Catherine asked me on Facebook this morning if I can share what artists inspire me. The answer is simple:
Yes, yes I can!
I have always love, love, loved to draw, and when I was a kid, I didn’t have anyone specific that I looked up to. I just drew from life, and drew cartoons on occasion. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I came upon people whose work really inspired me. First through comics, and then eventually through manga. I suppose you can say that manga and me were the kind of pair destined to be brought together, bonded now until the end of time.
Here are the people that I consider an inspiration, and possibly an influence on me. They’re the people that I look at when I feel like I need a boost, or need to just look at something awesome. *^^
I started reading comic books before I started reading manga. Part of this was because I loved Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM and the early games mostly) and picked up the comic book from the beginning, and because I loved the X-men cartoon. Right around that time, Generation X came out and I was immediately hooked on the soap-like drama of the characters, who were close to my age, and then I read about Gen13 in Wizard magazine. The review mentioned that it was controversial because in issue #2, one of the main characters was revealed to be a lesbian. The moment that I saw that, I knew that I had to pick it up, and I was not disappointed. Not only were there two main characters that I could identify with (Caitlin was super-tall but also very nerdy, and Sarah was a lesbian who was still very feminine), but the art was clean and gorgeous.
I loved his art, copied it all of the time, and looking back now, I still love it to death. I think that it influences me quite a bit. While Campbell has moved onto other projects, none of which I was able to get into, I still hold his run on Gen13 as some of my favorite comic art of all time. Pretty, sexy girls and engaging expressions, cute clothes, and varied body shapes. I was instantly in love (with his girls). 😉
ElfQuest. It’s hard, really, putting my love of ElfQuest into words. Wendy was heavily inspired by anime, she’s said before, but I had never even heard of anime when I first read ElfQuest, because a friend brought the books to school. I couldn’t get enough, and I blazed through the series and was left stunned.
ElfQuest was fantasy in a way that was exciting, engaging, and enthralling. You know how sometimes someone creates not just a work, but a whole world that you sort of desperately want to be a part of? That’s how I felt when I read ElfQuest (which you can read on their webpage for free now, linked above!). I created characters who lived in the world and drew them, role-played them, wrote stories for them. I’ve reread the series so many times over the years and even met Wendy years ago. The picture we took disappeared with a hard drive crash, but I hope to take another some day! Elements of her art style are still echoed in my own nowadays, or so I’d like to believe. 🙂
Oh, Togashi-sensei. <3
I. Cannot. Express. My. Love. Enough. Of Hunter x Hunter, at least. It is my favorite manga of all time. It’s full of adventure, humor, drama, and both light and dark storylines. I actually think that the dark storylines are where the manga (and anime) really shine. I’ve followed this series for years. I even cosplayed from it when I was still in college.
What I love about Togashi is that he creates characters that are multi-layered, and visually so different from each other. Unlike a lot of other manga artists, where the characters look like different hairstyles put on top of the same face and body, Togashi’s characters (he also did Yu Yu Hakusho and Level E, though it’s really HxH that I’m a fan of) look different from each other. They act different from each other. Togashi has his flaws, most notably that he takes long, long breaks from drawing. Years. It’s been two years since he’s done anything related to HxH, and the last time it was only a special manga for the first movie. But I don’t care how long I have to wait. The next time that he starts drawing, I will be there reading. I can’t get enough. And like him, I want to put as much thought and diversity into the ways that my characters look. When designing, I often think about how he might do it, to get me pointed in the right direction.
Some interesting trivia is that Togashi-sensei is married to Naoko Takeuchi, the creator of Sailor Moon. It’s no wonder that neither of them draws much anymore; between them, they’re filthy rich. 😀 They also have at least one child together, probably more by now. I’d give them free babysitting and help draw the HxH backgrounds for free if he would just continue the series (and let us know what’s up with Kurapica!). Come on, Togashi-senseiiiiiii, we miss you!!!
When I think about beautiful shoujo artwork, I think about Tanemura-sensei’s work. I first encountered Tanemura when the Fullmoon wo Sagashite anime started airing. I hadn’t cried that much since Fushigi Yuugi, and when I saw her actual manga artwork, I was entranced! Huge, gorgeous eyes, long flowing hair, and so many details in both their outfits and the backgrounds. She also loves to make her characters girls that are actually strong, and fight back instead of whining (like, say, Sailor Moon).
I met her finally, at a party in 2013, and we bonded over wondering about when Nana would finally continue. We’re both huge fans. Which brings me to…
I was first introduced to Yazawa-sensei’s work when Paradise Kiss was published in English, and fell completely and instantly in love with the way that she put so much detail into her characters’ outfits. But it wasn’t until Nana came along that I realized that, quite possibly, Yazawa Ai was one of the best storytellers that I’d ever seen. Not only were her storylines gripping and her characters multi-dimensional, her style of drawing was unlike anything that I’d ever seen before.
Nana has also, as I said above, been on hiatus like forever. Which really sucks, because it was the best-selling shoujo manga of all time. I only wish that I could create characters and stories like her some day. In fact, I have actually sat around and practiced, trying to get my characters to look as thin as hers without them looking emaciated or top-heavy. It never comes out right! How does she do it?!?!
A few years ago, a friend posted a piece of Takahashi’s artwork on Twitter, and I was immediately captivated by the gorgeous eyes, the curious combination of delicacy and the eyes that saw straight into my soul. Seriously.. can’t you just get lost in them?!?!
I also met Takahashi, when I requested to do an interview for Asahi Weekly. He is in his 80s, but the enthusiasm that he displays when speaking about his art techniques and the way that his eyes sparkle when he talks about how much he loves life is so, so inspiring! I know that there are a lot of stories about how mangaka have rough lives, living by deadlines and running themselves into the ground to meet them, but when I hear from someone like Takahashi, I can only think about how following your dreams will make you the happiest person in the world.
I loved Obata for his intricate drawings and details in Death Note, and followed him through Bakuman in real-time. We used his drawings as references for how to draw awesome background scenes when I worked on The Prince of Tennis. “How could we possibly draw a realistic can of coke? Oh, let’s see how Obata did it!” That’s how it went. 🙂
And that thing about drawing characters that look different from one another? He’s got that down, and on top of that, he’s so extremely talented that he makes me sick… in a good way. A very good way. I’ll follow any series that he does, guaranteed, and might just have expensive artbooks of his sitting on my shelf…. next to the Bakuman and Death Note figurines. *cough*