I read a lot of comics, and watch a lot of movies and series – many of which I feel so inspired by that I want to contribute to it. Drawing fan art is a way for me to learn and improve my skills, and to connect with other fans, which is why I tend to produce quite a lot of it, haha!
Usually my fan comics are very short: just three or four pages, but sometimes I do a little extra. As is my style, they tend to be quite introspective, or focused on mundane experiences and/or peaceful moments in the eventful lives of the characters in question. I love giving them a break.
On this page I will explain a little about my main inspirations and the presented projects. I could talk forever about a few of these comics, but I’ll try to contain myself.
Mushishi is a Japanese comic by Yuki Urushibara set at an ambiguous time in Japan, about a man who (unlike most people) can see supernatural creatures called Mushi. He studies, and helps solve problems caused by these apparitions. For me its quiet and serene, yet eerie atmosphere is a big source of inspiration and.. peace, to be honest.
And that was exactly why I started the below project in the first place: it was an effective way to relax during study breaks in exam times. Mushishi’s main character is in his own quiet way a very social person, but can’t stay in one place for long. Besides that, being affected by a Mushi himself, he physically stands out quite a lot, which also leads to a form of isolation. In this comic he kind of reflects on his solitude with one of my favourite recurring characters.
I finished the story in 2020, but because so much time had passed in the interim my style had changed drastically at that point. So since then I’ve been gradually redrawing the comic to make it a nice whole. Below you can see the first four redrawn pages:
House of Five Leaves
At the moment my absolute favourite manga is House of Five Leaves by Ono Natsume. It’s about a masterless samurai who desperately wants to get back to his original standing, but first needs to overcome some personal hurdles. He is skilled and loyal, but according to his peers, family and other authority figures, this is overshadowed by his reserved and insecure nature. Struggling to earn a living, he readily agrees to be a bodyguard of a man, who in hindsight turns out to be the leader of a kidnapping gang. He gets drawn in by the gang – initially very much against his will, but gradually he starts feeling more at home with, and accepted by these criminals, than with people of his own rank. Most of the gang is haunted by their past, one way or another, and are forced to face the consequences in the period the samurai joins them. Following through on his promise to protect the gang goes without question for him at this point. With his presence and interference the gang becomes like a family, and all of them find some peace and closure. The ending is wonderful, and exactly how I like it, but there is so much room for them to grow, so much trauma to work through. And so that’s what I tend to focus on when I draw fan comics or illustrations for House of Five Leaves. They are little musings on found family and healing (some more light-hearted than others) that usually take place after the original story ends.
Saiyuki is a manga by Kazuya Minekura, based on the 500 year old Chinese novel Journey to the West. It’s about four individuals on a sort of holy mission to stop the rise of a demon king. They have a long road ahead of them, and meet many conflicts and enemies on the way. After almost 25 years it’s still an ongoing story, but because there have been long periods of time between updates for the last couple of years, and thus I keep losing track of the plot in the meantime, it is quite difficult for me to keep up with. Still: while I haven’t read it in years, its characters maintain a special place in my heart, and because of reasons hard to explain, I’ve made it a personal tradition to draw something for them when my birthday approaches. The short comic below is one of the products of said tradition. It’s based on a poem called Voor Zijn Verjaardag (For His Birthday) by Tjitske Jansen, from her poetry collection Het Moest Maar Eens Gaan Sneeuwen (It’s About Time It Snowed). It just suits the relationship of the characters in question very well.