What to see at Tokyo Disney Sea?

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Goodness knows, Disney does not need my endorsement or free advertising, but I had to let you know how enjoyable it was at Tokyo DisneySea theme park in Japan.

Even in a typhoon.  That’s right. A typhoon was ripping its way up the western side of Japan at the time, and we were so afraid of getting weather bashed-out of all the fun. 

Fortunately, the weather cooperated, somewhat.  We did get hit with strong winds and some rain, but generally, it was bearable.  You want to know the best part?

Bad weather means fewer people at the park!  So, there were shorter lines and less wait time for rides. 

I have a feeling that DisneySea is not as famous as Tokyo Disneyland, so there are fewer visitors.  It’s one park where as soon as I entered, I felt transported to another world!

The gorgeous architecture in the harbor grabs you as you first walk in and is influenced by the Mediterranean, with a bit of fantasy flair!  Every area feels like another adventure and even when it’s busy, feels relaxed and comfortable.

I will admit that the rides are not as fantastic compared to Disneyland, but they are enjoyable and imagination filled.  The more intense ones are in the Lost River Delta area where you can explore with Indiana Jones or take a roller coaster ride through Raging Spirits.   

 Raging Spirits ride!

Raging Spirits ride!

One of my favorites was the FINDING NEMO ride at Port Discovery.  It made you feel like you were in a small submarine going on adventures with Nemo and Dory through the ocean.  If you get seasick though, this is NOT the ride for you. Plenty of rocking and gliding up and down!

In the American Waterfront area that looks like New York City in the 1920’s, you have the famous Tower of Terror ride, which we didn’t get on because we’ve been on it in America and the Turtle Talk experience where you can talk with an animated version of Crush the green sea turtle from Finding Nemo.  This one was surprisingly fun, and even though it was in Japanese, relatively easy to understand.

I love the Toy Story movies but the ride, Toy Story Mania!, even in bad weather, was the one ride that was packed all day long with insane wait times, so we had to skip it.  If you had a chance to make it in, let me know what you thought!

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The Mysterious Island area looked the coolest, and we had fun riding 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.  We will need to go back to the Arabian Coast and ride Jasmine’s flying carpets -even though it’s basically the Dumbo ride. 

Because the weather was rough due to the typhoon, it was an excellent relief to head over to Mermaid Lagoon where they have an entire indoor play area with rides, food and a playground.

 In front of the Mermaid Lagoon

In front of the Mermaid Lagoon

Our absolute favorite show was in the Mermaid Lagoon Theater where a performer, dressed as Ariel, is suspended from the ceiling on wires and swings around over the audience below like she's swimming and sings well-known songs from the Little Mermaid film. 

My eight-year-old daughter loves mermaids and almost didn’t see it.  We waited forty-five minutes to get in and as soon as we sat down, with amazing seats, by the way, she says, “I need to go to the bathroom!”  Really? We were just standing all that time, and you didn’t think about going then?

She couldn’t hold it so my wife, who watched this show here before, was kind enough to take her out to the restroom but of course, the theater needed to close the show so they couldn’t get back in.

They thought it would be best for me to at least stay and watch it since we waited all that time and I’ve never seen it.  I must admit, it was pretty fantastic and felt like a small Cirque Du Soleil show!

When it was over, I was so ecstatic about the experience, my daughter was more than ready to stand in line again.  She loved the performance, and I was glad to see it a second time! Make sure to look for the Mermaid Lagoon Theater, it’s pretty hidden in that indoor play area, and see the show when you go.

All in all, it was a fantastic trip to Tokyo DisneySea even in such a massive storm.  We never got extreme rain, but some pretty strong winds hit us a few times. In the evening, we stayed to watch the Fantasmic Mickey Mouse light show that was pretty fun.  They had to modify it a bit due to the weather but still worth watching.

For a new Disney parks experience, I strongly recommend taking your family there next time you’re in the Tokyo area.  Ta-ta for now. See ya' real soon!

Khalid

 

How To Get Specific and Bring Your Work ALIVE!

Let’s just say you want your art, writing or comics to feel more genuine and appealing to your audience. 

I’m finding that making sure to add in specific aspects of the culture or area where the characters are living but adding problems we all recognize, makes your work feel ultra-specific but relatable at the same time. 

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For this Little Fried Chicken and Sushi comic, I needed to show Tanuki using his magic and the theme for the week’s strips was Origami paper folding.  That in and of itself pertains to Japanese culture, but I wanted to see if I could add more.

I jumped over to Google and looked up the most popular things to make with Origami.  Cranes, shuriken, boats and paper cranes came up. A boat! They could be riding on a large origami boat that Tanuki made.  But where?

It could be going down the river in their town of Shimamoto but the background is rural so would not look like any recognizable place in Japan. 

Choosing the Yodo river that runs through Osaka city would give more choices of buildings and bridges to draw that readers who have been to the city would know.

Drawing the Umeda Sky Building behind them was a fun addition.  The curving white bridge to the left of them- I have no idea what it’s named- is a well-known sight in Osaka as well. 

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Coming up with the joke is the challenge.  I asked myself, “What’s the problem in this situation?” 

That was an easy answer for this strip.  The boat is made out of paper!

Perhaps, Tanuki’s magic is surrounding the paper boat and allowing them to stay afloat but the fact is the situation is odd.  Come to think of it, so is a ‘paper’ boat!

You know, if this were real life, someone would have pointed that out.  J is usually the character who thinks about important issues or solves problems creatively.  So, it felt natural that he should be the one delivering the punchline.

When you’re writing or drawing, keep asking yourself how you can make it specific and general at the same time. 

Give people something they know and something new they’ve never experienced before.  Make them curious and then surprise them!


 

Hotaru: How fireflies create magic in Japan

Fireflies are a beautiful part of June in rural areas of Osaka. Tanuki adds a little magic to the experience in this comic!  Would you soar with real fireflies?

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I remember it was magical going down to the river when I was living outside of Osaka city in Shimamoto, to see the fireflies in the evenings of mid June.  All the kids out trying to catch them or count how many they can spot first.

Go out and make some magical memories with your friends and family this summer!  Time really ‘flies’ by fast.

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If you grew up in the south, you must have called fireflies ‘Lightnin’ Bugs’ at some point!  Even if you were in other parts of the U.S., I bet you did. 

My wife was raised in the city and never saw them before visiting my little suburban town of Shimamoto, back when I lived in Japan.  I’ll never forget how excited she was to see them for the first time.

I loved seeing fireflies growing up in Atlanta, Georgia.  It was so magical to go out on a summer evening and look for them by the creek.  

Other kids were talented at catching them and pulling the fireflies apart to add to necklaces.  That was a little too cruel, and gross, for me. I did enjoy capturing them in jars though to watch them light up together. 

It’s a blessing to have an opportunity to share summer memories with you through writing and comics.  Hope yours is the best yet!

On Breaking Your Own Rules: Black Panther comic strips

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When I first started drawing Little Fried Chicken and Sushi comic strips my main goal was to make them timeless by not adding any current events or obvious pop-culture references.

After watching the Black Panther movie, I changed that goal. Breaking my rules looked scary. I couldn’t stop thinking about if I draw strips based on a popular movie, it will date the strip when I eventually collect them into books.

I had to do it!

Black Panther was spectacular in so many ways film wise and as a part of not only black culture but American culture as a whole. There was no way I wasn’t going to make strips about the film!

Of course, it also made about a bajillion dollars at the box office. Not bad for a movie about powerful African characters. There was definitely an audience for this.

First, I thought about how I felt right after seeing it.

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The feeling of creating the boy characters J, Ryan and Karl as T’Challa, Klaue and Killmonger in the above strip was enormously fulfilling. This was my first time creating strips that directly related to real movie characters. I couldn’t believe how much fun I was having!

It took some research and a great deal of drawing details, but I did my final of three Black Panther strips on the women. Mom as Queen Ramonda and little Kasha as Princess Shuri.

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Tanuki’s magic ended up being a great way to experiment with cosplay on the main characters and try my hand at adding in current events.

My mind is more relaxed with the idea now and it’s already churning away thinking of possible gags to add in more pop-culture references in future strips.

Yes. This means the strip changes into something more timely rather than timeless, but I’m pretty sure it will be enjoyable to make and hopefully fun to read.

All the best,

Khalid

My appearance on the Surviving Creativity podcast!

Take a listen to the latest episode of the podcast Surviving Creativity where I'm one of the 'celebrity' panelists on the Match Game (in the last 15 minutes).

 

A few weeks ago, I received an email out of the blue from well-known cartoonist of Evil Inc., Brad Guigar, asking if I would like to be on his show Surviving Creativity. 

I never replied.

Surely, he wasn't asking me directly.  It must have been a mass email to thousands of fans of the show.  You must know that I love this podcast.   Brad and his co-hosts Scott Kurtz of the webcomic PVP, and Cory Casoni talk about the ins and outs of cartooning and living a professional creative life.  I never miss an episode.

A week passes and Brad messages me on Twitter asking again if I would like to be a part of Match Game on the show.  I was shocked!  

We set up a time and Brad asked questions and recorded it all to be pieced together for the show.  My last answer comes off as a little strange in the context of the game but either way it's so fun to be a part of such a fantastic podcast. 

Hope you listen and enjoy the fun! 

Ninja Space Bunny!- Inktober drawings the first week

 Ninja Space Bunny hangs on!  Day 1 of Inktober from the prompt FAST!

Ninja Space Bunny hangs on!  Day 1 of Inktober from the prompt FAST!

Every October illustrators and cartoonists all over the world have the opportunity to participate in the daily drawing event entitled Inktober.  Created by the amazing artist, Jake Parker, the main rule is to create a drawing in ink on a regular basis in the month of October.  You can post something online every day or a few times a week.  The point is to push yourself, try something new and grow as an artist. 

 Ninja Space Bunny should keep his music down.  Inktober day 2- NOISY

Ninja Space Bunny should keep his music down.  Inktober day 2- NOISY

I have been participating for the past two years and find it to be a challenge but a great way for my drawing skills to improve.  This year, without having regular Fried Chicken and Sushi comics to draw, I chose to try and post something every day.  I never work much with animals so each week I'll focus on a different cartoon animal and illustrate it using the prompt list Jake Parker came up with.  It's great because each day there's a word to use as inspiration for drawing ideas. 

 "In space, carrots are hard to come by.  You must collect them when you can." -Ninja Space Bunny  Inktober day 3- COLLECT

"In space, carrots are hard to come by.  You must collect them when you can." -Ninja Space Bunny

Inktober day 3- COLLECT

Here are all 7 of the first round of Inktober drawings done mainly with Pigma Micron pens, Sharpies and even an inexpensive Magic Drawing Pen I bought at a 100 Yen store in Japan.  The theme revolves around a Ninja Space Bunny and his adventures.  A silly concept but it was more fun to draw than I expected.  Hope you enjoy them!

You can keep up with my Inktober drawings on Instagram where I'm friedchicksushi and also on Twitter as @khalidbirdsong.

 Ninja Space Bunny should remember to eat before a spy mission! Inktober day 4- HUNGRY

Ninja Space Bunny should remember to eat before a spy mission! Inktober day 4- HUNGRY

 Ninja Space Bunny is so tough, he cuts cake with his hands!  Unfortunately, no one ever comes to his birthday parties. Inktober day 5- SAD

Ninja Space Bunny is so tough, he cuts cake with his hands!  Unfortunately, no one ever comes to his birthday parties. Inktober day 5- SAD

 Ninja Space Bunny finally convinced a friend to come over to his ship to play hide and seek!  Inktober day 6- HIDDEN

Ninja Space Bunny finally convinced a friend to come over to his ship to play hide and seek!  Inktober day 6- HIDDEN

 Some say he gave up on the life of being a Ninja Space Bunny.  Others say, he was just lost. Inktober day 7- LOST

Some say he gave up on the life of being a Ninja Space Bunny.  Others say, he was just lost.
Inktober day 7- LOST

Happy Batman Day!

 Little prancing Batman ready to fight crime with a flair for the silly!

Little prancing Batman ready to fight crime with a flair for the silly!

Saturday, September 17th 2016, marked Batman Day, a time to commemorate the creation of the Dark Knight and appreciate the cultural impact the character has had on the whole entire world!  Special events were held around the globe and celebrities, artists and big companies joined in. 

Me?  I completely forgot!  

Batman is my favorite superhero and even though life has been pretty busy lately, I squeezed in time to draw the above sketch.  Actually, I didn't draw this one until a few days after Batman Day but it was still fun. 

It's quite pleasurable to take serious characters and add a little silly to them.  Can you imagine how odd it would look to see Batman prancing down the street at night?  He'd probably scare off all the criminals.  Batman's gone crazy!

I used blue pencil for the sketch and then black pen I got from the dollar store in Japan.  It's called a Magic Drawing Pen by Rushon, 0.5 size.  Even though it was cheap, I love inking with it!

Have a great day and do a little prance to commemorate good ol' Batsy!