What Trying to Draw in Manga Style is Teaching Me



I love to draw. I’m always doodling or drawing something. All throughout junior high, high school, college, and seminary, my class notes had doodles all over them.  In my drafting class in high school, my friend and I would draw epic battles of super heroes instead of the assigned drafting drawing (still can’t believe I passed that class). I even add my drawings into my sermon power point when and where I can. I love to draw.

I started drawing when I was in elementary school because of reading comic books. So did my brother. One day he came home with the book How to Draw the Marvel Way and we were hooked. His drawing were amazing and so life like. Mine were always a bit out of proportion and cartoonish. Always a bit off of perspective, not fully realistic, and totally not the “Marvel way.”

I bemoaned that a while. I’d try to hard to draw realistically and be frustrated when I didn’t. Then in high school friends of mine who were also comic book enthusiasts and loved to draw pointed out that my style of drawing added so many more dimensions and opportunities that their styles did not. In the cartoonish style, reality could be altered. It could be played with. It could be seen from different perspectives. I soon embraced this style and it’s stuck with me ever since.

Back in 2010 I was introduced to manga, a Japanese form of drawing graphic novels (they aren’t comics as some people say they are). I also started to watch some Animie, a Japanese style of animation (it used to be lampooned because of bad dubbing and many little kids shows but there’s a whole lot of good Anime out there people don’t know about that is very well dubbed). I began to greatly appreciate the style and genre of manga and Anime. I continued on in my own style of drawing until recently.

I wanted to learn how to draw in the style of manga. It’s harder than it looks. I spent a good while just working on the eyes and struggled with basic facial features. Its’ not the same as my style. It’s new. It’s different. It’s hard too. I even tweeted about it.

Manga tweetYet it’s the same in some ways. It’s still within the realm of drawing people, drawing graphic novels (and yes, comics but not how they are seen by some people who don’t understand the art and style involved). It’s different from what I’m used to, but at the same time, the ideas, principles, direction, and end result are the same.

What is it teaching me then?

As a pastor, I consider it part of my job, my vocation, my life’s work, to daily focus on being a spiritual person living for Jesus, following God, and listening to the work of the Holy Spirit. I strive to practice what are called the spiritual disciplines or spiritual exercises. These are not new. They have been around since before Jesus. Jesus himself practiced the spiritual disciples of prayer, of meditating on scripture, of fellowship, of solitude. The Christian mystics of centuries gone by (they were called mystics because they focused on contemplation and prayer and the mysticism of God) practiced the spiritual disciplines.

Recently, a pastor friend of mine showed me how he and his church will be going through spiritual exercises. Some I knew and I do on a regular basis. Others were the same but different. They were a different approach. I different perspective.

As I look at seeking God, as I look at continued spiritual development, as I look at living my life to be more and more like Jesus, I look for different ways in which to live out these exercises and disciplines. It takes time. And they can be hard.

But looking at things from a different perspective, looking at things in a new way and trying to seek Jesus in a way that might be different can be hard at times. We can be so used to one way of doing things that retraining, refocusing in a new way might feel like a struggle. (I want to be clear, Jesus is the only way to God and we are saved through grace by faith in Jesus). It is seeking out new ways or different twists on old ways on how to bring focus, discipline, understanding, and reliance on Jesus through the Holy Spirit.

It will take time for me to understand the manga and Anime genre of drawing. I’ve observed it over the last four years and have come to appreciate it and now want to attempt it.

I have seen different people come and practice the spiritual disciplines and exercises in focusing on God through Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. It will be an attempt which might be hard at first, but it will be a way to come to Jesus and seek him that will help me better understand and know my Savior, Lord, and Friend.

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