(A/N: Originally published on MCM Buzz)
Interview with Christopher Chong
To lead up to the London MCM Expo at the beginning of May, MCM Buzz is pleased to present an exclusive manga, written and illustrated by Christopher Chong. The manga follows the story of the lively Chloe, as she prepares herself for her first trip to the London MCM Expo, with a few troubles along the way. I was given the fortunate opportunity to interview Christopher Chong before his debut this week…
Jennifer Brundle: So how do you feel about the weekly serialisation of your manga?
Christopher Chong: Wow, I’m super excited! There couldn’t be a better situation really because I actually came to the decision to definitely create a manga at last year’s London MCM Expo in October. After seeing the 80 or so tables of comic artists at the Comic Village, I felt as though I knew exactly what I had to do.
JB: Was last year’s London MCM Expo your first one?
CC: Yep! So the experience of the Expo being brand new and exciting is still fresh in my mind.
JB: In your manga, Chloe is very keen on cosplaying. So I must ask: when you went to the Expo in October, did you cosplay?
CC: Actually, even though I’ve seen a lot of cosplay online, I didn’t dress up myself. That said people still wanted to take pictures of me for some reason. I wonder if maybe I naturally look like an anime character…?
JB: If so, then you’re quite lucky! Did the whole experience you had at the Expo inspire you for this particular manga?
CC: Oh absolutely, yes. I’m sure that everyone’s experience at the Expo is different, but I once I’d been there myself, I got this idea that there’s more to Expo than just movies and comics. It’s a place that turns common interests into something that means a lot to people socially; and I think that’s at the heart of the event.
JB: And have you incorporated this into the manga?
CC: For sure! After seeing how active people are before and after the expo itself got me thinking that I’d really like to make something that goes along with that. Making a costume takes a lot of effort and gets people excited about the few days that they get to wear it, so I wanted this manga to fit in with that atmosphere. It’s something to read and get you charged up before the Expo, on the weeks running up to it.
JB: Is that what made you want to work with MCM Buzz?
CC: Yeah, in fact I only contacted the editor because I felt like being a part of the writing team!
JB: I saw that you studied the art of anime animation in Japan. How has this helped you develop this manga for MCM Buzz?
CC: It has helped immensely. At the Expo last year I heard some professionals saying that manga is ‘just a style of art’ but I think it’s deeper than that: it’s an entire section of pop culture in Japan, and manga has very specific ways of telling a story from page to page. My sensei in Japan is a professional serialised mangaka, and he taught me how to use popular understanding to help the Manga tell its story. It’s something that younger generations over here in the UK understand really well, because they’re growing up with manga all over the place.
JB: It sounds like you’ve had some great advice already! Which manga and animes have influenced your work?
CC: Oh where do I begin?! When Toonami first started in America I was watching Robotech, Dragonball Z, Gundam Wing and Sailor Moon. More recently everything by KyoAni (Kyoto Animation) – Clannad, Haruhi, K-on! Code Geass, Mai Hime/Otome by Sunrise. All the Ghibli films – Nausicaa and Kiki’s Delivery Service. In terms of Manga I’m a huge fan of Gunsmith Cats, One Piece, Naruto and Soul Eater. I also love the less action heavy stuff like Solanin and Nazo No Kanojo X.
JB: All of those manga styles are considerably different. What would you say your manga style is similar to?
CC: That’s a tough one! They’re all masters, so I’d be honoured if I were similar to any of them. Maybe if you melted all those influences together put on a pair of kitty ears?
JB: Minus the ‘kitty-ears’, sum up your manga in three words.
CC: Passion, Friendship, HADOUKEN!
JB: And finally, do you think you will write and draw for MCM Buzz in the future?
CC: I’d like that a lot! Even if only to see what happens to Chloe next…
Chloe’s adventure begins on Friday 15th April 2011 on MCM Buzz, and will be released every Friday for the next six weeks.