The A to Z’s with Zee Bee!
It's her universe
I’ve been following the work of Zee Bee for some time now. I’d swear it’s as if she releases new content hourly! Recently I also got a chance to talk with her to ask her a few more questions about her rise and future as a manga artist, and her real-life inspirations for his characters. Though she was tight-lipped about few hints on plot twists to come in her webtoon bases series Our Little Universe she more gives a taste of her playful sense of humor that makes Our Little Universe such an entertaining title to follow.
So how/why did you start drawing manga?
I started drawing manga for the first time back in 2013. I’ve been drawing and writing all my life but I mostly kept the two talents separate from each other. Writing novels was becoming too difficult and boring so I decided I needed to make a change so I can actually enjoy creating a story and always have the urge to continue it (cause with novels I would start one, get bored, and then start a whole new one). So that’s when I decided to put my two talents together and start making comics.
Was there an artist or particular story that inspired you?
My older cousin who is also an artist inspired me to draw when I was younger. He is also the one who introduced me to more anime that was out there other than Sailor Moon. Since then all kinds of anime have inspired my art style and storytelling. I didn’t grow up reading much manga or comics so when I started on my comic journey I had no idea what I was doing. Volume 1 of my very first comic has a pretty wacky format! But as I realized I was truly invested in making comics, I decided to upgrade my software to a manga software so that I could improve the look and feel of my comics.
What’s your attraction to the manga art and story style?
Like I said before, I didn’t really read manga/comics growing up. I was mainly inspired by watching anime. That’s actually why my manga pages are so colorful and vibrant. Instead of going through normal black and white pages, I want my readers to feel like they’re actually watching an anime when they read my work.
Tell us about your title Our Little Universe?
I actually went through several different titles before I finally came up with this one. I love my characters Ruby and Rosa so much that I thought they deserved their own awesome series. Our Little Universe just made sense to me as the title because this is a spinoff comic where they’re ultimately in an alternate universe. They were sent to another dimension to a Second Earth that doesn’t have their kind on it; just humans and animals. But they also have to protect this planet from the new villains that arise. So technically it is their little universe. They’re the only ones with special powers and abilities on Second Earth, but they also have a new opportunity to be in a relationship together without having to hide it from the world like they had to back home (since relationships between Shadow Demons and Uciine people are forbidden).
You just launched the series on Webtoons. What made you decide to go the digital route?
Well I think it’s a great way to build an audience through the digital world since technology is always seeming to take over nowadays. DeviantArt and Google+ are among the first sites I actually started sharing my work when I first became a digital artist. As much as it would be cool to see all my work printed and sold, my main focus right now is just releasing my content to the world and gaining more and more support over time.
Any hopes or plans for animation based on OLU in the future?
Yes! I actually want all my manga series to become anime series one day. That would be a dream come true! But for now, I think I’m going to work on animating some promotional stuff for my comics myself. I’ve been dabbling in animation since around 2009 and I’ve been improving more and more as I practice with it.
What type of environment do you prefer when drawing or creating your story?
I like to be in my own little space (mostly at home in my bedroom). I always have the TV on when I create but it’s always on mute because I actually listen to music while I draw. I mostly listen to music from video games, anime, movies (or any music without lyrics) when I draw because it helps me create scenes in my head. But sometimes I branch out and listen to other genres of music when I’m in the mood.
Are you very particular when you draw?
I have a very systematic way of drawing my comics. I go panel by panel instead of drawing out the whole page first and coloring. I just feel like I work faster when I complete a page panel by panel.
There’s an idea that’s been spreading for a few years that Americans by nationality can’t draw manga and that you have to be Asian to do so. What do you say to that?
I don’t think that’s true at all. I think anyone can draw in whatever style they like. There are talented Asians who like drawing in the DC/Marvel style and there are plenty of talented Americans who draw in the anime/manga style.
What do you think of people who say that anime and manga are gratifying women sexually?
Haha! Well it’s actually true! There are so many “eye candy” type characters in anime! Can’t help but to feel really attracted to them. I’ve personally had crushes on many!
You have a unique open-ness with your fans and followers through your Facebook; you’ve revealed some personal revelations about yourself to them through social media. And I’ve personally saw some of that same open-ness from other manga artists. Would you say that manga artists are more willing to let their fans in on a more personal level?
I guess it all depends on the artist. Some are more open than others. Some just want to showcase their art on their page while others like me want to showcase my art as well as be open on a more personal level. I don’t want to keep the two separate from each other. Sometimes people really just want to get to know the person behind the art. They want to feel like the person is actually a person and not a robot constantly dishing out new art material often.
You’ve caught flack for your art and story recently on Facebook! How do you deal with that as an artist?
When you’re an artist who decides to publicly share your work online, it comes with a lot of risks. You will receive all kinds of criticism (sometimes even trolls) but what’s most important is that you draw according to your vision. You can never let anyone change your vision of how you want your art and story to be. It will always be your story to make and tell how you desire. That’s your prerogative as an artist.
Female representation and inclusion in the comic medium has been a hot button topic lately. Have you experienced anything that made you want to quit or give up?
I’ve never felt an urge to give up what I’m doing because I really have a passion for it. But I have dealt with numerous trolls online during my journey. And even though it hurt my pride a little in the moment, it also drove me to keep getting better at my craft. Ironically, the negatively pushed me even harder than the positivity I received did.
Mangas are a traditionally limited series, unlike some American comics that are intended to go on as long as their profitable. Having said that do you have an ending in mind for Our Little Universe?
I do have an idea about how I’d want the series to end but I also know that this will be a series with multiple volumes. So I definitely have years of work ahead!