Interview with Beautiful Creatures Manga Artist Cassandra Jean Part 4
This is Part 4 of my in-depth interview with Cassandra Jean, the talented and prolific artist of MangaMagazine’s Land of Lions and the artist adapting Beautiful Creatures for Yen Press. Part 1 can be read here.
What are some of the challenges you face in creating any of your stories?
The middle. That’s always the biggest challenge for me. It’s easy coming up with concepts and beginnings, and once I have that, it’s fairly simple to decide how the story should end. But coming up with all of the yummy middle bits of the story oreo is the hardest part. You need to have plot twists and character development and intrigue and action and all that fun stuff! So it get’s overwhelming trying to write all of that. But I’m learning.
They do say the second act is what makes or breaks a story (at least, in screenwriting.) It’s tough work and I admire your willingness to rewrite and work to create better stories.
Do you use any books on writing to check yourself whether a story is working, or beta readers you can bounce ideas off of? What’s your writing process like?
I don’t own any literature on writing, and I don’t have beta readers anymore, though I used to, when I first started up with Black-Eyed Susan and Land of Lions. Sometimes I’ll talk to my room mate about what I’m doing and see her opinion, to see if any idea sounds boring or intriguing… I love bouncing ideas off of people in the concepting stage, but once I’m truly knee deep in the story, I keep to myself. Mostly because I’m not the chattiest person and I always feel nervous when discussing my own work. I’d rather hash things out carefully in my own head.
My writing process with Land of Lions right now is more spontaneous. I know how the story starts and how it ends, but as for the middle chapters, I feel like they have a life of their own, the characters too. I know where it all leads, but as I sketch out a chapter, sometimes ideas happen suddenly that I hadn’t considered before and the direction changes from what I originally had in mind. I don’t write scripts, I just sketch out the chapter and write it as I go.
Congratulations again on the Yen Press announcement. Can you tell me how you came to be chosen to officially adapt Beautiful Creatures?
Thank you very much! I’m so excited that it’s officially been announced, it was eating me up inside working on the project every day when I couldn’t tell anyone what I was doing and why I was so quiet lately. Years ago, I had sent in my portfolio to Yen Press. They never got back to me so I sort of assumed they didn’t like my work. But then suddenly out of the blue last year they sent me an email asking if I’d like to work for them. Apparently they’d been holding on to my portfolio until they could find a project that suited my artwork. I was so happy I would have done flips if I were coordinated enough. After doing some concept work and back and forth with the editors and authors of the novel they approved me as the artist for the Beautiful Creatures manga.
That is so great to hear and I think, very encouraging for artists to realize! Sometimes, it’s not an outright rejection but just a case of waiting for a project to be the right fit. I’m so excited for you and I’m excited to see more of your work reach new audiences.
Lastly, do you have any advice for aspiring manga artists out there?
Thank you! I hope I’m worthy of your excitement. I think people will like Beautiful Creatures, I am pouring far more work hours than I ever have before into this comic. It’s much cleaner and more detailed than my usual work, so I’m hoping people will love it.
Advice… well…! I’ll give the same advice one of my favorite professors in college gave me. If you want to make it in the art world, you have to live and breathe art. If you can see yourself doing anything else besides drawing, then you won’t make it. The people who become successful artists are the ones who can not possibly even imagine themselves in another field. If your life -is- art, then you will make it, because you have the strength and determination needed to become an artist. This applies to manga artists too, of course!
That’s all, guys! Many, many thanks to Cassandra for giving me so much to work with. I had a lot of fun with this interview. You can catch up with Cassandra and more of her work in the following places.
Twitter / Tumblr / Website / MangaMagazine.net / Beautiful Creatures at Yen+