Friday, December 30, 2005

Learn From The Masters

A call for manga assistants has gone out, courtesy of the latest issue of Ultra Jump. Manga-ka such as Tenjo Tenge's Oh Great!, Bastard's Kazuya Hagiwara, Seraphic Feather's Hiroyuki Utatane and DOGS' Shiro Miwa, among others, are all looking for qualified up-and-coming artists to help them out in the coming year. They're looking for people skilled in a number of artistic disciplines, from background assists to inking to screentoning to computer graphics. Unforunately for many foriegn hopefuls, living in Japan is a must!

The subject of assistants is an interesting one in Japan these days and something I've discussed with many manga-ka over the past week. The general feeling seems to be that it's harder and harder to find good assistants these days. In the past, having been an assistant to a working professional manga-ka was almost a requirement for getting your own seires and gaining respect as an artist in Japan. However, these days, with the growing world of dojinshi (self-published mags), it's no longer neccessary. Many editors at the major comic mags now look directly to the dojinshi world for new artists and series. They can usually find young talents who are hungry and willing to work for less money and less ownership, but still more than they would make as assistants. This has lead to much bitching by the established pros, who are having more trouble getting good help and who are worried it's setting a bad precedent for lower rates that may one day come back and bite them. They also feel these "kids" are getting their big breaks too early without having gone through the proper paces in the manga world, leading to big egos, bad attitudes, and an overall lack of respect.

The word "dojin-kusai" is one I heard bandied about on more than one occasion last week. Meaning "stinks of dojinshi", the term is used to describe certain manga mags that now employ a plethora of ex-dojinshi artists. It's also used to describe newly professional artists who were hired by publishers without any prior manga experience.

One manga-ka I know even referred to this new practice as "outsourcing", using the English term, citing the publishers are stealing work away from the "real" manga artists by venturing out into the dojinshi world.

Yet you don't hear these "real" manga-ka complain though when they themselves release their own dojinshi, using their fame to make tens of thousands of dollars off their fans over a weekend! :)

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Manga Bits - 12/29

I uncovered a wealth of good news and gossip while in Tokyo, but made several promises not to make most of it public just yet. A few bits I can share...

With the Witchblade anime coming from Gonzo, there will also be a Witchblade manga. It's scheduled to debut in March in the pages of monthly Champion Red from Akita Shoten. The artist will be Kazuasa Sumita, whose art you can see at his website here: But BE WARNED, like many manga-ka, Sumita-san began his career as an "adult" artist, so the site is heavy on nudity.

Kia Asamiya's JUNK is scheduled for release in English in the U.S. in 2006.

And Kia would also like his fans to know that he's doing much better after his health scare this past summer. He greatly appreciates everyone's concern and well-wishes. He's back at the drawing board and producing again, with JUNK continuing monthly in Champion Red and Kanojo No Carrera bi-weekly for now in Weekly Playboy.

Expect to see some of Square-Enix's manga titles popping up in English in 2006 as well.

A line of mini-figures based on characters from the Range Murata edited ROBOT anthology will go on sale this February.

Akira and Animatrix animator Koji Morimoto's new project is a fully animated music video for the new Hikaru Utada single, set to be released in early 2006 as a cell phone exclusive. (And for anyone who already hasn't, be sure to pick up Morimoto's amazing artbook, Orange Scrapbook.)

And lastly, on a comic book note, popular Bathing Ape designer Nigo has just produced a line of limited edition Marvel Comics sneakers and t-shirts. They're sold in blister packs!

Kirin Update

I just wanted to clarify one thing about the Kirin post I made yesterday. While the word "kirin" is indeed "giraffe" in Japanese, the use of "kirin" in the name of the beer means something different. The "kirin" in Kirin beer is actually an ancient Chinese monster, which can also be romanized as "kylin" or "qilin". This monster's the logo image on the cans and bottles as well.

Also, another fun fact... if you look closely at the depiction of the monster in the Kirin logo, you can find the katakana characters for ki-ri-n hidden in the art.

Chocolate Moose

I bet you thought that title was a spelling mistake, right?

See... it's not! They really are chocolate moose. Or is it meese?

Ice Cold!

For those that didn't know, Japan is a beer drinker's paradise. Although there are only four main breweries, Kirin, Asahi, Sapporo and Suntory, they put out new varieties and flavors of beer every month for every occasion. Be it a new "moon watching" ale or a "cherry blossom viewing" lager, you'll never find yourself lacking for choices of brew here. And the can designs are always fascinating as well.

So in honor of the snowy weather here, I went out and tried two of the new winter beers, Kirin's Shirokirin, or "White Kirin", (kirin means giraffe in Japanese, by the way) and Sapporo's Fuyu Monogatari, or "Winter's Tale". After careful tasting, I found the Sapporo too bitter and the Kirin too light, to be honest. But with a little arm twisting, I'm sure I can be convinced to go out and try Asahi and Suntory's winter samplings...

Snow Day!

So I'll go back in time a little bit now to last week and update you all with some pics...

We brought the weather from New York with us this year, as the day after we got here, Kobe had its worst snowfall in something like 15 years. I know I'd never seen it this bad. Granted, it was only like 3 or 4 inches, but in a city where it practically never snows, and never this much, that spells disaster as they have no idea what to do.

Thinking nothing of it, Mutsumi and I headed out to go downtown to buy my Shinkansen tickets and do some shopping. Only we got to the station to find the trains had stopped running due to the inclement weather.

I was not happy standing on the cold and windy platform waiting to see if things would start moving again soon. (Check out my stylish hat!)

But I tried my best to amuse myself...

...and the railways were soon back up and running.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Ran Into An Old Friend

Wherever I go, I can't escape him...

Back in Kobe

Spent a few days up in Tokyo, visiting friends and doing a little business. Internet connections were a little shaky, so I didn't get much blogging done. I'm back in Kobe and will be posting regular reports and lots of pictures shortly...

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Chocolate for Drunks

The Japanese have a reputation of reverse engineering and improving foreign products, but in this case, I think they may be a little off the mark...

Red Wine Kit Kats? What's next, sake filled Hershey's Kisses?

Japanese Sign of the Day

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Manga Bits - 12/22

I've only been back in Japan two days and am just starting to catch up on everything new in the manga world from down here in Kobe. I'm off to Tokyo tomorrow for a week of fun and frolic with all my artist and editor friends and I'm sure I'll have more news and gossip then as beer and sake starts loosening tongues. I'll also be going to a few of the bigger publishers' year-end parties and those are always great fun and great sources of information. But for now, just two little news bits that may be of interest to manga fans...

Hiroaki Samura, he of Blade of the Immortal fame, has a new series that's coming out semi-regularly here in Japan. It's called "Bradharley (sp?) no Basha" and is an British period piece. It's running in a comic anthology called Erotics F, and as you can probably guess from the name, it's a collection that specializes in adult content. And Samura-san's story is indeed adult, quickly throwing young English rose Diana into a world of hardcore bondage and S&M. Three parts have been published so far, in Erotics F 32, 34 and 36 if you're looking for them. Kitoh (Shadow Star) Mohiro and Shou (Madara) Tajima are also regular contributors. Death Note's Takeshi Obata also contributed a full color poster in the latest issue, which supposedly spiked sales.

Also, two new collections of original Star Wars manga tales have just gone on sale, Star Wars Silver and Star Wars Black. With covers by Kia Asamiya, the interiors are illustrated by a variety of eclectic manga artists. The stories are all set in Stae Wars Infinities settings, which are outside of standard Star Wars continuity.

One thing I found rather interesting about these collections though are that they're coordinated by Field-Y and published by TokyoPop here. We've heard about TP's Star Trek publishing plans but any Star Wars news has remained rather quiet. Dark Horse has the Star Wars comic book license in the States, and has released English verisons of all the Japanese Star Wars manga in the past. So will TokyoPop be doing English versions of these new manga adventures? However, looking at the back pages of these new Star Wars manga, it appears TokyoPop is now publishing new collections of all the Star Wars manga in Japanese. Looks like there may have been a change of licensee here. Could this affect the Star Wars manga already released in English by Dark Horse? I'll be asking around...

My Japan Life

Now that I'm all up and running with my laptop and wireless connection here, I'll be blogging as regularly as I can to give you a look into my life when I'm back in Japan. It won't be as educational as other Japanese cultural blogs you can find on the net, but then again, I'm betting no one really comes to Chesterfest for the culture anyway...

I'll start by giving you a little look into our apartment. Welcome to Chesterfest Cribs, Kobe Edition!

Here's our building...

Here's our kitchen...

Here's our dining room...

Here's our living room... Where my Mom can see we display the Cebulski family picture on the right. And that's my mother-in-law hiding under that fashionable cheetah blanket.

And here's our toilet...

The only reason I bring up our toilet is to give you a better glimpse into modern Japanese society, where even the toilets are technologically advanced. From this control panel, which in over five years here I have never used, you can do all kinds of things, from wipe and dry your own ass to give yourself an enema if you're not careful. It pulses, it vibrates, it shoots all kinds of jets of water in different rhythms into different places for God only knows what reasons.

Me? I just sit here and pretend I'm Captain Kirk.

And this is an old model. My buddy has one that's a touch-screen keyboard you can put in your lap and play with while you take care of business!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Tada Ima!

We made it to Japan! And boy, is it nice to be back! I forget how much I do love it here!!

The flight wasn't too bad; 15 hours but I slept for 8 of them. I had already seen three of the four movies, Fantastic Four, Bewitched and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, all of which I didn't need to see a second time. But it's with much embarassment that I admit I watched Herbie: Fully Loaded. Lindsay Lohan is one of my secret hotties and gave a fine performance, I must say.

My buddy Izumi picked us up at the airport and we went right to my favorite restaurant, Aidoru (Idol), as we were starving. Pics soon...

Got to our apartment, opened the fridge and this is what I found waiting for me:

All is good!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Third Month, Three Books

By some stroke of weird scheduling luck, I'll have three comics coming out from Marvel this March!

What could possibly convince Spidey to break into Dr. Doom’s embassy? And how will the bad Doctor react to the intrusion? And in the second story, Joe Reitman does a bit of clean-up after everyone’s favorite Web-Head!
32 PGS./Rated A ...$2.99

Written by C. B. CEBULSKI
Penciled by M. D. BRIGHT
The “X-Men of the New Universe” make their grand return to the new millennium with an untold tale from the days of the 80s! On the run from their captors at The Clinic, our Displaced Paranormals take shelter and hope to find the peace they so rightfully deserve on an Indian reservation. However, they soon discover persecution extends beyond those with enhanced genetic abilities and they must side with their Native American brethren to overcome an evil that threatens to engulf them all. Deadwood meets the Seven Samurai in this blast from the past!

Written by C. B. CEBULSKI
Pencils & Cover by TOMMY OHTSUKA
Carol Danvers is a little more than your average S.H.I.E.L.D. agent—she might just be the last hope the world has against the unstoppable forces of the Hand! Led by Silver Samurai, Lady Deathstrike, Sunfire, and the now-evil Elektra, the Hand makes its move! But are any of the heroes left to recover the ultimate symbol of freedom?!

Five Days and Counting...

Sorry for the lack of blogging recently but the past week has been a flurry of activity as Mutsumi and I are leaving for Japan next Monday. We'll be spending three weeks back East with family and friends. It's always great once you get over there, but the days leading up to departure become a pressure filled nightmare!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Friday, December 09, 2005

Today's Fortune - Friday Edition

An hour with friends is worth more than ten with strangers.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Spreading Some Ai

The amazing Kei Kobayashi is rolling along on my Medusa and Black Bolt story for the February shipping issue on Marvel Ai. I fell in love with his style the first time I saw it and I could not think of anyone better suited to illustrate the script I wrote. While I can't show you actual pages just yet, I thought I'd share some of the initial brush designs he did of the characters. Enjoy!

Please be sure to pre-order the issue with your local comic book retailer to avoid missing it! You can go to to find a comic shop near you.

Today's Fortune

Give a kiss to the person who sits next to you.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I've Done The Impossible!

I've actually just managed to finish responding to every single e-mail I had in both my major e-mail account inboxes! Oh my god! I feel such a sense of accomplishment over something so seemingly simple.

Of course, tomorrow everyone is going to reply back and I'll have to start all over again. Uggh!!

And if you've e-mailed me over the past two months but haven't gotten a reply, shoot me a new note as some of the e-mail probably got lost or deleted. Sorry.

Today's Fortune

You will be sought out for your diplomatic skills.

More on Insomnia

I almost never have trouble sleeping. I usually go to bed around 2AM and fall asleep immediately. But last night was different. As soon as I start talking about insomnia here on the blog, I find involuntarily myself staying up nights.

Like last night, for example. I hit the sack at 2:10 and tossed and turned until about 3AM, I think. Then the next thing I know, I look over at the clock and it's 4AM and I'm wide awake! So I laid there for about two hours just turning over all kinds of ideas in my head, which, because I sleep with a pad and pen, I started writing down. Unfortuantely none of it had anything to do with any of the projects I'm currently working on, which my artists and editors will not be happy to hear, but I did find it extremely producuctive. So yes, not sleeping might indeed help one get a little more work done.

But boy, am I dragging ass today!

Monday, December 05, 2005

The X3 Trailer Is Up!

I think it looks pretty damn good!

And I love these HD trailers as you can pause it and the picture still look perfect!

Today's Fortune

Your future will be happy and productive.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Pretty Good Weekend

I was about to shut down for the evening and hit the hay when I started reflecting back on this past weekend. And to be honest, it was a pretty damn good one.

- I rewrote a short script for Marvel that had been bugging me.
- I had what I think is a great idea for a new comic series I can write somewhere down the road when I get a few other things off my plate first.
- I had a great chat with the artist of an upcoming one-shot we're working on together and the creative chat helped shake loose a few elusive plot points we needed to nail down.
- Inspiration hit for the revival of an old B-level (maybe C-level) Marvel series that I can hopefully now whip into shape and pitch in the coming months.
- I finally saw Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. (It's still my favorite book, but I liked the Azkaban movie better.)
- I set my new record of 196,880 on Dig Dug.

I feel like I got a lot done.

Willie's Return

We haven't seen Willie in quite a while here on Chesterfest, so I thought I'd post a pic we took over Thanksgiving in CT. Country living still agrees with him and he's friendlier than ever...

No Sleep = Productivity?

I recently posted about how I get a lot of ideas from my dreams... about how my sleeping actually helps my creativity. But I recently heard Martha Stewart talking about how she's an insomniac and how not sleeping actually makes her more productive. She attirubtes a lot of her success to constantly staying awake. It's an interesting point that got me thinking. Are insomniacs able to do more in life as they don't have to sleep? They get 6-8 more waking hours a day and don't get tired. Does that give them more drive? Make them more successful? On the other hand, how does the fact that they don't ever dream affect them? Does it make them less creative? Just a thought...

Today's Fortune

Your happiness is intertwined with your outlook on life.