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October 6th, 2014, 10:34 am

Soen Kai

The Max & Moritz Award and the Comic Salon Erlangen - What happened...

The story of the not so nice prize-giving-event.


I'm going to start at the beginning...
As some of you know, TEN vol. 1 was nominated for the Max & Moritz Prize – the biggest prize in Germany for (German and International) comic artists. Thanks to you folks TEN made it to the final round and I was asked... or rather persuaded to go to Comic Salon Erlangen where the price-giving-event would take place in form of a little “gala”.

I had to be persuaded because:
1) I have been nominated more than once for different prizes and never won. So I wanted to spare me the humiliation to be at the prize-giving-event with everyone knowing I'm “the loser” or even cry, because I'm a rather emotional person.

2) The event was on Friday in the evening and on Saturday I had to be in Basel / Switzerland to celebrate the wedding of a good friend and colleague. So initially I didn't even want to attend the Comic Salon at all.

But as it was one of the... I'm still not sure how much he's involved, but one of those people involved with the prize (plus he's someone I know from the comic scene here in Germany) talked me into coming, because he said: TEN was in the run for first place. Only really battling with Marvin Clifford's Schisslaweng and as the voting was going up until Thursday before the event no one knew who of us two would make it. (He later even told me that Friday in Erlangen, that it's so close they even had to print both stickers for TEN and Schisslaweng for the collector's album – don't ask... it seems to be a Comic Salon thing...)

So I thought... hff... okay. Okay, I'll go. I'll stay until the price-giving-event and travel on Saturday very very early (6:30am *cough*).

---

There's not an awful lot to say about the Comic Salon in Erlangen. I went there on Wednesday evening and it started on Thursday. I had a signing with both my (other) publisher Carlsen Comics and at the booth of said “involved person”. Neither signing was “good”. At the booth of said involved person: no one came. At Carlsen one girl came who actually knew my works (such a sweet girl!! She even made a little figure of Kae!) plus I managed to intrigue some of the “normal comic fans” just when I actually should have ended my signing hour... so I stayed. No one minded anyway. (To me Carlsen is a little like a family. I know most of them convention-people by now as I often hang around the booth – despite them being quite the big publisher.)

So why am I telling this “I managed to intrigue”-stuff?
In Germany there is, unfortunately, still a rather great rift between “comic readers” and “manga readers”. Despite the fact that “manga” is “comic” is “manga” is... you get my drift.
You could write a dissertation about why that is and probably wouldn't come up with an answer that satisfies everyone.
From my point of view it seems the “older” comic audience views manga as well as their readers as “silly little kids”.
It's all the same, looks all the same.
It's all kid stuff.
Or porn.
The readers are all kids. They dress up weird. They're too loud. Too colorful. Too young. Too...
We don't want them.
Still, when the comic market in Germany was stagnating, it was manga who caught it.
Anyway, we're the unwanted child the comic scene doesn't want.

And you could feel and see it in Erlangen. It isn't called “Comic Salon” for no reason. (If you keep in mind that “comic” isn't “manga” to them.)

But I didn't mind. I thought: whatever, people. I'm reading webcomics other than manga, I'm not unfamiliar with DC Comics, Marvel and stuff. You just keep your eyes closed and inside your box. You'll never know what you're missing out on.
Plus I'm here because I was asked to attend the prize-giving-event because I might actually get a prize.

---

Then came the evening of Friday and the event. The “gala”.
The publisher of TEN was there, too and we sat in this amazing theatre room waiting for the outcome of the different categories.
I had been afraid it would be a long night. And it was.
The ceremony wasn't just “Hey, those are the ones nominated in this category. And the winner is:-!”
Before anyone got their salvation from the tension of being nominated every single comic, manga and graphic novel that was nominated got a rather long (sometimes tedious) introduction. A laudatory speech if you will.

The hosts of the ceremony were two people:
Christian Gasser, journalist and author – and Hella von Sinnen, a comedian.

Mr. Gasser (whom I didn't know) had a rather dry way of introducing the comics he was in charge of. But that was alright. I kind of expected it at an event that looked so much like... well a gala.
Him and Hella took turns and as she is a comedian she, well, made a little joke here and there. Which I though was alright, as it relaxed the whole stiff “gala” atmosphere.
But overall both did those rather long “laudatory speeches” for every comic.

I know, I'm kind of stressing this, going into detail. But it is important you get a feel for the evening.

Then came TEN and I was really excited. “Oh boy”, I thought, “I wonder what they will say about it!” - I couldn't imagine it, but as everyone else got a really nice and long “laudatory speech” I was full of anticipation. (Who doesn't like to hear other people praise his work?)


What came was like a slap in the face with a splintery timber beam.


It was Hella von Sinnen, who was to introduce TEN.
She began with “Well … again one of those >>Bill Kaulitz Mangas<<.”
** Bill Kaulitz is the singer of the German band “Tokyo Hotel” who – back when they were popular – attracted attention with his “manga style” outfit and hairdo. (?)
What he has to do with my comic... to this day I don't know.
… still everyone laughed. You can hear it in the video. (Of course. Keep in mind: these are the “comic” people.)

She goes on, saying how I am “undoubtedly able to draw very well and my artwork is among the best what the German manga scene has to offer” - but not without the note at the end, that she know's this only thanks to the jury.
After that she tells the audience, thanks to Daniela Winker (a colleague and friend of mine who was nominated and won last time with her manga “Grablicht” [e.g. Grave Light]) she knows now that there's manga for women, manga for girls, manga for boys, manga for girls who love girls and manga for boys who love boys. So called “Boyslove”.
(At this moment Mr. Gasser jumps in to say this is actually for “girls who like boys who love boys”.)
Funny little side-note here, I didn't realize while I was sitting in the audience: when Hella answers she says “it's the funny thing that this is actually something that works well for girls. These arrog- androgynous guys[...]”
I don't know though, if it was some Freudian slip or if one should not think too much of it.
Anyway.
She goes on telling the audience, she unfortunately didn't read the first volume.

And that was the moment I was like: “Wait a minute...”
TEN IS the first volume... of TEN. I thought you read all the comics you were supposed to introduce!
She said she had a hard time getting into the story. Just this much: the protagonist is missing one eye and he has a ponytail.
Then she quotes the blurb from the back of the book which ends with “Who are you?” (from Inoris point of view to Kae) and she says: “And I can't answer that (because I don't know).”
After the ensuing laughter from the audience she goes on telling something about a comic (or book?) that included a recipe in every chapter – you can guess where this is leading: she's talking about the playlist at the end of the book with the songs the chapter titles are derived from.
She actually praises the idea (!) and says, you're supposed / asked to listen to the music while reading the chapter. Which isn't true. I never wrote that.
However she thought this was a nice idea and, yeah, she was done with every chapter right when the song was over.
Despite my opinion that you'd need more than 3 somewhat minutes to read one chapter of TEN... I thought she didn't read “the first volume”?
I was confused.
But honestly at that moment, I thought there's going to be more.
I mean, every other comic had a longer, more thorough introduction and, of course, some praise for the actual work! Expecially after that weird and negative start.

But there was none.
That was it.
And they (or rather Mr. Gasser) went on to the next comic – which of course received a far better introduction again.

***If you don't just want the written description of her “introduction” of TEN, you can even watch it. TEN start's at about minute 94:
HTTP://WWW.SPLASHCOMICS.DE/PHP/MESSEN/BERICHTE/1527/UPDATE_PREISVERLEIHUNG_DES_MAX__UND_MORITZPREISES
Of course it's in German, but I guess her facial expressions, gestures and intonation also tell a lot.

---

Needless to say: in the end TEN didn't get the prize, but Schisslaweng.
So I couldn't even say “Oh well, but in the end I got the prize. Or say something about it on the stage as Daniela Winkler did two years ago when Hella did a similar weird presentation of “Grablicht”.
I was utterly helpless in face of this … defamation.

So because I am a very emotional person... I sat there. And I cried.
And I cried.
I cried even more when I got a text from the stage, from the manga-division leader from Carlsen (who received the prize for the German version of Billy Bat) that said “To me you're the winner.”
And I still cried when everyone had left the room. (Except for me and my publisher, who tried to console me, but was also pretty numbed by what just had happened.)

After I finally dried my tears I pulled myself together.
“I want to see her”, I said.
I didn't want to scream at her or anything. Nothing that childish. But I wanted to see her and ask her if she realizes, what she just had done.

On my way to the terrace I ran into Marvin Clifford and congratulated him. But only shortly. I wanted to find that woman!
I didn't find her. I searched the gala high and low. Hell, I even stood on a bench, because I'm a tiny 4'11 midget. But I didn't think a large woman in a white tuxedo suit overall couldn't be THAT hard to spot.
Some people I know tried to help me find her. Even my former author with Carlsen, Anne, whom I really didn't expect it from, popped up. And she was angry... for me.
First time she said she heard where Hella was at. But then we couldn't find her. And the second time she got the information: Hella had left.
She just... had left.

I tried not to cry... and I wanted to go to the hotel... sleep. Forget about the evening as fast as possible. But first the Carlsen Manga division leader and my editor with them came up and got me a coke. Calm down...
We all were talking about how shitty it was, what happened. Everyone suddenly popped up next to me – or so it felt. Some colleagues and friends, old ones and new additions likewise. Even Daniela Winkler was there. As I told you, we're good friends and she was so _angry_ and so _disappointed_ of what Hella had done – because she had gotten to know her at the last after show party and at the filming of a comic talk thing.
But not only people I knew … even strangers came up to me after realizing who I was and told me “that wasn't alright, what she did”.
I don't know if they were people who already didn't laugh in the audience or if they just realized what that actually meant after they were out of the “herd” … or maybe after seeing me cry even...?
But what counts is, they realized it and didn't think well of it.
I can't recall all encounters from that evening. I sadly don't have an eidetic memory. Far from it.
But I had the feeling the overall consensus was: “That was shitty.”
After some time (and another coke) Carsten Meißner – the producer of said comic talk and someone I knew from my guest appearance in the japanimanga internet / myvideo talk show “J-Mag” drove Daniela and me to the hotel.
He told me something I guess I'll never forget. Even though he always tries to to take up the cudgels for Hella or at least soothe my opinion of her... he told me:
Directly after the prize-giving-ceremony he went to her and told her what she did with TEN wasn't ok. (I don't know the actual words he used of course.)

You know, what she said?
She didn't say “Oh my gosh. I'm so sorry. I didn't want that! Can I talk to her?” or something. No.
According to him she said: “Thanks. Now you've ruined my evening.”

This, in my opinion, fits perfectly in the whole “suddenly leaving the party” thing she usually doesn't do after the ceremony.

---

After that I went to bed, got up early and travelled to Basel, as I had originally planned.
It was hard to shut up about Erlangen, because of course it still hurt and I wanted to know, what would happen now. But I really didn't want to spoil my friends wedding!
So the Weekend went by.


The next week I got an email from the manga-division leader at Carlsen about something we had discussed that evening.
The (big) manga publishing houses all had put together and signed a letter to the Comic Salon Erlangen telling them, this is not how you treat a guest and nominee.
I gave my ok to the letter and waited for a reply from Erlangen, if one ever should come.

It did.

But before it did of course that evening and what Hella had said was THE talk in the scene.
Not even Ralph Königs memorable appearance could fully overshadow that.
Even one newspaper had a small article that had a part in it about how bad Hella von Sinnen's presentation of TEN was.
But more than that... it leaked into the internet.
It leaked into facebook.
Even though I didn't do anything. I had wanted to wait for the reply.
But people who knew me, people who were FURIOUS made it public and the shitstorm came faster than he organisers of the Comic Salon could put up their umbrellas.

Somewhere in between the discussions about what happened came the reply. About a week later.
I didn't know if I should be even more frustrated or not because it was kind of what I had expected: an apology that wasn't an apology.
Still, I gave my permission to publish the apology.

You can – if you want to – read it here:
HTTP://WWW.COMICFORUM.DE/SHOWTHREAD.PHP?142687-MAX-UND-MORITZ-PUBLIKUMSPREIS-%96-RUNDE-3&P=4866672&VIEWFULL=1#POST4866672

It was posted on the German comic board – which also is the official board for many publishers and the Comic Salon – into the topic where the shitstorm and discussions were going on.
(A little sad that they didn't even feel the need to make it a real open apology and post it on their website... the feeling that the tried to hush up the whole thing was strong in the scene.)

There's _a lot_ going on in that topic before and after the apology-posting. So if you are interested and have quite some time on your hands – and a good German translator – you might want to dig in to understand the problem of the german manga (called Germanga by officials and self-ironically “Mango” by the artists themselves) in Germany as a whole. There are some people who point out the biggest problems pretty well.

---

I took some time to reply to this “apology”. Mainly because I needed to digest the way the wrote it properly so as to not write an angry letter and / or seem like a sulking child. (Because some parts of the “apology” seemed to imply that's already what they see me like.)
There they're talking about how they are sorry for “making me feel insulted” - so actually I wasn't insulted. I just FELT LIKE I WAS. It was all in my head, huh?
They said, Hella von Sinnen's intention was never to belittle me and that she was asking to see me after the ceremony because she wanted to apologize to me personally.
… oh really? Funny thing I didn't see you come looking for me... from up on the bench.
[Then there's some totall irrelevant stuff about how they made the Max & Moritz Prize and about how the audience award is fair and all... wait a second! Did you just imply I'm only sad and sulking because I didn't get the prize? Don't you even..!!]
Yadda yadda, some text about how they appreciate Hellas work as a host...
And then (I try to tanslate as clear as possible):

“Even if this is just a small consolation, did she (Hella von Sinnen) criticise other works in the past and even made jokes about the jury. However I'm aware that an artist nominated by the jury or even a seasoned member of the jury is better in handling something like that than an artist nominated by the audience whose work still has to fight for social and artistic recognition more than other genres. We, as organisers of the Comic Salon and Hella von Sinnen are really sorry you're feeling hurt by us!”


I don't even want to start what I think about this passage.

Lastly they're offering we could talk about doing something together to improve the situation of manga at the next Comic Salon in Erlangen in two years.

---

I wrote nicely. I really did.
However I pointed out the biggest problems I saw with this apology and of course the one really big mistake that was and is always and always pointed out by the organisers as well as Hella:
She didn't read the first book of the series. So she wasn't able to understand TEN.

But she tried to read TEN. But without the first book...

I guess you all understand where the mistake is in that.

All I got until now though is a thank you for your mail, I will answer properly soon.
That was... uhm... a month or two ago. (I think it was two.)
So much for “Lets talk about what we can do together.”

---

Anyway. Since then the talk about the Max & Moritz prize-giving has calmed down considerably. Still, TEN seems to be more well known now. I seem to be more well known.
Lately the curator of the Erika Fuchs House (a museum of one of the greatest Ducktales translator in Germany) wrote me. I had talked with her shortly on the award-evening. (I even remember her faintly!)
She told me they're collecting very short comics or comicstrips for the museum done for them by known German comic artists. The only demand is, that it includes a quote of one of Erika Fuchs' translations. (They gave me a short list.)
And if I had time and wanted to do one, too. Because... they realized they made “the same mistake” in overlooking the Germanga scene. [I still hate that word. Can we please all call it Mango?]

Last week a professional journal about comics, called “Alfonz”, included a big article about what happened in Erlangen and how it should not divide the comic and manga scene(s). With this article went three interviews you can read online. (Again, in German.)
HTTP://WWW.COMIC-REPORT.DE/INDEX.PHP/NEWS/EVENTS/816-COMICKOMPLEX
The interviewed people were:
Melanie Schober – a colleague and good friend of mine. Also a mango-ka.
Andreas Wiedemann – err..? XD Some sale representative from Egmond Manga & Anime... sorry I have no clue who he is. .__.
And of course: Hella von Sinnen.

And this last article plus the interviews were actually the trigger that made me ask all of you if you wanted me to share this story with you.
Especially the interview with Hella von Sinnen.
In one word: sad.
It is sad how she's trying to justify her presentation of TEN. How she tried to talk like it was a good one. And lastly how she tries to win over people by saying she is so, so hurt that she was misunderstood...


---


In conclusion I can say:
I don't think I will ever hear from the Comic Salon Erlangen again.
Should one of my works be nominated ever again they will have to pass on me for the award giving ceremony.
I don't think I will ever get a real apology from Hella von Sinnen, as she seems to think she did nothing wrong and I shouldn't be such a wuss. (last one is what I think she thinks about me)


Will it knock me down?

Pf!
Oh, please.

After reading the shitstorm back then, I made this little comic-strip.
And I still stand by it.


user comments

October 6th, 2014, 10:45 am

Otai

let me give you a hug instead of words *huuuuuuuuuuuuugs*
Ten is awesome, when i find time between drawing my own comics and my work i'm planning to draw a fanart of it but it will take some time, but i hope that at least shows how much i love Ten
*hugs again*

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October 6th, 2014, 11:56 am

pi (Guest)

I've been there on Saturday, sadly i didn't know about TEN being there.

And finding or following someone in the Heinrich-Lades-Hall, being linked with the city hall, can be really difficult, even if empty and one knows all of the employee corridors.

Your manga is awesome, and Hella von Sinnen is just a lowbrow Comedian, hired to amuse the guests, at the cost of anyone.

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October 6th, 2014, 1:06 pm

Soen Kai

@PI
The gala was in the Markgrafentheater though. It wasn't that big and not that hard to find anyone in it if you don't remove yourself from the premises quickly.
ówo
<3

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October 7th, 2014, 6:17 am

Moemai (Guest)

I feel sad, revolted and sadly not surprised at how that aweful person treated you. Some people tend to overlook the impact of their word and don't even try to do their work if they don't feel the need, without even THINKING of the artist's feelings, or even considering that it migh harm your "career" or work or whatever... I'm angry ! è_é but I hope you'll find some kind of piece, she's the worst but her non professionalism and her being more interested into looking not guilty more than appologising shouldn't hurt you anymore, you're better than that ! And your readers know you and love your work and that's all that matters in the ends, like you said. *hugs*

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October 7th, 2014, 1:03 pm

Sketched-English

how can person who didn't read your story and judge it poorly? The art is beautiful and the characters are so easy to love. You didn't deserve such cruelty.

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October 7th, 2014, 3:12 pm

greenwolf19

That was really wrong of Hella von Sinnen for doing that. She doesn't read it, but she goes around and replies as if she's read it.... That women is so wrong to do that. You didn't deserve that at all. *Hugs with lots of love* Your comic is so amazing to read and your artwork is so inspiring that it makes my work look like chicken scratch! - XD Remember, you have support from everyone and you don't need to be sad anymore!

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October 9th, 2014, 4:53 am

S (Guest)

My heart goes out to you. So sorry to hear such a thing happening *hugs* May the rest of the year be brighter and this awful event be blown away!

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October 9th, 2014, 12:02 pm

RayZa

Ach. Du. Scheiße.
Das klingt ja schrecklich! Und das niemand vorbei gekommen ist, um sich etwas signieren zu lassen schockt mich auch. Irgendwie ist das ganze an meinem Kopf vorbei gegangen, sonst wäre ich auf jeden Fall gekommen! (Zumindest wenn ich auch eine Ausgabe von Ten hätte... Die ich mir leider nicht kaufen kann, weil meine Eltern nicht mit meinem Boyslove Konsum einverstanden sind. Sie habens mir eigentlich verboten... Also entschuldige das ich wohl bis zu meinem Auszug nichts von dir kaufen kann, um dich zu unterstützen... Ich würde so gerne! :( )
Ach diese ganze Sache hat mich so scheiße aufgeregt. Sowas macht man einfach nicht. Gott verdammmmmmmt... Ich schicke dir gaaaanz viele warme Umarmungen und ne rießige Tafel Schoki (weil Schokolade immer alles besser macht!:D)! ♥

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October 9th, 2014, 7:36 pm

I can't believe it! How rude! :< The format of a comic shouldn't matter. Not only that but Ten is one of my favorite comics of all time! :D I was really hoping you would win D: I thought you would!

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October 12th, 2014, 5:45 pm

gentlechaos

oh shit I'm sorry but part of this is really hilarious! The way Hella von Sinnen (absolute German TV trash) thinks she can make fun of people that actually work and have TALENT. ahahahaha god.
Still I'm really sorry that you had to go through that :/ and just because theyy couldn't get someone better for that. Hella is probably frustrated that that is about the best she can do these days.
But chin up! Every puplicity is good publicity (just think of shades of grey) and we'll all just be glad about every new person that reads your stuff and finds out for themselves what TEN is really about :) Fuck the rest. Ganz ganz viel Liebe aus Brühl.

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October 19th, 2014, 5:41 pm

dmellieon

To be treated like that at an awards event... I'm beyond words and have tears in my eyes. I wish I could reach through the web and offer you a hug. Know that your webcomic is loved enough to be nominated. Nominations that came from around the world. Keep that in your heart and know the truth of it. From this point on ignore her and the Salon. Shake the dust from your sandals and do not look back. If asked about her just respond with a “who is she and how is she important to me?” Nothing hurts a “celebrity” like being forgotten and unknown. Then move on with making the art that you and the world of TEN loves.
PS. Adore your mini-comic. <3

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October 20th, 2014, 9:43 am

Pedes

Ugh, that is so shitty, I am so sorry :C *hug*
But I am glad you got all that support from other people ^^

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November 2nd, 2014, 3:10 pm

magicmau5

What an a-hole!!! (((((Martina))))) I can't get your beautiful images out of my head. You're so freaking talented, don't listen to stupid people like her! Also, I've been listening to this song by Big Data - "Dangerous (feat. Joywave)" and all I could think of was your manga! Perfect combo... :) I'm so obsessed with your manga that I'm going to buy both English volumes online and listen to Dangerous over and over :)

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November 4th, 2014, 2:35 am

magicmau5

I've been thinking about how rude that woman was to you and it makes me want to cry that she made you cry! It's obvious that you have an enormous talent, and she must be either intellectually disabled, jealous of you, blind, or some combination thereof. I wish I could fly over there and throw a blunt object at her head. What a terrible person!

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January 24th, 2015, 10:31 pm

Sugarglitter (Guest)

I always found the distinction between comics and manga to be quite ridiculous. Especially if we wanna talk about "european manga (since there is also a really strong french and spanish market) vs comics. Both eastern and western art maintain some local characteristics but at the same time in no way can they be stereotyped as homogenous.

I am appalled by the way the organisers treated you both during and after the event. I dare make the assumption that it was not solely due to the manga characteristics of your work. The rhetoric used for the presentation is problematic to say the least. Even though there is the language barrier it troubles me that someone who is familiar with this section cannot understand how or why people wanna read stories that do not involve the male power fantasy and cater to a certain type of reader. At a time where there are plenty of stories about boys who like girls that love girls why does the BL genre pose such a challenge to understand? And what about the male audience?

Fauxpologies are unfortunately common practise in this kind of setting. It takes strength to realise one's own mistakes and own up to them. I hope that you can put this unpleasant experience of rudeness and mistreatement behind you! Please know that there are a lot of people that admire and enjoy your work both on Ten and on your site. Yesterday I received the physical copies of TEN and I was tickled pink since it felt like it took them forever to get here. It may seem like a small thing but for each Hella out there, there are much more people that get excited to finally have a part of your work at their hands , that have read it two or three times since yesterday and can't wait to proudly present their new acquisition to their peers.

From Greece with love. :)

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October 15th, 2015, 4:39 pm

Marcus (Guest)

I just found out about your webcomic, it's amazing, beautifully plotted and artistically drawn, you're extremely talented, and your effort is never going to waste, I just read about the whole ordeal in this "gala", and even though it comes a bit late and even though I live far away if I could I would hug you right now and tell you you're awesome, your work is fabulous and you have my whole support :) never let this bring you down, just remember you have maybe hundreds of thousands of fans all over the globe waiting rather impatiently for the next page (me included) *huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugs*

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