22 August 2016

Behind The Comics (21) - Hetamoé

'Behind The Comics' continues, this time with Hetamoé. She contributed 'Trance Dream Techno' to š! #25 'Gaijin Mangaka' and tells about her process of developing the story.

Hetamoé // *1984, Portugal. Hetamoé is a visual artist from Lisbon and a founding member of the zine label Clube do Inferno. She works in a variety of media and is currently pursuing a PhD in the field of painting. Thomas no Shinzō by Moto Hagio and Yotsuba&! by Kiyohiko Azuma are her top favorite mangas.

Hetamoé: I live and work in Lisbon, where I’m finishing a PhD in Painting. I have, for that reason, two separate work spaces: a desk at home, where I mostly write and draw on the computer with my graphics tablet (a Wacom Intuos Pro‎); and a small studio, where I paint and make everything that’s too messy for the house. Because I follow Parkinson’s Law − “work expands so as to fill the time and space available for its completion” −, I tend to be all over the place no matter what I’m doing. Often there are books, random drawings and stationary everywhere, which can be very annoying for those with whom I share space... I’m also overly sensitive to criticism while working on a piece, so I’ll shut myself at home or my studio and won’t come out until it’s complete! However, despite my best attempts at seclusion, I inevitably come across comments and advice from my loved ones that fill me with self-doubt and force me to rethink my practices. Though I’m reluctant to such destabilization, I know it helps me become a better artist, so in the future I’d like to control my insecurities and actually listen to more feedback at production stages. Below is a photo of my desk at home, where I made “Trance Dream Techno” for š! #25 ‘Gaijin Magaka’. I tidied it up a little so you won’t think too badly of me! 

My greatest challenge is stylistic schizophrenia. As I grow older, I’ve somewhat made peace with the fact that I am unable to stick to a single “voice”, but I still envy other authors who have a clear, recognizable style with a vengeance. Since defining which style to use is usually the most stressful and time­ consuming part of my process, I always leave a lot of time for going astray and making mistakes. Sometimes, this translates into throwing away work that is almost complete and starting over again, so I’ve learnt to be a bit uncompassionate towards my drawings. It’s not that those rejected materials are necessarily worse than the final result (some people might even like them better!), but I’ll sacrifice anything, no matter how pretty or how long it took to make, that doesn’t fit in well with my goals for a particular story. This happened with “Trance Dream Techno” – I brainstormed a lot for that. So much, in fact, that I made a whole zine out of the studies and preparatory comics for š! #25! You can check it out at Clube do Inferno’s website. Here’s a peek inside!

From the beginning, one of my guidelines for Gaijin Magaka was that I wanted to make something different from what I had done previously for š! #22 'Fashion'. Especially in terms of scale, I really wished to take advantage of š!’s small A6 format by doing something that I normally wouldn’t do in A5 or A4 sizes. In the end, I opted for a “one panel per page” solution. I feared this would somewhat contradict the idea of “manga” (which usually evokes elaborate and dynamic page layouts), but I’m very interested in those moments of sparse storytelling you sometimes get in shoujo or yonkoma manga. So I zeroed in on that concept of koma (“frame”), and the nostalgic “picture book” feel of old-school manga like Sakura Namiki, and thought about extending it into one, long comic strip (14 + 2 pages). Because the square panel at the center of each page is so imposing, I added three “extra” levels – page numbers and separate text at the top, emoji at the bottom –, so I could play around with meaning, unexpected relations and rhythmic disruptions. I also paid close attention to how panels would be read in the book, for instance, by articulating the front and back of pages (e.g. clean school uniform /bloodied school uniform), and added an omake at the end for good measure! 

To compensate for my drifting away from well-defined narratives, I try to create a structure of “sticky” intensities which can sustain a connection between panels, and (hopefully!) become intelligible to readers. Color is very important in modulating affect, and I’m at my happiest when given free rein in this department. Depending on the project, I will use traditional or digital media, or often a mixture of both. In “Trance Dream Techno”, I made the drawings in my painting application of choice, Paint Tool SAI, then printed them on tracing paper, messed them up a little, scanned the whole thing back and applied screentones and color on the computer to achieve this “mixed” digital and analog effect. You can see some of the prints above (including different layers for the omake and pages with text and emoji), and an example of a color study in SAI below. Whatever the case, I normally end up with fragments instead of unified comic pages, which I continuously edit in and out into different sequences. I keep private Tumblr blogs to store reference images and phrases collected from all kinds of sources (from arthouse movies to Geocities webpages), that help me flesh out narratives as I work and often spark interesting associations that evade logic and clichés. Or, even better, that push those clichés – for instance, sentimental quotes from shoujo manga or soft grunge shrines – into an uncanny territory of unfamiliarity.

In the end, like the internet meme, both painting and comics are all about being immersed in a “special feeling”. That’s what I strive for! (ノ´ヮ´)ノ*:・゚✧ 

If you haven't seen Hetamoé's contribution yet, better get š! #25 'Gaijin Mangaka' here! Soon 'Behind The Comics' continues with a look behind Aseyn's desk!

11 August 2016

Behind The Comics (20) - Ben Marcus

Ben Marcus contributed the story 'Fool Of Memory' to š! #25 'Gaijin Mangaka' and provides a little look behind his desk, telling about his process in this newest instalment of 'Behind The Comics'.

Ben Marcus // *1983, USA. Ben Marcus is an artist and illustrator living and working in Chicago. His favorite manga is Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo.

Ben Marcus: I live in Chicago. I have a studio in Garfield Park. I drive to it from my apartment in Pilsen when I'm not at my 'day job'. It's a nice little studio.

I'm still learning how to make comics. The comic I did for kuš! was my longest comic to date. 8 pages! I'm more of a weird narrative drawing person than a full on 'comic' person. But it's coming together, I was happy with what I made. Although it was really hard for me to do. This is my drafting table at the start of my process. Just flipping through sketch books, looking at drawings of Buddhas, trying to figure out the look of my characters. The proportions of the facial features is important to me and I draw and re-draw them. Too many times. I wanted my characters to have a contemplative complexity to them. A depth of consciousness that a sense of animation is born of.  I drew everything by hand and scanned it and added the half-tones in photoshop.

2 August 2016

Behind The Comics (19) - GG

In 'Behind The Comics' kuš! contributors give an insight into their work. After a longer break this blog feature finally returns! GG is telling about creating her story 'Lapse' for š! #25 'Gaijin Mangaka'.

GG // *1981, Canada. GG grew up during the 1980s in a small Canadian prairie city. In this pre-Internet era, isolated geographically and culturally, drawing and making up stories was her means to connect to something more. Her favorite manga at the moment is Seiichi Hayashi's Red Colored Elegy.

Follow her also on twitter.com/ohgigue and blog.ohgigue.com and support her on Patreon, where you can get more insights behind her work!

GG: My work space is pretty minimal. I don’t really stick to one set up. Sometimes I’ll sit on the floor  to draw or sometimes I’ll work in bed or sometime I’ll stand or sometimes I’ll even sit in a chair at a desk like a regular person. But even though my set up is flexible and portable, I can only really work from home while alone. I find it extremely difficult to work in public places like cafés or new/unfamiliar places if I happen to be traveling.

Before I started focusing on making comics, I traveled a lot for a few years and that forced me to keep my physical possessions to a minimum and I just got used to living like that. It’s so much easier to keep my surroundings organized this way. This is especially good because my work process is a bit messy – not messy in the sense of paper laying around everywhere and paint splattered on the floor – but in the sense that a lot of it happens in a jumble of information stored in the weird space between my mind and my hard drives and I’m constantly adjusting my methods.  

26 July 2016

š! #25 'Gaijin Mangaka' is out now

š! #25 'Gaijin Mangaka' introduces you to the global movement of comics creators infused and enthused with different forms of manga and making their very own. As co-editor Berliac puts it: "We made a tight selection of some of the most representative independent cartoonists working outside of the manga closet (all top quality Nigiri, no cheap Maki here), Wasabi provided by Paul Gravett in the form of a foreword. Itadakimasu! いただきます"

Cover by Berliac

Contributors: Andrés Magán (Spain), Aseyn (France), Ben Marcus (USA), Berliac (Argentina), Daylen Seu (USA), Dilraj Mann (UK), GG (Canada), Gloria Rivera (USA), Hetamoé (Portugal), König Lü.Q. (Switzerland), Luis Yang (Spain), Mickey Zacchilli (USA), Nou (USA), Vincenzo Filosa (Italy), xuh (Poland). Coeditor: Berliac Introduction by: Paul Gravett (UK) 

Format: A6, 164 pages, full-color, perfect bound, printed in Latvia on high quality and environmentally friendly Munken paper. Released 26 July 2016.

Get it:  Order it for $13.95 from our webshop or get a kuš! subscription and receive also the next kuš! titles. Worldwide shipping costs included in price!

Have a look inside:




To read the whole issue and discover the taste of west meeting east, order š! #25 'Gaijin Mangaka' here.

5 July 2016

š! #25 coming out soon!

š! #25 'Gaijin Mangaka' will be a very a special issue, Paul Gravett sums it up best in his introduction to this book:

"Something extraordinary is happening right now in the wider global manga movement outside Japan, a further sea-change in its irrepressible revolution and evolution, and this special issue of kuš! captures a vital snapshot of this through brand-new work by some key current innovators working outside Japan. From the ceaseless two-way ebb-and-flow of influences between manga and Western comics, Berliac and David Schilter have gathered an exciting crop of contemporary ‘gaijin mangaka’, so-called ‘foreign comics creators’, predominantly young writer-artists from Europe and North and South America."

š! #25 'Gaijin Mangaka', will be released 26 July 2016

Cover: Berliac (Argentina) Contributors: Andrés Magán (Spain), Aseyn (France), Ben Marcus (USA), Berliac (Argentina), Daylen Seu (USA), Dilraj Mann (UK), GG (Canada), Gloria Rivera (USA), Hetamoé (Portugal), König Lü.Q. (Switzerland), Luis Yang (Spain), Mickey Zacchilli (USA), Nou (USA), Vincenzo Filosa (Italy), xuh (Poland). Coeditor: Berliac With an introduction by: Paul Gravett (UK)

Format: A6, 164 pages, full-color, perfect bound, high quality and environmentally friendly Munken paper.

Get it:  Pre-order it for $13.95 from our webshop or get a kuš! subscription and receive also the next kuš! titles.

Preview Pages:

2 June 2016

Open Call for š! #27 'BFFs'

After over two years it's finally time for a new open call for the kuš! anthology. Don't miss it, friends!

Excerpt from Hironori Kikuchi's comic 'Friends'

Full details of participation:

- Theme: BFFs ("Best Friends Forever")
- Page count: 4-16 (preferably even numbers)
- Language: English
- Format: DIN A6, width 10.5cm × height 14.8cm
- Bleed: In case you want your comics to be full bleed make sure to add 3 mm cut off space all around the comics (in this case the width of each page should be 11.1 cm and the height 15.4 cm). Don't place texts and important details close to the page borders (Bleed explained in a graphic).
- Colors: Yes, CMYK, b/w works are also welcome
- Resolution: 300 dpi (1200 dpi for b/w works)
- File format: preferably tiff or pdf
- If we publish your comics, you'll get at least 5 free copies
- Submit only low resolution jpgs for our consideration (but big enough to read (approximately 900 pixels in width)! The big resolution files as described above we'll ask you to send later.)
- please include a short description of yourself and a link to your site/blog
- Deadline: 19 September 2016
- Send to komiksukonkurss@gmail.com

Additional notes: 

- After receiving your work we'll write you a confirmation e-mail within 7 days. If you don't hear from us, write us again, maybe your mail got lost.
- The decision what we'll publish will be made until 17 October. We'll mail you if you're in!
- We'd prefer if you don't publish the full comics on- or offline before we print it. 
- The theme is BFFs, not BFFS, however you may interpret it very widely, also stories about the worst friends are welcome.
- If you have any questions, just write us. Best if you write a comment below, as other people might have the same question.
- We are always looking forward to see new approaches in storytelling and art. Don't limit yourself!

Previous issues of š! you can find here: komikss.lv/books/s/. If you have never seen them, it might be helpful for you to take a glimpse at some excerpts or get a previous issue to get a better feel of it.

You can also follow us on twitter, facebook, tumblr and instagram.

8 May 2016

new and new old minis

We release a brand new mini kuš! by Laura Ķeniņš and second editions of the sold out minis by Jesse Jacobs, Lala Albert and Anna Vaivare.

Due to the high demand of the mini kuš! by Jesse Jacobs, Lala Albert and Anna Vaivare we decided to reprint them. So if you didn't get them the first time around, now is your chance to catch up! Instead of just reprinting old comics, we also release a special new mini kuš! by Laura Ķeniņš. Her comic 'Alien Beings' is about the 90s, divorce and aliens!

Specs: Each book has 28 pages, full color throughout, offset printed in Latvia on high quality environmentally friendly Munken Pure, saddle stitch binding, format DIN A6. Release: 12 May 2016.

Get them: Order them altogether for $19 here or get each mini kuš! separately for $6 (worldwide shipping costs already included in the price!). Our subscribers get the new mini by Laura Ķeniņš for free (it will be sent together with our next anthology š! #25)!


mini kuš! #42 'Alien Beings' by Laura Ķeniņš

Driving home, a young girl’s family encounters strange lights. After that night, everything begins to change at home.

3 May 2016

Tempora Mutantur

We're very happy to bring Kutikuti's exhibition Tempora Mutantur to Latvia for the opening of Riga Zine Fest.

The Tempora Mutantur anniversary exhibition showcases the recent comics by the current members of the Finnish contemporary comic association Kutikuti. The works have been created specifically for the anniversary exhibition using a screen printing technique. The colorful combination of large comics reflects the diverse styles and narrative methods of Finnish comics in 2015.

17 March 2016

kuš! spring releases!

The new mini kuš! #38-41 are out! We officially announce the start of spring already now-and rest assured, it is brilliant!

The creators of the newest minis are Ingrīda Pičukāne, Tara Booth, Hanneriina Moisseinen and Aisha Franz. The comics vary from an incredibly sad war story to a super fun and wild adventure of a young woman, a broad range of stories both fictional and non-fiction and drawn in different styles both digital and hand-drawn! A great bunch of comics for new discoveries!

Specs: Each book has 28 pages, full color throughout, offset printed locally in Latvia on high quality environmentally friendly Munken paper, saddle stitch binding, handy format DIN A6. 

Get them: Order the mini kuš! collection for $19 here or get each mini kuš! separately for $6  (worldwide shipping costs already included in the price!). In case you'd also like to get the following kuš! releases, subscribe here.


1 March 2016

mini kuš! #38-41 coming soon

Spring is just around the corner, this means it's time for the release of four new mini kuš!

excerpt from Tara Booth's mini kuš!

Ingrīda Pičukāne, Tara Booth, Hanneriina Moisseinen and Aisha Franz, created very intriguing new additions for the mini kuš! comics series. Get ready for some fresh and thought provoking comics!...
Format: Each book has 28 pages, full color, locally printed in Riga on high quality FSC certified Munken Pure paper, saddle stitch binding, pocket format DIN A6.

Pre-Order: Pre-order the mini kuš! collection for $19 here or get each mini kuš! separately for $6  (worldwide shipping costs already included in the price!). The minis will be released on March 17th, 2017. In case you'd also like to get the following kuš! releases, subscribe here.

If you're interested in wholesale, contact us via komikss(at)gmail(dot)com