Artists on the Edge

It's hard to tell your family that you're quitting the rat race to become a starving artist. It's even harder when your art involves scat, bursting brains and buckets of bodily fluids. So a group of fringe manga artists gathered last Wednesday at underground event space Asagaya Loft to swap parenting tips and life hacks in a roundtable counseling session. In their own words, they rationalize their careers to their peers--and themselves.

Kago Shintaro (Ero-guro nonsense)

My daughter is still young and thinks that my job is to draw exploding heads. I gave my in-laws copies of my most inoffensive work, so no one in the family knows about the other stuff. Like the one that transforms girls into giant walking tanks that shoot poo.

These fantasies about giant women go back to junior high or high school. For most people the giantess is strong, dominant. But for me she’s weak and vulnerable, a big naked bull’s-eye for fighter jets. Sort of like the monsters in Power Rangers--they get cornered by the heroes and turn giant, but that just makes them awkward and easy to hit.

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Yamano Ichi (Surreal slacker comix)

Can’t say that my manga reflect my sexual predilections. Scat isn’t my thing in the least bit--sorry to disappoint my fans in the audience.

I live apart from my parents so when I got published I sent them a book to gauge their reaction. Mom was like, “Is there any way you could not draw so many penises?” while dad was like, “I don’t get this ‘manga’ stuff but I know smut when I see it.”

When I arrive home for family gatherings, everyone else leaves.

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Yamamoto Naoki (Japan Media Arts Festival award recipient)

You know, (erotic gekiga artist) Ishii Takashi was snubbed from community functions when neighbors realized what he did for a living--it was so bad he quit manga and started directing films! But he’s from an older generation. I think attitudes are laxer now.

Even my own daughter is understanding. When she was in the 6th grade she went to the attic looking for Maison Ikkoku and instead found a stack of my books. We enjoy a totally normal relationship.

It's up to kids to discover things, so it's up to us parents to hide things--just not too well.

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Nemoto Takashi (Underground comic artist)

I acclimated my kid at an early age by making them read stuff like Tsuge Yoshiharu and Akatsuka Fujio. So what if they no longer have anything in common with their classmates?

If they get wise about sex scenes I just misdirect. See that big line of spooge? "Oh sweetie, that's a snake!"

Hardest thing I have to deal with is not being recognized for my work. Like, Ebisu Yoshikazu lives nearby so when he comes to hang out, the nosy neighbors are all like “So you’re friends with that guy from TV!” I’m famous by association.

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Machida Hiraku (Enthusiastic Lolicon)

My father is a known lecher so when I went pro he took me out to drinks with relatives to celebrate. All mom had was to say was, “You are your father’s child, after all.” I took her to a hot springs resort with my first royalty check so things are square now.

I draw documentaries, like the dramatic reenactments you see on TV. What was the criminal thinking? How was the family affected? My editors at Comic L/O enforce strict censorship to protect us--they don’t want to give lawmakers an excuse to crack down. So we can’t draw police officers, even if they’re busting sex offenders!

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Hanyunyu Jun (Fat lines and skinny limbs)

Censorship is pretty lax at my main publication, Comic Beam. In one issue I drew a dick and vag and the editors ran it as-is, though we had to censor the republished collection. Apparently they sold rebound copies of the original magazine print at Taco-Che (an alternative bookstore in Nakano Broadway).

Can’t say I get much attention, flaming included. Some authors lend themselves to public executions but for me, the response on 2chan is just, “Yuck, gross.” Makes me kinda sad.

Even my ninth-grade son isn't interested in my manga, though he sneaks peaks at the porno mags I have as reference materials. No, he only reads Doraemon. Still reading it at his age? Now that’s a real concern.

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Noroi Michiru (Splatter horror)

 I made my professional debut at 30 so my parents were just happy to see me finally succeed at something. They run a local shop and show my work to everyone who comes in. My early stuff was super gory so now I’m afraid to show my face around my hometown.

The magazines I work with don’t do collections so I have to self-publish. It means more profit, but it’s more work. I’ve got a stack of hand-bound books in the lobby. Anyone wanna buy one?

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