, no caption shorts you did recently that won
commendations—Break Time, Proposing, Fukushima Sakuramori, and also the
in-house comic we are running--The Elevatress. Would you be putting
together a thicker collection of no-caption short stories soon as a
self-published good manga project for your fans? Can Elevatress evolve
into more than just Heaven or Hell--or both places be more than what
they seem? Suggestion ko secret floors where shoppers can buy the
weirdest stuff. Or time travel floors into the past and future?
Elevatress offers plenty of creative possibilities that also include
bishojo fan service into adult storylines if you are audacious enough to
Jayron: It was a great pleasure winning the honorable
mention award in the Silent Manga Awards online. Ex-round was hosted by Comic Zenon in
Japan. I personally encourage every mangaka in the Philippines to join the contest! You can check their website for details. Your ideas for "The Elevatress" are very interesting! If given again an opportunity I would really continue it!
REACH: You are both a manga artist and a father. Do you have inhibitions about
creating manga that is appropriate for general readership audience or
would you create something more risque--asking you as a male manga
creator—would you ever create: Violent robots destroying the world?
Demons that do nasty things? Android dolls that have fatal attraction
Jayron: I'm more into warm-hearted stories but I would love to venture into different stories and artworks. There is no boundary in art!
Image Credit: Jayron Zapanta used with permission Commissioned collaboration with Reon Merryweather on Deviant Art, Jayron as Power J,
REACH: Where did you study for university and did the manga hobby ever be a
hindrance to your academics? If you were a fine arts dude how did the
professors look at a manga hobby or an anime fixation among younger art
Jayson: I never went to art school. I studied and graduated with a
Bachelor of Science in Information Technology from the Technological University of the Philippines in Taguig. I come from a family of artists and creative people from my father's side and among my relatives, I'm the one who's a dedicated manga/anime artist and designer.
Image Credit: Jayron Zapanta used with permission Sample Art page from Jayron's manga portfolio.
REACH: What are the tools of your trade and saan ang pinakamalakas na gastos?
Drawing pens or paper? Sketchpads or coloring markers? There is a funny
sketch by one art school teacher with a caricature profile on each art
school stereotype: Check this out--which one are you? Do you invest in
the best art materials or are there situations when you can use budget
art supplies to tide you over?
Jayron: I'm more of a digital media artist so I
invested a lot upgrading my personal computer. I still only own a basic model Genius i608x pen
tablet. I used to be heavily into traditional art medium of brush and ink, color markers and paint but the demand for digital art skills locally
and international is where the work comes from so I went with the flow. But, personally I think traditional
media will always be the best for me
REACH: Self-publishing can be a very resource-exhausting hobby and life concern
because if it doesn't pay off immediately unlike writing say pulp
romance manuscripts. You still need to have a day job to put food on the
table and to buy your art supplies, you've worked with freelance
projects and as an in-house artist for a company--how is the work life
in each setting and if kids in their late teens or early 20s want to to
DIY self-publish would you recommend that they keep a day job or go
full-time as mangaka.
Jayron: My past day jobs were more technical and involved computer engineering and hardware support
(mechanical, electronics & computer). But I never stopped drawing
and participating in anime/manga conventions and art websites. Thank
God, I had a big turning point allowing me to commit to an anime/manga art
career full time and quit my day job. It was Sir Melch from Melchman's Stuff Entertainment who offered
me full time digital design and art work for his company to do designs for different game
projects. I owe him a lot!
REACH: Comics work
anywhere has always been a cutthroat dog-eat-dog competition for both
work-for-hire situations and for DIY creative work finding a market. For
both jobs, freelance work assignments andthe free-wheeling marketplace
available for DIY self-publishers, where do you stand in the middle of
that jungle—how do kids chase their dream and not end up sorry for it?
How much of your time is taken up by professional work? Would you give
up a day job and focus solely on self-publishing or is that gig
impossible to do long term?
Jayron: If you currently have a day job, don't
give it up. Not yet. Start little by little if you are doing manga while you're into
your day job. Never stop. And the time will come when you'll get into a situation where your manga comics and art production will become a good source of income. By that time, you get to choose if you keep your current day job or be a career mangaka. Be resourceful!
Our generation today is very lucky
with the growth of technology especially the internet--allowing us to find work opportunities worldwide. You can look for
manga projects in deviantart.com, upwork.com and many more art job portals via the internet. Make good friends with other artists, they can share tricks of the trade with you and also give you
referrals for freelance projects. So the key here is to be resourceful!
Image Credit: Jayron Zapanta used with permission Monster Hunter Fan Art by Jayron Zapanta for Monster Hunter fan community.
REACH: Your Monster Hunter fan-fiction work sold out at the recent Komikon and
that means you may have more than 300 or more fans who will buy
anything you make--as a manga artist does this push you to put out more
work as a DIY manga person while relevant pa ang creative output natin
sa isip ng mga manga fans?
Jayron: Yes it does! There will be more!
Image Credit: Jayron Zapanta, used with permission. Fan commission artwork by Jayron Zapanta--Hit Girl
Art fan art commissions can earn anywhere from $5 a page to as high as
$30 a page and more--how prolific are Deviant Art fan pages in getting
you art commissions and is it enough to do art commissions full time as a
manga artist honing your craft?
Jayron: Somehow it does. It depends on
your client for art commissions. Some will offer to collaborate with short term or long term working relationships that aren't just one piece drawing commissions. Long term projects can sustain you with your art fix and earn on the side. Magnolia Online web manga is my current long term project with my collaborating Danish writer Reon Merryweather.
Image Credit: Jayron Zapanta used with permission. Jayron Zapanta in Akihabara enjoying fan paradise for anime merchandise
REACH: You have visited
Japan more than once? Were you able to visit an actual manga publishing
office while you were there? What were the otaku merchandise shops like?
Did you attend a Doujinshi convention or festival?
Jayron: Yes and it
was very fun! We went to Akihabara in Tokyo. They sell tons of anime
merchandise there! The difference between Tokyo and local shops was I didn't see any malls. There are
literally building and buildings, side by side in Akihabara that sell nothing else but anime merchandise. There was a mini
manga event in Tokyo but I didn't made it because the event was a day
after our flight home. Whew. Sayang.
REACH: How was it doing
professional cover designs and interior comic book pages for Wattpad
books by PsiCom: My Husband is a Mafia boss, Life Story of Mary Chua.
Your publisher PsiCom arranges “Meet the Author” fan sign events to
promote the new line of YA romance novels and comic books. Kumusta naman
yung mga event? Mahaba ang pila sa Manila International Book fair for
some popular publishers including VIVA-Psicom ah.
Jayron: Drawing art
covers for different novels is very fun and fulfilling. Fans of the
authors become your fans and supporters too. The Manila International Book Fair was very awesome! We had a book
signing during the launch of our manga line and it was awesome!
Thank you Jayron for telling fans and manga enthusiasts what they need to know for encouraging all of us Japanese-art inspired creatives to continue doing manga work while we can—better to have done the work than not doing it and looking back and wishing you did. We hope you can still be doing the amazing work of manga like the mythical Bakuman creators until you own your own successful publishing house.