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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.
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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.

MORE: Chris Butcher also reports with more pictures!


  1. I am not a big fan of watching basketball, but I absolutely love Slam Dunk. It’s definitely not the most thought provoking story, but it’s just a ton of fun.

    On another note, him painting the mural reminds me of the time that he drew a Slam Dunk story on the chalkboards in a school. Then for people to read it, they would have to walk from room to room. I remember seeing a video of it somewhere…

  2. It was a terrific event Inoue-sensei seemed very appreciative of the turnout. The NYC indie comics community turned out (among them Matt Madden, Tom Hart, Nick Bertozzi and daughter) as well as the manga/anime crowd (Anthony Weintraub who adapted Tekkonkinkreet to anime was there), not to mention the Japanese media. Inoue-sensei said he came to the U.S. because he really wanted to make sure that Slam Dunk did well in America. I sure hope it does. I really love that series and I’m looking forward to REAL as well. Watching him paint that mural was very impressive.

  3. Never knew Slam dunk was never introduced to the american audience till now cos it was wildly popular in Asia. Best manga ever!

  4. Slam Dunk is my absolute favorite manga/anime. I grew up watching the anime and now reading the manga. It’s a huge part of my childhood because everyone was so into it. It definitely deserves the title of #1 Manga ever.

  5. Is it wrong for me to post here?

    Not wrong, exactly, but unless a blog entry stimulates a tremendous number of comments, people generally stop reading comments two to three days after the entry is posted. Press releases can be e-mailed to Ms. MacDonald, using the “Contact” button on The Beat site.