Yesterday we were lucky enough to be invited to a press junket for Viz’s new edition of Slam Dunk, and we got to interview Takehito Inoue himself. Slam Dunk–a basketball themed manga that once ran in Raijin magazine, but is coming back in the American Shonen Jump–has sold a mere 100 million copies world wide and is credited with sparking the popularity of basketball in Japan. Inoue is one of the best selling cartoonists of all times — his other works in include Vagabond and REAL– and to be honest, we’ve never met a mangaka on his level, and we were nervous about what to ask him. The biggest Japanese manga artists aren’t celebrities like our cartoonists — they are more like rock stars, and travel with entourages and expect only the finest treatment. Would we offend with our questions?
In the event, of course, Inoue-sensei was very gracious. He is a superstar in every sense of the word, and it was a thrill to get to meet him. The interview was conducted along with one of our colleagues, and will appear in a special format to be revealed.
Inoue-sensei was also at the store to paint a mural, which is a gorgeous addition to the new flagship Books Kinokuniya at 1073 Avenue of the Americas, right opposite Bryant Park. It’s well worth a visit for anyone who likes comics or animation. (We were coveting a Kimba throw pillow, but will have to get it after we return from our upcoming trip.)
After the junket, Inoue-sensei finished painting the mural. Cartoonists, journalists and others gathered to watch him paint, and he kept on with admirable concentration even as flashbulbs popped. Here’s a few more photos of the event.
Days like this, we love our job. Big thanks to Evelyn Dubocq at Viz for setting things up and being the awesome lady that she is.