SAIC manga artist likes walking on the dark side
By Anne Weber
First-year SAIC student Hu Jingxuan, 20, has published a graphic novel and had a short manga— Japanese graphic art—included in the anthology, “Sin City” and is working on a story for “Sin City 2.”
Hu picked “Alice” as her English name because it is “cute and sweet” but her gothic romance graphic novel, “Lament,” published in 2009, reveals another side. Her favorite page (75) of “Lament” shows a skeleton in a coffin, who “almost feels sorry” for his prey. She loves fantasy stories about transformations and demons.
“I love doing mythical stories, and sunny stories with dark sides in them,” she said. When Hu was younger, she wanted to buy costumes representing dark sides characters typically sold in Singapore. Her mother wouldn’t let her buy them.
Hu’s online art gallery, pinkjellyo.deviantart.com, has had more than 82,000 page views. One online reviewer, Anja Weiser Flower, whose website is www.skritchmeee.deviant.art.com, reviewed Jingxuan’s art as being “gorgeously morbid manga in her home country of Singapore… Much of her work falls into the yaoi genre, yet it never takes on the predictable, glittery blandness that the work of starry-eyed yaoi fangirls can tend to have.” Yaoi is manga intended for women and teenage girls to read, typically they have illustrations of relationships between men. Xuan likes to consider her style to be visual kei, which is comparable to Western goth.
After “Lament” was published, Image Comics published Hu’s story “Harpy Lullaby” in an anthology called “Liquid City.” “Harpy Lullaby” is about the relationship between humans and harpies. “Liquid City” can be ordered online through Amazon.com, or found in comic book stores. The story Hu is writing and illustrating a story set in Chicago for “Liquid City 2.”
Two years ago, Hu won an $8,000 grant in a competition to publish a graphic novel. Singapore Media Development Authority and First Time Writer and Publishers Initiative held a competition for local talent and Hu, a Singapore high school student at the time, was one of nine local talents chosen from a pitch she sent them. “I was really ambitious when I was younger,” she explained.
The grant to publish Hu’s work included an editor to support her process. She took two years to make “lots of drafts, lots of edits, lots of revisions,” and created more than two hundred pages for the final one hundred and fifty-page final product. “Inking the pages doesn’t take long, thinking up concepts is time consuming,” Hu said. She was finishing high school while working on “Lament.” Juggling all the demands on her time was stressful. Only one of the nine other competition winners did not publish her book.
Hu sold six of her books at the Holiday Art Sale in November 2009. Her contract forbids her to say how many books she has sold since publication.
Though many dream of becoming manga artists, Hu says that only one in 10,000 succeeds at having their own manga studio. The manga career is a demanding one, which usually requires years working as an unpaid assistant, before an artist can own their own manga studio and have assistants.
Today, Hu is happy to just explore different medium while she studies at SAIC without the pressure of producing twenty pages of drawings each week.
Hu’s book “Lament” is marketed by an Australian distributor with the following book description: “Like the aftermath of apocalypse, angels stripped of their voices and heaven laid waste…Below, lost souls of the underworld grow restless… their murmurs, once silent, now overwhelm the senses with their deafening cries.”
Hu Jingxuan’s books are available for purchase at: http://www.isubscribe.com.au/cat_srch.cfm?catID=47 .
“Lament” can also be ordered from Hu’s distributor, firstname.lastname@example.org, who will send copies from Singapore.