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Jorge Santiago, Jr. grew up in the southwest U.S. and lives, breathes, eats, and even dreams about comics. He loved anything to do with storytelling as a kid, but when he was young, comics just did not seem to be a job consideration. Once he reached his high school years, he was introduced to manga, sparking his interest in comics that has brought him to where he is today.
At first, his hard work of putting out two books a year was going nowhere, and he decided to make a choice either to be content with local small press or take a huge risk and take the time to improve his storytelling and cartoonist skills.
He has chosen to take the risk of development and prepare himself to make the leap into the big leagues of the comic book industry. It has been about ten years since he first started to create comics as his sole focus, and now his plan is “comics or bust.”
Toonari Post (TP): When did you decide that you wanted to write and illustrate your own manga?
Jorge Santiago, Jr. (JSJ): I’ve wanted to draw comics since I was a little kid. I didn’t really start thinking about it seriously until I was about to graduate college and realized I was drawing more comics than I was doing my projects for class. I did graduate with a good GPA, though.
TP: Initially, were there any downfalls in doing both the writing and the illustrations? Is there one process you enjoy more than the other?
JSJ: Not initially, but I do have times where it’s hard for me to write good dialogue, or it’s hard to draw noses properly, so I struggle for a bit. It slows me down, but overcoming that challenge is fun. I love to draw, although I do like the writing part a bit more. I feel if I had to give up one in favor of the other, I would probably stop drawing professionally to work on writing. Although, I would never stop drawing for myself.
TP: What was the inspiration for your manga, ‘Goodnight Mrs. Goose’? Are there any artists in particular that influenced your style?
JSJ: ‘Good Night Mrs. Goose’ was inspired by my friend’s wife who was talking about her experiences with ‘Sailor Moon’. I won’t go into detail, but that made me start to think about the trope that these magical girl stories star girls aged 8-15, which makes sense since that’s the market for them.
I wanted to come up with my own take on it, where instead of it being a 15-year-old girl, who has to fight monsters and maybe find a boyfriend, to make it a 30-year-old career woman, who is trying to keep her marriage together while also having to occasionally fight monsters in silly costumes.
My art right now is very different from ‘Goose vol. 1′, but I can say my influences at the time were Alphonse Mucha, the art nouveau poster artist that is often touted as the example of that art movement. Most of my character illustrations at the time and the covers were inspired by his posters and how he portrayed women.
TP: Can you tell me more about the process you go through in creating your work and getting it published? Was it difficult to find a company to publish and sell your work?
JSJ: My process now is very different compared to back then. To be honest, ‘Good Night Mrs. Goose’ is a book I did two years ago, so I don’t want to discuss out-of-date methods, but I will talk about how I plan to tackle volume 3 (I’m trying to keep a book ahead of what’s printed). I have my plot established for the overall book, then I map out what needs to happen and when.
I then break up the book into chapters to space out the events, and write up a script to get my page count set and also to make sure I have good page turn reveals and that each chapter makes you want to read the next one. Once the script is complete, I begin doing thumbnails for it to get the page layouts set up and establish where my characters will go. For any artists reading this, this is the most important stage of the comic process.
If your comic reads well at the thumbnail stage, it’ll read well in pencils and inks even if those aren’t 100 percent polished. After my thumbnails are done, I start penciling the pages, which is followed by the inks. A new step I began in volume 2 of ‘Goose’ that I’ll continue for 3 is using gray scale Copic markers to create shadows on figures and give some variety of value in the art. Lastly, I scan and add any tones that I need, and letter the pages.
There are a lot of publishers out there, and they’re all on the lookout for new ideas and properties to start. You just have to find the one that is best suited to your work, and then pitch to them and hope for the best.
TP: Do plan on writing more manga? What sorts of ideas do you have in mind? More fairytale themes? There seems to be a market for that type of book now that two Snow White themed movies are being released and the popularity of shows such as Grimm and Once Upon a Time.
JSJ: I’ll keep writing comics until someone makes me stop. Right now, I’m working in the science fiction genre, but I do plan to continue ‘Good Night Mrs. Goose’ until it’s complete. While fairytale themes are popular at the moment, I think ‘Goose’ isn’t so much about that, but more about the drama of a mother and wife trying to find time for her family when she is the breadwinner and also has side drama to work out. ‘Goose’ isn’t about the monsters; it’s about the woman.
TP: Has there been any negative feedback on you manga? How did you deal with it?
JSJ: People who read ‘Goose’ seem to like it; I’ve yet to receive any biting comments about it. I can take criticism if it’s not trollish comments, which I don’t take into consideration.
If someone says they didn’t care for the book and tells you why, they’re caring enough at least to let you know what they would like you to improve on to hopefully grab them the next time. Although you can’t use every suggestion given to you, you have to do what’s right for you and your project.
TP: What are your favorite manga titles and/or artists?
JSJ: As far as manga, Natsume Ono is my personal favorite, especially ‘Not Simple’. I love her stories and her art, and I’ll pick up anything with her name on it. As far as comics go, one of my biggest influences right now is Stuart Immonen, who is an amazing artist with the chameleon-like ability to change his art to suit the story he’s drawing, but you never forget for a second that you’re being wowed by Stuart Immonen.