You may recognize Kevin Libranda’s art style from his work on Aporia for Mangaholix. This year, he launched Novus Karma, a manga-style story set in Manila, which is published at MangaMagazine.net.I caught up with him via email to talk about past, present, and future projects.
Hello Kevin! How would you describe Novus Karma to a prospective reader? Do you believe it will appeal to fans of your work on Aporia?
Hi! How would I describe NK…I guess it’s sort of like a mix of the TV series Heroes and the anime Ah! My Goddess. I feel that it has a deeper backstory since it’s sci-fi/fantasy. It can be a bit confusing at first, but I promise that the plot, when compared with that of my other stories, will only get better and better–especially the climax and ending. That’s all I can say.
Now as for the fans of Aporia, I’m not sure if they’ll like NK. Aporia is purely a fantasy/adventure, and my target audience for it are Filipino children 13 years old and below. If I can talk about Aporia for a moment, while it’s true that there’s a huge amount of characters introduced over just 7 chapters, I believe that Pinoy fans can still appreciate and understand it, given that the characters and setting are based on Filipino folklore/mythology (except for the Aegis, which I’ve taken from Greek mythology). NK was made for a more mature audience: its theme is darker, plus there’s a touch of gore and a little nudity. XD
How did the comic end up with MangaMagazine.net?
After leaving my old job, I immediately started looking for a new one. It took me a couple of months though, so while waiting and basically bumming around, I used my free time to conceptualize NK. That was when I met a fellow DA artist who was working for MM.net. I read his work and I got interested, so I decided to apply at MM.net, too. They asked for the usual requirements: sample pages, character designs… Lucky for me, they liked the general story of NK, so I got accepted.
How long do you intend the series to go? Do you already have the story plotted out to the end, or only until a certain point?
Now that NK is on its 12th chapter, I guess I can safely say that the whole series will probably take up to 50 chapters. I’ve got the story plotted out, so I’m hoping that everything will be smooth sailing. Hopefully, I won’t add anything unnecessary to the world of NK.
What is it about the manga style that appeals to you, as a comic book artist?
As a comic book artist, what I like about the manga style is the fact that it’s quite easy to draw. It’s also easy on the eyes and, of course, it’s quite popular with the younger set. With this style, you don’t need to be too detailed. I mean, there are many manga like that–but, of course, it still depends on the artist in the end, since there are some manga that are really detailed. But the manga style allows me to concentrate on my strengths as an artist.
What do you think your strengths and weaknesses are as an artist/storyteller?
As an artist, I think my strength is that my scenes are fairly easy to understand. My style is not cluttered. My weakness would be doing backgrounds. It takes me a really long time to finish them, so whenever possible, especially with my own stories, I try to avoid doing backgrounds that are too detailed.
As a storyteller, I can’t really say what my strength is. To be frank, I’m not really good at telling stories, haha. I do try my best to deliver my story properly to my readers, though. Another thing is that I easily get influenced by what I watch and read so I try to avoid [reading/watching other stories] until I’m sure my story is done. As much as possible, I want to concentrate and focus on my work without the unnecessary influence.
What made you decide to go with a webcomic/digital comic, as opposed to the more common physical-only route? (Note: Novus Karma is available for free online, but also as a packaged digital comic for the Amazon Kindle, as single issues or compiled volumes)
What’s good about webcomics is that as long as you have an internet connection, it’s easy to find and read them. That means that they have a wider audience. Unlike the physical comics wherein you really need to spend time to look for them in stores before you can actually enjoy them.
But print does have its advantages! Please watch out for the paperback version of NK which will come out soon. I’ll announce it on my DA, Twitter and FB page when MM.net releases it. I hope you’ll support that, too!
I mentioned Aporia earlier, and I know that it still has its share of fans. Any chance of that story continuing sometime in the future? In print or in digital form?
I was actually planning to release a reboot of Aporia for the upcoming Komikon, but I wasn’t able to reach the deadline, so I’ll probably be releasing it next year instead. For the fans of Aporia (if there are still any!), don’t worry ’cause I do plan to continue it as an indie. See you in the coming conventions next year!
Aside from Novus Karma, do you have any projects outlined for the future?
Yup, actually I have another story planned out after NK. It’ll be a fantasy/adventure. It’s still in the planning out stage, so I’m not concentrating on it yet.