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The Outcast: Edward Gan's Artistic Secrets Revealed!

by Shannon Fay

The eagerly anticipated supernatural manga The Outcast is now online, updating every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Learn more about this mysterious series from Edward Gan, artist of The Outcast!

Thanks for doing this interview. What's it been like working on The Outcast so far?

EG: Working on The Outcast hasn't been easy. This is really the first 150-page manga I've done, and the longest I've done before this is only a 10-page short story. I don't practice doing sequential art very often, so it was really hard for me at first. But I got used to it after some time and Jason's help.

A lot of the things in The Outcast need a little research, the subject, relics, gothic buildings, and especially New York City itself. The story takes place in New York City, but I've never been there myself, except looking at it from movies and magazine. So I really had to do a lot of research on it.

Aside from New York, what other kind of research have you done for the manga? Do you ever spend as much time researching the settings as drawing them?

EG: A lot! I tend to look up anything that I feel I might need for reference when I'm doing the pages, I'll either google it, or look at some movies, books or even games. So far, mostly I've needed references for New York buildings, apartments, some gothic structure, and cathedrals.

If it's something that I need reference for, it definitely means more time when drawing it, as I do try to get it as accurate as possible.

It's surprising that this is your first full-length manga, since the pages on Gomanga look really good. Why did you decide to become a manga artist? And what are some of the things you learned the process?

EG: I was an animator and pixel-game artist before I began working with Seven Seas. I wasn't too satisfied with what I was doing back then, and always wanted to try something new, but still related to art and drawing. It was funny, the first time Jason contacted me was way back in 2004 via DeviantArt. I think that was when Seven Seas was just getting started and he sounded suspicious at the time, ha ha! I was under contract at some other animation studio I was working for, so I didn't accept the offer. It wasn't until the end of 2005 when I was introduced to Hai by my former boss, Sherman. And through Hai, I was re-introduced to Jason once again. Neither of us realized we had spoken before until Jason mention my art looked familiar, and that's when it clicked, ha ha!

Though this is the first sequential art I've done, having worked in the animation industry doing storyboard and background design, it wasn't too hard to accommodate myself with the changes. It's more of the technical and paneling I've learned, but I do spend too much time thinking about paneling. And I wanted to try inking my work, but Jason likes my pencils, so we've done The Outcast as a mix of the two.

Is drawing The Outcast your full-time job now?

EG: Yes, it is.

What do you like to do when you're not drawing the series?

EG: I've been working on some personal projects with my friends getting works prepared for some local comic conventions towards the end of this year. But I do tend to go out and catch some latest movies at the cinema, watch anime, read some manga, go online or just play my PlayStation 2.

What are some of your favorite anime and manga? Are there any that had a direct influence on your art?

EG: I don't have a favorite anime. I watch any anime that interest me, and have good animation. I love anything from Studio Ghibli, Production I.G. and Gainax. I enjoy more OVAs rather than long series as well, and never really like anime that was derived from manga. I like it better when I read them in manga. Currently, I'm enjoying Keroro Gunso in both its manga and anime forms, though. I like how the anime is true to the original manga series, and it's just hilarious! I also can't wait to watch Oban Star-Racer--a French production series, but done with a very anime-esque look.

As for manga, I really enjoy the work by Shiina Takashi, who did the manga series Ghost Sweeper Mikami. In fact, his style had a direct influence on me when I first started drawing, and I think my drawings still have a slight resemblance on his style even now. Sailor Moon, Ah! my goddess and Clamp's works also had a direct influence on me years back. I also enjoy work by Aki Shimizu (Genso Suikoden 3), Kenichi Muraeda (RED), and Mine Yoshizaki (Keroro Gunso). Believe me, there's a whole lot more.

Have you ever worked on a gothic story like The Outcast before? What kind of genres do you like to work in?

EG: The Outcast is really something new to me. I've never done anything dark and gothic like this. It was really challenging but fun at the same time. I like to work on fantasy and adventure stories with lots of action and fighting, so I can go crazy with the designs. I also like anything with monsters, dragons and angels. I guess The Outcast falls into a bit of that fantasy category as well since it has relics and angels.

They say the set of a horror movie is often tense, even when not shooting scary scenes. Do you ever get creeped out when drawing the more supernatural parts of The Outcast?

EG: Ha ha! No, not really. The Outcast is not exactly a horror manga, it's more of a supernatural, mystery and suspense type of story, a story that makes you wonder what's going on, who did it, and why. But it still have some comedic scenes... especially when Junior, an energetic young boy, is around.

I don't really get creeped out when I draw the supernatural parts. I only get creeped out by things that eyes can't see, ha ha, and Outcast is not really that. But I do try to imagine myself in the environment so that I feel what the characters feel. You'd often see me frowning or twitching my eyebrows when I'm drawing on my table, ha ha.

How do you and writer Vaun Wilmott work together to create The Outcast? What goes into the making of a manga?

EG: The script by Vaun Wilmott is great. It was done like a movie script and I can easily picture how the shot looks like while reading it. Vaun is the pro at storytelling. When I draw The Outcast, I try to keep it as close as I can to the script. By keeping with the mood that Vaun wants to convey, it's easy to visualize it all on papers.

A lot of character sketches were done before I started working on the manga, of course. Riley was especially hard. Dhe has to look conservative, pretty and mysterious all at the same time. She's a character with lots of secret for readers to unlock.

I'll usually start thumbnailing out the pages first, then I'll rough it out lightly on an A4-sized piece of paper. When I'm happy with it, I'll outline it and clean up the rough with pencils. I skip the inking process though.

How do you like being a manga-ka so far? Do you think you'll keep drawing manga even after The Outcast is complete?

EG: I'm definitely having lots of fun being a manga-ka. Manga was something that really made me start drawing when I'm young, and I've been wanting to do this for a long time. It's been great! I'll definitely keep drawing manga even after The Outcast, if not for Seven Seas, it'll be for myself.

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