Making My Manga

One+of+Lisa+Gray%27s+preliminary+sketches+as+she+sets+out+to+reimagine+the+Manga+genre.

Lisa Gray

One of Lisa Gray’s preliminary sketches as she sets out to reimagine the Manga genre.

Lisa Gray, Staff Writer

There aren’t many black mangaka (manga creators) that I know of. Mangakas are usually from Japan, so the thought of a black mangaka is something pretty rare. I’ve been reading manga for a while and I just got inspired to make my own. 

I watched Youtube videos, drawing tutorials, and learned the steps of creating a manga. I won’t say I’m a pro artist, but I can draw pretty decently. I have been working on my manga since July. It’s nowhere near finished but I have a story, characters, and theme. The manga that I’m creating is inspired by real world events such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is set in the future, 2063, and follows the lives of three siblings who never knew a life outside of the pandemic. I got my sketchbook and started making rough drafts, but I’m planning on moving my final drafts to digital. I also took the time to draw anime characters to improve my skills of drawing. I can’t say when the manga will be finished but It’ll be awhile before anyone will have the chance to read it. 

Reading manga has always been something that I enjoy. Having the courage to actually attempt this made me happy. I want to inspire other black youth to make manga if they’d like too. It was one of the many reasons I wanted to create a manga in the first place. I won’t lie and say it’s an easy process. I did go through many obstacles such as drawing the characters over and over again, the scenery, trying to imagine what life would be like in 2063, and trying not to get frustrated. I was able to overcome them by taking breaks and just trying again. 

Since my story is set in Japan, I took the time to learn about Japanese culture to give it a more realistic feel. I also learned to write in Japanese a little to add words in the backgrounds like on buildings or streets and when introducing characters. The translations will be to the side and the dialogue will be in english. If I plan to publish I’d have it translated into other languages as well. I’m not sure how many volumes I’ll make in the future but I’m focusing on the first one now. 

The first volume will show the lives of the siblings I mentioned earlier. The siblings were born and raised in the pandemic and never knew a life before that, however their grandma did. She was born in the year 2000 so she saw when everything went downhill, she tells the siblings about life back then. The siblings dad (the grandma’s son) is a doctor and was taking part in finding a cure, he goes to America to help but he eventually catches the virus. To keep his family safe he decided to stay in the United States. He hasn’t seen his family in person for two years. The siblings mother is currently residing in a mental hospital due to her mental state. 

I’m definitely going to continue the manga because I want to see where I’m going to take the story, I’m also going to try my best to make the most of it. Hopefully someday people might look at it and get inspired. Even if I don’t get it published I’ll always remember that I created a Manga, the process was long and difficult especially because of the culture differences but In the end it was a fun learning experience.