PummelDex – Anike Hage Interview

November 3, 2006

PummelDex has posted a new interview with Anike Hage, author of Gothic Sports, a three volume series coming out from Tokyopop.de. Click for accompanying images.

No infringement is intended in the following translation.

PummelDex: How did you start drawing?
Anike Hage: In elementary school, I was a fan of anime series like Captain Tsubasa and Mila Superstar.  I’ve always drawn fanart of those and Japanese video games.

PD: How did you feel when you learned that your story was going to be in Manga Fieber?
Anike Hage: It was a beautiful feeling, but it really didn’t change as much of my thinking as one might assume.  As far as feelings go, that project was no different than any before it.  When you manage, you’re happy, and then you start the next one.

PD: So it was certain that your story would be published?
Anike Hage: Yes, otherwise I wouldn’t have started drawing.

PD: Your manga Gothic Sports is currently one of the most popular series done by a German artist.  Tokyopop is sure to make the leap into merchandising with your series, right? Are you scared that your work will be degraded to something purely commercial?
Anike Hage: It’s very nice to see that the book is being received so well, and what happens now is very thrilling. As for the planned merchandise, I’m looking very forward to it, and hope that it will become more of a standard to offer it for other German projects as well. Personally, I like merchandise, and think that most fans, no matter of what series, think the same way.
Seriously, I really don’t like the prejudice that artists should not want to earn money.  All of us are very far from getting rich, regardless of whether there are additional products on the market or not.  I don’t think you can be “degraded” to something commercial- instead, you get a better chance of continuing to work as an artist.

PD: How did you come up with the topic “soccer”?
Anike Hage: Soccer has been my favorite sport for a long time.

PD: Your story is also about team spirit and dedication.  Are these important values in your own life?
Anike Hage: I think these values are imperative for every artist. Sports aren’t that different from drawing.  You constantly have to keep practicing, stay on the ball, and challenge yourself often.  Hence, I can include a lot of my own experiences in my stories!

PD: How did those around you react to your success?
Anike Hage: To be honest, I have no idea.  My friends… they just don’t know what it means to spend your days drawing, and they don’t know what that entails.  Their lives, of course, look very different from mine, and so drawing is rarely a topic unless I talk to other artist friends.  (;

PD: Did your parents support you?
Anike Hage: At first, I didn’t tell them about my hobby, and just sort of drew for myself for a couple of years.  I really don’t know whether they ever read Gothic Sports (I hope not)! By now, they do look at what I draw and don’t try to get in my way, even though my choice to make drawing my job is certainly not a choice that parents like to see!

PD: Do you have an alternative plan, or do you want to remain a mangaka?
Anike Hage: Should I fail, I guess I’ll have to go to college. But the problem is that I would probably not be able to be really enthusiastic about that.  So I’ll keep drawing for now, cause the way it is now is great and I just can’t do anything else. First I’ll finish Gothic Sports, and hopefully a few more volumes will follow.

PD: Do you have sources of inspiration for your characters?
Anike Hage: Yeah, they’re definitely based on people I know.  People from my circle of friends are somewhat similar to the people in my series.

PD: How did you come up with the names?
Anike Hage: Usually I go to friends and say, “Tell me a name!”, because I can’t come up with any. Or I come up with a lot, and then I have to draw a lot. That’s how “Anya” got her name.

PD: What do you think of other German artists, like Christina Plaka? How do you get along with them?
Anike Hage: By now there are so many artists that I naturally don’t know them all.  The rumor about the big “German mangaka family” isn’t really true.  So far, no German manga has managed to make me a fan, but that’s mostly due to the stories.
In general, I find the German works to be rather mixed.  There are better ones and worse ones, just like in Japan and everywhere else.  But we are still starting out.  Chris, for example, I really respect- not just because she’s very skilled artistically, but also on a personal basis… which is something I can only say of two or three other artists.  Like in everyday life, you can’t know and love everyone, but I think we all respect each other, and I’ve never heard of any hostility.  It’s a nice climate!

PD: What do you want to draw after Gothic Sports?
Anike Hage: I already have a couple of ideas for new series, especially in the action and fantasy areas.  But first comes the next volume of Gothic Sports.

PD: Can you give us a little preview of what will happen?
Anike Hage: For one, there will be the end of the soccer game. On the other hand, there’s a lot of focus on the relationships between characters.  The thing with Leon was already hinted at.

PD: At the Games Convention, you were allowed to design a Nintendo DS, which is an experience that most mangaka haven’t had.  Did you like it? Did you learn anything?
Anike Hage: Well, I only made a design, and didn’t draw on the DS myself.  The drawing was just like any other, and I couldn’t really learn anything from it.  But it was really nice to get such an extraordinary commission.

PD: Do you have a role model?
Anike Hage: Not really.  To really get me excited, the style of a series has to really touch me. The work of Hiroaki Samura, for example, does that.

PD: What’s your favorite anime?
Anike Hage: I don’t really have one. ;-) But I don’t like boys’ love or super sappy romance. Anime like Last Exile or Samurai Champloo are interesting, but don’t really count as favorites.  I prefer playing video games to watching a movie.

PD: How do you like the Frankfurt Bookfair?
Anike Hage: It’s not as nice as the Leipzig Bookfair.  There, it’s much more comfortable, and somehow more “colorful”. My signings this time were pretty strenuous.  Two hours of signing autographs is really hard, especially if your contact lenses dry out towards the end. (:

PD: What’s your normal day look like?
Anike Hage: I get up, then I drink some coffee. After that, I draw into the night, with a few breaks.  I work especially late on weekends.

PD: How long does a page take you on average?
Anike Hage: About three to four hours, if I really just focus on one page.  But normally I work in steps (for example, a week of sketching, then erasing, then inking, then toning…).

PD: How did you like the “Spiegel”-report [click for translation]? Your drawing was on the cover with the title “The Strippers”.
Anike Hage: I had to have the pun explained to me [note from the PD writers: strippers —> comic strip].  The excecution wasn’t that great, but after all, it was a commissioned drawing, and the lumberjack doesn’t usually ask what the carpenter does with his wood!  Of course, I would have liked a more tasteful caption, but the article itself wasn’t bad at all.

PD: Did you follow the further Manga Fieber volumes?
Anike Hage: The second volume not so much.  There was a certain distance between me and the Manga Fieber, because I’d only published in it once, and the theme didn’t really interest me.  But of course, I’ll have a look at the third volume.  Artists I’m interested in contributed stories.
Nevertheless, my main attention is on the book projects artists have.  There they aren’t limited in topic or length.

PD: If you look at the first Manga Fieber, what do you think?
Anike Hage: I think my drawings back then were pretty bad, but I think that after every project.  I have to forget about that; after all, it’s been three years since I drew that story.  Right now I prefer getting upset over my more current stories.

PD:  What do you do in your free time?
Anike Hage: Apart from working for the publisher, I accept small commissions to earn a little money.  I usually don’t have time for more, because I draw 8-14 hours a day.  Piano lessons and video games are still possible, but it has to be really well planned!

PD: Do you have any advice for any newcomers to the mangaka business?
Anike Hage: Be ambitious, but not overly so! The measure of fun and ambition has to be right. And those who think that because they’re 16 they’re too old to make it, I can only say that they’re wrong and should never think like that!  That just slows you down and is nonsense! (:

PD: We wish you lots of success in the future, and thank you for the interview.
Anike Hage: My pleasure. ^^


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