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This Is Where We Belong

Prologue 3: Fiona Hayes didn’t want Iron Castle’s other officers to tag along. She just wanted to spend the last days of summer alone on a beach with her boyfriend, Jeremy Edenshaw. But when a mysterious demon exploits Fiona’s growing doubts, Jeremy’s devotion is thrown into an arduous trial. Prologue 2: When you’re young in Solace City, you swear yourself to a keep. They watch over you, they stand up for you, and you battle for them. The time has come for Aiza Cahilig to choose her keep, but loyalty and devotion can be such volatile things. Prologue 1: Young Adlai “Adi” Kane is at the crossroads between an old life and a future in Solace City. His mind is set, but the past has a way of coming back and hitting him in the face, usually with a wax-wood staff. This Is Where We Belong: A story of youth, love, and psionic gang warfare.


Right to Left: Part II

Just expanding on the Right to Left issue from the previous post.

Original discussion here:

Lest anyone think that I've only considered the marketing angle here...

I believe (and I'll remind everyone that this is my opinion, and as such I acknowledge the possibility that I'm wrong) that it comes down to authenticity.

In a primarily left-to-right cultural context, anything right-to-left is jarring. The immediate question is "why is this different?" In the case of manga translated from Japanese, the answer is clear. The material was originally published for a RTL audience. The translated work getting published here (in english) is, in some ways, closer to the artists' original intent and is actually preferred because the work was altered less through the process of its adaptation.

So when we have work done in english, for an english audience where the cultural norm is to go left-to-right, the answer to "why is this different" isn't as immediately apparent. And when there is no reason available that is intrinsic to the storytelling, then the medium is getting in the way of the message. In other words, the aesthetic choice of going RTL is distracting from the story itself. The framework in which the story is presented needs to be, to a great extent, invisible so that the reader can immerse themselves into the story. If you're making that framework visible, the reader will have a more difficult time entering your story.

Well, a reason I've seen get brought up is "that's how the comics I liked were when I was growing up."

Fair enough. So, another way of putting that is that the english artist working in RTL is aligning themselves to the Japanese tradition of manga, implicitly rejecting western traditions in comics. You liked manga, you didn't like superhero books, so you'll follow the Japanese way of doing things.

Well, let's compare two statements.

1. "I like manga, so the comics I'll draw will be done right-to-left."
2. "I like manga, so the comics I'll draw will have really really big eyes."

To me (and again, this is opinion) those two statements are the same in that the artist is choosing the most superficial and surface-level elements of manga traditions to emulate. It's like trying to emulate Jackson Pollock by splattering paint against a canvas without considering how each splatter affect the relations between negative and positive space, colours, and scale.

There are many more subtleties that should be explored if we're to follow manga traditions. There are differences in panel pacing, the rhythms and beats of dialogue, and the types of stories being told. There are elements that we can emulate that strike closer to the core of what manga is that have nothing to do with RTL.

Now I'd like to put forward that art, however else you'd like to define it, is a reflection of the artist. The best art happens when the artist allows their material to be personal on some level. And that doesn't necessarily mean auto-biographical, just that the artist has drawn upon their own life experiences to feed their story's characters and plot.

So of course, this means RTL because that's what you prefer, right? Not necessarily. Assuming you grew up in "The West", your experience - in addition to all the manga you have read - also includes LTR on a daily basis. Books, billboards, magazines, the internet, advertising. All of that shapes you and shapes your experience. Now, one individual ad wouldn't (I hope) change you, but consider their cumulative effect on you over the course of your life. The life experiences that you draw into your art is primarily a LTR experience.

And in the end, you might still want to do RTL, then fine. I just hope it's a conscious and considered choice and that you've accounted for every way it would affect a reader's interpretation of your work.

Once more, all of this is my opinion. If I look at a comic, and it reads right to left, I wonder why it is that way. If there is no meaningful reason for such a significant change in alignment, I end up questioning just how authentic the artist is being to themselves.

posted by shutupadrian @ August 7th, 2011, 8:10 pm  -  1 comments

Right to Left: Part I

I hate getting into debates on the internet. It's usually a no-win situation. That said, I found myself opinionating on a forum and... well... I was feeling strongly about something and had to get it off my chest. Figured I'd post what I said here as well. Maybe I could've said it more delicately, but I said what I said. No turning back now.

Originally posted at

This is going to come up from time to time, so I figured I'd throw down my thoughts on this here so y'all know where I'm coming from with regards to this. I'm stating this once, and then I'm moving on...

If you're writing in a left to right language, and if you want me to take your comic seriously as a professional product, DO NOT DRAW YOUR LAYOUTS RIGHT TO LEFT.

I don't think this is a personal choice. If your intended audience reads primarily in a left-to-right language, then draw left-to-right.

If you insist on drawing right-to-left and will absolutely refuse to draw otherwise, then I will assume you're doing comics just for fun with no intention on reaching a broader audience or making a career out of drawing comics. If that is your intent, then fine. More power to you, but I will not take your comic seriously on a professional level, much less purchase it.

Exceptions to this rule:
You're writing in Japanese, Chinese, Mongolian, Arabic, Hebrew or Egyptian Hieroglyphics.
You're purposefully doing a formal experiment in right-to-left vs. left-to-right reading AND the story you're telling reflects this experiment.

Okay. Rant over. My apologies if this comes off a bit angry.

And then it was pointed out to me that the forum this was on belonged to a publisher that publishes RTL manga... ...insert foot in mouth.

posted by shutupadrian @ August 7th, 2011, 8:07 pm  -  0 comments

An Empire Starts With A Village.

I was going to bring attention to this when This Is Where We Belong hit ten fans, but it appears we hit eleven while I wasn’t paying attention. At any rate, THANK YOU for becoming fans of this comic. I’ll be the first to admit it has its shortcomings, but I’m giving it my best effort and learning a lot along the way.

Thanks to:
And Mashmellow Muffin

Special thanks to Boredom for actually leaving comments, and to whoever rated page 10 with 5 stars. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective) I don’t know how to find out who that was.

If I had swag to give out, each of you would get something, but I don’t have any sort of merchandise available, so this ends up being an empty promise.

Thanks again. I’ll try even harder to live up to your interest.

posted by shutupadrian @ June 6th, 2011, 10:34 pm  -  2 comments

And Away We Go...

This Is Where We Belong.
A story of youth, love, and psionic gang warfare.
Updates every Monday and Thursday.

And here it is. The “official” launch of this comic. I’d been making notes and developing the overall world and story since 2008, so getting this up and out into the public eye has been a long time coming. Seems a bit anti-climactic, truth be told.

In retrospect, I can pick out so many problems with this, my first attempt at a long-form story. I’m almost embarrassed to put it up, actually. But here it is anyways – for posterity, and because it delves into some relevant backstory. Now, I won’t promise this will be the best thing you’ve ever read, but I can promise that every page has been done to the best of my abilities at the time I did it. I learned a lot doing these pages and I’m still learning and developing my skills. I do feel like I’ve improved since I’ve made these pages, so hopefully you stick around. It’s going to get so much better.

We begin with the first of three prologues. The first deals with Adlai “Adi” Kane. The next two prologues focus on two other characters that will figure prominently in the central storyline.


posted by shutupadrian @ May 16th, 2011, 12:49 am  -  0 comments

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