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Lionborn: Legend Rekindled With A Twist

by Michelle Alles

@michellealles12

Award winning illustrator Sachi Ediriweera, who has a repertoire of many other talents, is all set to launch his graphic novel on Sheerdas, the hero of Lionborn which is based on the legend of Sinhabahu. Sachi takes satisfaction in creating a story that will not only contribute to local folklore being placed on an international platform, but also be remembered by future generations.

  

Sachi, when did you get interested

in comics?

I grew up reading syndicate comic strips as Blondie, Calvin & Hobbes, and Garfield. I loved how those strips would tell a story with just a few boxes. When I was around 11 or 12, I started reading material from DC and Marvel comics which fuelled my love for visual storytelling.

 

How did you decide to become an artist. Did you always want to do comics?

Drawing was more of a hobby to me. While growing up, I’d draw superheroes and random things that interested me on blank pages. I never pursued illustration seriously even in school or anywhere else, which sort of contributed to my self-learning curve. My first few jobs were graphic design / animation-related jobs and even at that time, the extent of my drawing skills was limited to storyboarding. When I started making my own short films, I’d storyboard them as well. I was still a huge fan of comics, but making one never crossed my mind. I started considering it when many who were following my work online suggested that I should try making comics. I illustrated my first ever comic page in April 2015 which led to the creation of Lionborn.

 

What is Lionborn?

Lionborn is my debut graphic novel and quite possibly the first ever English language graphic novel to be written and illustrated by a Sri Lankan artist. The story is an adaptation of the Sinhabahu legend as a crime story in which I renamed Sinhabahu and Sinhasivali as Sheerdas and Sivali respectively.  The reason I choose to adapt the Sinhabahu legend was because I wanted the story to be relatable to Sri Lankan audiences and at the same time give me creative control over plot elements. Also there were many interesting things that attracted me to it, including the ability to develop Sinhasivali’s character and the climatic fight between the father and the son.

 

You released the first issue at LCC ’16, but why did you decide to publish the full project as a single graphic novel?

Lionborn was planned as a 07-issue story. The book released at Lanka Comic Con 2016 was the self-published first issue. My original plan was to release the full series monthly, but after some thought, we decided to package the entire story as a graphic novel which made it more consumer friendly.

 

What was the most difficult aspect of putting the comic book together?

Since this was my first experience making a comic book, there were quite a few trial and error moments, which is probably why it took me nearly 3 years to finish the book. The entire Lionborn creator team is scattered around the world, but managing contact was easy thanks to social media. However, there were times where I had to push deadlines. The other challenge I faced was to make sure the book’s style was consistent. After seeing the printed product though, I can fervently say that all the effort was totally worth it.

 

Describe to us your creative process while creating a piece.

I’ll take a comic page, for an example. I work with story outlines while scripting, i.e., I write a couple of sentences on what needs to happen on the page, critical dialogue, etc. The first step is to draw the layout and arrange the comic panels, doing rough sketches to determine the poses. The next step is inks, which is where I properly draw the page. Then I’ll send the page to the colourist for colours. Once an entire chapter is done, which are 20-22 pages, I’ll send it to the letterer to insert dialogue and speech bubbles.

 

Are you generally satisfied with your work the way that it is?

As with any skill, the more you work on it the better you get at it; it’s the same with art. My illustrations have improved over the past few years and I try new things often. Personally, rather than pondering over the same piece over a week and trying to make it perfect, my goal is to create something that looks good and get it out of the way so I can create more.

 

Having worked with comics, movies, and art, could you tell us what was the work you’re more proud of?

Good question! I am proud of them all. I think working on all of those had an effect on each other. Primarily, my passion has always been visual storytelling, be it graphics, movies, comics or art. Working on movies helped me understand camera language, compositions and scriptwriting, all of which are needed to draw comics. My love for comics is also connected with movies too. It’s a full circle actually…a circle that I am proud of.

Have any of your fans ever asked you to draw something particularly strange?

I rarely take requests. So, that hasn’t happened yet.

 

How do you describe your daily routine?

By profession, I am a Production Designer for the events industry. So after my hours at work, I’ll return home, spend couple of hours reading a comic or watching anything interesting. Then I work on a drawing. Once again, the most important thing for me is to do something productive, no matter how small, every day. Even if it’s just editing one word on the script, or drawing one single line on the page, as long as I did something, I consider it a good day. Rome wasn’t built in a day; it was built one brick at a time. This is the same with creative works: if you’re an author, write one word a day at least, even if the rest of your day has been a bad one.

 

Tell us what projects can we expect from you in the near future?

Lionborn will be released at the upcoming Lanka Comic Con which will take place on August 26-27 at the SLECC. Other than that, I am developing a couple more comic ideas and will keep you posted on my Facebook page, facebook.com/lionborncomic/

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