Hello and Welcome to ‘Bata Neart Begins’, a short series of documentary posts, about the beginnings of RAWRtacular’s Flagship comic: Bata Neart
Something new is about to enter the world of RAWRtacular…and by new, I mean something very, very old. Bata Neart returns after a staggering 6 years out of print, and so I’d like to talk a bit about Bata Neart ahead of it’s relaunch.
I have gone on and on about how this was my first major comic, and that it was coming soon…again, and again and again. Truth be known, Bata Neart was not my first comic. It’s just the first comic that I managed to actually finish a chapter of. I had tried 2 comics before, the first being a sort of cross between Mad-Max and Fist of the North Star (called ‘The Wanderer’), and the other was an odd Shoujo-ai take of the whole ‘Garden of Eden’ thing (called ‘Eden’ surprisingly enough). Although I had gotten pretty far in both comics, I failed to complete them. What’s interesting though, is my evolution as a comic artist in both.
Starting with the Manga Style
Prior to even attempting those comics, I spent several years just drawing random characters and scenes while I was still getting used to the idea of Manga-style drawing. Doing ‘Manga’ came very late for me. It was 2000, and I was between finishing Secondary School (or High School as others would know it) and starting College, and it was during that summer that I had taken a job as a security guard. The hours of work were very long, boring and really very lonely. All I had for entertainment were the day’s newspaper and an old radio (This was long before high-speed or wireless internet were readily available, and laptops were still very expensive). Thus, I had to make my own entertainment to pass the time (usually 12 hour shifts). I had remembered that I had always enjoyed drawing, having years before spent many an hour drawing my own take on Gary Larson’s Far Side. I would have probably continued with such comics all the way through Secondary School, had I been any good at keeping my odd-ball characters ‘on model’ (they’d look different in every single page I drew). I had lost faith and interest in drawing comics back then, but as a security guard I now had time on my hands.
By this time, I had started to develop an interest in Anime (ironically, after years of hating it!) And so, I printed out a How to draw Manga guide I found online one evening (not easy to do on an old dial-up modem!) and brought that with me on one of my shifts.
I followed the steps there-in, and was shocked with the result. It actually turned out well. I churned out a few more drawings, and again, they turned out just like I wanted. This was a new experience for me. In the past, I would have imagined a character, tried to draw it, and failed to even come close. But with Manga-style…I was actually pulling it off, with much less effort than before!
For a couple of years, I would churn out one-off scenes and characters like this, until early 2003, when I realised that pictures could be put in sequence and form a comic. My first manga style comic ‘The Wanderer’, was then born.
With ‘The Wanderer’ you started to see me learning how to lay out backgrounds and character design. I still wasn’t very good at characters back then, and you would have even seen that I had a hard time keeping my title character ‘on-model’. I literally did everything on the paper. Line-work, shading, speech bubbles and even the text. The result wasn’t all that pretty, but it was a step up from the one-shot pictures I was producing at the time. The Wanderer was planned to last 5-6 chapters, but alas didn’t get more than 6 pages in before I suffered artist’s block and gave it up.
In late 2003, I started the Shoujo-ai-esque ‘Eden’. Based on a one-shot drawing I produced of two nude women together in a sort of Adam and Eve setting, the comic was going to be a 50 page one-shot story. Although featuring full frontal (and poorly drawn) nudity from the onset, the whole idea of Eden less porny, and more about old world religion. The beginning was even lifted from an old Irish tale of how a Mother Goddess created humanity. This comic was also another step up in my technique. The character models were a lot more consistent (not hard to do considering there was only really one character for most of it), and for the first time I started to use ink.
Up until then, I had mostly used dark mechanical pencils for my art work. I had also started to use PC programs to letter the finished work. Drawn during my first spell in Norway, Eden also came to an end at a far more respectable 15 pages in. Incomplete, I never published it.
For a while, I returned to just drawing one shot pictures to practice and improve my style. Disappointed that I never finished a comic project, I ran several comic ideas in my head. I really did want to try again with the Old-World religion idea of ‘Eden’, while injecting a the twist of setting it in Modern Ireland. But I hadn’t the faintest idea of how to go about it. That was, until I encountered one particular well-known CLAMP anime.
To be continued…