KUBO and the Two Strings Fan Art Process

My Kubo fan art using pen, markers and colored pencils.

My Kubo fan art using pen, markers and colored pencils.

A young Japanese boy named Kubo, with his magical shamisen and a monkey companion embark on a journey to find his father’s samurai armor and defeat a vengeful spirit from the past.  Kubo and the Two Strings is the latest stop-motion animated film from Laika studios and is a gorgeous work of art!  Beautifully animated and surprisingly emotional, I was completely taken in by this film.  So much so, that I created fan art. 

My first sketches of Kubo's head.  One looks like a girl and another looks too old.  I had to keep trying!    

My first sketches of Kubo's head.  One looks like a girl and another looks too old.  I had to keep trying!    


After sketching several heads of Kubo for practice, I felt confident enough to try a full body pose.  Using blue pencil first, I sketched out his pose, changed his feet a few times and settled on the final look.  I used Pigma Micron pens, 03 and 05 sizes, to ink over my pencil.  It was fun to use a combination of colored pencils and Copic markers for color. 

The inked version before adding color.  I really wanted the color black added throughout the drawing to add weight and balance.

The inked version before adding color.  I really wanted the color black added throughout the drawing to add weight and balance.


Kubo plays his shamisen and makes origami paper fold on its own into animals and characters that move.  My goal was to capture that first moment when he begins to play and the magic happens. 


If you haven’t seen Kubo and the Two Strings I strongly encourage you to see it!  I wasn’t sure if it was going to be interesting but I enjoy stop-motion animation so I took a chance.  Within the first few minutes, I knew this movie was a masterpiece! 


My only gripe was that they used white actors to play the main characters.  This is supposed to be ancient Japan.  I know Hollywood feels that it needs famous names to draw crowds but it’s sad when you have someone as well known as George Takei playing a background character with two lines. 


As an actor of Japanese descent, he really should have been given a bigger role.  If they plan on distributing it in Japan, I would love to hear what it sounds like with actual Japanese actors doing voice-overs.       


Even with that in mind, Kubo and the Two Strings is such a great film and the artistry of a story told with animation done by hand is too captivating to miss.  Make sure you go see it and tell me what you think!  

Fried Chicken and Sushi 353 J goes to a Manga shop

It really is exciting to walk into a bookstore in Japan and see so much manga!  There's a lot of good manga in Japan but it can be difficult to find because there's SO much there!  You need to spend ages going through titles to find something that is really a powerful combination of story and art.  I guess this is another disappointing reality that J has to face now that he's in Osaka.  Everything isn't perfect in Japan.  I'm not sure how much Japanese J can read so maybe he's just judging the manga by the artistic storytelling.  Friends would tell me about good manga to read and it would save me time at the bookstores.  Did you have a good experience the first time you went to buy manga in Japan? 

Fried Chicken and Sushi Characters by Jackie Wohlenhaus!

Thanks for the awesome take on my characters, Jackie!  If you love his style as much as I do, you should CLICK HERE and head over to his comic BETWEEN FAILURES and give it a good read.  He has years of archives for you to get into and enjoy.  His comics are a bit more "mature" in some areas compared to mine so you kids out there might need to be careful. 

Fried Chicken and Sushi 300 A little Kobe in the morning

Hey guys, this is my 300th comic strip!  Yay!  Hope you've enjoyed reading them all!  I sure have enjoyed making them.  Karl is excited to have another chance at a blind date like hang out thingy with Hachiro's match making friend.  What will the girl be like this time?  We shall see!

Fried Chicken and Sushi 286 Meeting the Matchmaker

The truth always comes out when you talk to Karl.  Usually, it comes out in a loud and awkward way.  Most of you know that.  I have a feeling you all knew what he was going to say in the last panel before you even read it.  You know Karl well.  Let's hope there will be a woman who will want to get to know him.

Fried Chicken and Sushi 281 You gotta get it out!

I think that video games can be a great way to get your frustrations out.  Especially, if you're playing one where you get to bash people in the head or shoot something!  Games can get pretty real at times so if you're caught in it, things can get stressful.  Looks like J loves the escape video games provide but they aren't doing much to lower his stress level or increase his focus at work.  Let's hope he thinks deeper about getting back into meditation.

Fried Chicken and Sushi 266 The office spy knows all!

Another plug to check out my graphic novel YOUNGBLOODS here!  Vampire gangs in the city, action adventure and pretty good art from yours truly.  Check it out!  Ryan needs to back down don't you think?  I guess he would have something to gain from telling on J and Beverly but is it worth it?  He doesn't even know if they're really dating or not!  J is acting confident but I have a feeling he's worried about the boss finding out.  We shall see...

Fried Chicken and Sushi 254 Where's the Cheese?

I was pretty upset when I moved to Japan and discovered only one kind of "cheese" in the grocery store.  The white cheese was in a big brick and shredded or even in white cheese slices.  No other types or styles.  As a cheese lover, it was hard for me to get over the fact that Japanese people weren't demanding more cheese in their grocery stores! 

Fried Chicken and Sushi 240 The let down scare

Maybe you haven't had a girl scare you like this before but it's happened to me several times.  Do women think this is funny?  Are you really crazy and pretending that your pretending to be crazy?  I know, I didn't get that either but you know what I mean!  Let's hope Beverly has all of her noodles in one bowl or J might have to think twice about that date.

Fried Chicken and Sushi 238 Practicing Japanese with Principal Glossy Gleam

Can you tell that I drew this entire comic on the computer using Manga Studio software?  Yeah, I bet you could.  With the wonky lettering and perfect panel boxes, who doesn't love when artists practice directly in front of their fans?!  It's so much fun, and fewer steps, to draw the comic on my Mac.  Please bare with me on the quality of the strips until I really master it.  You'll see what I'm talkin' about in the next few comics.  Anyway, Glossy Gleam is always fun to draw and we know that he should never be approached in Japanese again!

Fried Chicken and Sushi 237 Practicing Japanese with Sato Sensei

How in the world are you supposed to improve your Japanese if no one wants to speak it with you?  It really is a big deal in Japan to have someone to practice English with.  Big money is spent just to have a conversation with a native English speaker.  I can understand Sato sensei's issue but I hope she'll loosen up a bit and help Karl out.  He sure needs it!

Fried Chicken and Sushi 235 The beauty of being just friends

J hasn't yet realized what a catch Beverly is!  Or, perhaps, he doesn't feel like he could actually date a woman like her?  There are so many issues and questions that come into our minds when we're interested in dating someone new.  Let's hope this goes in the right direction for J!

FCS201 Movie and a translation?

Karl really should have known that Miki would say no to that!  I guess that's why he had to put on the puppy dog eyes and beg.  It's good language practice to watch Japanese tv and movies but Anime can get tricky.  There's so much "anime language" that you don't know if real people actually use all of the words or just the characters in Japanese animation.  Be careful studying Japanese from anime!  Japanese people might chuckle at you if you use a phrase from anime that normal people would never.  Trust me, I know...

Fried Chicken and Sushi 200 You know I don't understand!

Hey guys, this is my 200th comic strip!  Woo Hoo!  I'm so tired.  Wait a minute, I never get tired of drawing FC&S comics for you!  Especially, comics like today's with the video store guy.  This guy in real life really must have had it out for me.  Each time I went I was hoping he wouldn't be there.  Of course, he always was and he was always the one to ring me up at the counter.  Then, he would proceed to tell me all sorts of things in Japanese that I did not understand!  He had to know that I didn't get any of what he was talking about!  Oh yeah, shout out to the FORUMS!  Go there, talk, discuss, enjoy.

Fried Chicken and Sushi 194 Meet the Otaku girls

I have a feeling that Anime and Manga fans can have a warped view of what it's like in Japan.  I know I did before living there!  Unfortunately, I don't think these girls are going to hear anything negative about their beloved Japan!  Are you an Otaku (anime and manga geek)?  I started a new topic up in the FORUMS about it HERE.  Come on by and chat a little.

Fried Chicken and Sushi 193 The Black Samurai Stays

Now that the Black Samurai has defeated the Oni we have learned more about the power of his sword.  Clearly it can cut down a demon but it seems to carry a curse.  The people of the village think that he will protect them even though the sword will attract more evil.  Oh well, at least we have a nice set up for more stories in the future! What do you think will happen next?  Talk about it in the FORUMS!  Expect to get sick of me talking about the FORUMS page...