In the world of manga, Takehiko Inoue is a mega-superstar. His basketball manga SLAM DUNK was so successful it made he sport itself more popular in Japan. It’s sold over 100 million copies worldwide and has been voted the #1 all-time manga. VAGABOND, telling the legend of swordman Miyamoto Musashi has also been a smash hit. He’s even been listed among Japan’s top tax-payers.
Mangaka of his level rarely come to America and it’s even more rare for them to do press with American outlets (or usually, any press at all.) Thus when Inoue-sensei came to New York to paint a mural for the new Kinokuniya Books on 6th Avenue, and Viz made him available for interviews, it was a singular chance to talk to one of the world’s most successful cartoonsits. This opportuniy was so unusual that The Beat decided to team up with PW Comics Week’s Kai-Ming Cha for a tag team interview! You can read the first part of the interview here.
The occasion was also to announce the launch of a major initiative to publish Inoue’s work here in the states. SLAM DUNK will soon appear in tankubon format; VAGABOND has finished its 25 book run, but will have a new omnibus edition next year; and Viz has announced an American edition of REAL, a manga about wheelchair basketball players.
Inoue’s website even has a section in English where you can read his blog (his latest posting takis about his trip to New York), and the complete run of BUZZER BEATER, another basketball comic, is also online.
The interview time was brief, and due to the constraints of translation, the interview itself is short, but Inoue-sensei was very engaged and engaging, and the entire event definitely opened doors — both ways.
PWCW: You’ve also done work for Shiseido cosmetics – commercials where you paint large scale pictures on huge swaths of paper. Can you talk about your development as an artist? How did you go from drawing for something so compact like a comic, to something so large like in the Shiseido commercials?
Takehiko Inoue: I’m an artist so it’s basically the same. It’s all drawing. But when it’s so large scale like in the Shiseido commercials, it’s like a sport. I have to think ‘how do I move this brush to draw a straight line?’ It becomes more physical.