Last week, we introduced Ichiman, a BL artist and doujinka active in Germany. In the second part of our interview, Ichiman talks about how she started as a BL artist, the process involved in making her own manga, and future plans.
We’d like to ask you more about your activities as a BL artist. Why did you decide to become a BL artist? To publish your own manga?
Ichiman: On one hand I want to say that I have no idea, but on the other hand I think it was inevitable.
I always loved to draw comics and me and my childhood best friend would spend hours on drawing manga together when we were only 12 years old.
I told everyone I wanted to become a mangaka.
At some point, I became interested in BL and I always wanted to include that in the stories my friend and I created, but she didn’t like it… And so I dreamed about publishing my own BL stories for years. I even started to draw BL comics, but it was all just for fun and never lead anywhere.
When I was 19, I noticed that I was missing out on a lot of BL content because I wasn’t into shipping characters from already existing manga/anime. I actually found my first “real” shipping fandom in Hetalia Axis Powers back then and started to admire artists from Pixiv. One of my biggest inspirations to this day is Bloody MoiMoi Bus, who just conveyed such amazing and soft feelings even in the smuttiest sex scenes.
It really, really captivated me. I wanted to create something similar.
I tried to build myself up as an artist on Tumblr and was also fairly successful around 2012-2013 when I drew BL of Marvel characters, but it was only in 2017 when I first finished my first actual BL doujinshi (of Hunter x Hunter) and actually sold it at a convention. And I think I got a real kick out of having created something like that all by myself.
From then on I just kept drawing and drawing comic after comic in my free time. I seem to have a natural drive when it comes to storytelling and even though I don’t know where I’m headed with this passion of mine, I don’t regret doing it.
How do you publish your own manga? Please tell us about the process.
Ichiman: Usually, I let my followers know that I’m working on something new right after I managed to finish a good storyboard that can be realistically converted into a comic.
I often ask people if they are interested before so that I can think about the length of the comic.
(Having a 40-page comic isn’t really worth it if only 15 people want to purchase it.)
I then need to calculate the time I will need to work on my project. This is often the trickiest part and I have to sacrifice my social life or time in university for it (which I absolutely don’t recommend!).
My last doujinshi took me 3 months to make and had 36 pages, from storyboarding to sending out the data to the publisher.
So because of me working part-time and going to university, the process is a lot slower than that of an average Japanese comic book artist.
But I really like to take my time and I hate rushing.
Near the end of my comic, I set up a pre-order to get a last boost of incentive and to check on how many comics I will need to print overall.
I tend to go 20-30% over the number of pre-orders I get so that I still have a few physical comics I can sell on conventions.
Once the pre-orders are finished, I will also set up a digital PDF version of my comic to sell on my Gumroad store. Some people buy both, some prefer digital and some physical. The online sales are oftentimes just as high as physical sales, which is good!
With the rest of my doujinshi, I go to different conventions around Germany and thankfully, there’s always quite an impressive amount of people interested in my comics.
The best compliment to me personally is when people don’t even know the characters, but buy my fan comics because they like my storytelling and art style.
What were the difficulties in publishing your own manga?
Ichiman: Since I only self-published doujinshi so far, I haven’t encountered too many issues.
I’m also very lucky to have friends who always give me a lot of feedback on how to work things out with the printing companies and laying out and my previous education in Graphics Design helps me a lot, too.
I learn with every comic I produce and seeing the progress is extremely enjoyable to me.
The only problem is that the amount of comics I can print completely relies on the demand. I don’t have enough resources to invest in the production and that can be quite the gamble sometimes.
Also having to do everything by myself during my free time really slowed down my studies and process in my original, non-BL work.
A short Leopika comic (2019)
What is your future vision for your activities as a BL artist?
Ichiman: I can’t really say… Since I also do very different comics that aren’t focused on BL, I’m afraid there will come a day where I have to decide between my two passions.
I’ve always been bad at picking one side, so I will continue to do what I do now for a little longer!
I wouldn’t want to only do BL comics for the rest of my life, but I can’t deny that it’s a great passion ever since I was a teenager and I doubt it will go away any time soon.
I do have some ideas for original characters in a sci-fi universe and I like the idea of doing a BL webcomic someday.
Eventually, I’ll have to test the waters with a project like that.
If you could ask your favorite BL mangaka/doujinka a question, what would you ask? Let us know on our Twitter account @futekiya!
Next week, Ichiman shares with futekiya some interesting insights on how German fans consume BL in the final part of our interview!
If you’re interested in reading more of futekiya’s interviews, be sure to read our exclusive interviews with Butlers Iori and Kagawa of Swallowtail, Christopher Hepburn, the owner of Local Manga, Seru, the founder of The Yaoi Army, White Eared, creator ofFrom Points of Three, Mingwa, creator of BJ Alex, and Fargo, creator of If You Hate Me So and Love is an Illusion.
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