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


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