Interview with Yen Press Talent Search Finalist Mira Cervantes

Black Hole Lover by Mira Cervantes

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?

Hi! My name is Mira Clare Cervantes (a.k.a hachikurooo). I’ve been an avid anime and manga fan since I was young. It just sort of came naturally to me. Manga has always fascinated me with its storytelling and art, there’s always something for everyone in manga– something I’ve come to be thankful for. I’ve always drawn original characters when I was young but I started drawing my own manga when I was around 12 – 13 years old.

That’s neat. I think I started creating my comics around the same time as a way to bond with my friends. What kind of genre were you drawn to creating and were you drawing it just for yourself or did you have people who enjoyed reading it, too?

I drew my comics for myself and then I started sharing it with my highschool friends, I sort of gained a following in school because of that (hahaha!). Because of this, I was actually motivated to keep drawing comics for my friends and schoolmates. I tried different genres, horror, romance and comedy– I always wanted to try different things but my favorite was probably horror. My favorite one was a story called “Stained Glass in Hokkaido“, which was about a group of highschool friends who go on a murderous rampage in school but later realize that it was pointless and only caused them misery. Looking back on it, it was definitely reflecting my own teenage life eventhough I wasn’t really as twisted or as depressed. I just liked drawing grotesque comics with black humor.

Who are some of the artists or what are the works that have inspired you? (Manga and non-manga are okay! :)

I had a wide range of influences, I think. From popular shoujo manga creators like CLAMP and Kaori Yuki, shounen artists like Yoshihiro Togashi and Nobuhiro Watsuki and even seinen artists like Tsutomu Takahashi and Jiro Matsumoto. While I’m not sure my art reflects those influences, I feel like their works have deeply influenced my stories.

That’s a great list! And I’m so intrigued by your mention of seinen because I didn’t even know this particular genre existed until way after I was reading manga. How did you come across it? Was it something you discovered yourself or recommended by older friends?

It’s a funny story, I came across such manga thanks to the internet. There are a lot of titles in Japan that don’t necessarily make it overseas, so sometimes I consider scanlations a blessing in disguise.  Seinen is a demographic that encompasses several kinds of manga. But I believe most people associate it with gritty storytelling and more realistic art, which is also why I enjoy seinen manga a lot.

Tell me about your Yen Press Talent Search entry and what it’s about. Where can people read it?

My Yen Press entry was titled “Black Hole Lover“, it’s a 34 page oneshot about a boy named Lee who believes that his faint shadow is what makes him lack presence. He meets a girl named Anna, and it’s love at first sight. However Anna has a somewhat dark secret about her and her shadow. You can read Black Hole Lover on SmackJeeves.

Lee and Anna from Black Hole Lover

What challenges did you face creating your entry? Do you have any advice for future entrants for the talent search?

My biggest challenge was definitely having to deal with so many personal issues while writing and drawing Black Hole Lover. I didn’t always have the the time because I was working full time and lost someone very special to me at the same time, my grandmother. At that time I wanted to give up and put the whole thing on hold. However, I wanted to see the project to the end, this way I can also have something I can dedicate to my grandmother. To the future entrants, always remember that there’s something *you* can do. Find that special skill inside you and develop it, work on it!

I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. Your dedication to her is very admirable and moving. It sounds like there were a lot of real obstacles in completing this entry. What are some of your concrete strategies for making sure you finish on time?

Thank you. As for complete strategies, I had to plan how many pages I could do in a day, I had to at least create two pages. I also used my holidays to work on the story, if it was a day off or a holiday I had to make at least three pages. I had to sacrifice sleep, I’d get home around 8 and usually slept around 2 to 3 am in the morning.

What did you think about the talent search in general? Did you find the feedback helpful?

I was glad to have feedback, especially when so many people submitted their works. I was one of the few people lucky enough to get constructive feedback and I’ve always kept it in mind since then.

I know a few people trying out for the talent search again. Do you see yourself doing the same or perhaps trying a different route with your work as a comic artist like self-publishing?

To be honest? The path in front of me is a bit blurry! I want to work on a comic which I can dedicate myself to, looking for publishers and publishing is part of my plan but right now I want to concentrate and get back into enjoying the feeling of creating art and comics. If all goes well, I’d love to self publish a one shot at least. I think most comic artists aspire to be published, and it’s my aspiration too. It takes certain dedication to get your work out there. Whether it’s the right time to go out there and take a risk is something I’m not so sure of.

What have you been up to since then? Any projects you’d like to plug?

Recently I was part of MEFCC (Middle East Film and Comic Con) and sold art prints and I did commissions as well. I’m still working on getting a fresh start as an illustrator.

That’s good. How was your experience tabling at MEFCC like? Was that your first time at an artist alley?

It was a great learning experience for me. I was surprised with the number people who showed interest in my work, asked for commissions and bought my art prints. At this point, it really encouraged me to draw again. I gained a lot of attention and I can’t wait to participate next year!

Where else can people find you and your work on the internet?

Please visit my deviantart and drop me message! *coughCOMMISSIONScough*

Thanks very much for doing this interview with me, Mira. I wish you luck in your future projects!

Thank you Laur for giving me this opportunity, it was a pleasure.

  • Passing by

    Honestly, YOU should work for Yen Press. You’re better at giving the finalists the recognition they deserve than YP has in the past.

    Keep up the great work! Congrats to the finalists. All of their interviews were incredibly inspiring (I read them all!) and I really hope to see their work exhibited in the future. The world of manga can only increase by the more we share with each other.

    • Laur

      Thanks so much for reading! I’m glad you found them helpful. : ) Yeah, when I learned I was a finalist last year I was disappointed we were not mentioned anywhere as “potentials.” As I’ve mentioned in a post before, I suspect it’s because there’s only a few people on staff so they really didn’t have the time to do so but it would have built goodwill in the artist community. An opportunity missed!

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