May 242011

Two years ago, with the able assistance of Sugar Ninja Zelda Ravenel, I refused to let rough times deter me from my plans to produce a showcase for female sequential artists. Originally designed to feature only current and former students from many years of teaching sequential art, I decided instead to throw open the doors and allow any female artist/storytellers to submit material. Volume 1, both the Sweet & Spicy Books, premiered two years ago. Those first books featured over 100 creators spread out over 700 massive pages! As it was our first attempt,  Zelda and I faced many difficulties related to behind-the-scenes production issues, as well as my inability to say no to anyone, ha ha. Sugar Ninjas Vol. 1 was also simultaneously edited while Zelda was bringing to life the first version of the website. Considering some of the stuff I was going through two summers ago, it’s hard to believe that we got either project in shape in time for our premiere at the 2009 in Atlanta, GA.

The truth is, both the website and the first volume of the Sugar Ninjas anthology series, were labors of love where the laboring started vastly outweighing the loving. Adding in the ridiculously shortsighted deadline I forced upon us, mistakes became an inevitable by-product. I’m still working on reediting Vol. One before once again making it available in the Sugar Ninjas Sweet Shoppe…but thanks to the hard work of my new assistant, Gally Articola, our newest website is good to go. And right in the nick of time, too, as there are just under SIXTY DAYS left until the deadline to submit material for this summer’s Sugar Ninjas !

Sugar Ninjas like Yamiloo have been helping spread the word this year, via posts on their popular blogs, which sometimes get linked to yet more blogs. We’ve already received quite a few submissions so far, complete with their accompanying form(s) (yay). And I’ve heard from many, many more who definitely plan on contributing either stories or illustrations this year (yay again). I’m feeling pretty confident that Volume 3 will be our smoothest production yet, which should mean that the books will be available for ordering before the last week in August.

A quick note before concluding my first post here on the new site. Many uninformed critics are pouncing on the recent demise of Tokyopop as proof that manga, especially OEL manga, is a “fad” whose time has finally come to an end. I taught my first manga classes over 10 years ago and had the very great pleasure of teaching future professionally published mangaka such as Christy Lijewski and Erica Leigh Currey. Neither of these girls falls into the stereotype of “rip-off” wannabes, merely aping superficial aspects of manga drawing techniques. In particular, Christy’s passionate dedication to her craft has allowed her to grasp the underlying “otherness” of manga. Her manga is informed not by copying her favorite artists, but by understanding WHY her favorite manga creators make the drawing and storytelling choices they make. I remain as strong a proponent of OEL manga as ever, and I encourage any female mangaka out there to consider submitting to this year’s Sugar Ninjas anthology. Submit to us, submit to others, but GET YOUR WORK OUT THERE! Don’t let the naysayers keep you down, let your love lift you up.

Stay tuned, Sugar Ninjas. The bestest is yet to come!



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