Every year, in the countdown to the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, in partnership with downthetubes, we bring you a series of interviews with guests at the event. Over 70 are attending in 2018 in October (and that’s not including creators you’ll find in the Comics Clock Tower).
This Festival Focus for 2018 is Mikiko, a London based German-Japanese artist working in Comics, Manga, Game Art, TV, teaching and illustration.
She began her career in Germany, where she went into publishing straight out of school. Since 2011, she has been working with Tokyopop Germany, releasing five books in total. Her most well known manga, Crash ‘n’ Burn, has won the prestigious Max und Moritz Preis award in 2016.
Over the years she’s been featured on various TV shows, such as J-mag (as a presenter) and Tigerentenclub, a German children’s show, which runs on national television.
Today, she’s mainly known for her work online, especially her slice-of-life webcomic, Miki’s Mini Comics, which has gained her a huge online following and attracted 3.6 million clicks on her online gallery over the years. In 2017, she kickstarted the project as a printed book, with huge success.
What are you working on, comics-wise, right now, and when will it be published?
Mikiko: I'm working on an English edition of my boys-love manga called Crash 'n'Burn, which was published in 2011 in Germany with Tokyopop. This time, it will be self-published!
Which comic project you've worked on are you most proud of and where can people see it or buy it?
Mikiko: My mini comics are currently my favourite project, because it is all ages and seems to connect the most with people. It is available in my online shop!
How do you plan your day as a creator? (Do you plan your day?)
Mikiko: Usually my day starts at 9, I do yoga (gotta stay fit), get ready, and am at my desk at 10. First I do paperwork, emails, all the boring things, then after that, I listen to podcasts while working on art.
At 6pm my workday ends, and I spend my free time playing games and relaxing. Sometimes I draw personal things, but I like keeping art separate from my time off so I don't burn out.
What's the best thing about being a comics creator?
Mikiko: Seeing the finished product and holding it in my hand!
And the worst?
Mikiko: Negotiating pay. :(
What most distracts you from getting your work done?
Mikiko: The internet....!
Do you think it's easier or harder for young comic creators to get published today?
Mikiko: Self-publishing certainly has become super easy and cheap, it's almost exclusively what I do now.
I'm afraid I don't know much about the situation for young comic creators with publishers. My experience is mainly in the German industry, where it's fairly easy, if you are at a good skill level.
Have you ever been to the Lake District before and if so what did you think of it? If you haven't, what are you expecting?
Mikiko: I have! Last year I attended LICAF for the first time, but unfortunately I did not see much aside from Kendal itself... I hope I can see more of the landscape this time around.
Which one comic creator would you most like to meet, and why?
Mikiko: Ken Niimura! As a fellow half Japanese, I imagine we might have a thing or two in common. :)
How do Festivals and other comics events help creators most, do you think?
Mikiko: It helps me personally to gauge reactions to new material, get friendly feedback, and also give something back to my fan base. They have been supporting me for many years with fan art, kind words and comments, and it's a great motivator in between harsh deadlines that reminds me why I keep doing it.
For new creators, it's crucial to learn all sorts of things from fellow authors and artists! Nothing beats asking someone with experience directly and getting practical advice and encouragement.
What one piece of advice do you offer people looking to work in the comics industry?
Mikiko: I hope you like cup noodles!
What's your favourite comic right now and where can people get it?
Mikiko: Dungeon Meshi (English title: Delicious in Dungeon) by Ryoko Kui. It's a story about a group of adventurers in a dungeon trying to save one of their own from the belly of a dragon, whilst running out of funds for food. They then proceed to cook the monsters they slay to survive and continue on their quest. The English edition is published by Yen Press.
Mikiko, thank you very much for your time and thoughts on creating comics. We look forward to seeing you in Kendal in October!
Interview questions by John Freeman