What's in the Bag?

Aug 8, 2021, 3:40:54 AM


What's in the bag Natsumi?

She's keeping really quiet about that...

You know, I had a whole 'nother comic planned for today. I had started it a few weeks back, but as I read over it time and again I realized I didn't like how it was written, so I trashed it.

That pretty much put me in a bind after last week, because I had no new comic for this week, and now I'm pretty much running up to the deadline week to week.

Well, that's indie comics for ya, I suppose.

Balance of Work

This is one of those things where I need to figure out how to balance the work. I talked a few years ago about how I balanced finishing the Rabbit and the Moon. When I worked out how much estimated time it would take to finish that graphic novel it would have been about two years. There's two ways I could have handled it:

  1. Just draw it all
  2. Start cutting and rewrite the story

I felt that was the first time I really understood the role of production and the cost that it takes to make something. I picked option two. I cut out entire chapters that I thought were unnecessary. I revamped the end of the story. I condensed chapters for the stuff I was going to keep and instead of taking 2 years it took half that time. I think it made some of the writing tighter and more importantly I completed the work.

So, I'm going to simplify the comic work for a while and give myself a break while allowing the story to move forward.

Instead of doing a lot of cel-shading, this is done using manga tones. I did the pencils on actual paper -- something I haven't done in a while which allowed me to draw a little faster since I can be sloppier (LOL). I used my phone to "scan" it into a digital format and then worked with it in Clip Studio Paint. Lines inked and then shaded. The goal will be to try and keep the art simple for a bit. We'll see how it goes.

There is also a new chapter with Catherine that I'm working on which will be the complete opposite of this approach... mostly full color, cel-shaded. Yeah. Anyway, this ebb and flow and yin and yang will probably be necessary to keep things going.

Drawing comics is a hobby.

But, I've been working on another hobby of mine. A new one.

I may have mentioned that I quit a lot of my social media. Well that opened up a gap of time which I filled by learning Japanese.

Learning Japanese as a Hobby

I started with Duolingo back in March. About 90 days in I realized I was bored of the app, and I needed to find new ways to sustain my interest in the language. I still use Duolingo and do a lesson a day mainly to keep the streak (you know the Seinfield thing, do something each day). I mostly decided what I should do is to read a novel in Japanese. Why bother with textbooks when there are perfectly good novels that I could read?

Just so happens, I own a novel in Japanese.

I got it back in 2011 when I asked my brother to pick me something up in Japan. I mainly own it as a token of my appreciation for an anime series I really love called Mariasama ga Miteru (Maria Watches Over Us in English and マリア様がみてる in Japanese). For 10 years the first volume of that series has sat on my shelf. I rarely opened it -- not even to look at the pictures. I assumed I'd never read the actual book, so, who knew that 10 years later I would be trying. It's 250 pages -- with some illustrations. It's all Japanese, and I assume you probably need a high school level education to really comprehend it. Maybe it would take a Japanese person a day or two to read it.

It took me four hours to read the first sentence. I knew barely any kanji. Basic grammar only. I came to the book with pretty much my knowledge from Duolingo, which isn't much, I'd say.

I know there is easier stuff to read. In fact I own plenty of manga in Japanese. I know where to find resources for simplified Japanese online such as NHK News and various simply stories.

I know all of this, and yet I'd prefer to read this book because it's hard. Stupid hard.

It's exciting to know how I'll figure out how to read this book and what I'll learn. Where will I be by, I don't know, page 50? 100? 200? I'm on page 18 right now. It's taken about 2 months to get here. But, I can read parts of sentences without having to look up words in the dictionary. I've acquired new words -- a very small amount compared to what's necessary for full comprehension. I can read some kanji by sight. I understand some grammatical constructs better. I know some verb conjugations.

So, that's been taking my time up but I'm enjoying it. I like studying it my way and struggling with. It feels good to make progress in something new like that.

I honestly don't have a goal for learning Japanese -- not to watch anime without subtitles, not to live in Tokyo, find a Japanese girlfriend, nothing. Not even to read Mariasama ga Miteru. I'm doing it because it fills the hole that social media left behind.

So, that's that. More next week. Have a great weekend!