The manga artist as child liar

tumblr_inline_nclk86Zqra1qheujoTaiyo Matsumoto, in a 1997 interview:

Creating manga is kind of like you’re a child who’s stolen some money, and when asked about it you lie and say you found it on the ground, but then the grown-ups keep asking more and more questions, and you have to keep making up more and more lies and make it more real. Like, I’ve already gone and said that I’d make this series, so now I have to follow through on that original lie to the end and make it look like something real. People who are good at making manga are really good liars, I think.

Inio Asano and Daisuke Igarashi, on getting started in the manga industry

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In 2012, Manga Erotics F did some interviews with manga artists regarding the first time their work was published — including Inio Asano and Daisuke Igarashi.

Inio Asano

“That’s a Bit Much, Kikuchi!!”, Inio Asano's 1998 debut

“That’s a Bit Much, Kikuchi!!” (1998), Inio Asano’s first work published

  1. How did you come to make your debut? (Did you bring your manga in and show an editor, did you enter a contest, etc.)

When I was seventeen, I drew about twenty pages’ worth of short gag pieces and brought them in to Spirits. The editor I was seeing was Naoki Yamamoto’s editor, and it just so happened at the time that Yamamoto’s one-shot “Fine Girl” came out to be shorter than originally planned, so they ran my manga to fill the gap. I lucked out, not having drawn something too long. (laugh) Continue reading

Hiroaki Samura (Blade of the Immortal) in conversation with fawning fanboy Masashi Kishimoto (Naruto)

Never thought I’d translate an interview with the guy who did Naruto, but this is a pretty great conversation! Turns out he’d fallen hard for Blade of the Immortal in university and studied it in a serious way, so he’s absolutely stoked to get to talk to Samura. Topics discussed include:

  • the endings of each other’s series (so: SPOILER ALERT)
  • Samura’s art and panel layout as revelation in the 1990s
  • Naruto haters in the West who need to take a deep breath
  • the perils of overdeveloping characters
  • the perils of drawing the human hand
  • breasts
  • confirmation that Kakashi’s character design is in fact pretty much lifted from Magatsu in BOTI (what a scoop!)

Also: if you enjoy this, might I recommend checking out the 2013 Samura interview I translated?

Kishimoto: This is a total dream come true for me. I’ve always dreamed of meeting you.

Samura: That’s nice of you to say. (laugh)

Kishimoto: No — really. I’ve loved your work since I was in university, and…. jeez, how to put this? I’ve got so much I want to say to you. Let’s not even bother talking about Naruto! Really! I just want to talk about Blade of the Immortal. (laugh)

Samura: Come on now. (laugh)

Kishimoto: I can still remember when Blade of the Immortal first ran in Afternoon: I was in my first year of university majoring in art and I was living in a dorm, and the other students there were all going on about this incredible manga in the latest issue, like, “Kishimoto, you want to become a manga artist, right? Then you’d better take a look at this thing.” And the thing is, I was making a samurai manga at the time, so when I heard that this was a samurai manga too, I figured I’d take a look to see if I could glean something from it, but then it turned out that it was just on a whole other level. Continue reading

Interview with Hajime Isayama, creator of Attack on Titan: “Better to have memorable art, even memorably bad art, and stand out.”

81IAG7cUoiLMen’s culture magazine Brutus recently did a special issue on Attack on Titan that included a lengthy interview with the manga’s creator, Hajime Isayama, in which he talks about such topics as how it feels to have produced an ultramega hit, how he came to be interested in manga, his inspiration behind the characters he’s created, and his thoughts on recent kaiju films, among a lot of other things. You may notice that the interviewer talks to Isayama almost like a psychologist; this is because he, in fact, is.

The magazine went on sale in November 2014, so the interview presumably took place sometime not long after volume 14 went on sale.

–Pleasure to make your acquaintance. I’ve been reading Attack on Titan since the first volume came out, but it’s since become such a smash hit that now you can find it at convenience stores. Do you ever feel pressure knowing that?

Hajime Isayama: Not really, I guess.

–The reality of it hasn’t hit you yet?

Isayama: It feels like reality is getting farther and father away. People say things say things like my dreams have become reality, but ever since I won that first prize back when I was nineteen, it’s felt more like reality has been growing distant.

–Did you not dream about finding this kind of success back before starting out as a manga artist?

Isayama: I knew that making a living from drawing manga is extremely tough, so my dream back then was just to make enough to feed myself with my manga, even if it never became a big hit — let alone the idea of becoming a millionaire.

–I’ve read in a previous interview that you didn’t originally think the idea for Attack on Titan would make for a popular manga.

Isayama: I thought it was great personally, but I figured that most aspiring manga artists must feel that way, and that I was just another kid underestimating how tough the industry really is. Continue reading

A conversation between Katsuhiro Otomo and Takehiko Inoue

o1Men’s culture magazine Brutus did a special issue on Katsuhiro Otomo back in April 2012, when Otomo was doing his giant exhibition where he displayed the original handdrawn pictures of every page of Akira. (There was also talk about him starting a new series, but that has still yet to materialize, two and a half years since.) The Brutus special included a conversation between Otomo and fellow supertitan Takehiko Inoue, which has somehow gone untranslated into English… until now.

Inoue: This is where they’re going to hold the exhibition?

Otomo: This is it. I thought it was too big at first, but I found that once you set everything up it’ll actually get pretty full. You never know until you actually try, I suppose.

Inoue: So if you’re doing this exhibit with Akira in its entirety, how many pages does that work out to?

Otomo: Should add up to be about 2300, I think. Continue reading

Harold Sakuishi (Beck, etc.) with Hisashi Eguchi


Another conversation between two artists today.

One is Harold Sakuishi, the artist who you hopefully know as the guy who made Beck, among other great manga. The other is Hisashi Eguchi, a well-known figure among Japanese manga buffs who is basically unknown in the English-speaking internets. Eguchi has two manga that he’s mostly known for: One is his first and by far longest work, Susume!! Pirates, a silly 11-volume baseball comedy that ran in Shonen Jump in the late 70s; the other is Stop!! Hibari-kun!, a manga about the cross-dressing son of a yakuza boss which famously simply vanished from Shonen Jump after ending a chapter with a character crying tears of blood and declaring, “Shonen manga is dead”. Since then, Eguchi doesn’t seem to have been able to keep himself working on a series for more than a volume, instead putting out mostly short gag pieces, although that isn’t to say he’s been altogether idle since Hibari-kun: In 1994 he founded Comic Cue, a now-defunct yearly anthology of one-shots from various artists, and he has also gone on to become a pretty successful pop-art illustrator.

This conversation is from a 2005 issue of the pop culture magazine Quick Japan, back when Beck was 21 volumes in and was kind of a big deal, having just gotten its anime adaptation.

Sakuishi: I was pretty pleased to hear that you’ve praised my work, because I had absolutely no idea that you even knew about my manga. I used to read Susume!! Pirates back in elementary school, you know. Artists like you and Katsuhiro Otomo are what paved the way for my generation, so you’re a living legend for me.

Eguchi: Oh, please. (embarrassed laugh) I really like Beck, though, and I have a lot of things I want to ask you, so to start off: What was the first manga you ever read?

Sakuishi: I started from Shinji Mizushima’s Dokaben. I liked old school manga — Osamu Tezuka’s The Amazing Three, or Shotaro Ishinomori’s stuff. My friends in elementary school used to ask me to draw things like Kawai from Ring ni Kakero, but I didn’t even know who that was. I didn’t like those series that were falling all over themselves trying to be popular every week; I was into stuff with real storytelling that you could take your time reading, like Tezuka and Ishinomori used to make. Continue reading

Interview with Dorohedoro artist Q Hayashida

UntitledI get the impression that there are exceedingly few interviews with Hayashida out there even in Japanese, so let us all treasure what few sweet morsels we have been blessed with. This comes from back in 2006, when Dorohedoro was only eight volumes in. She talks about the manga and games she’s into at the moment, her time majoring in painting in university, and the process that she goes through to produce every chapter.

— (Looking at Hayashida’s illustrations for a pamphlet back from her days at a fine arts prep school.) So the first time you had your artwork printed was a pamphlet at prep school. How’d you feel at the time?

Q Hayashida: Well… happy.

–Having your work printed is always something to be happy about. Did they just have you doing black-and-white drawings at this prep school?

Hayashida: Yes, and I was exceedingly awful at it. I remember having absolutely no interest in those sketches of plaster busts they make you do. The busts are too smooth. (laugh)

–Well, they are inorganic. (laugh) I take it from Dorohedoro that you prefer to draw things that are interestingly textured.

Hayashida: Another thing is that they make you draw lots to decide where you sit and draw the bust from, so you might end up drawing it from an angle that just can’t possibly produce anything good, no matter what you do… which is why I used to skip class a lot. Class did me no good anyway, I figured. Continue reading

A conversation between Inio Asano and Usamaru Furuya


Now here’s a good one: a conversation between Inio Asano and Usamaru Furuya that ran alongside the last chapter of Girl by the Sea in Manga Erotics F, which means it would’ve been around the time Asano was working on volume 12 of Good Night Punpun.

Thanks go out to Vito for providing me with the relevant pages out of the magazine!

Furuya: Thanks for having me over. It’s a comfy workplace you have here.asanofuruya

Asano: I tried my best to tidy up.

Furuya: Ah, I see you were in the middle of work.

Asano: You do your color work digitally, don’t you?

Furuya: I’ve been going analog for color stuff lately too. I’ve started using Copic marker pens — it’s faster. How do you color your stuff, Asano? Continue reading

Takehiko Inoue: The Vagabond hiatus interviews

news_xlarge_morning16In August 2010, Vagabond went on hiatus because of creator Takehiko Inoue’s physical health, but then remained on hiatus even after he recovered and continued working on his other ongoing series, Real. Vagabond remained untouched for over a year and a half, finally resuming in March 2012 with chapters on a monthly basis instead of the weekly or biweekly schedules the manga had been following before.

The following is an abridged version of one interviewer’s series of conversations with Inoue just before, and then during, that 19-month gap. Continue reading

Hiroya Oku on Gantz

Because I recently did a marathon reread of Gantz and I’m still riding the high from it, here are some highlights from an interview with Hiroya Oku back in 2010, when he was getting started with the final arc.

gantzOn his relationship with American cinema: “I came up with the idea for the final arc about three years into the series. I wanted to end with a global-scale armageddon, my own attempt at Independence Day [the 1996 film]. The sheer scale of the giant UFO in that movie, the way Earth was just helpless to the aliens’ attack — no Hollywood movie has managed to surpass that image yet. I wanted to take that and try to make it something more aggressive, though. Scarier. More like they’ve really invaded the place. Like, here are these giant bizarre objects in the sky that just show up and shoot down onto Earth, and then they turn out to be war machines that come to life. I felt pretty sure that it was an image that nobody’d seen before, so that’s what I did. Manga doesn’t pack the same punch that movies can, but I’d like to think that if I manage to draw something that people haven’t seen before, the impact on the reader at least comes somewhere close to that of film. Hit them with a striking image, then suck them into the story. Another thing is how in manga you can do these pages of small panels and then really surprise the reader with a giant two-page picture, almost like when the music in movies suddenly strikes a note really loudly. The panel thing is something film can’t do, so I try to make the most of that technique. Continue reading