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Chilean artist Saikomic wins Tezuka Award, top international honor for manga

I felt nervous sending my work out, and eager to know the verdict. When I attended the ceremony for the Tezuka Award from Shōnen Jump magazine, I recognized famous mangakas [the Japanese word for cartoonist] like the creators of Dragon Ball, Once Piece, and Slam Dunk.

  • 9 months ago
  • September 3, 2023
4 min read
Saikomic grew up drawing manga. After winning the Tezuka Award, his career skyrocketed and he met many of his heroes in the industry. Saikomic grew up drawing manga. After winning the Tezuka Award, his career skyrocketed and he met many of his heroes in the industry. | Photo courtesy of Saikomic and Sergio Vargas
INTERVIEW SUBJECT
Elvis Yonathan Garrido, 26, also known as Saikomic, is a Chilean mangaka who began creating comics at a very young age. He began participating in contests around Chile. In 2020, he won first place in the Tezuka Awards by Shōnen Jump magazine for his manga Armados. Armados is about a teenager who dreams of a life in the style of manga heroes, a wish that is soon fulfilled when he suddenly gets superpowers.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Manga is a Japanese art form that has achieved worldwide recognition. Manga’s unique visual style and its ability to tell stories in an artistically sophisticated way has made it one of the most popular forms of storytelling in the book industry. The Tezuka Award from Shōnen Jump magazine looks for the best and most promising new talents. Traditionally it was given out to Japenese artists but in 2020 the contest expanded internationally.

SANTIAGO, Chile — When they announced my name as the first-place winner of the Tezuka Award from Shōnen Jump magazine, I stood in disbelief. [Traditionally given only in Japan, in 2020 on their 100th anniversary, the competition was expanded internationally to recognize the best emerging manga artists around the world.]

After the initial shock passed, for days I floated on a cloud and struggled to believe it. My mom wrapped me in her embrace and told me how proud she was. Once the results went public, the messages flooded in; it felt overwhelming. As a kid I drew comics all the time and for years I dreamed of this exact moment. What started as a hobby slowly turned into a career. I never expected it to get to this point. 

Read more Art & Culture stories from Orato World Media.

From a kid’s hobby to a career in manga

Drawing comics as a kid, a story I wrote called Yona deeply impacted me. I felt personally attached to the characters, as if each one represented a side of me which I could only reveal through storytelling. I lived with these characters for a long time, but never showed the comic to anyone. It felt too personal. However, it ignited a powerful need to connect with myself and the world through art. 

The older I got, the more I enjoyed creating my own worlds and characters. Often, I found myself getting lost in them. When I discovered anime, I was hooked – spending most of my free time drawing manga to perfect my style. Once I started creating complete stories and sharing them, I felt a rush of excitement. The final strokes of my pen against the paper felt electric, soon replaced by an urgency to share them.

The more stories I finished, the more eager I was to start another one. It felt like a rush of creativity overtook me, and I wanted to make sure I got everything out of my head and onto the page. I spent countless nights at my desk crafting worlds, feeling what each character felt. Whenever I wasn’t working, I watched every animated series I could find for inspiration. As more and more people became interested in my work, I eventually supported myself financially doing what I love.

Mingling with the world’s best manga artists and a word of wisdom for creators

One of my biggest influences is ONE, the author of One Punch Man. His drawing style fascinated me, but I really loved the richness and complexity of his stories and characters. His work inspired me to push myself out of my comfort zone. I started submitting my work in competitions at 22 years old, hoping to connect with a bigger audience.

I felt nervous sending my work out, and eager to know the verdict. When I attended the ceremony for the Tezuka Award from Shōnen Jump magazine, I recognized famous mangakas [the Japanese word for cartoonist] like the creators of Dragon Ball, Once Piece, and Slam Dunk.

I felt like a kid in a candy story, standing in the same building as these incredible, successful artists. I knew the Tezuka Award was extremely prestigious and the winners earn many opportunities. Excitement filled me and the closer we got to the announcement of the winners I felt my heart beating of out of my chest. It seemed unreal when I won.

I approach my work with a sense of freedom, never pushing myself to make anything unless I feel truly compelled. The process must be natural and exciting; the moment it turns into a chore, I know it won’t be as good.  I feel extremely grateful to do something I love every day and I hope my journey motivates other artists to keep creating, putting their work out there, and following their dreams.

During my journey, I met incredible people with great ideas, but they lacked the motivation to follow through. Never be scared to create something, even if it’s bad in the beginning. It’s always better to fix it than to stare at a blank paper for hours. Let your ideas flow and trust your instincts.

Translation Disclaimer

Translations provided by Orato World Media are intended to result in the end translated document being understandable in the end language. Although every effort is made to ensure our translations are accurate we cannot guarantee the translation will be without errors.

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