Offenbach-Post Online article

October 19, 2006

The following is the translation of an article from Offenbach-Post Online.

No infringement is intended.

04/12/2006 – A Young Girl from Offenbachen Celebrates Success with Japanese Manga

23 year old Christina Plaka from Bürgel sells her books in the USA

By Clara Görtz

Offenbach – Word has it that Japan uses more paper for comics than for toilet paper. This claim at least makes it clear how humongous the Japanese consumption of manga is, something that’s about comparable to the comic-shopping of Americans. Germany is a far leap back from that- in particular, the market for Japanese manga is still in the making.

The Offenbach-born Christina Plaka is the only manga artist (mangaka) in all of Europe who has had her stories published in both Germany and the USA. Her first manga, “Prussian Blue” has been available in America since the beginning of the year. Even the French can already buy it.

The focus of “Prussian Blue” is on the Japanese school band by the same name. Before the band can participate in a music contest, they have to overcome musical and interpersonal hurdles. Two succeeding volumes have been published in Germany under the title “Yonen Buzz” (literally, “Childish Buzz”). The band, now called “Plastic Chew”, stays the main focus. The 23 year old from Bürgel plans to continue the story. “They are going to be about ‘Plastic Chew’, but I would like to have the manga take place in Germany of the US, and integrate other bands”, the graduate of Marienschule says.

Plaka was discovered in 2002, at a Talent Contest held by Carlsen Comics at the Leipzig Bookfair. Carlsen first published “Prussian Blue” in a manga-mag aimed at girls. Later, she switched to the Tokyopop publishing house, where the sequels were published.

At the age of four, Plaka was already drawing pictures of horses. “Later, humans became much more interesting to me.” When she first saw “anime” (cartoons in manga-style) ten years ago, her passion for Japanese comics was awakened. “They seemed incredibly exotic to me, with their foreign culture and language. I wanted to master the kanji and learn Japanese. Their writing seemed like a secret language to me.” This passion probably also influenced her choice of major- she studies Japanese at the Goethe University in Frankfurt, is in her eighth semester, and has never taken a drawing class in her life.

The sources of inspiration for her manga are music and television. “First, I form an idea for a character or story. Then I sketch a couple of scenes, and send it to my editor, Michael Schweitzer,” says Plaka of the origins of a manga.

The detail work follows, done with an ink pen. “Authentic, close to nature, and pure”- she can only work with paper and pen, and not at a computer.

Especially important in manga drawing is working with different perspectives, according to Christina Plaka. She tries to vary between perspectives like panoramic, bird’s-eye, and from below. The readers like it: “Yonen Buzz” has gone into its second printing already. All this is done by a full-time college student. “I often think that I won’t be able to make it, and won’t be able to publish even a volume a year,” she reports. She would prefer being able to get a full-time job at Tokyopop after she graduates, of course.

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