Interview with The Mannamong Writer and Artist Michael Adam Lengyel
Interview with The Mannamong Writer and Artist Michael Adam Lengyel
Comiccoverage.com had the opportunity to attend and cover MegaCon Tampa Bay last month. The convention drew thousands of attendees. Many of them came to meet their favorite actors, artists, writers, comic book creators, and cosplayers. The convention had no shortage of talented writers and artists. We were fortunate enough to meet and interview The Mannamong writer and artist Michael Adam Lengyel. The talented Lengyel is the creator, artist, and writer of the creative children’s graphic novel, The Mannamong. It was very interesting to learn more about the series and the author, Michael Adam Lengyel. We hope that you enjoy the following interview.
comiccoverage.com (C.C): Can you tell us what The Mannamong is about?
Michael Adam Lengyel (M.A.L): The Mannamong is about a little girl who encounters these mythical spirits of nature called mannamong that govern our world by the unseen eye. It’s primary focus is about this girl learning more about them and their mysterious ways as she grows from these experiences. And these correlate to her every day life like having to live in low welfare with a single mother, dealing with bullying and accepting the unknown. It’s a story about growth that I feel kids and adults can come to appreciate and learn from.
C.C: You wrote and illustrated the children’s graphic novel The Mannamong. Was writing and drawing something that you always wanted to do?
M.A.L: Not at first, no. I always did like to draw as a kid and I played these scenario games with my best friend growing up using my toys but it didn’t occur to me that I wanted to both write and draw until I entered middle school. It was then that I really enjoyed telling stories with visuals, which is why role playing with the toys made more sense to me. I didn’t just want to write, it had to be visually shown to me. I was obsessed with video games through most of my childhood so I originally wanted to be a video game creator. But I immediately changed my mind when it involved too much programming for my brain to handle. And all I really wanted was to focus on the story anyway. Going into comics was more of an alternative that I thought carefully about during my final years of high school.
C.C: The Mannamong is targeted to youth ages 8 -12 (although I also enjoyed the graphic novel). Did you read many comic books when you were young?
M.A.L: I only got into comics during high school. Manga to be more specific. I was looking into western comics during my college days, but I wanted to illustrate a more cartoonish comic with a taste of fantasy and adventure that wasn’t just funnies or super detailed and gritty. Which is why I gravitated towards manga for their narrative sense to begin with. The latest western book releases like Amulet and Smile really inspired me to follow suit to utilizing my own art style and story than just purely superhero comics or manga.
C.C: Do you have a favorite author, comic book series, hero, or book series?
M.A.L: I don’t usually pick favorites too much but I do thoroughly enjoy Yoshihiro Togashi’s mangas Yu Yu Hakusho and Hunter x Hunter. He’s a comic creator I inspire to become because he knows how to create characters that greatly contrast with one another to develop very interesting stories. While at the same time is able stretch his creative muscles to interpret scenes in many different ways to avoid being repetitive. To me that’s a rarity with manga, especially within the shounen “boy-oriented” genre. I also like Jeff Smith’s Bone. That was the comic that convinced me that you can have a funny and adventurous graphic novel with quirky looking characters. His art style is just fun to look at.
C.C: You have so many creative influences. In the first graphic novel, readers are introduced to a young girl named Kali. Was she a character that you created specifically for this series?
M.A.L: Yes. She was the very first character I created and I intended for her to be the protagonist. I conceptualized her when I started middle school at twelve years old so she’s been with me the longest. She was pretty much the catalyst of how The Mannamong came to be with the concept “little girl encounters magical beings only she can see” and it just went on from there ever since.C.C: That is awesome that Kali inspired the theme of The Mannamong. The back story to The Mannamong is very in depth and intriguing. What was your inspiration behind it?
M.A.L: I just wanted to create my own fictional universe. I was heavily inspired by certain video games like most of Nintendo’s brands and RPGs like Final Fantasy. They weren’t afraid to tell a captivating story with a creative world along with gameplay. I always believed that creating a world for the setting other than this one is the most engaging because you have to explore it. So I thought about bringing the best of both worlds by having a contemporary world being governed by an unseen world. It’s the kind of “earth” I’d be more invested in if there were something else beyond what we normally see every day.
C.C: Well you did a great job of that in the Mannamong. It seems like the story has endless possibilities and that as a writer, you could take the story anywhere. What are your plans for The Mannamong series?
M.A.L: My goal is to inspire an unpredictable story for my audience. And for that to work I had to set up a mythos that’s full of mystery that needs to be explored. This is a project I’ve been working, rewriting, and redesigning since I was twelve so I have a lot of ideas. Right now, the beginning is focusing on a saga centering on the mannamong responsible for making Kali sick. Once I feel that story has been under wraps, it’ll continue with Kali becoming deeper involved with other mannamong and understanding more legends behind them. So in short, there are a lot of interesting characters I want her to meet.C.C: There are two versions of the first issue available for purchase, one that is already printed with colored ink and one that is a coloring book. Was there a special reason as to why you released these two variants?
M.A.L: Considering my comic is in black and white, I just thought having a coloring book version would entice young readers to be creative and color the story the way they see it could be.
C.C: The comic book and graphic novel world are full of fascinating reads for adults. Have you found that there is a void for children’s comic books and graphic novels?
M.A.L: I think there’s not a lot of marketing or media attention towards comics suited for younger readers. We have superheroes, manga, and graphic novels that are generally geared towards teens and up and they overwhelm comics below that age range. I’ve noticed Scholastic Graphix is trying to fix that with their lineups of popular comics for kids like Bone, Amulet, Smile and Dreamjumper, but other than that, there’s not a lot of books for kids that are strictly sequential art. If more are made at this rate, hopefully there will be more of a demand and it’ll become a staple in the comic industry.
C.C: Do you have any other projects that you would like to share?
M.A.L: I just released a mini comic called Qwibble the Quivering Bag of Bones online on my website, an it is free to view. It’s going to be a series of its own that’s updated annually around every Halloween.
C.C: Where can readers buy The Mannamong?
M.A.L: My books are currently available in print and digital through Amazon. I will be having a special promo offering of the digital versions of Issues 1 and 2 available for FREE on Dec 1st and 2nd, 2016 for your readers to get a chance to see the story. To get the FREE promotional issues, click here. Currently Issue 1 is free for Kindle Unlimited. Here is the link for Issue 1 – amazon.com.
C.C: Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers?
M.A.L: This is a story I’ve been working on for a very long time and I intend to keep working on it. It’s an endearing passion of mine and I would greatly appreciate any feedback and support. Feel free to email me at my website www.michaellengyel.com and sign on to the newsletter for the latest updates on my work. It’s always an honor to at least be acknowledged and I hope you enjoy with what I have to offer.