A few weeks ago, I put out a call on Twitter that I was looking for new comic creators to interview. I received an overwhelming response (thanks to everyone who submitted!) I am still sorting through them, but one in particular really stood out to me. That is the one I received from Sho Uehara. He sent me his comic Repose, and I really enjoyed it. A silent comic that combines The Monkey king from Chinese mythology and Pandora's Box. First of all, I love silent comics. I think there is something truly special about being able to tell a story in pictures alone, and letting the reader sort of fall into it with their imagination and just feel it. I feel that silent comics are a gift, they let you absorb all of the art, and just appreciate it on a different level. What's interesting to me about that is the scripting process that goes into creating a silent comic. Something that I will be getting into with another silent comic submission, Morte by David Bishop and Kevin Joesph.
I had a wonderful time interviewing Sho. It is clear he has a deep passion for his work in comics and overall as an artist. When an artist has that passion, it shines through beautifully and we see that represented in Sho's work. I encourage you to check out it out!
Where are you from, Sho?
I'm from Calgary Alberta, Canada- somewhat near the rocky mountains.
when did you begin making comics?
I began making comics in 2016. I did a comic anthology with a group of illustrators around that time. The book was called Wishless.
What was the book about?
Wishless was about Pinocchio, and what would happen to him if never became a real boy. Each of us involved did our own take on that question.
Oh that is cool! How did your story go?
Thanks. My story had Pinocchio tackle the issue of being the last living thing on the planet, trying to get the attention of the Grim Reaper himself, who in this story, is retired. It's a bit of a humorous, dark take on immortality I think.
I'd love to check that out. It sounds like it's the exact kind of thing I am into. Are there copies available anywhere?
Thanks! Yes, Wishless is available for download at Comixcentral, and Comixology currently. My story in the book is also available to read for free on my website shouehara.com
How long have you been an artist?
I've been a professional artist for about 8 years now.
That's awesome! What mediums do you use?
I did a lot of illustrations digitally, using Photoshop, but over the years I have embracing traditional mediums more, especially sketching in my sketchbooks. I'd say these days it's mixed media. A blend of graphite, inks, pencil crayons, sometimes acrylic paints, and Photoshop. I love markers too.
Acrylic is so tough to work with. I've tried and I just can't seem to get it. I'm starting to take on a bit of watercolor though. What is your favorite?
Watercolors are great! I want to get into watercolors as well. I think my favorite is whatever I can bring with me when I travel. Like markers, pencils, and ink pens.
Markers are great. I've seen a lot of beautiful works done with Copics.
Yeah Copic, and Prismacolor markers, love them all. often times I prefer the sketches in my sketchbooks over my digital illustrations. So I've been trying to merge the 2. The comic Repose was really my first real attempt in doing that.
How did you merge them? Can you explain the process to me?
Sure. Well in my sketchbooks I often leave the rough pencil sketches as they are, then ink, and define the image. As a result there is a level of looseness, and energy. When I draw digitally, because there are so many ways to delete your work, I often find my drawings become almost rigid, and lacking energy. For a time it was hard for me to find a balance where the drawings can be somewhat loose, but also refined, and clear. In Repose I essentially treated the pencils, and inks as I would in my sketchbooks, and colored as I would digitally.
Sure. That makes total sense. It's a very different feeling.
Yeah exactly, a different result.
Can you dive into the history of Repose? Tell the readers what it's about?
Repose was sort of a combination of ideas in my mind that came together unexpectedly one night. I always loved The Monkey King, and figured I'd someday do an illustration of the character, my iteration of him. I was really itching to do another comic, but I didn't know what it would be. I think I was looking for quotes online, like inspirational quotes or something one night, and I came across one by Dylan Thomas, "He who seeks rest finds boredom. He who seeks work finds rest." That somehow got the ball rolling in my mind, and then somehow that lead me to thinking about the mythology behind Pandora, and the legendary box. Suddenly an image of an old, tired Sun Wukong sitting on that box appeared, and I sketched it as fast as I could. After that the story came flooding in, and before I knew it I had written, and sketched thumbnails of the story from beginning to end in one night. The image of an old, weary, but content Monkey King sitting on Pandora's Box put a smile on my face, and that's essentially when I knew this was my next comic.
Can you tell me some history on the Monkey King?
The Monkey King is a Chinese mythical hero who starts off as an innocent, and mischievous God, and gets into trouble when his desire for breaking the rules grows stronger. He had a way of not taking things too seriously, making fun of the other gods, and essentially doing whatever he wanted because he had the power. Eventually Sun is forced to go on a journey which sets him on a path to enlightenment. Sun's more mischievous, heroic, and playful side were the characteristics I loved about him. Challenging the established order of things.
I don't know much in the way about Chinese mythology.
No worries! There are some very entertaining movies about The Monkey I recommend! The Monkey King 1 & 2, which I think is on Netflix, and actually there is even a new Netflix original right now called, "The New Legends of Monkey."
Putting them together with Pandora is interesting.
I guess it's not too often you see Greek mythology, and Chinese mythology collide in a short story. I'm kind of fascinated by old mythologies because I think it's a great place to derive ideas from.
Do you want to do other comics on mythos?
I would be open to it for sure, but at the moment anything goes I think. I love comics of all sorts, and I hope to keep making comics with a variety of topics, and themes.
Are you working on anything right now?
At the moment I am in the preliminary stages of working on the next comic. I don't quite know what the story will be just yet, because I have story ideas competing for my attention, and I can't decide on which one to commit to just yet. It looks like most of them are sort of in the realm of science fiction. But I also love Moebius' work, and the surrealism he achieved in his comics. There is a level of surrealism that I'd like to explore in my work as well.
Do you do any shows? Are there comic cons in your area?
I do yes! There is a Comic Creator Festival held by Panel One, taking place on May 26th in Calgary that I will be attending. I think they will have Fiona Staples there to talk about her process, and working with photo references. She's one of the many panel discussions that day. I did the Calgary Entertainment & Comic Expo last month which was a lot of fun too.
Do you offer any commissioned work?
I do yes! I also do freelance illustration, and I can do illustrations for editorials, children's books, and comic art for any writers looking to have a comic made. Oh and personal commissions as well.
Where can you be followed on social media and what is your website?
Thanks for doing this. Is there anything else you wanted to add about yourself or your work?
Thanks for the interview! I guess, maybe one thing I'd like to add about myself is that I think comics are a wonderful medium. I love it so much. Moving forward my goal is to make comics that engage the imagination, move people's hearts, make them laugh, make them cry, and ultimately come out of reading a comic feeling as though they know more about themselves, and the world around them.
That is beautiful, Sho. Great stories and art come from passion and heart...