In July, I had the chance to interview Jojo Williams, the creator of Mastermind Comics, an Indigenous Media Company, and Publisher. Now I am interviewing another Artist who was influenced by Anime and Manga, Twenty-Six-Year-old Astro. Astro is an artist who not only specializes in Anime, Manga artwork but also participates in events such as Blacktober a hashtag co-created by Cel. C, that combats the abuse and racism directed toward Black Artists and Cosplayers for reimagining their favorite characters who look like them in media where they are underrepresented. Astro describes herself as the Ichiban, a Japanese adjective meaning “The Best“.
Red: What was your inspiration for Drawing?
Astro: “I think that I discovered Yu Yu Hakusho in my early childhood, something about Togashi’s art captivated me. I remember in one of the volumes for Yu Yu Hakusho Togashi had little doodles in the transition pages between chapters where he’d do more realistic renders of some of the characters.
I remember it was volume 4 and just sitting there for hours just looking at those pages. I think that was when I realized I wanted to draw seriously. Another big inspiration was Kazuto Nakazawa (some of the animated stuff in Kill Bill, the character designer for Samurai Champloo and Tales of Legendia, and the animator for Linkin Parks’ Breaking The Habit music video) I was so attracted to the way he drew that sometimes I’d start watching something because of the art only to find out it was him later.“
Red: What is your favorite genre of Anime?
Astro: “My favorite genre of anime if I had to pick would be psychological thrillers. I think the anime that I keep coming back to and falling in love with are the ones that lead me by the hand into a dark tunnel and I have no idea where it’ll come out and make me think about it. I love stuff like Psycho-Pass, Shinsekai Yori, B: The Beginning, Erased, Darker than Black, etc. all that good stuff. I love it to bits.”
Red: When approaching a new project, what is the most challenging aspect of creating something new?
Astro: “Honestly, it’s the planning bit. At the beginning of a new project if I don’t have an idea I’ve settled on already then my drawing process can grind to a halt because I’m still changing my mind halfway through again and again. It’s also the longest part of the process because I’ll spend all my idle time thinking about a new composition or a new comic story idea before I go to the sketch phase.“
Red: You mention that you enjoy drawing guys and are currently participating in the Blacktober event on Twitter, in your honest opinion, how important is representation?
Astro: “I do very much like to draw guys, but that’s a personal preference because I just like guys. Representation is super important. Period. When I was little (this must have been preschool) a group of friends in my class was planning on being Disney princesses for Halloween, I called dibs on Belle because I was the most bookish of my friends back then. Unanimously I was shot down. “Belle isn’t black,” they said. I don’t remember these girls anymore, I don’t remember the name of the school anymore. But those words seared into my mind. This kept happening. Over and over. The characters that did look like me, did not act like me. And the characters that did act like me, didn’t look like me. There was such a huge disconnect from myself and the media I consumed that I began to hate myself and my skin in my adolescence. I’m doing better now, and I’m resolved to not have other people go through what I went through.”
Red: Do you collect Manga? What is your favorite to read?
Astro: “I collect so much manga. I’ve been collecting manga since 2003, the first manga I ever bought with my own money was Tokyo Mew Mew and Yu-Gi-Oh! Volume 0 and my collection has just exploded since then. Currently, my favorite manga to read has been Blue Lock and Toilet bound Hanako-Kun. The latter of which has become a huge influence on me and my personal projects!“
Thanks again to Astro for coming onto Creator Spotlight, if you’re interested in supporting this artist she has a Ko-Fi page, and does stream on Picarto TV. Stay tuned for another Creator Spotlight and continue supporting Creators and Artists!
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