Attack on Titan creator Hajime Isayama has never shied away from criticizing his own drawing skills. In a 2014 interview with Brutus, Hajime was asked about his ugly art style, commenting, “I actually felt my art looked good when I was starting out, but I’ve come to feel worse and worse about my art as I’ve gradually noticed how awkward it looks.”
While Isayama’s art has improved over the years, people have been sharing an old blog post he wrote in 2013. Isayama held a signing event in Utsunomiya, Tochigi and signed autographs, chatted with fans and received gifts.
But there was a problem…Isayama wrote that his autographed drawings were terrible and he was depressed that they were given to fans. For the event, Isayama attempted to draw super-deformed illustrations of Mikasa, Levi, Armin, and the Colossal Titan. He noted that Eren was not offered because Eren was too hard to draw in the style.
Isayama apologized to his fans in the blog post and noted that he carries a lot of self-doubt about his abilities.
In a 2015 interview with BBC, Isayama shared more of his doubt in his skills. He talked about sending prototype copies of Attack on Titan in 2006 to various publishers, but they gave him the same critique: while they loved the story, they would pass because the art was too bad.
Kodansha was among the last publishers that Isayama sent a prototype, but he was ready to give up on becoming a mangaka. When Kodansha offered to publish his work, Isayama told BBC, “My self-esteem was so low. When my editor said he liked it, I remember thinking, ‘What’s wrong with this guy?'”
It seems like Isayama is getting the last laugh since Attack on Titan is one of the best-selling manga series. And while Isayama may never win awards for his art (in fact, his orz one-shot was credited with being the ‘ugliest manga’ to win a Newcomer Prize), he has taken a softer stance on self-criticism.
In the same interview with Brutus, where he revealed his self-doubt, Isayama claimed, “Better to have memorable art, even memorably bad art, and stand out.”