BY XENIA SANUT
John Paul Macatol also know as “monotone ink” is a self-taught artist, illustrator and Monash University student.
He specialises in Japanese comics manga and is the creator of the online comic Project SHaDE.
His creative work saw him awarded third place in internationally-renowned competition Silent Manga Audition last year.
Even though drawing interested the 20-year-old since a young age, he initially thought comics were childish.
He only became interested in comics after stumbling across mystery and psychological thriller manga Monster at his local library.
“My views on comics and cartoons were that they were for kids and that kids’ stuff was shallow,” Mr Macatol says.
“When I read Monster, for the first time in my life I felt truly terrified by [the] piece of media.
“I’ve never experienced that before and I thought, ‘maybe there is more to it’.”
The two-page spread for his entry tells the story of a girl with polio who is selected to pilot a giant robot or “mecha” in a dystopian world.
“The inspiration for the submission idea came from [when I was in] Year 12,” he says.
“We read The Golden Age and the concept of iron lungs in the story kind of struck me as something that would be cool as a mecha story.”
The Golden Age is written by Australian author Joan London and tells the story of children being treated for polio during the early 1940s.
Mr Macatol does not actively look for stories, instead he is often struck by inspiration.
“I try my best to write [ideas] down,” he says.
“I think only after writing it down and sitting down that these stories really develop.”
After studying and completing any assigned work for his Bachelor of Design degree at Monash University, he uses his free time to make comics, play video games and read.
However, it was another thriller manga which helped Mr Macatol begin to appreciate classic literature.
“When I read Tokyo Ghoul, I just really liked the way [the creator] wrote his characters and the way he incorporated some bits of literature in the actual story itself,” he says.
“I think it was through Tokyo Ghoul that I discovered Franz Kafka, one of my favourite authors now.”
Before drawing in his self-described “lazy and sketchy” style, Mr Macatol begins with a basic framework and storyline.
“I draw little panels and use stickmen to organise the composition and where the characters are going to be,” he says.
“When it comes to developing style it’s not something you notice, it’s something that comes out naturally, and you keep drawing until you eventually realise that you seem to have some sort of distinctive voice.”
As he draws, he shares his thoughts on winning the competition.
“I will let God decide on that,” he says.
“I think my one goal for this competition is to make another good comic that I can put into my folio.
“If it wins and if it gets me some recognition and some connections, I will do my best to make use of them.”
The university student would like to work with Japanese creators and somehow bring some Western-influence to his art.
Mixing these two cultures is interesting, especially the process of matching their different elements, he says.
Mr Macatol hopes this submission, and his future comics, tell a story which his readers can enjoy but also encourage them to think deeply.
“Franz Kafka said something along the lines of, ‘The type of books that people need are the kind that pretty much destroy them, the kind that break the floor beneath them and make them fall’. I guess, that’s what I am aiming for in my work,” he says.