I just got a few volumes of the reprints for myself (1-3 and 5), so I’ll put up the sketch pages (which are on the inside covers of the volumes) here and translate them. I apologize if any of the spellings are off, I watched the anime a long time again when I was already somewhat proficient in Japanese, and read the manga exclusively in the original, so I am not used to the English spellings.
(top center) Fullmetal Alchemist
(top left) Initial Ed designs
(top right) Ed’s automail armor took more time to design than his face.
(center) Coat design ①
(mid right) Ed design ②. Too adult.
(in square frame) Ed’s back
(above cross) Flamel’s cross.
(bottom) Coat desing ② Almost there.
(top) Initial automail design. Too messy.
(bottom) Automail design ② Too simple.
(top left) Al design ① Already has a note saying “equivalent exchange.”
(right) equivalent exchange
(top left) Roar.
(top right) Al design ②
(Center) The all-important remote. Don’t let the bad guys have it!
(framed) Alchemist (younger brother)
(below frame) Al design ③ Getting pretty close!
(top left) The Elrick brothers’ mentor: This one!
(top right) dreads
(mid left) These are [designs] that I FAXed to my editor around the beginning of the run, to give him an idea of upcoming characters. [Izumi’s] visual appearance settled down really quick.
(mid right) The protagonist brothers’ mentor. Of the “to train the spirit, one must start with the body” mindset.
She is being a housewife in some place or other.
(bottom left) This is a rough from my sketchbook, from a time when I wasn’t even thinking about the series yet. I was just zoning out, doodling various female characters. Pretty sure this is the base [for this character].
Izumi’s design settled down really, really quickly. Thus, I have very few design sketches of her’s.
But that won’t do, so here’s a few initial roughs of Cornello.
← I really like his evil face.
Awesome, thanks Phil! I love seeing this development stuff that comes with the large format FMA volumes (sadly only available in Japanese). Holy snap, look at Arakawa’s original design of Al. O_o
amanofletters said: When you first got into comics, did you feel like you were better at, or more interested in, the drawing or the writing? I want to make my own comics, but I feel like my art straggles behind my writing. How can I cause these two aspects of comic-making to come together within myself, and make the works I want to make?
Oh hey, this is something I think a lot about, actually! So when I started making comics (15 years ago this month, haha), I was really terrible at drawing. And I wanted to do, y’know, GRAPHIC NOVELS, with fairly realistically drawn characters and backgrounds and things that are hard to draw. Things that I didn’t really have the skills to draw at the time. So I’d draw my comics and the art was generally pretty terrible. But I was comfortable with writing, and that helped me keep going with making comics, because I enjoyed the storytelling aspect of them so much.
It’s hard when you feel pretty okay about your writing but your art doesn’t measure up. I kind of feel like my art still doesn’t measure up to what I want it to be (mostly right now I want it to be Hiromu Arakawa, which will never happen, no matter how much I practice), but I’m very comfortable with the writing part of comics, so I look at that as my great strength in my work. It makes up for where my art is lacking, and I work hard at writing to make the sum total of my work better than if I was just writing or just drawing.
I mean, the absolute best thing about comics (to me) is that you don’t need to be a spectacular artist to make really great, involving comics. I’m not an amazing technical artist. During my down times, I don’t draw gorgeous illustrations or do amazing paintings (I kind of dislike doing that kind of thing, to be honest). I will never be Gillian Tamaki. But I’m good at storytelling, and I’m good at interpreting emotion and drawing that on the comic page. So I work to my strengths, which is making stories about engaging characters, and laying out scenes where there is a lot of emotion running through them, and people who like my comics don’t seem to mind that my art is not as great as Gillian Tamaki or Hiromu Arakawa.
Comics aren’t just art or just writing, they’re the two combined to make something new and wonderful. They are more than the sum of their parts. So work hard to because a decent artist with a good grasp of storytelling basics (this is super important!), and work harder to become a truly excellent writer and storyteller, and you can quite possibly make great comics! It worked for me. :)