Old copypasta about Arakawa 4

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In ‘The Cow Shed’ With Arakawa

Title art

Fullmetal Alchemist is published in Japan as Hagane no Renkinjutsushi in Monthly Shounen GanGan, on, as the title of the magazine would suggest, a monthly basis. The magazine is one of the largest shounen publications in Japan, measuring almost two inches in width. It began it’s publication in 1991, and is produced by Square Enix. Aimed at a young, male audience (shounen translates to young boy) many of the titles published feature elements popular with this demographic, such as adventure, science fiction, action, and even manga based on popular video games. Titles being published alongside Fullmetal Alchemist include Kingdom Hearts, Tokyo Underground, and Papuwa.¬†

After a certain amount of a series has been published in magazine form, the chapters are collected in books known as tankoubans. Each Fullmetal Alchemist tankouban contains four chapters, and extra short yonkoma and omakes. These are silly gag strips and joke comics that most manga authors don’t included, but Hiromu Arakawa is known to have a silly sense of humor, and often her joke comics are the fans most looked forward to part of the tankouban. She even gives her assistants a chance to showcase their work here, in their own gag pages as well as ’round robin’ yonkoma, which she is particularly fond of, where she and her assistants take turns each drawing one panel of the popular four panel strips. In North America, Fullmetal Alchemist is published in graphic novels identical to the tankouban publications by Viz Media.

The Cow Shed

Arakawa refers to her studio as “The Cow Shed” because, since she has a rather unhealthy obsession with cows, the entire space is decorated with cow print. Even the toilet has a cow hide seat cover! She and her assistants spend most of their time in the work space together, constantly rushing toward deadlines.

Like any good writer, Arakawa does her research, and has the books to prove it. She keeps numerous history text books at hand, as well as mechanical dictionaries, and military hand books that she can reference at a moment’s notice. To help her draw accurately, she keeps models and objects close at hand that will aid her in her attention to detail, such as wrenches and other tools, anatomy books and sculptures, and even real weapons and guns! It is this dedication that is part of why her artwork stands out among so many other stories.

From Concept To Cover

When Fullmetal Alchemist graces the cover of Monthly Shounen GanGan Hiromu Arakawa creates a brand new color image just for the occasion. The process from start to finish goes something like this:

Cover art sketch

1. When creating an image that is going to be on a cover, the negative space is very important, as later on it will eventually be full of captions, titles, advertisements, and other small images. The editor is consulted and shown the preliminary sketches and gives the final word to continue on to the next level.

Cover art clean

2. After being give the go ahead, the image is cleaned up. Using a thick pencil line, the outline is finalized and any stray or unnecessary lines are erased. The original is then photocopied onto thick, heavy paper that will become the colored version.

Cover art colored

3. Finally, the image is brought to life with color. Color choice is very important, and is taken into deep consideration concerning the balance of the image, and what certain colors will bring to it. Arakawa uses a mixture of Liquitex and Copic markers to add the final touches to her artwork.

Cover art complete with graphics

And it is done! Here we have what turned out to be the November, 2003 Monthly Shounen GanGan cover, featuring chapter 28: A Fool’s Courage!

Source: Mobuta

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