Each year, the Embassy of Japan runs a comic-writing competition to unearth the best, freshest talent in comic short stories, and we’re thrilled to help launch the 2016 Manga Jiman contest with this very special panel event.

Now in its tenth year, the competition has two categories: Yonkoma Manga, a comic strip of four panels on one page, for entrants aged between 10 and 13; and Manga Jiman, a short story told across six-to-eight pages for anyone aged 14 or over.

Winners and runners up receive tremendous prizes: in 2015 the top prize included air tickets to Japan and inclusion in a special exhibition at the Embassy. To find out more about the competition, this year’s theme and how to enter, join our panel of artists and former winners as they give you all the info and inspiration you need to get started and some first-hand insight into what participating in and winning the competition meant for them.

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Lorenzo Fruzza

Lorenzo Fruzza’s work has mostly featured in the Manga Jiman competitions, recently taking the 2014 top prize. His storytelling style attempts to blend the refined linework of Manga with the energy of western comics. When not drawing, Lorenzo heads up an integrated design department in London.

Chie Kutsuwada

Chie Kutsuwada is a Brighton-based Japanese Manga artist. Since graduating from the Royal College of Art, she’s been creating work that’s often very delicate and romantic in style. She’s also passionate about sharing her love of Manga by running workshops at several museums and schools.

Katja Hammond

Katja is an illustrator, writer, game designer, and winner of multiple Manga Jiman competitions. She creates her own comics, and enjoys exploring the spectrum between whimsical wonder and psychological horror. Katja currently works at Mind Candy, producing art for various products, including Moshi Monsters and World of Warriors.

Zarina Liew

Zarina Liew is a London-based fashion illustrator and self-published comic artist. Since becoming a Manga Jiman runner up in 2009, she’s developed her art style to embrace more watercolour and ink, while also drawing for various clients in beauty, fashion and retail. She also enjoys life drawing and hosting Manga workshops.

Paul Gravett

Acknowledged by the ‘Times’ as “the greatest historian of the comics and graphic novel form in this country”, Paul Gravett is a writer, historian and curator specialising in international comics. He is the author of ‘1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die’ and co-curated the recent exhibition ‘Comix Creatrix: 100 Women Making Comics’ at House of Illustration.