A sample of Mark Crilley’s artwork. The acclaimed manga artist will be  leading a virtual presentation on how  to draw manga Aug. 6.

A sample of Mark Crilley’s artwork. The acclaimed manga artist will be leading a virtual presentation on how to draw manga Aug. 6.

Photo provided by Mark Crilley


Manga artist to lead virtual drawing class

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published July 24, 2020

 A sample panel from Crilley’s manga graphic novel, “Brody’s Ghost.” One of Crilley’s best-known works is “Akiko,” which was nominated for 13 Eisner Awards.

A sample panel from Crilley’s manga graphic novel, “Brody’s Ghost.” One of Crilley’s best-known works is “Akiko,” which was nominated for 13 Eisner Awards.

Photo provided by Mark Crilley

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HAZEL PARK — Those interested in learning how to draw Japanese comic art, or manga, will soon have the opportunity to learn directly from one of the masters.

The Hazel Park Memorial District Library is hosting a virtual presentation starring acclaimed manga artist Mark Crilley from 1 to 2 p.m. Aug. 6, via the free videoconferencing app Zoom. For the link to the presentation, visit hazel-park.lib.mi.us.    

Crilley began writing and illustrating professionally in 1995. His breakout hit was the series “Akiko,” which was nominated for 13 Eisner awards — among the most prestigious awards in comics. After that, he worked on projects such as the graphic novel series “Miki Falls” and “Brody’s Ghost,” as well as an ongoing series of instructional drawing books, the most popular of which has been the “Mastering Manga” series, which has been translated and published around the world.

During his presentation, Crilley will share insights into the technique behind this unique style of visual storytelling.

“Manga is really a very wide-ranging series of styles, but I think the key thing is the approach to drawing the character’s faces,” Crilley said. “There is a unique balance between the facial features, in which the eyes are emphasized and the nose and mouth are often deemphasized. The methods of drawing hair are also quite distinctive, ranging from the flowing lines of romance manga, to the spiky hair of action-oriented stories.

“It’s hard to generalize, but I’d say manga artists are having to stay within a ‘house style’ in terms of what the publisher wants, whereas Western artists probably have more freedom to create a one-of-a-kind style that is seen only within one particular comic series.”

That being said, “To me, the most remarkable thing about manga is the huge range of material that is possible in the Japanese marketplace: stories about cooking, fishing, collecting stamps — you name it,” Crilley said. “In America, for many decades comics were dominated by superhero stories, and that has only started to change relatively recently.”

He said that he tries to keep his drawing workshops simple enough that beginners with no drawing experience can easily follow along.

“I will do at least one lesson based on the ‘chibi’ style, which is very cartoony and consists of relatively few lines. I’ll probably do a lesson on drawing manga eyes. And I always like to get suggestions from the audience in terms of what they’d like to learn, and often devote two or more lessons to topics that the attendees have requested,” Crilley said.

“For me, the great thing about manga is how fun-loving it is,” he added. “There is a wonderfully random, silly feeling about many manga stories, where seemingly anything can happen, and neither the writers nor the artists are bogged down with taking themselves too seriously. I think this spontaneous, oddball quality of the manga world is a big part of what has won it so many devoted fans all over the world.”

Randy Ernst-Meyer, a librarian at the Hazel Park library, said it’s an honor to have Crilley share his knowledge.

“He is one of the finest drawing teachers in the United States. He is an expert on manga, with quite a number of drawing books on the topic,” Ernst-Meyer said. “He will definitely be able to show the teens and adults some new ideas on drawing, manga and art in general.”

For more information, call the Hazel Park Memorial District Library at (248) 546-4095.

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