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

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!