27 January 2016

2015 - in retrospect

I usually do (as my long time readers of this blog knows) a summary of the past year. This blog has been my open diary for 8 years now and I like doing these yearly summaries to show for myself that I did a lot of amazing thing in a year. Sometimes you get discouraged by all the work and need some perspective, and I find this a good way to get that and pat myself on the shoulder.

This year has been shaped by one focus: finishing my biggest manga project so far. And also some international trips opening my eyes. A good change from the routine work of 2014.

Milestones of 2015:

When the year started, I was already working hard on the third and last volume of Sword Princess Amaltea. Since the publisher had some company changes in the end of the 2014 and my editor left for other adventurous jobs, the deal with book 3 was hanging loose for a while, but luckily the Editor in Chief Josefin Svenske decided to continue the series and publish the last book as well!
This decision came in the end of December 2014, and really made my holiday complete!

In the end of January I also got the amazing opportunity to be invited to  42nd Festival International de la Bande Dessinée d'Angoulême in France, courtesy of the Swedish Institute in Paris. It's the biggest comic festival in the world when it comes to size, since the whole town is involved. I made a blog entry about this inspirational and eye opening trip, and the new contacts I got there at the French publisher Kazé Manga.

I took a short break a couple of days from the work on Sword Princess Amaltea 3 to make a 10 page short story for the anthology Freya – Sequential Love Stories, which I also was part of the organizers for. I tried a new technique on that one, and learnt some stuff. Even though I have my prefered materials and techniques, I believe it's important to never stop experimenting and try new things to elevate your creativity.
I also kept on drawing and inking Sword Princess Amaltea 3 and my plan was still to have it printed before the Swedish event NärCon Summer in July... Yeah, spoiler alert; that will not happen.

The event of this month was J-popCon (Copenhagen, Denmark) the 21-22th of February, where me and my sister Catarina, both members of the Swedish manga collective Nosebleed Studio had a table in the Artist Alley and sold our latest book Nosebleed Studios Stora Mangasamling (in Swedish). The book is also selling amazingly well to Swedish libraries, who in the end of February had bought about 200 copies already!

All this time I had also started using instagram and uploading images from my everyday work. I realized I mostly used Facebook and this blog to comunicate with my fans, but since my fans are so young and can't have a Facebook account I was not reaching the kids. Most of them are haning out on "new" stuff like those apps and such. (Oh, I'm so old!) So I got myself an Instagram account.
And now I hear talks about Snapchat and all that... plz ppl staaap!!
I used instagram for showing my drawing and promote events I was visiting, but also to show some images from Serieskolan (the Comic Art School) in Malmö where I work twice a week, like here where the students held a mini-fanzine-event for practice (for the students only):

Ett filmklipp publicerat av Natalia Batista, mangaka (@nataliasmanga)

March was also the peak of the work on the fanzine market event Malmö Seriefest at the Malmö City Library that I was organizing on my own at this point. Blogging and facebooking and marketing with flyers and posters! This project was in collaboration with Seriefrämjandet (Swedish Comics Association), Malmö City Library and ABF (Workers' Educational Association). It all came to fruition in the last weekend of March, a huge success with over 500 visitors, and I made a blog entry about it all (in Swedish).
My goal with the event was to show it was possible and to create a new market space for fanzine and self press comic creators, with free table space at a central spot in town. A great collaboration and everyone seemed satisfied!
Sadly, the sound and light in the room made the videos we made hard to make something good of, and some videos also got lost... This was a way too big of a project for one person to handle on their own, so 2016's edition is organized by a fantastic team, more about that in a coming blog entry.

The month started off with both me and my boyfriend being sick and miserable, and missing out on the nerdy board game convention GothCon which is a tradition of ours. ☹
But I kept drawing and when I was finally up at my feet again it was off to PicaCon (11-12th of April) in Kristinehamn, a bit of a trip from Lund where I live. It was the first time I got invited to a manga convention and actually was payed for the presentation I did there, as an official guest!
I have been a guest before, but since Swedish manga artists are not as visually interesting to look at as cosplayers we are not usually on the VIP-guest list at the bigger cons here in Sweden. So I was glad to finally get some recognition~

At this point I was also trying to get the fifth edition of Swedish Comic Sin together for print, the indie-erotica-comic-anthology-project that I have been organizing since 2010. This edition had similar interest as previous books, with a couple of them dropping off through the project because of lack of time and inspiration. We did finish a 180-page book (and made a crowdfunding campaign for it too!) but since the drop off rate is still quite high, I have decided to take yet a years break and start the next one this Fall for a release Spring 2017. That one will probably be the last of the Swedish Comic Sin books. If you or someone you know wants to participate, I recomment reading about the project on the blog and read the project desctiption (in Swedish).

The other anthology I participated in was Freya – Sequential Love Stories, which we also did a crowdfunding campaign for and got international attention even! (Thanks to Anette Bengtsson who was in charge of it, good job!!)
The book came out nicely, but the crowdfunding success also ment we had to pack a lot of books and stuff to backers a couple of days, haha! Phew!
You can see more previews of my comic in Freya here.

This month was a crazy stressy funny time! SIS (Stockholms International Comics Festival) in 9-10th of May, the biggest comics-only-event of the year, started it off with a bang and we in Nosebleed Studio had booked three tables this time.

Sadly, they had done some rearrangement of the market tables and we got some shitty places in a sweaty and airless part of the locales. We could see how people didn't cope with is and turned away before getting to our tables, and even our fans told us later they didn't find us. And this showed in our sales, which was less than the year before even though we had our new Swedish book. Not satisfied, I sent a feedback email to the organizers, but only got a dismissive reply.
I hope they think about it to this year's event...

At this point I had realized that Sword Princess Amaltea 3 would not be finished before July, since it was 30 pages longer than the previous two books. I spoke to my editor at Kolik Förlag and we decided to release it in September instead, so I made a preview fanzine with the first chapter in the third book to sell at SIS for the fans that couldn't wait, haha.

The weekend right after we attended KodachiCon in Lund, my hometown. It was nice to be able to sleep in my own bed on an event, for once, haha. And the week end after that, me and my sister went to Düsseldorf, Germany, for the manga convention Dokomi! It was truly an eye opening experience to see how the manga self press scene has developed, and truly inspirational for us artists trying to grow the fanzine and self press market here. I made a happy blog report about it all (in English!).

This month was mostly spent on drawing and drawing to finish Sword Princess Amaltea 3 on time, but I also got some breaks doing an exhibition in Malmö with the team behind Freya.

Drawing, drawing, drawing! So close to the end of the book I could SMELL IT!

I also spent some time this Spring on the planning and organizing of the Artist Alley at NärCon Sommar, the biggest manga/nerd/cosplay-convention in Sweden with over 8000 attendees. Nosebleed Studio have attended their Artist Alley several years, but most of the times it has seemed a bit unorganized and a little sloppy. So when I contacted the previous organizer and they told me that the spot actually was vacant, I took the chance! I was determined to make the best Artist Alley in the history of NärCon and I think I succeded. I knew what info the artists needded and also made sure they ended up on the website with names and links and all. I had invited guests with signing sessions, Q&A's and presentations. Later I made a survey for the artists who had tables and the response was overall positive and thankful.
The chiefs of NärCon also took notice of my efforts and appreciated it! Sadly, this year they made a rearrangement of the whole area, which ended up making the role I had get a bit chopped up. After some back and forth I decided it's best they try their new organization of the area this year, and if they want me back next year I'll ask for the same postition I had 2015. I hope they want me back, because I truly have grand visions for the Artist Alley at NärCon!

Oh, and:
Alexandra cosplaying Amaltea!!!!

This month started off with me FINISHING SWORD PRINCESS AMALTEA 3!!
I could finally get back to the blog and my life, and made a long blog entry about my summer.
At the beginning of August my boyfriend and I took a short vacation by train (mostly) to Oslo and Bergen in Norway. It was a nice and well deserved time off, we had both worked almost all Summer. He's been working hard, as a level designer on the game The Division at the game studio Massive Entertainment (a UbiSoft studio) which will be released on the 8th of March this year!! Stoked!!

And so I took a couple of months relaxing celibacy from drawing... NOT!!
Haha, nope, I started a new project instead: Mjau! - the Anime!
I first did some research, tanking to people that I met at events and online. But since I have been thinking of this for a while now, I already knew I wanted to do this and also how. I had been looking forward to this all through the months of working with Sword Princess Amaltea 3. Like a tasty carrot dangling in front of me...
I uploaded some videos of the process at my instagram, and when I had the time to animate I could make 2 seconds a day. Sadly, I had a new book to promote too (such a luxury problem, right?) and did only finish about 50 seconds during the Fall. But I have not given up on the project, oh no!
There will be more updates here and on instagram as soon as I have time to work on it again.

Here's a small part of it:

This is the other crazy stressy funny time this year. While working at Serieskolan again (with a new class of aspiring creators, ready to get their dreams crushed and get molded into strong warriors!) I went to a bunch of events. First off: Comic Con Malmö 12-13th of September.
This was the first time for this event, and it went very well from our (Nosebleed Studio's) perspective. The team behind the comics area did a good job and was very inviting and accomodating. I highly recommend it!
Sadly the third book hadn't arrived from the printers yet!

Elise Rosberg is our latest member, together with my sister Catarina and I.
The Saturday after I went on my own to Östergötlands Bokmässa (the Book Fair of Östergötland County). It's a pretty small event if you compare it to other book fairs I've had the chance to visit, but it was still an honor to be invited to hold a manga course there and do some signing.

And so, the week end after that, the biggest book event in Sweden, Gothenburg Book Fair, marked the release of Sword Princess Amaltea 3, the final book in my longest series ever! I was sooo proud! Many signing sessions and together with Henri Gylander who also released a book with Kolik förlag at the book fair, we held an awesome release party at a Kulturhuset Oceanen, with live music and live drawing and all! It was really fun and the best way to celebrate the completion of this 5 year project of mine!
Here's my blog report about the events this month.

Oh, and Nosebleed Studio's book was selected to the prestigious children's books catalogue that was released at the Gothenburg Book Fair! This is probably one of the biggest achievements of our 10 year together!

Glömde uppdatera om detta, men kolla in!! Barnbokskatalogen presenterar ett urval av barninriktad litteratur utkommen under året. Bibliotekarier och läsare (stora som små) kikar i den efter bra lästips. Kommer man med i den ökar dessutom chanserna att vinna en plats i tävlingen Bokjuryn där barn röstar fram sina favoriter. I mitten av katalogen finns en poster som hängs upp på biblioteken med de böcker som finns med i katalogen, och det ökar chanserna avsevärt! 2010 vann min manga Mjau! 1 andraplats (efter den internationella succén Lou) och 2014 fick Sword Princess Amaltea 2 en tredjeplats den med (ettan var Amulett 5 och Mulleboken 2014 som båda är kända storfavoriter). Hoppas Nosebleed Studios Stora Mangasamling eller Sword Princess Amaltea 3 landar på topp-3 i år!! Om du är i skolåldern eller känner någon som är, så se till att de röstar i sitt skolbibliotek i februari 2016! #bokjuryn #nosebleedstudio #swordprincessamaltea #barnbokskatalogen #braserier
Ett foto publicerat av Natalia Batista, mangaka (@nataliasmanga)

In October I took the chance to try the Inktober challange: to make one inked picture every day for a month. It felt like a good thing to do to fill my Instagram with illustrations... but I thought I could make it even more interesting! I decided I would make it into a give-away thing, and donated the image to the first person who commented on it on Instagram. I didn't know what I just started... but it became a monster! People where haning around my feed for hours just to get a chance, and even though I gave away 30 illustrations, there was still a bunch of awesome fans who didn't get any. Sorry about that. I'll make a post soon with all the pics so you can see them, but here's one:

This month also ended up getting quite event-heavy in the end:
17th of October: HBTQ Book Fair at the Malmö City Library
24th-25th of October: I Seriernas Värld, a childrens comic festival in Malmö
29th of October: Manga workshop at TioTretton in Stockholm
30th-1st of November: Comic Con Gamex in Stockholm
The HBTQ Book Fair was small but fun since we had Freya to promote. I Seriernas Värld ("In The World Of Comics") used to be bigger but they have changes the location again and that probably made them lose some visitors. A lot of them. The manga workshop in Stockholm was a huge sucess with 50 participants! And last but not least Comic Con Gamex, which was so fun, lot's of people and a good mix of different nerdy interests. Nosebleed Studio had a booth!

Since mid October, I have been working more hours at Serieskolan, because one of my colleagues was on parental leave. This went on until mid December, and even though it was super fun, it made me have less time to create stuff. But I still made time for drawing, and I had something I needed to make: my contribution to the next Nosebleed Studio anthology, our 10 years jubilee anthology none the less! We decided upon the theme of friendship. My short story (42 pages long) is called When I Close My Eyes. I'll make a blog entry about it soon...

I drew my short story manga, uploaded sneak peeks on instagram (like the one below) and worked at Serieskolan. Most of the days.

A proof of Amaltea becoming popular is the fact that the library in Ängelholm asked me to make a painting to decorate their new comics section. I felt so honored! After some sketches we decided upon a 1:1 scale Amaltea with her sword so the visitors can take pictures with her!
The painting is digital and printed on canvas, which makes it less fragile compared to a painted... painting.

This was my 2015. A year of conclusion. A year of closing the door and opening a new. Of turning a page, starting a new chapter.
I also got some eye opening experiences and meetings. Trips to places, new friendships and old that came back. I also think that I now, the year before 30, feel I am finally quite satisfied with where I have arrived. And this is not the finish line, by far!

Oh, and the sales of Sword Princess Amaltea is hitting the roof! Till today the first and second book have gone into reprints again, and sold together over 5000 copies! The third book was therefore printed at a first edition of 3000! I'm looking forward to the coming year and being able to sell them all together as a full package, a proof of what you can accomplish with hard work, determination and a dream of creating manga.

I already know from the several fan letters I have received that I am inspiring the new generation of manga artists right now. And that feels soooooo goooood. ♥ 

✰ Aiming for a prosperous 2016! ✰