Manga inspires teen to create comic series

Originally published in La Plaza Press


Hand drawn image by Jonathan Choe

From 25 cent rent-a-copy comic to top 30 in the world on Line Webtoon, commonly known as Webtoon or Webtoons, “Charm!” is a superhero comic made by Redlands East Valley juniors Jonathan Choe, Trevor Masangcay, Arnie James Corpus, Prescott Neiswender and John Sullivan. “Charm!” is also known as “Charm! Luck,” and these student artists who created it are collectively known as the Charm! Squad.

The story follows a young man named Jax Jemp, whose extreme bad luck is its worst when he contracts an incurable disease. On his deathbed, he is given liquidized luck, and discovers a power within himself and a sense of justice to fight villains. 

This up and coming comic is an underdog in the rankings due to the fact that other comics such as the well known The UnCommons have groups of professionals writing, drawing, and editing episodes. 

It all started when Jonathan Choe, the creator and executive director, bought his first Japanese comic book, also known as manga, and thought that he could create something like it. Choe paired up with Trevor Masangcay, the concept manager, and started drawing, printing, and stapling all of the comics on their own time. 

“Back when we were [in sixth grade and] doing physical copies, my job was largely copying and stapling them together, so I was literally just for hours and hours photocopying Johnny’s drawings and painstakingly making comics out of them,” says Masangcay. 

The dynamic duo were letting fellow peers rent out their comics for 25 cents per copy every two weeks, but were not making much of a profit from it. In search of change, their female peers recommended scanning and posting their comic on Webtoons. 

Everything one would see on “Charm!”’s comic is rebooted and hand drawn. Choe says that the storyline was horrible before the reboot, and the script really helped make it better: “Fun fact: […] the comic on the Webtoons is actually all rebooted.[…] I originally started this comic in sixth grade, and since there was no script, the story was really bad.” He also says that hand drawn comics were more natural than digitally drawing them. 

Choe started to expand the “Charm!” Squad by adding Arnie James Corpus who is a writer and editor during the summer, and recently adding Prescott Neiswender and John Sullivan who are both creative and publicity managers as of last month. The “Charm!” Squad members have a flexible role; anyone can help edit, contribute ideas, or publicize the comic. 

The inspirations for “Charm!” range from the manga “One Punch Man” by ONE, the comic Scott Pilgrim comic book series by Bryan Scott Lee in the writing, and the general love of drawing in every page. 

“Charm!” courageously steps away from the cliche of “You can do anything and the power of friendship.” This comic fully acknowledges the concept of death and does not waste moments on the magic of love but, instead, the magic of hard work and dedication.

The “Charm!” Squad is hoping to expand to other webcomic platforms and continue to pursue “Charm!” during their high school career. Choe wants something to leave before there are no more fun times in college. The most recent and second season was released Oct. 12.

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