I had my meeting with Kodansha yesterday. I'm not really sure where to begin with this report so I'll just start at the beginning and write about what I remember. I was pretty dazed and confused throughout the visit so there might be some backtracking. Bear with me.
My meeting was at 3 in the afternoon. Took a train with my writer (yes, I'm working with a writer) that let's us off right at Kodansha's doorstep and, first of all, the place is huge. It looks like a courthouse with a surprisingly high level of security roaming in and outside the building. There was a building attached to the main one where visitors have to go to fill-out an ID form, be given a badge and wait to be personally escorted. I sat for a bit while trying to calm my nerves and eventually the editor came down to greet us and guided us upstairs where an entire terrace and floor was devoted to tables and chairs meant for meetings and powwows. I'm gonna be pretty anonymous with names and titles from here on in just to be safe, btw.
My writer had previously mentioned that I'd worked for companies in the States and that I'd moved here hoping to get work in Japan, blah blah, so I didn't have to explain where I was coming from with my style and look and all that so it was really just down to business. The editor flipped through my print-outs while I sat there totally blanking. I didn't know what he was gonna say and he was expressionless throughout his viewing so there weren't any hints for me either. Anyway, he put down the pitch and came straight out with that it wasn't good enough. There were problems with both art and story but I'll just focus on the art since that's what I'm most concerned with.
One of the major points was that it didn't have enough "manga-isms" to it. By that, he meant, more light-hearted touches like those wacky faces and more humourous touches that many people associate with manga backhome. I studiously avoided any of that stuff and it seems it came around to bite me in the ass. Also, not enough movement in the images. If you check out my more physical scenes or action sequences for SMLMJ or BFX you'll notice that I mainly work with suspended shots rather than blurry and trailing arms or legs. He mentioned it's okay to use once in a while but when it's the same note throughout it loses it's impact and becomes dull. The sound effects weren't dynamic enough either. He cited examples and it quickly dawned on me that I should've taken more care and time with what seemed like something rather minor to me. The way I greytoned everything came across as rather lifeless as well since I'd filled in the majority of backgrounds with gradient just for sake of having something. Ultimately, it just wasn't drawn well or tight enough. He suggested maybe entering a seasonal contest for new talent his magazine had since I was at that level or assisting an established artist to pick up certain techniques I was lacking. Other than that, he couldn't really do anything for me. I asked a few questions and we talked about some of the story elements afterwards but that was pretty much the bulk of our conversation. The entire interview lasted about 45 minutes.
I was disappointed of course but it was disappointment directed at myself. I don't like making excuses and I was very thankful he was being honest and forthright. I really needed to hear what he had to say. Especially now. I think I'm still trying to come to grips with reseting my style and look for a market that I've only known through reading and reading is good but doing is much more important. To be honest, I thought I'd shed some of my habits from backhome but yesterday really made me realize I had to fuckin' heave everything out the window and start fresh. Daunting, yeah, but I sorta have to.
I had coffee with my writer afterwards to review our review and decide to on what we wanted to do. We're gonna try another publisher to hear one more opinion before changing course but we're assuming the result will be the same. Not good enough. Faaaaack.
I recall a Paul Pope interview I read a while ago in which he stated he'd produced hundreds of pages that never saw print and it's quickly sinking in that I'll probably be treading similar waters over the next year. Not that I'm anywhere near as proficient or as good as that guy but the process of getting a gig here seems to prerequisite that amount of patience and effort. And then just maybe little bird...