I had the chance to interview the Ichiban Creator Astro last month, now I’m interviewing the man who is not only the Editor and Writer for the Publishers Crunchyroll and the sole surviving anime and manga magazine in the US, Otaku USA but also the writer and artist of his Web Comic Series Big Dumb Fighting Idiots and Monster Flight! At Subhumanzoid Comics & Resources. His name is Joseph Luster, and we’re talking about how anime and manga can channel someone’s creativity and provide inspiration; also giving advice to Artists and Creators who want to make a Comic Series!
Red: As an artist and writer, do you feel that Anime and Manga offer inspiration or another way to channel your creativity?
Luster: I went through a period maybe 20 to 25 years ago where all I watched and read was anime and manga. At the time it opened my eyes to different styles of art and storytelling that I just wasn’t getting out of western media. Then, of course, there was a pendulum shift and I started taking in a more well-balanced diet of movies, animation, comics, and other pieces of art from all around the world. I think it was important for me to discover anime and manga when I did, and it was even more important for me to later realize that more valuable inspiration can be found from an even wider perspective.
As far as the specific inspiration I got from anime and manga is concerned, I think it all came down to pure style. There was something super dynamic about the art, and to this day I still really appreciate the sheer breadth of visuals you can find on a single shelf of the manga. The only problem I have is that whenever I read one of my favorite series, I want to write or draw something just like it!
Red: What is it like working for two major publishers such as Crunchyroll and Otaku USA?
Luster: It’s a lot of fun, and I consider myself lucky that I get to write about the stuff I enjoy in my own freetime professionally. There’s a lot of freedom to be had in working for both, in that I feel as if I get to cover what I’m interested in, and everyone I work with has their own niche in which they specialize. In fact, half the fun of it is working with such great teams on both sides. I’m constantly grateful that anyone reads what I write, and as far as Otaku USA is concerned I’m doubly thankful for everyone who still buys magazines!
Red: (I still buy the Magazine!) Recently you launched a new Web Comic titled “Monster Flight”, will you revisit your classic series Big Dumb Fighting Idiots?
Luster: Before I launched Monster Flight, I was keeping it under wraps for a while in hopes of getting it published in print. Clearly I ran out of patience, but I have a hard time sitting on projects in general. In the meantime, I really wanted to get a web comic going again, and I almost started planning a sequel or side-story for Big Dumb Fighting Idiots! I’m personally a huge fan of series just ending, and I really respect whenever someone brings something to a solid conclusion, but I have no doubt that I’ll continue the adventures of Trunk and Wizz in some form down the line. Also, I still really want to publish a print version of Idiots. The only problem is… I colored every page in RGB color! For print you need it to be CMYK, which means I need to comb through 203 pages and adjust the color for every single one to be suitable for print. I’m not really looking forward to that process, but it will happen eventually.
Red: Do you have any advice for artists and writers who want to make a Comic Series?
Luster: My first piece of advice would be to start small. Every aspiring comic writer or artist ever wants to jump into their magnum opus immediately, and it’s usually not sustainable. About 20 years ago I fell into this trap when I started a comic called Gas Baby, which I envisioned as my sprawling saga of hundreds of pages. Of course, that quickly fizzled out and I think I only managed to make it to page 75 or 80 before I ran out of steam. Before you take that big leap, work on your short story chops. Try making two to three page comics. Or whip up something that tells a complete story in 15-20 pages. Every single page you draw is another notch of experience, after all! Big Dumb Fighting Idiots is the longest single comic I’ve ever completed, but I only took it on after years of messing around with smaller projects.
The other piece of advice would be to just do it. Don’t wait around for your idea to be perfect, or for your art to be at its maximum. Just do what you can and work within your own limitations, and you’ll soon find those limitations have expanded and you’ve gained some serious skills along the way. Even though I never finished a bunch of previous projects, I still did the work and learned something. Also, try to resist telling everyone about your grand idea before you work on it. Get some stuff done, take some time to get ahead of yourself if you’re publishing on a regular schedule, and then tell everyone about it.
Red: What is your favorite Anime and Manga?
Luster: This is a tough one, there’s so much I love! My favorite manga of all time might be Kazuo Umezz’s The Drifting Classroom. I love it so much I wrote a full soundtrack to an imaginary NES game based on it. I also love JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Dragon Ball, Ranma ½, One Piece, and anything by Junji Ito or Taiyo Matsumoto.
For anime, my favorite of all time is Galaxy Express 999, specifically the first movie and Adieu Galaxy Express 999.
If you would like to support Joseph Luster’s Subhumanzoid Comics & Resources, click here to check out his Patreon!
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