Marketers might call Emma Vieceli a manga artist, but as far as she’s concerned, she’s just a storyteller who draws

“I don’t tend to refer to myself as a manga artist even though my style is influenced by manga and a lot of people will look at it and class it as manga,”  says Emma Vieceli. “As an artist, there’s no difference at all. What makes something manga is really in the storytelling rather than the actual art style.”

Emma is part of Sweatdrop Studios – an independent comic publisher’s collective. Her credits include Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing in the Manga Shakespeare range, as well as her own story, Dragon Heir

Her Dragon Heir series tells the story of four earthly protagonists who protect different facets of a dragon’s soul. It’s a story she began in her teens, which she continues to refine to this day. For Emma, this refinement isn’t purely about the technical realism of the art. 

Narrative flow
“As a comic reader, I’m not really looking for it to be technically perfect,” Emma explains. “Some comics out there that are so perfect, which if anything they’ll stop me reading the story because then I’ll be stopping, looking at the picture too long and then I’ll have lost the flow of the narrative.”

While she will reference photography and life drawing – her husband will sometimes be made to strike a pose – energy and anticipation are more important to her, and this manifests itself in her concentration on line, and a keenness for faces. But her medium has room for abstraction, too. 

“A lot of the Japanese comics I read, especially when they’re black and white, shojo style, lines will just taper off,” she explains. “You’ll have a panel that will just show an eye or an eyebrow because that’s getting across the emotion they need at the time. Whatever carries the story is better than it being a perfect work of art.”