Interview with Yotsuba&! artist Kiyohiko Azuma

ytbheadeerHere’s another really good one: from some manga/anime magazine, a 2014 interview with the guy who does Yotsuba&!. He talks about most of the things you probably hope he’ll talk about: lots on the creative process, inspiration for Yotsuba’s yotsubaisms, various things he’s “going for” with the manga overall, the reason progress on the series has slowed to a crawl, etc.

–The first volume of Yotsuba&! went on sale in 2003, making this the series’ eleventh year. Today I want to ask you about all the way back from when the series was just beginning. The manga you were doing before that, Azumanga Daioh, was the forerunner to the slice-of-life 4-koma genre as well as a major hit, so it came as a bit of a surprise when you drew Yotsuba&! with conventional manga paneling. Why was it you decided to do it in a normal manga format?

Azuma: I wanted to broaden myself professionally. There weren’t a lot of 4-koma manga magazines out there at the time like there is now. I was afraid I’d be thought of as a 4-koma artist if I did another 4-koma after Azumanga Daioh, and that wasn’t something I wanted to be, so I went with a normal manga format.

–Were you drawing manga in the typical format before you did Azumanga?

Azuma: No, I’d hardly ever tried it, but I went ahead with it anyway, which is why I consider Yotsuba&! to be pretty terribly done up until the third volume or so. I can’t even bear to look at it until maybe volume four, and even then just barely. Seeing the earlier stuff makes me want to go back and redraw it.

–Interesting. So: how it is that the manga Yotsuba&! came to be?

Azuma: I’d submitted the idea for Yotsuba&! before Azumanga Daioh even started, so I’d already come up with the idea of Yotsuba as a character. Then the magazine Dengeki Daioh asked me to do a 4-koma about high school girls, so I set the idea for Yotsuba&! aside, started work on Azumanga Daioh, then came back to it after I finished. Continue reading