Naoki Urasawa and Hisashi Eguchi talk about manga in the 70s and 80s, mostly Otomo

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Two artists in conversation today about manga in the 70s and 80s. One is Naoki Urasawa, the big-deal artist who drew Monster and 20th Century Boys and Pluto. The other is Hisashi Eguchi, a one-time Shonen Jump comedy manga artist who simply could not cope with the breakneck pace of weekly manga and has since turned to doing pop art illustration work.

If the history of manga is at all something you’re interested in, you’re going to love this. Anecdotes abound. The conversation took place in 2009.


Eguchi: This was a while back, but I read in an interview somewhere that you were into Moebius and Hergé. Pretty much everyone says they like Moebius, but you’re the only one aside from myself who I’ve seen saying they like Hergé, so I thought we’d probably get along pretty well.

Urasawa: Come to think of it, not too many people mention Hergé.

Starlog, an American science fiction magazine that was brought over to Japan in 1978

Starlog, an American science fiction magazine that was brought over to Japan in 1978.

Eguchi: Exactly. I sort of found Hergé through Moebius, and I first found out about Moebius when I saw him in Starlog. Did you use to read Starlog?

Urasawa: I even clipped out his work from it. When I talked to Moebius during his visit to Japan, I brought a whole pile with me. (laugh)

Eguchi: Starlog eventually did a special issue devoted to Moebius [in 1981], but when I went back and took a look yesterday, his work was running in the magazine since issue #5. Just small illustrations at first, though. Otomo was in there from pretty early on too, and [Fumiko] Takano had illustrations in a readers’ column kind of section. I guess she would have still been doing dojinshi back at the time. I’d already gone pro and was doing a manga series at the time, but you’d have been, what — in high school? What’d you make of Moebius when you saw his work? Being a professional, I was fairly jealous of him, personally. (laugh)

Urasawa: I felt at the time that manga had become boring, so it was like I’d found this oasis in the desert — finally, a manga that has what I like! So I used to absolutely visually devour Moebius’s illustrations in Starlog.

Eguchi: Same here.

Urasawa: That reminds me: Go Nagai was saying the other day that it was already too late at that point to let himself be influenced by Moebius. It was really tempting, apparently, but he didn’t want to let himself be sucked into it. You started your career with Susume Pirates, but you really changed over time due to Moebius’s influence, didn’t you? That’s a pretty rare occurence in the history of manga. Continue reading

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Harold Sakuishi (Beck, etc.) with Hisashi Eguchi

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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