‘Rising star’ creates his own ‘Utopia’
Arriving in the e-mail in-box of your friendly neighborhood columnist recently was a lovely thank-you note from one Chris Won. As those who read my March 5 column might recall, Won is a former Hawaii resident whose manga, "Utopia 13," was named as one of the 24 finalists in Tokyopop's annual "Rising Stars of Manga" competition.
Well, the results are in ... and unfortunately, Won didn't win. Still, making it to the Top 24 in a competition that draws hundreds of entries every year is a significant accomplishment. And for Won, who lives in California, it was a step toward fulfilling his dream of having his own comic book.
Ideas for stories and characters have floated around in his mind since high school, but he didn't know how to go about making his dream a reality. He came upon the "Rising Stars" competition last September, when he and a friend were talking about collaborating on a manga.
When prior commitments kept his friend from helping out, a decision had to be made.
"I didn't know if I had time to do 'RSoM' by myself or the motivation, for that matter," Won said. "But one day something occurred to me: I have the chance to reach a dream I once thought impossible and keep a promise I made. Production was back in full force."
With only a month and a half until the deadline, Won worked six to eight hours on his manga every night, after working all day at his full-time job. His dream, he said, was what kept him going.
The resultwas "Utopia 13," a story Won describes as being about a "tragic paradise" and a young man who makes a promise and has every intention of preserving his dream.
"Very self-reflective of the author, you could say," Won joked.
While voting is complete, a 21-page, one-shot story is still available at www.tokyopop. com/people-choice-voting. php (free tokyopop.com user registration is required to view all the pages). Won said the short story is meant to be more symbolic and does not reflect the overall story of "Utopia 13," which has a much broader scope.
Won plans another "Rising Stars" entry, but for now he plans to finish a project in California, then take some time off to visit Hawaii and Japan.
There's much more that I asked Won -- including his art background, his work on the "Dance Dance Revolution" games for the Xbox and Xbox 360, and his advice to artists on entering the "Rising Stars" competition -- that I don't have the space to cover here. I've asked our talented starbulletin.com webbies to link to more interview excerpts from my column online; please check it out. ...
» Read More: An Interview with Chris Won
Meeting roll call
» Oahu Anime Explorer:
6 to 10 p.m. Saturday. This month, the group will be shifting from its usual meeting place at HMC Academy; visit www.oahuanimeexplorer.com
for site details, as well as the monthly trivia question and anime that will be screened. ...
Cel Shaded, a look at the world of Japanese anime and manga, appears every Monday. Reach Jason S. Yadao