Potaru

Potaru

As everyone knows, I am a big fan of Japanese comic books, or manga, as they're called. I have a modest collection and spend hours reading and rereading my favorite series. When I was a child it was my greatest ambition to join the ranks of the great artists who put together the magical worlds that adorned their pages. I remember I even used my advanced knowledge of the, then somewhat obscure, medium to dazzle my high school admissions board. They were particularly impressed by my ability to wrap my head around the backwards format of the Japanese books, which are read right to left. But as a teenager I learned that writing was where my true talent and passion lay. So I set aside my plans for manga fame and began my journey down another path. 

However, I never entirely forgot my childhood dream. Years later, while over whelmed by a large workload, and needing a creative outlet that was whimsical and fun, I revisited it. I decided that the perfect project would be drawing a manga styled graphic novel. I bounced around a couple of ideas, but finally settled on one I had had a few years back, while working in a bakery/cafe. About a year later, I had finished the first volume of my fantasy graphic novel, Potaru. 

Potaru one and two JPEG.jpg

Potaru focuses on Kenshin Takahashi, a boy who has just graduated high school and is on the verge of his adult life. That is, until he is informed by his parents that, in order to have a baby, they had signed a magical contract with a witch. Under its conditions, Kenshin must work for the witch in her "Spirit Cafe" Potaru, for all eternity. There is a loophole however, if he can discover the witch's "greatest secret" he will be released from the contract. In the meantime, Kenshin must navigate the strange world of Potaru, not to mention his coworkers, an assortment of spirits. As the grunt boy, he's beholden to them all, from the four armed head cook to the cyclops baker. Managing the cafe is Rumiko, a cat spirit with a temper, who runs the cafe with an iron fist. But there's more to Rumiko than her fierce management style, as Kenshin will learn. 

After launching Potaru, I was delighted with myself, feeling like the ten-year-old-me was vindicated. I decided that for the next volume I would work even harder, giving a more professional finish to the artwork. This was a good idea in theory, but after three and a half years had passed and I had only managed to get six pages done (and I wasn't at all satisfied by them), I had to revaluate. The trouble was, that I am still not a graphic novel artist by trade, and I still don't intend to be. I'm a writer and I have a million things to do that revolve around that (this blog for example). Deciding to sharpen up the artwork was one thing, having the time and energy to devote myself to that goal was another. 

One morning, I was bemoaning this fact to my sister, saying that I didn't think I'd ever get around to finishing the series. It was particularly frustrating because I had notebooks full of the rough sketches for the next couple volumes. Drawing these rough sketches was one of my favorite relaxing activities and I didn't want to waste the wonderful material. My sister is very good at getting to the rout of problems, and once again she put her finger right on the key point. "You started doing this for fun," she said. Of course, I had lost sight of that in my intent to polish the style to an unrealistic level.

"If you like doing the rough sketches so much, just do the next volume in the same loose style."Sometimes I think that without my sister's direction I would be like Sisyphus. The next day I scrapped my six polished pages and sat down with a sketch pad and a ball point pen. Several hours later I had replaced those six pages with easy, fun, and satisfying artwork. I didn't even bother to use a ruler for drawing my panels. And do you know what? it was so much better. The life of my art was back in it and I had found the joy again. In just four short months I had completed Potaru: Volume Two.

Potaru Vol 1 pg 1.jpg

When I started drawing Volume One I was drawing on watercolor paper, first with pencil, and then with a quill and india ink. It was labor intensive and by the end of the volume I had switched to sketch paper and Micron pens, the same pens I use for my paintings. The results were more or less the same, but the process was far easier. 

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For Volume Two I started with sketch paper and continued right on that vein. As for pens, I used a Pilot Premium Gell Roller, or rather several, since I ran quite a few dry. I didn't bother with pencils or rulers, embracing the freehand style and look. And I must say, I like the results much better. 

So, plenty of people have read and loved Volume One, and have been waiting patiently for Volume Two. Well, the wait is over. Volume Two will be officially available to order right now.  If you need to catch up with Volume One, it's also available.

Potaru Volume One
14.00

Potaru

Story and Art by Kipp Sienna Hopkins

On the eve of his eighteenth birth, Kenshin Takahashi discovers that he is the product of a deal made with witch. There is a binding magical contract, and now Kenshin is forced to work in the witch's sport cafe as a grunt boy. His only hope is to discover the witch's deepest secret, nulling the contract. But in mean time he has to navigate monster, demons, spirits, and his cranky co-workers. 

Story and artwork by Kipp Sienna Hopkins, Potaru is full of adventure, disaster, humor, and unforgettable characters. 

Shipped to you in 3-4 business days.

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Potaru Volume Two
14.00

Potaru

Story and Art by Kipp Sienna Hopkins

Kenshin Takahashi is back with more mishaps and fun. Working with a group of spirits is one thing, living with them is another. As for starting a legal battle with a witch, well, that’s just foolhardy. Still, this doesn’t stop Kenshin. Meanwhile, an unwelcome remnant of his past finds their way back to him. 

The new installment to Kenshin’s adventure is just as hilarious as the first.

Shipped to you in 3-4 business days.

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The best thing about my new artwork style and philosophy is that it won't take four years for the next volume. I already have it down as rough sketches, so I anticipate it being available in the Spring of 2017!