If you follow me on Twitter, then you already knew what I was going to be drawing today. You also could probably guess if you looked at the list I posted on the first day of all the challenge prompts. If you know me at all, and have discussed animation with me, then Akira is probably going to be coming up in the conversation.
I discovered the Akira graphic novels when I was in 4th grade, just after Dark Horse had begun their collected black & white printings. I was probably (definitely) too young to be reading something that intense, but I did it anyway, and after book 1 I was completely hooked. They had only printed the first two books at that point, and it took until 2002 for them all to be released. I eagerly awaited each one’s arrival, and sat and devoured them at Barnes and Noble since I couldn’t afford them at $30 a pop when I was 9 years old (12 by the time the series ended). It wasn’t until I was a freshman in high school that I was able to get my hands on the film (nobody I knew owned it and I wasn’t about to download it on a dialup connection) and the film redefined my cartoon experience. Akira got me into comic books, and the film made me seriously consider a career in animation. And here I am. Katsuhiro Otomo’s brilliant, tour-de-force masterpiece influenced so much of my art and childhood it’s insane. His perfectionist approach to draftsmanship, architectural and mechanical design, the works, I wanted to be like him in every way. I’m still a long way from approaching his level of storytelling wizardry, but I’m constantly trying to improve. Akira is my bar, and it’s set impossibly high. A hand-animated film that still continues to blow other animated films out of the water two decades after it’s release is a hard act to follow.
I’m not that big into fan art, I did a lot of it up until high school while I was still trying to learn and develop my own style, but I do very little of it these days. Akira is my one guilty weakness. I’ve never been able to find Otomo’s style of drawing people in my own work, my characters tend to take on the more stylized approach of Yasuhiro Nightow, but I think this might be one of my closer attempts. I also realized halfway through that I’ve never drawn Tetsuo before in my life. I think he turned out okay, considering he looks more like one of my characters than Otomo’s.
For the record, I didn’t draw the background. In my efforts to do these in respectable amounts of time, I made the call to use the two-page spread art from the beginning of book three. I ‘shooped it a bit so it meshed with my style a little more, but I simply didn’t have time to do a background in addition to doing the characters as highly-detailed as I wanted.