For the curious, Thugboy’s T-shirt, only partially visible in panel 2, features the logo of Team “Sleeping Forest” from the wondrous yet throughly bats**t skating manga Air Gear by artist Oh! Great (and his crew of amazing art assistants). I do thoroughly adore that series’ artwork and storytelling, though its narrative verges so often into deliberate ludicrousness and outright nonsensicality that it doesn’t deliver the “total manga experience” I might otherwise wish for. (In fact, Air Gear is one of the few manga I still prefer to peruse untranslated, as he sheer loopiness of its stories and dialogue remains happily opaque to me in Japanese.)
Now, I’m not the most technically skilled artist around, but with most comics or manga artwork, I can tell at a glance the basic tools and techniques used to draw it. Ah, but Air Gear at times features imagery of such eerie and astounding technical perfection that I have absolutely no idea how the drawings I’m looking at were carried out. As in, “Did those maniacs actually free-hand those lines with a pen-tip? Or was that inked with a French curve? Or did they use a graphics program? I can’t tell!”
Sometimes, though, I get so charged up by drinking in Air Gear’s dynamic, background-heavy panoramas of hyperkinetic action that I think, “Man, I should try to do something like this crazy-ass double-page spread!” Then, after a moment’s more sober reflection, I remember that my art skills are far too limited to even remotely approach the technical brilliance I’m looking at—and, in any event, I’m just one dude, as opposed to the g-d gang of high-level assistant artists who collaborated with Oh! Great on Air Gear.
In panel 3, I find it a bit odd to see a different selection of shuriken adorning NInjette’s ears, headband and neckline than the ones I presently draw on her. Not quite sure when her costume finally locked down into the fixed array of “throwing stars” that I now use, but I suspect that doesn’t happen for another few volumes at the earliest. On second thought, though, I think her choice of shuriken earrings could and probably would still vary from time to time; I shall endeavor to address that accessory detail in the Empowered volume I’m currently working on.