Throughout my life, every since I was introduced to media involving art, whether it was comic books or video games, I had always wanted to write and publish my own comic book or novel. I was in elementary school when my dad bought my Uncle a Super Nintendo game system. I can still remember the day we went to pick it up. It was at a local video rental store in the Chinese district where patrons go to rent Hong Kong drama, as well as Taiwanese and Mandarin drama. Our favorite, of course were the Wu Xia films from Hong Kong. You’ll find out more by either using Wikipedia or Youtube the term Hong Kong Wu Xia drama or manhua. There was also a section of the store that only Adults are allowed for the more provocative videos that innocent eye’s aren’t allowed to see. Childhood was full of mystery I tell you. In any case, back to the Nintendo. Our first game was, or course the Super Mario Bro. which was amazingly popular at the time. My Uncle must have gotten an A in his report card or something because it was a little over $100 when we bought it. Pretty expensive for the time. (Side note: My Uncle is my dad’s step brother, and over 15 years older. I am 3.5 years younger than my Uncle, making him more of a Brother figure to me. This Asian Family tree, generation gap isn’t as rare as you think.) From that point on, my Uncle, myself and my younger brother spent countless hours playing that game and buying more as time went on. Soon, video game platforms change, and upgrades were made. Since then, we also bought the Super NES, Sega Saturn, Nintendo 64, Playstation, Game Cube and Dream Cast systems.
When we had the Super NES, I didn’t know it at the time, but I played a predecessor to the famous Final Fantasy 7 game which came out in September of 1997. The game I played was called Final Fantasy Mystic Quest. There’s a long history to this game and it’s Father company Square. You can probably watch a documentary of it on Youtube or any of the Gaming channels now available. I believe FF: Mystic Quest really attracted me to the RPG genre. It’s a weird connection you might say, but let me try to explain it as best as I can. My family and I lived in Oakland California. East Oakland to be precise. Oakland, itself, grew in violence in the years since we lived there. I honestly don’t know what the current state of Oakland is now as my family decided in having a new change in scenery and moved to Seattle Washington in 2006. We still have many family and friends living there and try to keep in touch as much as possible. My parents were absolutely protective of all of us due to the fact that the streets where we play, were only partly safe during the day time. They would not allow me to go out for friendly gatherings with any of my friends from school. Of course their answer was, “because you’re a girl”. They wanted to teach me modesty, as a young Cambodian lady, who they would hope to marry off to some doctor of something somewhere. I never really got to enjoy being out doors, in parks or streets like all the other kids. I was jealous and hated them all for the things they are allowed to be exposed to, and I felt imprisoned. (My parents never intended for me to feel that way, and I know it was in my best interest that they did what they did.) Playing video games, like RPG’s really gave me a sense of adventure and missed play-time. I needed an outlet, and Video Games were it. I am always and forever grateful to the Video Game industry for the experience it gave to me.
The years since first laying our hands on the famous Final Fantasy 7 RPG by Square, I became immersed in the Japanese culture through Japanese soap drama’s, which I watched every weekend, and as well as reading all sorts of Manga that I could get my hands on. Yes, I have personally seen the Hentai manga–which of course, steered me away from anything that says Hentai on the label. I also started to draw and copy works of art from the different industries of the Japanese entertainment media. Manga and Video Games were the most interesting to me. Final Fantasy has become a big part of my life, as it inspired me to think of my own characters, and what it would be like if I created a story of adventure with all sorts of riddles and puzzles along the way. I made my High School Senior Project into a Creative Writing project, involving drawing my characters, fleshing them out with their own unique personalities. I also worked on writing the story along with it. Each chapter was 10 pages long, and there were 10 chapters in all. I think I started to doubt myself, as the deadline was approaching. All of us would think, at that moment, “why did I do this to myself?” In the end, I passed with flying colors, and my teachers were all so proud of me. My art, and English teachers were the best inspirations to me during those days and I will never forget their encouragement and devotion to helping me be the best that I can be.
I advanced my skills, and my illustrations became more solid and lively due to the fact that I drew already illustrated pictures from some of my favorite artists. This was the best practice for me at the time. I had already drawn without professional mentoring since Junior High! Here are a few samples:
Sephiroth, Final Fantasy 7, original artist, Tetsuya Nomura. (This one I drew from my own imagination) He is known as the Antagonist throughout the entire game however, I think-he is also many peoples favorite character, setting aside the main character, Cloud Strife whom I’ve yet to draw.
Squall Leonhart from Final Fantasy 8, original artist, Tetsuya Nomura (This one I also drew using my own imagination as well.) I drew this one summer as I was playing the game, and thinking, what would this character be doing at this moment?
Ifrit from Final Fantasy 8 and Shiva from Final Fantasy 10, both of these images were already illustrated by the artist, and I did my best to replicate their styles as well as incorporating my own as well.
This “Ice Cavern” drawing, using colored chalk, color pencils and fine point, black ink Zebra Pen, was something I imagined myself–this was the result of playing the RPG called ALUNDRA, who was an elf who can walk into people’s dreams. I ended up playing from 7PM to 5AM the next morning. When I finally went to bed, I had a dream of an ice cavern that was sot of inspired by a certain area in the game. This is my best accomplishment to date.
CLAMP school detectives is a manga by the famously talented, all female artist CLAMP in Japan. Their art work inspired me in ways I could never imagine. (My free-hand drawing of an illustration they already drew.)
Rurouni Kenshin by Nobuhiro Watsuki. This is still famous today, if you can believe it. Live Action movies have been made and it was a largely successful manga by this artist. I loved the manga so much I have collected all 28 manga volumes!
Samurau Troopers, in the US was known as RONIN Warriors. I couldn’t find the original artist name. (This is an illustration I drew free-hand of what was already drawn, you can see as I compared the two side-by-side.)
Goddess Urd from the Ah! My Goddess manga and anime by Kyosuke Fujishima. (This is an illustration I drew free-hand of what was already drawn, you can see as I compared the two side-by-side.)
Goddess Peorth from the same manga by the same artist. (This is an illustration I drew free-hand of what was already drawn, you can see as I compared the two side-by-side.)
As you can see by all the original artwork from these amazingly talented artists, I am deeply inspired by them and I am proud to call myself a student of the Arts. Which is why I am in the middle of attaining a MFA in Creative Writing as well to improve my own way of story telling and to better my career.