Interview with Yen Press Talent Search Finalist Crystal Jayme
The following post is an interview I conducted with a fellow Yen Press Talent Search finalist, Mira Cervantes. Earlier, I decided to be proactive and feature other artists from the first search on my blog. I think they deserve to have a spotlight shone on their accomplishment and hard work.
Tell me about yourself – who are you, how did you get started drawing manga and what is it about manga in particular that you’re drawn to?
Hello! My name is Crystal Jayme, but everyone knows me as Scotty. I’ve been drawing comics since I was about 12 or 13. And it all started with Inuyasha Volume 12! I used to love the anime as a kid, and one day stumbled upon the manga at Barnes & Noble. When I found it, I seriously couldn’t comprehend what it was! Since then, I’ve grown to love all kinds of comics but my main inspiration still stems from manga. I was always drawn to its simplicity. The artists were so aware of layouts and flow for a page! It blew my mind how subtle it all was. I also loved the vast variety of stories that were available!
Haha yeah, it sounds like you and I pretty much fell in love with it for the same reasons: visuals and variety! At what point, did you start actually drawing comics after this? Do you remember the kinds of comics you were drawing before?
I started drawing once I began middle school. At that time, I was in love with the series Inuyasha. So my stories reflected that kinda wacky comedy and fantasy type of story. (And they were so awful!) I had about five different attempts at refining this one comic that would become “Nigh Heaven & Hell“! I actually plan to upload those very old attempts at “comics” soon on Smackjeeves.
Who are some of the artists or what are the works that have inspired you? (Manga and non-manga are okay!)
Hiromu Arakawa (Fullmetal Alchemist), Natsume Ono (Not Simple, Restorante Paradiso), Chica Umino (Honey & Clover), Shimura Takako (Wandering Son), Inio Asano (Solanin), Junji Ito (Uzumaki) and Yoshiyuki Sadamoto (Evangelion Manga/Character Designer) I’m also heavily influenced by movies and a HUGE fan of Darren Aronofsky and Christopher Nolan. I was also a nerd for the Silent Hill video game series and the Evangelion franchise!
Fantastic! What, if any, elements of Aronofsky and Nolan’s work (or movies in general) do you think you incorporate into your work? I say this as a huge fan of movies myself and as someone who tries to bring a cinematic quality to my own work.
Hmmm. Both directors bring a certain quality out in their films that I really enjoy. Aronofsky brings a distinct directing style for each of his films, and he tends to work on movies that are very dark and very crude. (Which I can’t get enough of!) And with Christopher Nolan, he’s so focused on the storyline and how he wants it all to play out on a big scale. I see movies in general as short stories, they’re self contained in a way and I like to study and dissect them! If that makes any sense lol.
Tell me about your Yen Press Talent Search entry and what it’s about. Where can people read it?
My Yen Press Talent Search Entry is called “Things Will Get Better“. It’s about a woman who simply wants her dream to come true, and that’s to be a mother. You can read it online here on SmackJeeves.
I’m quite intrigued by your short story’s unusual subject matter. Not only because entries I’ve read before are told from the point of view of much younger protagonists but also because the main conflict is deeply personal. It’s not a romantic plot and there’s no clear “quest” for the protagonist. Can you talk about how you came up with the story?
I’ve always been very self aware of aging, and getting older. How scary it can all be! So when I was trying to come up with my next entry, I wanted to do something more personal. A bit of a commentary on the way I was feeling at the time. And for me, the one thing that scares me most of all is disappointing my parents. And that’s where the root of the whole story stemmed from. But for me, it was more about my pursuit of comics as a career (and if I was making the right decision). I tweaked the goal for the main character and wrote my feeling of dread as if I failed to reach my goal as I got older.
What challenges did you face creating your entry? Do you have any advice for future entrants for the talent search?
I’d have to say one of the hardest things working on this was coming up with the ending. I had about half the comic storyboarded after the first talent search was over. But I wasn’t sure where to go with the ending. And my advice would have to be “Failure is ALWAYS an option!”. You’ve gotta just go for it and learn from your mistakes by just doing it! It’s a good thing to keep in mind whether it’s your Yen Press Entry of a personal project. Just go for it and enjoy the process!
I agree. I think there are far too many young artists who are afraid of failing and this stops them from trying in the first place. How do you motivate yourself to finish? Do you have any specific strategies or tips?
Hmm. For me, strict deadlines seem to work very well! And I have this habit of storyboarding a whole volume at a time instead of chapter by chapter like other people. It’s the only way I can get a good sense of the whole book otherwise I can’t seem to start working on the final version of pages. Another thing I do that makes me feel less confined is working sporadically on pages. If I get stuck on a page, sometimes the best thing to do is skip it and move onto another page. I’m either not motivated to work on the page or I’m not ready to do it yet. Sometimes don’t force yourself, it’ll show on the page!
What did you think about the talent search in general? Did you find the feedback helpful? What are the different things you think contributed to becoming a finalist this time?
I think the talent search went more smoothly this time. They had a better idea of what to expect this year! I still haven’t gotten my feedback yet. But I’m very excited to hear back from them and see (from a professional’s point of view) what I need to work on and what they thought of my overall story! I think the biggest contribution for being a finalist this year was my execution. I was actually confident and owning up to what I drew on every page. Last year, I wasn’t pleased with my work at all, and it shows. My work last year was nowhere near their standards in quality. I’ve been working hard to improve that.
What have you been up to since then? Any projects you’d like to plug?
I’ve been working really hard to finish inking Freakshow Volume 2 for P2 Manga! (Which should be due out in July ;3) I’m also two chapters away from completing Nigh Heaven and Hell Volume 1. I’ll be scriping volume 2 soon after lol. And in august, ill be penciling Technicolor London Volume 3. OH! And I’m also working as an artist for a comic project called “Beyond Beauty.” I can’t give the details yet, but I’m working on the character designs right now and we’ll be starting a Kickstarter for the project soon!
That’s a crazy schedule, Scotty! What are your goals for these stories? Are they all ongoing stories or do they have set volume numbers? How is working for P2 Manga like?
So far, Nigh Heaven & Hell and Technicolor London are ongoing stories and I’m not entirely sure on the overall volume count (I’m so ashamed! lol). For Freakshow, that series will be 4 volumes. Nigh Heaven & Hell is going to be posted on this new upcoming site for webcomics called “Global Manga Initiative”. And hopefully in the fall, I can take the time to properly promote it. I love this series and I want to get it as much exposure as possible. Techniclor London is a really fun series to work on. I’m planning to open up Pre-Orders for Volume 3 this fall and hopefully be able to get the funds for plenty of new merchanidise like T-shirts and such! My goals for Freakshow are to seriously get the book done and fix up the website for it lol! Working with P2 Manga on Freakshow has been such a pleasant experience. They give me complete creative freedom, and they understand that not everyone can work on their comics full time, so theyre always willing to work with your schedule so long as your willing to work hard to get the book done in a timely manner.
Where else can people find you and your work on the internet?
You can find links to all my comics on my Deviantart!