21 January 2017

2016 - In retrospect

Time for a summary of the past year. Initially I'll warn you. This entry will be littered with Bad Excuses. When I look back at the past year, I feel a little embarrassed. I havn't done as much as I could have, I feel. Well, maybe I feel like this because the past year was mostly planing, planing and planing. I spent most of my time planing big things for my future, but I didn't get to start any of them yet. Well, you'll get more explanations in the text below.

For you who don't prefere to read, I made this into a video as well, so that you can listen instead.

Milestones of 2016:

What the heck did I do in January?? I usually make these yearly reports based on my blog entries, but as I have been less and less active here on the blog, I have NO entries from January! Instead, I have turned especially to Instagram to promote my everyday life as a mangaka. According to my Instagram uploads, I worked on my manga When I Close My Eyes to Nosebleed Studio's 10 Years Jubilee Anthology all through January and finished the inking by the end of the month.

At the same time I worked two days every week at Serieskolan (the Comic Art School), my day job so to say. I now have a routine, working monday and tuesday at the school and the rest of the week wth my comics. This is my Bad Excuse no. 1, for not making so many comics this year. I love my job at the school, and feel blessed to work there, but it also takes a lot of my focus, time and energy.

In January, I also did some animation. Sadly, that's pretty much where I stopped (except for some few hours in April), mostly because of lack of time. Bad Excuse no. 2. (wow, this is going fast..!)

I visited NärCon Vinter 12-14th of February with Nosebleed Studio and sold our books. Sword Princess Amaltea volume 3 sold out on Saturday, my usual mistake to bring to few books. I made a report here at the blog with some complaints about how the panel I held was treated by the organizers.

I was also invited to talk in Swedish national radio about how manga came to Sweden, as some kind of expert since I work at the Comic Art School and am one of the few Swedish mangakas published. You can listen to it here (In Swedish):

Sveriges Radio - PP3 | Så blev mangan stor i Sverige

I also worked at the school, while screen toneing my manga When I Close My Eyes, organizing events with Svenska Tecknare Syd (Swedish union for illustrators and comic artists) and planing for the next Malmö Seriefest, a local comic convention I am the founder and one of the organizers of. These are not excuses! I want to put my time and focus on not only helping myself but also others in showing their works to the world, so these commitments are important to me.

In March, most of my time went to three things; working at the school, making the next anthology with Nosebleed Studio and planning for the upcoming Malmö Seriefest in April.

This month was also a heavy month when it comes to events:

5th of March: SciFi-mässan in Malmö, Sweden
18th-20th of March: J-popCon in Copenhagen, Denmark
 25th-28th of March: GothCon in Gothenburg, Sweden
They where all in different forms: I signed Sword Princess Amaltea in the booth of the publisher Apart at the SciFi fair, since the CO of the company Johan Kimrin is a friend of mine. At J-popCon, I was selling with Nosebleed Studio and holding a lecutre. At GothCon I was sellign on my own, since Nosebleed Studio didn't go there. GothCon is for fantasy and table top gaming so I wanted to focus on my fantasy manga Sword Princess Amaltea, and sold pretty well.

It was at GothCon I met Daniel at Saga Games, the key person to my next project. We started talking about my manga and Daniel proposed we do a RPG book together in the world of Sword Princess Amaltea. I was of course super interested!!

I was also in the media spotlight this month: first interviewed by My Bergström, a friend of mine, for the librarians magazine Biblioteket i Fokus, about my work as a manga artist and my works, and then I was featured at the Swedish national television show Superlördag for kids. The latter practically made me famous among all the 8-10-year olds I met the following months, haha. I talked about drawing manga and drew a little portrait of the show host Tobbe, a well-known Swedish magician.

Finally time for Malmö Seriefest, which I am part of the organizers of. It took place on the 2-3 of April at the Malmö City library. The video below shows a part of it. All in all we had about 700 participants in 2 days, which is an increase since 2015 when about 500 showed up. Success!!

The rest of the month was for some much needed artist rest, mostly focusing on work with Nosebleed Studio, the Comic Art School and holding several manga workshops at schools and libraries.

I also got some time to go shopping some new clothes for me; Morikei. Morikei is a Japanese fashion style and it means "forrest type" or "forrest style". It's often layered outfits with cozy cardigans and long skirts, colorcoded and preferably in a more muted or sober colors like dark purple, moss green or grey tones. I just tried it and found it very comfortable, escpecially in cold Sweden where layered styles and cardigans fit right in!

A photo posted by Natalia Batista, mangaka (@nataliasmanga) on

So, after some months of hard work, finally we had out new book, and sold it at Stockholm International Comic Festival on 7-8th of May. As 2016 is Nosebleed Studio's 10th year together (Yup! That's a looong time!), our book was dedicated to all these years together with the theme of 'friendship'. This is the magnificent result:

I also made a blog entry about my manga in the book, When I Close My Eyes, a 40-page short story manga about a young traveller in need of friendship.

With this new book, we also travelled to Confusion in Gothenburg on the 13-15th of May, the biggest manga convention on the west coast of Sweden. We love coming back to this event, it's one of our fav events of the year!

I also got to make a very cool thing at the nerdy book store SF-bokhandeln's new store: a painted pilar! (Yup, I painted it all myself! Took like 40 hours or something...)

This was seriously so honoring, to get to have Amaltea
with her sword raised standing in the middle of the store, 
greeting the customers when they enter through the sliding doors. 
I will be proud of this forever and ever and ever and...
Back side of the pilar, with Prince Ossian and a dragon!

At this time, I was planing my next big projects, and therefore took a trip to Stockholm to meet my editor Fabian at Raben & Sjögren, a Swedish childrens book publisher. We plan to make a children's comic book together, a new story about my mermaid character Minna from my previous manga Hooked On You. So exciting! And my plan is to make it all in water colors...

In Stockholm, I also met up with Tomas at Saga Games, the writer with whom I will be making the RPG-book about Amaltea's world. This is also a super exciting project! How many manga artists can say their manga has been turned into a playable RPG?! Not many! And soon I'm one of them!

Cover for the PRG-book, planed to be released
in Swedish in the Spring of 2017.
In the middle of the month, I was invited by my friend Daniele Rudoni to do a livestream as part of Indieversus "Meet the artist"-event. Other great artists like JP Ahonen and Sam Chapman has been featured on their livestream webinar, so I felt very honored to get to be part of this! Basically I was drawing a digital painting and replying to questions for 2-3 hours, and it is all online for you to watch, in English, at their site. Go check it out and also see what other events they'll have!

I started the month with turning 30! Yay, now I'm officially "an old lady", haha. Just kidding.

In July, most of my time went to drawing storyboards for my Mermaid Minna water color manga for Raben & Sjögren, while writing down lore about the world in Sword Princess Amaltea, for the RPG book. Writing is actually kinda fun. I wouldn't mind writing a book one day. You know, one of those without pictures in it... Ok, maybe some pictures. I can't help myself, haha.

During all this, I also had two week-long manga courses at two different cultural houses. It was so much fun to get to teach young kids for more than a short 2 hours event. The week-long courses let's you get to know each other, and we even got time to make a fanzine together. They were so diligent and productive!

Oh, and I sew pen cases with Amaltea on! All by hand!

I wanted some new merch for the upcoming NärCon Summer in Linköping on the 28-31st of July
This is the biggest manga convention in Sweden with about 8000 visitors, and one of our regular events of the year. We held a well attended manga drawing workshop (all seats were full!) and finihed it off by announcing out next project; a "How to draw manga"-book in Swedish. It was 10 years since there last was such a book being printed in Swedish, and we also want to make ours fresh and new and more body and gender positive. We asked the participants what they wished to have in the book and got some great tips.

We also held our super popular event "Free Chibi Portrait" and I got to make a couple of cute portraits of coplayers!

A photo posted by Natalia Batista, mangaka (@nataliasmanga) on

In August, I finally made another video for my youtube channel. I seriously need to give it more time, since it is actually the one of my social media accounts that has the most followers, haha...
I'll try! I promise!

I made a little mini project for a card game developer I met at GothCon in April, some illustrations for his pitch of the game to a bigger developer. We'll see if it pans out to something, would be cool to get to make illustrations for card and board games one day, since I'm a total board game nerd, haha.

Except for that, and some illustrations for the RPG-book, most of my summer went for resting, and resting... and well, more resting, of what I gan recall. So you know, all that about "not enough time" is truly Bad Excuses. Haha...

Oh, right! Summer vacation was over at the Comic Art School, so I went back to work.

So I went on vacation! To my father's new (and old) home: Portugal. He moved to Sweden when he was only 25 y o or so, and now that he's 67 and finally retired, he's moving back. So I helped him go look at surely over 10 different houses in pursuit of The Right One. And in the end, after some looking, we found it! Sadly, he changed his mind when I had returned home, but he's happy with the new one he chose and that's all that counts.

At home again I trvelled to the biggest book fair in all of the Nordic countries; the Gotheburg Book Fair on the 22th-25th of September. There I not only signed countless of Amaltea books, but also took the stage a couple of times at the booth of the Swedish Comic's Assocciation (Seriefrämjandet). One of the  times was to interview the Brazilian comic artist Bianca Pinheiro, invited by the Brazilian Embassy. Such a fun and nice person she is! I found a new friend in her and after the intevew we had time to go around and talk about the comic markets and politics and all kinds of stuff. I'm so glad I got the honorable task to interview her!

No, it's Inktober! I repeated last year's popular event by making a small inked illustration ever day on my instagram and give it away to the first comment on the pic. A really fun event with several of my follower keeping a close eye on my account all days long, haha. I'm so sorry for making your eyes hurt, my friends!

This one was one of my favs, which I also made a youtube video of while making it:

In the end of October and beginning of November, I went with my boyfriend Emil to Italy for the first time in my life, and this was no ordinary vacation. We went to the famous Lucca Comics & Games in Lucca, Italy, on the 28th of October to the 1st of November, the biggest popcultural event in all of Europe, I think, with over 250 000 visitors!

I had wanted to go there for some time now, especially because I have gained so many Italian online friend thanks to the publishing of my Sword Princess Amaltea in the Italian manga web magazine Doraetos Manga (since 2014). I got to meet many of them, and talk about both work, life, tools, the future of manga and all kinds of interesting stuff. I made a loooong report from the festival itself here at the blog, so you can go check it out so see more photos from this amazing event. 

I feel every time I go on an international trip to an event like this, I get an extrem boost of energy to make more comics, and after a very tired and somewhat depressing Spring and Summer with my manga page count on an all time low, I felt this trip really made me re-focus and gain some energy back!

Both November and December mostly went to working on Nosebleed Studio's "How to draw manga"-book. This will be a really good one, we feel, since we once were in the shoes of our potential readers and now can make the "how to"-book of our dreams, with all that which we wished for as young aspiring artists.
Here's a couple of the illustrations I've made for the book:

Also some planning of my short story manga for our next antology. It will be out in Summer of 2017 (we pushed it a little to get enough time to make it good!) and will have the theme of Swedish history. I'm planing on taking on a very interesting part of this country's history, namely the Emigration century in the 1800s. I have put maybe 40-50 hours of reseach into this story, probably the most research I've ever done for a short story manga, but I really want to make it authentic and real. I'll make a longer blog entry about it soon, and also start updating my instagram with pics from it. So don't forget to follow my instagram to see sneak peeks from the process.

All throught the year, I also kept publishing my manga Sword Princess Amaltea online at it's own homepage. Once a week with only a few delays or missed weeks. But I don't know how many reads it, and how well it is spreading... I wanted to track how many visits the site, and preferably have some advertisement on it, but right when I made the site EU changed the laws and now all homepages who wants to track the user's activity (which Google Ads and other advertisement sites wants to do if you use them) then you have to ask for permission from the user first. That's why we see this annoying bar on top of every site nowadays. Good for privacy, though! But because of lack of time and effort, I havn't managed to make it work on my site. Bad excuse no. 3.  

Well, that was pretty much all of my 2016. A year of... planning? Yes. A lot of planning. Sketching storyboards, researching, writing and so on... This might sound like another Bad Excuse, but I hope you understand. Some years have to be like this. But if everything goes according to keikaku (keikaku = plan in Japanese) I will have not one, not two, not three but FOUR books out next year! Nosebleed Studio's "How to"-book and the Sword Princess RPG-book in the Spring, while the Mermaid Minna book and Nosebleed Studio's Swedish History Anthology in the Fall. That will be epic! I look forward to holding them all in my hands, cradeling them like small babies... lol

Okay, so even if this year was a Bad Excuse year, with lot of resting and not as much manga making as I'm used to, the whole year still feels like a small step forward. Or a big one, in some ways. I need to be proud, and I think I am. 

Thank you so much for reading!