Interview with Laurianne Uy, Creator of Polterguys

Laurianne Uy is the creator of Polterguys, a new graphic novel series with one shy girl and a bunch of hot ghosts.  Laurianne dropped by the virtual offices to chat about Polterguys, and about her road to getting her project published.  Check out what she has to say!

[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Laurianne Uy] Someone who enjoys writing and creating fun, compelling stories Likes visual art analysis and bubble milk tea. Internet junkie. XD

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about Polterguys?

[Laurianne Uy] Sure, it’s the story of Bree — a smart but socially awkward college girl who moves into a house that’s haunted by five cute guys. She’s the only one who can see these ghosts so she has to help them resolve their unfinished business. From someone who’s uncomfortable hanging around boys, Bree suddenly has to live with a bunch of dead ones!

The series is informed by my love of ghost stories, reverse-harem manga and TV shows with awesome girls as lead characters. Some of my favorite movies from the ‘90s were Ghost, Heart & Souls and The Frighteners and I was always drawn to them for the dramatic storylines. But I always wanted to see one with a young girl in the spotlight (Why should guys have all the ghostly fun? XD)

Fruits Basket and Ouran are among my favorite anime/manga because they are incredibly entertaining with just the right amount of bittersweet-ness to them. Both series don’t have the “save-the-world” kind of arcs but their conflicts always felt so personal and intimate. The characters’ struggles were much more relatable that way and for Polterguys, I wanted familiar kinds of problems, too.

And finally, I can’t say enough how empowering shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Veronica Mars are for me as a viewer. Watching these tough girls take on bad guys, saving their friends and just kick ass inspires me to do the same (er…narratively, of course.) I like the idea that stories could inspire young women to be their own heroes in their daily lives. My favorite writers do that for me and this is me trying to pay it forward.

[Manga Maniac Café] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Laurianne Uy] Out of nowhere, I was having breakfast one morning and an idea just came to me- "Ghost harem." Somehow, my mind connected ghosts from shonen manga like Bleach and Yu Yu Hakusho to the reverse-harem shojo trope in Fruits Basket and Ouran. I usually didn’t have strong conceptual ideas like this so I knew this was special. But I did struggle to flesh out the world. My first drafts were pretty depressing and the main character was not very relatable or sympathetic. 

Then, I moved the setting from high school to the university and suddenly, the drafts were getting stronger. It was about this girl and figuring out who she was on her own. Full disclosure, I was pulling from my experiences studying at Berkeley for college after growing up in the Philippines most of my life. I felt like a blank slate coming here and that was fueling my writing much more so than if I had a younger protagonist.

Bree is the survivor out of all the protagonists we tried placing in this unique situation and I’m relieved people have liked her (so far, haha!) As for the ghosts, I retrieved all my mental files on reverse-harem stories I’ve enjoyed and devoured in the past. The boys had to somehow clue you into that reverse-harem trope but also function as believable characters in this world. So I had a football jock as the gentle giant, the kid who’s smarter than a whip and goes to a private school, identical twins with different tastes in fashion, and a cute kid in pajamas. 

[Manga Maniac Café] What three words best describe Bree?

[Laurianne Uy] Driven. Nerdy. Lonely.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are three things Bree would never have in her bedroom?

[Laurianne Uy] Frilly skirts, sports gear and green lipstick.  

[Manga Maniac Café] Why did you decide to use Kickstarter to fund this project?

[Laurianne Uy] I’ve seen Womanthology do pretty well on Kickstarter and have heard of other webcomic artists get their projects funded the same way. But to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure I could successfully raise enough money for the project. It wasn’t a question of whether the project itself was good because we had all the confidence in it. Nathan and I talked it over and we decided we didn’t have much to lose by trying. Kickstarter does streamline the rewards and pre-ordering process and there seems to be a great community of backers already comfortable with being a patron of the arts.   

[Manga Maniac Café] What’s the first word that came to your mind when you reached your campaign goal?

[Laurianne Uy] "MA~~!" (In my head, that sounded exactly like Fran Drescher.) I think my mom and my sister backed us that night when we were this close to getting funded. Haha, it would have been cool if strangers did it for us but they must have wanted the honor (and gotten a bit impatient).

[Manga Maniac Café] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Laurianne Uy] Oh, that’s a good one. Let’s see. The Disney golden years (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin), Friday night cartoons (Spider-Man, X-men and Batman the Animated Series) because I was banned from watching TV on weekdays , CLAMP manga, Joss Whedon’s writing. It’s kind of all over the place, isn’t it? 

[Manga Maniac Café] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Laurianne Uy] A comfy booth (because Nathan and I usually solve story problems in coffee shops so we’re not tempted to get up and check e-mail), paper for recording those sessions, and of course, Microsoft Word.

[Manga Maniac Café] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Laurianne Uy]  The Fault in our Stars. It’s not a comic but the writing and the characters are just so brutally honest. It destroyed me but I loved it so much for doing that. I have this weakness for stories about mortality and dying. It doesn’t matter if it’s a movie, TV show or comic, I will cry my eyes out if I care about a character, they know they don’t have much time left and they’re struggling with that burden. Nathan makes fun of me for it because I’m so predictable now. He eyes me from the side and prepares the tissue box. 

[Manga Maniac Café] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Laurianne Uy] I can’t remember if I picked this up myself or if it was given to me but the first book I remember owning was Nancy Drew: The Quest of the Missing Map. I must’ve not cared about continuity (Vol. 19? It’s okay!) or the garishly pink cover because there was a map involved! Buried treasure! I loved mysteries and Nancy was a pretty awesome gal. Looking back, she was my proto-Buffy. I was a super shy kid and felt pretty helpless all the time. She could do all these things I couldn’t. My parents forked over a lot of money to the Carolyn Keene estate. 

[Manga Maniac Café] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Laurianne Uy] I draw! I guess I should hand in my artist card if I don’t say that first. Lately, I’ve been challenging myself to draw more complex illustrations and using more copics. It’s hard to experiment with more expensive tools but I do want to get better at them. I also watch a lot of TV drama and try to soak in good writing through osmosis. When I read for fun it’s either the latest Terry Pratchett novel, a graphic novel I picked up from the library or a non-fiction bestseller. 

[Manga Maniac Café] How can readers connect with you?

[Laurianne Uy] I blog every week on my website at Laurbits.com. If you’re not into RSS or bookmarking the site, I also have a monthly newsletter you can sign up for so my updates and posts arrive in your inbox. I’m all over your social networks as Laurbits on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and Deviantart so you can always hang out and catch up with me on there. 

Thank you so much for having me, Julie. 🙂

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

Purchase links coming soon!

[PR] VIZ Media Debuts New Shojo Manga Series JIU JIU

{ED. Wolf shapeshifters? Count me in!}

PRESS RELEASEFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

LEAP INTO THE FANTASY AND ROMANTIC INTRIGUE OF A TEENAGE GIRL’S DEEPENING BOND WITH TWO WOLF SHAPESHIFTERS, IN JIU JIU

High School Gets Complicated For A Girl From A Family of Demon Hunters In A New Shojo Series From VIZ Media

San Francisco, CA, June 19, 2012 – VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), the largest publisher, distributor and licensor of manga and anime in North America, unleashes the demon-hunting romantic fantasy of Touya Tobina’s shojo manga series, JIU JIU, on July 3rd. The new series will be published under the company’s Shojo Beat imprint, is rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens and will carry an MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN.

Born into a family of “Hunters,” Takamichi’s destiny is to pursue and slay demons. When her twin brother is killed, she is saved from despair by a pair of Jiu Jiu – shape-shifting familiars – in the form of two wolf pups named Snow and Night. Now Takamichi is in high school and an active Hunter. Snow and Night can’t wait to attend school in their human form to "protect" her. But are they ready to go off leash…?

“JIU JIU is an intriguing new series that offers a strong combination of romantic drama, supernatural action, and humor centering on the deepening bonds between a girl and two wolf shapeshifters,” says Annette Roman, Editor. “Growing up in a family of demon hunters isn’t easy. Things become more complicated when the pair of cute wolf pups grow up into her bodyguards, learn to shift into (hot!) human form, and decide to follow their mistress to school. Don’t miss this new rhapsody of swords, fangs and romance from Shojo Beat this summer!”

Manga creator Touya Tobina is originally from Tokyo. In 2005, her series, Clean Freak Fully Equipped, won the Grand Prize in the 30th Hakusensha Athena Newcomers Awards. Her series Jiu Jiu originally debuted in Japan as a one-shot manga in the shojo magazine, Hana to Yume.

For more information on JIU JIU, or other shojo manga titles from VIZ Media, please visit ShojoBeat.com.

About VIZ Media, LLC

Headquartered in San Francisco, California, VIZ Media distributes, markets and licenses the best anime and manga titles direct from Japan.  Owned by three of Japan’s largest manga and animation companies, Shueisha Inc., Shogakukan Inc., and Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions, Co., Ltd., VIZ Media has the most extensive library of anime and manga for English speaking audiences in North America, the United Kingdom, Ireland and South Africa. With its popular monthly manga anthology SHONEN JUMP magazine and blockbuster properties like NARUTO, BLEACH and INUYASHA, VIZ Media offers cutting-edge action, romance and family friendly properties for anime, manga, science fiction and fantasy fans of all ages.  VIZ Media properties are available as graphic novels, DVDs, animated television series, feature films, downloadable and streaming video and a variety of consumer products.  Learn more about VIZ Media, anime and manga at www.VIZ.com.

Kitchen Princess Vol 2 by Natsumi Ando Manga Review

Title: Kitchen Princess Vol 2

Manga by:  Natsumi Ando

Story by: Miyuki Kobayashi

Publisher: Del Rey

ISBN:  97810345496591

May Contain Spoilers

My biggest complaint with Kitchen Princess are the cardboard characters.  Najika is the nicest girl around, even when her nasty rival, Akane, verbally abuses her and even resorts to a little face-slapping to make sure everybody knows that she hates Najika.  Akane wants Najika to leave Seika Academy, and who can blame her?  Akane is so mean and petty that Sora and Daichi are quickly drawn to the sweet Najika, leaving Akane gnashing her teeth in solitude. 

Najika is searching for her flan prince, the boy who saved her from drowning when she was a young girl.  Thinking that she’ll find him at Seika Academy, she leaves her comfort zone in Hokkaido and journeys all by herself to Tokyo.  Things aren’t quite the same in bustling Tokyo as they were in Hokkaido, and Najika finds herself ignored and disliked by her classmates.  All because they believe that she isn’t talented enough to attend their school.  I wonder if it’s really worth putting up with all of spoiled and overindulged kids in order to find her flan prince.

Akane hates Najika so much that in this volume, she decides to stop eating, especially anything that was prepared by her rival.  She thinks that she’s too good for Najika’s cuisine, and that in order to win Daichi’s love, she has to be skinnier than anybody else. Plus, she wants to be a supermodel, and everyone knows that they all have eating disorders.  This storyline would have worked better for me if I gave a fig about Akane’s well being.  As it is, she’s such a snot that the thought of her departure from the series made me hope that she never ate again.  I couldn’t care less what happened to her, and I thought Najika was a bit of a sap for continually trying to get her to eat.

Grade: C+

Rated for Teen

Little Queen #1 by Yeon-Joo Kim Manhwa Review

 

 Buy it here

Title:  Little Queen #1

Author:  Yeon-Joo Kim

Publisher:  TOKYOPOP

ISBN:  1598166395

May Contain Spoilers

June is a student at Rohini Royal Academy, where the candidates for the next Queen of Light are trained.  June’s biggest rival is Lucia, and the girls battle over Sejuru, a demon boy, as well as the position of Queen.  If Lucia wasn’t a big enough headache, now the demon king wants Sejuru back!  With all of these distractions, how can an unmotivated student like June get her homework finished?

*Sigh*  This book was so confusing!  It jumped around so much that I was totally lost several times.  It’s a pity, because the art is beautiful.  The character designs are appealing, and the page layouts were interesting and really held my attention. Too bad the story was such a muddled mess!

June found Sejuru wandering on the mountain by her house and took him home.  When she was accepted into the academy, he went with her for his own education.  When the lazy June is in the library attempting to learn the secret criteria that the Queen candidates are judged on, she accidentally activates the sigil of the demon king.  June, along with Sejuru and Yuri, one of the judges, end up releasing the demon king.  Now that he wants Sejuru back, June is determined to become the next Queen, so she can protect him.  I think.

June hates to study, and didn’t have any interest in becoming the next Queen until Sejuru was threatened by the demon king.  She’s loud and obnoxious, but she’s oddly endearing.  When her grandmother tells her to throw Sejuru away, she can’t make herself do it.  When Sejuru is threatened, she’s fearless in her defense of him. 

I’ll probably pick up the next volume because I liked the art so much.  However, if it is as incomprehensible as this one, it will be the last volume of Little Queen that I read.

Grade:  C

Recommended for Teen 13+

To Terra #1 Sneak Peak

I received a sample galley from Vertical of their February 20 release of To Terra #1.  I have been looking forward to getting my hands on this since the license was announced.  It just amazes me that hardly anybody has the balls to release old school shoujo series.  Sure, the art is not quite what the market is used to, but it’s the story the makes or breaks a series. 

I was engrossed from the first page.  I want to know more about the Mu. I want a weeping mouse.  Most of all, I to read the rest of the book! 

My Tuesday tip – pre-order a copy To Terra #1 by Keiko Takemiya!

Nosatsu Junkie #1 by Ryoko Fukuyama Manga Review

 

Buy it here

Title:  Nosatsu Junkie #1

Author:  Ryoko Fukuyama

Publisher:  TOKYOPOP

ISBN:  1598166549

May Contain Spoilers

Naka, rejected by an upper-classman because of her scary smile, curses her family’s genetic failings.  Everyone in her family looks like an ax-murderer when showing their pearly whites.  When the object of her affections confesses that he likes super popular model, Umi, because she smiles like a flower, Naka vows to become a model herself!  If she can learn the secret of Umi’s smile, her picture will be plastered in magazines, and her crush will soon come crawling back to her! 

After failing 19 auditions, she earns the nickname, Longshot.  Even after studying Umi’s every move, Naka still looks like a criminal on the lam when she smiles.  Then fortune smiles at her!  Umi drops her id card, and Naka learns her career threatening secret.  In order to shut her up, Umi gets her a job.  Will Naka ever learn to tame her scary smile?

Though it certainly doesn’t cover any new ground, Nosatsu Junkie was a pleasant read.  Naka’s affliction was amusing; she was constantly confused for a convenience store robber due to her evil smile.  I’m confused why she had to smile, as a quick glance through an Abercrombie catalog reveals page upon page of glowering models posed in a variety of unnatural positions.  Anyhoo…

When Umi drops her id card for Mino Proctology (she’s experiencing some vague problem with her bottom), Naka learns the shocking truth about her.  Umi is really, get ready for this, a guy!  Yes, I think this is the 3rd book about models where someone has to cross dress for whatever screwy reason.  When Umi went to watch his neighbor at her first modeling job, she lost her nerve and ran screaming from the set.  Umi was quickly recruited to take her place, and was an overnight sensation.  Enjoying all of the attention and adoration, he continued with the charade.

As Umi and Naka are thrown together, both on jobs and at auditions, they slowly begin fostering confusing feelings for each other.  Even as Umi bullies her, Naka wants to protect his secret.  When a snide photographer has Umi’s confidence in tatters, Naka wants to protect him from the overly-critical Tsutsumi.  Umi rages with jealousy whenever Naka mentions Tsutsumi’s name.  They seem to bring out the best abilities of the other, despite not being sure if they even like each other.  I am looking forward to watching their tangled relationship sort itself out, and I think they make a really cute couple.

The art is simple, without a lot of background noise.  I like the character designs, and their facial expressions never leave any question as to how they feel. Ryoko Fukuyama’s strength is revealing her characters’ emotions, with just a slight curve of their lips, or the crease of their brows speaking volumes to the reader.

This was a fun first volume, and I’m looking forward to the next. 

Grade: B

Recommended for Teen 13+

Red River #13 by Chie Shinohara Manga Review

Buy it here

Title:  Red River #13

Author:  Chie Shinohara

Publisher:  Viz

ISBN:  142150555x

May Contain Spoilers

Yuri and Kail, separated by war, fight to defend the Hittite empire from the armies that seek to conquer it.  As Yuri strives to repel the invaders from Arzawa with as little bloodshed as possible, she learns the awful truth behind the two-pronged attack.  The scheming Queen Nakia, plotting to see her son seated on the Hittite throne, has cleverly devised a plan to keep Yuri in her clutches.  If she destroys the spring that she used to magically transport Yuri to the past, the girl will never be able to return to her own time.  As Yuri races back to Hattusa to prevent the destruction of her only way home, the morning star appears in the sky.  Will she be able to put a stop to the evil queen’s ambitions?

When this volume arrived at my doorstep, I was intrigued by the little “Explicit Content” label on the cover.  My hopes leapt.  Would Yuri and Kail finally get together?  I mean, we’re going on 13 volumes of poor Kail ending his encounters with his beloved less than fulfilled.  I don’t mean to dash anyone’s expectations, but the two aren’t even in the same country for the entire length of the book!  Rats!  Why is the stupid warning label on the book?  Your guess is as good as mine.

I am really enjoying this series.  As long as I check my disbelief at the door, I don’t even have a problem with Yuri leading one of the armies to defend the empire against Arzawa.  Her plan to bloodlessly capture one of the occupied cities seemed a little far-fetched, but I liked the art so much during the dancing scene that I accepted it after only the briefest hesitation.  Yuri has such pretty jewelry – why doesn’t anyone every cos-play her?  If her skirt wasn’t so ridiculously short, I would consider it myself.

Chie Shinohara cleverly thought of a way to keep her character from returning home.  By destroying the spring, Yuri is stuck in the past.  Since Nakia still wants to sacrifice the girl so her son, Juda, will become king, the villainous queen needs to ensure Yuri doesn’t escape her clutches.  How better to achieve her goal than to cover the spring with a new temple, built as tribute to the new king, Kail?

When Kail hears of the queen’s scheme, he immediately splits his forces and sends part of his army to stop Nakia.  He’s promised Yuri that she’ll return to her home, and he’ll put himself in danger to keep his word.  Too bad for our courageous hero that the conniving Ramses is near-by, and he’ll do anything to possess Yuri…

Cliffhanger warning!  Make sure you volume 14 near at hand, or you are going to be sorry!  

Grade: B

Rated for Older Teen