Sharean Moritshita: The Mind Behind Love! Love! Fighting!

11.1.14 ShaSha LaPerf 5 Comments

Hey hey folks! First off I'm giving a delayed Happy New Year to you all! I hope the years is off to a good start for everyone.

So on to the blogging. I'm pretty excited about this one! It's my first interview! It's something I'm hoping to do on this blog more often since there are a lot of pretty cool people out there with stories and lives way more interesting then mine. So I supposed that's a New Years Resolution of mine, to start getting to know these folks and hopefully get them more exposure as well.

So this interview is with Sharean Morishita. Most of you may know who this young woman is as she the creator of the comic Love! Love! Fighting! The comic follows the story of Oriana who finds herself in Korea after losing her job. The story covers her interactions with an up and coming K-pop star named Jae-hwa as well as family and others. The comic has about 5 chapters right now and is loaded with sharp writing, great characters, and some beautiful art.

Behind every great comic is a great creator, and they're own personal stories can be as equally interesting. So I decided to get into touch with Sharean to find out a bit more about the woman behind the comic.


Cover art by Sharean Morishita



Let's start with a bit of background. How long have you been doing art? 
I've been drawing probably since the first grade but my switch over to and all digital art media didn't happen until about 2007-8 I was still doodling in my sketch book and drawing some comics on paper but when I got married and pregnant with kids I started only working with digital media more often. I still have a stack of art supplies (paint's, paint brushes, papers, and a whole lot of everything else) in my office and I keep telling myself that I'm just saving them to use on a certain special project. I even have some B2 size manga paper stashed away.  I think I do have a sim-hoarding problem. My sisters love holding on to clothes and shoes that they can't fit or don't wear while I'm over here hold on to art supplies that I don't use but a part of me is like "You can't use them yet! You need the perfect project first!" So it stays stashed away in my office until that blessed day comes, Hahaha!



What are some of your fave comic/manga/anime? Did those stories or art styles influence yours?
I've been so out of the loop when it comes to what's trending on the comic and anime scene so I'll just list off some of my old favorites. One of my favorite cartoons that I remember as a little girl has got to be the Old School My Little Pony and Rainbow Bright! I use to have an old VHS of the show and I would pause the tape to draw a screenshot of Rainbow Bright. I don't know if that was a Japanese animation or not but that was one of my favorite cartoons back when I was a little girl.

Now for some of my favorite anime's I would have to say Samurai Champloo is my all time favorite anime. I love the action and the humor and the story! It's just so perfect, I even have the whole DVD TV series, also another little favorite of mine would be an old Gundam show that my little brother forced me to watch back in the day. I don't remember which series it was but I do remember someone by the name of Rain and how one of the Gundams were pink and I just loved it because it was a pink mecha kicking major booty!

For manga I would have to say my favorite would be From Far, Far Away. I just love a good fantasy book and this one just took the cake for me. I loved the style of the drawing and how light and airy the toning was and the story was just the bee's knees!

Now as for stories that influenced me, I have a lot of books that really sparked a cord with me, one of my favorites being Stepping on the Cracks and Her Stories but as for manga, I would say that Peach Girl really influenced me because before I read that book it didn't even click in my head that I could draw black girls in my comic. When I read the manga I had thought that they were all stationed in america and all the girls were white and the boys were white as well. So when I saw how dark Momo's skin was something inside of me wanted to do that as well. Also with From Far, Far Away I loved how they had the main character in the story learning a new word and how protective and loving they were to each other. I wanted to try my hand at that and make an adorable love story were they both need each other. So after seeing Peach Girl and reading From Far, Far, Away. I ended up changing my style of toning to something less tone heavy, I wanted it to look light and fluffy like From Far, Far, Away and I changed my style of drawing to something a little more realistic, like how Peach Girl looked. I remember reading a book about creating your own certain style from different things around you so after changing from the big eyed Sailor Moon style and then the not so big eyed style of Peach Girl I finally found my own little style. I've been told that it looks unique, which I'm not to sure what that means hahaha! In my eyes it looks like any other anime but others have told me that it looks more realistic and I'm over here turning my head like "Really?….Hmmmm." It find it so interesting to hear what other people think of my style because I've always put it in the anime category but then again I've been out of the loop for so long I'm not quite sure anymore ^^;

Art by Sharean Morishita


Let's get into Love! Love! Fighting! So far we're seeing that the story takes place mostly in Korea and we have Korean characters. Have you been to Korea? Did you find it difficult or easy to create characters from a different culture and make them and the locations seem realistic?
No I haven't been to Korea at all but I think it would be a fun adventure to have to go overseas at least once. I've just been stationed over here in america doing research on other peoples time oversea while trying to hold back my jealousy ^^;

I've learned over the years that if I wanted to write a story on something I would have to make sure that I did my research on that place and I'm still in the process of researching, right now I'm planning on dipping more into the historical background of the traditional Korean houses and the theater arts. There's so much to learn about a country that I sort of pick and choose certain topics and try my best to learn what I can and a comic is a good way to help me further lodge that into my head. I didn't really find it to difficult to create characters from different cultures because I just pulled from what I experienced in my life.

 Even though I don't know as much as I would like to know about Korea I do have my own personal experience with interacting with different cultures over here. I did worry in the past about whether the story would be believable but that's the beauty of comic creating, as long as you set up the first act of the story good enough then you can create a world that anyone can believe is real. I learned this from reading Brian Mcdonald's book and also from reading some many different fantasy books. You know the story isn't real but they set the world up so perfectly, they show you what is possible in this place and what isn't and that helps you to know what you should see as believable in that world and what is kind of way out there and not supposed to happen.

Now I've been told in the past that some of my stories aren't believable and that's okay because I still have a lot to learn but while I'm learning I don't see why I should stop creating the story that I like to create, flaws and all .^^



Although we've seen a few--okay very few--AM/BW relationships on TV and in movies, we see them either less in comic book form. When you started, was it your initial intent to create an AM/BW comic?
It's kind of funny because I first created Love! Love! Fighting! for a manga contest and I remember that at that time I was watching a lot of old school variety shows and drama's and during that time I had just given birth to three of my children (twin boys first then a year later I had a little girl) and I was really struggling with my body image. Even before I got married and had kids I had always had an issue with my body. I remember walking around and see other girls more developed then me and they could do their hair better then I could and I remember this certain time back in 6th and 7th grade,  a boy by the name a Shane (I remember his full name you guys hahaha!) had called me pepperoni face because my skin was really starting to break out during that time and I remember how I went to the school counselor and told her what he was doing to me and I remember how upset she got, she was a heavy set, light skinned older lady and when she approached Shane and told him what he was doing was wrong and harassment, I will never forget the look of terror on his face. I never had to deal with his name calling after that, unfortunately I did have to deal with a different boy in 7th grade all the way up to 8th grade. I don't know why but he seemed to love pointing out how much of a stick I was. I'd be walking down the hall and he'd say "Hey what's up stick!" or I'd come in the classroom and he'd say that. Even to this day I don't understand why he would go out of his way to say that and I would catch him looking at me every once in a while, it's utterly baffling. So I grew up thinking that I just didn't have the body that was desirable, I felt like I was ugly and not worth anyone's love or attention and that was back when I was in my middle school all the way up to college days and of course because of what I saw in media and everything else I was also afraid of gaining weight, I had already felt ugly because of my size then and I only thought that I would look even worse if I were to gain weight so after I ended up gaining weight when I had my kids you can image the kind of turmoil that was going on in my head.

I finally got tired of always crying about my size and how I looked, I got fed up with the diets and trying to watch how much I eat and whatever else, I just wanted to live my life and I was tired of crying to my husband and sisters about how big I was, besides my sisters would just say something that would piss me off "Then start working out and watching what you eat!" I'd get so mad at them but my husband really helped me get some of my confidence back because of the love that he would shower me with. So I decided to sort of do an inspirational story for myself and hopefully others just encase someone else might be going through what I was going through.
Art by Sharean Morishita

At that time I was already drawing my main characters in different diversity and I really wanted to draw a character that I could relate to more so physically and I wanted to stand out and I had realized that there wasn't a lot of Asian men and Black women paired up in comics and I thought that would have been such a neat idea to do and also I was watching a lot of Real Romance Love Letter so I was like "Hey! Let's do the story in Korea." I felt like there were enough stories set in Japan and because of the standard of beauty that was over in Korea would contradict my main character so much I decided that it would be a perfect story setter. I didn't have any clue about AMBW back then, I just made pairings from what I thought was fun.

Even growing up I didn't really have those thoughts of "Oh, does that white boy like Black girls? Would he want to go out with me even though I'm Black?" my thoughts were more like "He wouldn't like me because I'm not pretty enough, or smart or cool enough. My laugh is stupid and look at my horse face, I don't even have a lot of friends Q^Q" Those were more of my thoughts. I wasn't really one to go up and approach guys and I never really thought any guy, no matter what color, would be interested in me so I kind of just went through life like that. Now that I look back I see that I had a different mixture of boys in my life and so did my sisters. I won't get to much into it but I remember that one of my sisters would call one white boy that walked around with a hot pink backpack her "White husband" and I remember him declaring that to other people like "I'm her White husband!" She had a bunch of other different colored guys around her but that boy made sure that those guys new he was special and her White husband hahaha! My sisters had a much more active childhood then me. All the boys that were around me I put them in the brother or big brother category ^^;

So the color of my skin being a possible turn off to a guy was never a thought in my head, I always thought that everything else about me was the turn off, all the way down to my zits and teeth and hair but as for my skin. I didn't think anything was wrong with my color. Now there were some times when I thought that maybe if I was high yellow like that other girl or like my sister I would be more popular but that didn't really stick because I knew that I couldn't change my skin and I didn't really want to. There was also a time where I was so envious of one of my friends and how dark and pretty her skin was and how it really made her smile and eyes stand out even more, it just looked like she sparkled when she smiled and I wished that I was dark like her but even with those they were still kind of passing thoughts. I can't say that I was 100% confident about my color all the times because some thoughts did go by but I never really though that it was the color of my skin that would stop my crush from liking me. So it wasn't that much of a issue for me to think, okay for this comic lets have the main guy be black or then for another comic lets make him whatever else. I was more worried about the type of personality that I would have to give each character. Choosing their skin color was was (BAM! You'll be Black! BAM! You'll be Yellow! BAM! You'll be whatever other color I feel!) making their personality was the hard part for me (Oh my gosh that's a long response Q^Q)



You're getting a lot of positive feedback from folks especially those interested in AM/BW relationships! What are some of the best or most memorable responses you've gotten from readers?
This might sound a little cheesy but for me every single response that I've gotten has been memorable. All the way down to the silly little hateful one liner comment that I got on my main page and I think I'll keep that there a little while longer ^^ I wasn't really expecting this kind of feedback. I didn't really think anyone would really care because not to many people seem interested in the fact that Oriana was black and Jae-hwa was Korean, they more so were happy that there was a Black Marshmallow girl in a manga.
Now actually there is a certain comment that stands out to me the most or is the most memorable is this sort of back handed comment that I received and I think it was from a fellow black girl as well. I'll post a little insert of what her comment said:"The "fat black chick" image (a-la Aunt Jemima & Mammy) is a bit cliche, and the popular Korean TV show Sam Soon has also addressed the rigid beauty standards in Korea. ":"Popularized Korean (and other east Asian) beauty standards emphasize very fair skin, very straight hair and very slim physique. Just her being brown is radical enough, but to make her embody the entire opposite suggests that she is inherently undesirable. Now, if she were slim, perhaps there would be more to develop. Think of popular Korean/Black singers like Crystal Kay & Amerie. Neither look like this character, but would still be shunned by Korean society... "
 and then heres another part  of her comment that stood out to me as well "Actually, it's rare to find black people in manga, period. Making her fat is unnecessary (as if there aren't fat white people, or fat asians...). "
I was totally taken back by that and that's kind of the resins why I didn't really think my comic would gain much attention but seeing all of the kind feedback and support I am just seriously blow away. After dealing with a certain type of negativity towards my comic for so long I feel so honored and touched that so many people are able to enjoy my story and get encouraged to know that they are beautiful no matter the shape or color.



Let's talk about Oriana! She's a well written character who has some great snarky moments. We're only five characters in, but she's turning out to be such a well developed character. She's more of a curvy girl and this hasn't gotten past other characters in the series. Can you give some background on the development of Oriana when you started this comic? How have your readers reacted to this character? 
For how I started Oriana, I think I based her off of my mood at that time. I was agitated and fed up with people telling me to go work out or count my calories whenever I would bring up my size. I just wanted to hear that I was beautiful and to just be confident but I didn't get that so I decided to tell my own self that and I came up with Oriana being snarky and sarcastic and unconcerned about what others think about her. She'll lay on the couch with her belly hanging out and won't care, even if company comes to the house. There are days where she'll want to dress up and she'll throw on her spans and strut in the mirror and other days were she'll want it to all hang free and still feel awesome and beautiful. These are some of the things I wanted to do and be comfortable with and while doing this comic, I'm happy to say that this is what I now do. Of course I still have some days where I hate my face or don't want to look in the mirror but I also have other days where I'll strut around the house with my belly hanging and my stretch marks showing and my thuds just a clapping away while I walk up and down the stairs. Oriana was based off of what I aspire to be and that is just being me, I want to be comfortable with myself and be free to have a bad day when I feel like having a bad day. So that's kind of how Oriana came to be. She's a smart mouthed, anti-social, some what of a push over when it comes to her family, hard working young woman who some days just doesn't want to give a crap and just wants to laze about doing nothing and being happy with that.

Now as for how my readers reacted to her, I was a little worried at first because she wasn't like your typical level headed Black girl who's smart and has good grades in most comics. She'd pop off at the handle one minute and try to justify why what she did wasn't wrong but she also isn't the cool chic black girl that knows all things hip and foxy. Oriana will pop on a flora dress and big old black sun hat and not think anything of it or she'll wear her favorite too small ninja shirt and strawberry foam curlers in her head. A part of me felt like she was so different then what Black people are usually portrayed in comics and the other thought maybe she was to cliche and shallow and unrelatable but after getting so many comments from people that say how much they can relate to Oriana, it just filled my heart with so much joy! I was worried about showing Oriana's weakness to her families influence because I didn't want people to think she was a push over but I also didn't want people to think she was someone incapable of feeling pressure and pain. I'm so glad that I made that decision to make Oriana the way she is because I love it when I can find a comic character that I can relate to because it just makes the story even more enjoyable!



If this was a drama/movie for Love! Love! Fighting!, who would choose to play each part?
Oh my goodness!! I don't think that would ever happen XD and even if it did I wouldn't have the slightest idea on who I would cast as who. I'm seriously so out of the loop on what's going on in the media now and days and which actor or actress is hot ^^; I don't really have an answer to that Q^Q I'm flabbergasted.



You have some other comic series in addition to Love! Love! Fighting! Can you tells us a little about each of those stories? 
Oh boy, that's a loaded question XD I'll just mention the comics that I plan on fixing up once I finish Love! Love! Fighting! I do have Bottled Prince and that story is a sort of supernatural/drama/romance kind of story. I wanted to do a story with a handsome and mysterious prince that had a heavy weight on his shoulders and a story about a young woman trying to keep what's left of the family she knew intact even though none of them are related by blood but more so bonded together through friendship and time. At this moment I have the story in my archives so that I can go back in and clean up the plot line some more and take out some of the overly scary/crazy things ^^; For my other comic Whole Hearted, that's more of a silly high school story that deals with the main characters trying to live up to or surpass the image that their parents. The story and plot is still in the works so that's kind of the reason why it's been on hiatus for so long ^^;

Art by Sharean Morishita

I've taken a peek the 4-panel comics you've created about your kids and daily life. Can you tell us a bit about your family? Do you find it difficult to work on your comics while raising a family?
Well, I have 2 twin boys, one is super light skinned and the other is just a shade darker then me so it was a funny little experience when I delivered them at the hospital because we had just got through talking about the women that had one white baby and one black and BAM the same thing happens to me, though my light skinned sun has a bit more yellow to him ^^ and  I also have a little girl. My boys are 5 years old right now and my little girl is 4 and me and my husband have been married for 6 year's this coming March…(or is it April, my memory is so bad, my husband is the one that helps me remember these things.) Now I've already gotten questions from people asking me if I was Japanese or if I was a black women and to that I say, does it really matter? I don't really understand why the color of my skin or where I was born really matters so I tend not to answer those type of questions when people send me those types of messages but since that's not the question here I don't mind talking about "what" I am hahaha! My skin is dark brown and I was born in the USA if you ask me what culture I am I really don't know what to tell you. I can't really say I'm mixed because I don't look it even though my grandfather on my mom's side is Indian and white but on my dad's side I believe they're all just colored folk, now I don't know what type or culture of color that is because they're eyes are very slanted and when we smile our eyes just about disappear so it's a mystery to me. You're going to have to ask God about that but for now just know that my color is brown and I am a female.
<3

I got my Japanese last name from my lovely husband, he's 2 years younger then me but he likes to point out that it's 1 year and 11 months ^^; He also likes to tease me about being older then him and so do my brother and sister though I tell them that he tricked me because when I first saw him he was wearing a suit and tie and he looked more mature and he should be the one getting teased but I digress. Now when raising a family while working on a comic, there are times when it gets difficult because something might happen to the children and I would have to take off from working on the comic to take care of them or sometimes the whole house would get sick and that would really put a pause on my work.

I've learned to multi-task when it comes to working on a comic and raising a family and a lot of the stress and frustration that comes from that I just plug that back into my comic. Of course there are a lot of happy times and I use that as well. I have a lot more 4-koma comics to draw up because my kids and husband do some really funny things and it just makes raising a family a little less stressful when you're able to make a joke about something. Right now I'm a stay at home mom and my husband goes to work full time so that allows me to help take care of the kids while working on my own artwork. I'm still learning a lot of new things but right now our little family is just kind of going with the flow. If I have to get up at 4am to work on something or stay up until 4am and then get back up at 8am when the kids get up then that's what it is. You make it work. <3


Creating comics is a very fun, yet sometimes frustrating world. Do you have any advice for any other artists out there? 
I would have to say for one, don't keep talking about this certain cool comic idea that you have, get out and just draw it. Don't waste time saying "Well my art isn't good enough." Your art is perfect for the level that you are at right now and while you make the comic your art will get better. Try not to be afraid of failing when you make comics. I have some many stories on my back burner but I'm learning how to make the next one work and you learn from your mistakes so you might have needed all of those failed comics to help you prepare for that one finished comic. Don't be afraid of that pencil, if you have the time and energy get up and get to drawing that awesome story of yours and if you fall, get back up, dust yourself off and keep trucking forward. <3

A lot of great answers and advice from Sharean! You can check out more about her and her comic at S-Morishita Studio. She updates pretty regularly. If you're looking for a hard copy of Love! Love! Fighting! pre-order sales are up on her site. You can also check out her other works of art at S.K.Y. Art & Designs

Thanks to Sharean for this interview and I'm looking forward to reading more Love! Love! Fighting!

5 comments:

  1. The character Oriana is someone I could relate to I think, minus her snark :)
    I must admit I did think, when I saw the comics cover:" is she fat? O_o "
    But yeah, I got over it quickly as I began to read the interview. Representation of black women should be diverse, and I'm glad to see a manga main character who has the same body shape as me lol

    I haven't read a manga since...oh, a few years ago. But I'm willing to give this manga a try because Oriana sounds funny. I like the way Sharean draws as well. Reading manga is a real eye-candy for me as I'm fascinated by the precision and realism/beauty of the art.

    I used to draw before, I even started a comics...based on my life. But I'm not good at finishing my creative stuff or being persistent in it (whether it is playing music, writing poems or drawing). So I'll pass her advice on to my friend who has a stronger artistic vibe :)

    Sharean sounds like a down-to-earth, funny woman, it's cool. Thank you for the interview!

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  2. This was a really good interview! I've never heard of this comic before reading this and I'm very curious to read it now! The art work is really good and the concept seems good also. Thank you for sharing this interview. Now I'm off to check out her website!

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  3. Awesome interview! I am new to this comic artist as well, and now I'm really excited! I checked out the first few pages on her website and it looks right up my alley! Loving the art, and the diverse look of characters. Oriana is a hoot. I wish Sharean all the best and hope see more of it.Very inspirational! Makes me want to get back into drawing and writing stories. :)

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  4. Much luck to Sharean Morishita! I've pretty much decided I going to try to jump on the pre-order sale. Lovely interview. If I like a talented artist I always want to know the inspiration, the backstory. The artwork is refreshing, the story cool and the characters are not one dimensional. I'm sold.

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  5. Thanks for this interview. I would say in all honesty that I briefly thought of the fact that she was fat really cliche' as well but then I think this could be seen as breaking the stereotype of AM liking only skinny and white-as-snow girls. The fact that she is big, dark skinned with natural hair is actually a risky but smart choice. Many may think of this as unrealistic but an AMBW couple that I know looks exactly like this, sans the natural hair. The woman is big and darkskinned, the guy is super tall and skinny, and guess what ? He fell head over heels for her. They are now --married--. And he comes from a rather traditional background. I have seen another married couple like this on Youtube. This image is realistic. Everyone doesn't look like Aaliyah or Naomi Harris. :)

    Very talented artist, keep up the good work Sharean.

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