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August 2011

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Fanart A Week (kinda): Monster

Hah, skipped a week or so in there. Sorry. ^^

And here we have Dr. Tenma from the very first manga to ever make an impression on me: Monster, by Naoki Urasawa. Now that I've read Pluto and 20th Century Boys, I don't think Monster is Urasawa's best work anymore, but it's still luridly charming, containing some of the most tense scenes I've ever seen in an illustrated work, and manages to be surprisingly mainstream. I feel that if there's any hope for manga to cross over into some kind of adult, mainstream market, its comics like Monster that would do so.

Monster's also an important comic to me because it was the manga that hooked me on manga. Where I finally saw a creator doing what, honest to god, I was trying to do in my own work (granted, with much less success, but still). Urasawa's grasp of facial expression, his ability to decompress a scene so that every conversational beat was drawn out in front of the reader, his stunning use of panels ... I don't know, it was a real revelation. Finding Monster was like finding manga that was made for me, both as a creator and as a reader. As a friend of mine put it "The way you draw noses really changed after you read Monster." Hah, yes. ^^

As for Tenma himself, I read a lot of online commentary about the comic once I started reading it (my first introduction to the manga blogosphere, too), and while I enjoyed the discussion, I always felt I read Tenma a little darker than everyone else. He comes off as a goody two shoes in the manga, a much-too-good-for-his-own-good doctor ready to drop everything to help people out, even to his own detriment. There's no denying he's a decent human being, but his saintliness in later volumes ... frankly, I think it was an act. Here's a character who's had everything taken from him: his prestigious job, his friend and status, and now he's such a good guy because that's literally all he has left. I also suspect his overly noble tendencies come down to him unconsciously trying to prove Johan (the kid-serial killer he saved in volume 1) wrong, that human beings are too capable of being awesome and good ... it's weird, because he comes off as bullheadly obsessed with being RIGHT (people are GOOD and KIND because I, Tenma, say so) as Johan does (people are CRUEL and BAD because I, Johan, say so), and the series becomes the ultimate oneupmanship contest, Johan and Tenma locked in an eternal battle of wills. Anyway, the point is that I believe he would've (SPOILER) Johan at the end of the series, if given the chance. Because he thought he was right, and if (SPOILER) his enemy was the way to do it, so be it. Tenma's a good guy, but don't screw with him, y'know?

And with this fanart, I'm done with my shelf! On to shelf #2! Here are some pictures:


Any opinions on which books I should start with? I'm probably not going to do fanart for the Ono books. I like her art, but her stories leave me really cold. Probably not Ikigami either. It was an interesting read, but I can't say I want to do fanart of any of the characters. Everything else is fair game. What should I draw a fanart of next?

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