Interview One: He really exists! The pub owner of dreams! PART 1
Basically, “Anything goes”.
Interviewer: You published your first comic in 2007. How was that year?
Yamashita: Well, that year I was like, “I guess I’ll give it my all?”. I started to receive regular comic work, so I quit my part-time job.
I: How did you feel when you published your first comic?
Y: It wasn’t a particularly poignant moment. I basically have an “anything goes” attitude. So much so that my editor got mad at me for it! He/she asked me if I had any requests regarding job topics, and when I replied, “anything,” the editor got mad at me, like, “’Anything’?! Again?!”
I: What was it that got you to write BL in the first place?
Y: I guess I ended up writing a story I wanted to read. I started reading BL around middle school, and I felt that that the most common topics in BL, that most people were really hot for, weren’t really my thing. So eventually I stopped reading them.
I: Is that when you first experienced BL?
Y: Yes. There was a period of time during middle school when I wanted to read anything if it was manga. I think that’s when I encountered it as a genre.
I: Is that when you started wanting to become a manga artist?
Y: Not necessarily. Even now, I don’t care what I do for a living, as long as I can survive. But I like making manga.
I: Did you always love drawing?
Y: Yes, always. There were a lot of times during that period where I’d daydream about stories for manga, but I hadn’t yet gotten to a place where I could actually concretely write it down. I started drawing manga properly quite late, actually. Maybe when I was 20 years old? I somehow started teaching myself how to draw it, and even now, I don’t quite know how to draw manga the “proper way”.
I: What was the turning point where you decided to draw manga?
Y: In general, I don’t really have big turning points or epiphanies in my life. What’s more, I don’t usually remember them (laugh). At the time, I think I just decided to start drawing it. When I started drawing it, I was able to properly write it into a manuscript, and I submitted it (trans: to newcomer contests) to test myself. That was the extent of it, and I actually did submit a few works to them. Though, I wasn’t really concerned about BL or other genres when I was creating. I’m not really tied to genres, so at the time, I really just went with whatever urge I had to draw at the time.
I: Was the debut tied to your submissions?
Y: I actually don’t know if that’s the case! Maybe my doujinshi were the reason. Tokyo Manga Publisher saw my doujinshi and graciously contacted me, but… Maybe the story that was included in an anthology— “God’s Name is Night” may have been my debut work. That story happened because an editor saw my website and reached out to me.
I: When did you start your doujinshi career?
Y: Around the same time I started drawing manga.
I: I only remember you doing original works in doujinshi, but were you doing some doujinshi work before that? (trans: doujinshi are usually fan works of an existing show/manga).
Y: No; I started my doujinshi career with original works. I didn’t know what doujinshi were before that, and I didn’t read them. That was just about the time I got internet in the house, so I learned about the existence of doujinshi over the internet, and thought, I could do this myself… Again, there’s definitely no epiphanies or anything this time (laugh). I do have a memory, though, of not knowing anything about making a book or printing or anything like that, so I asked a friend who was knowledgeable about these things to teach me.
I: You were discovered from your manuscripts and doujinshi, and your website; this opened the doors to being a pro. How did you deal with these changes in your circumstances?
Y: I wasn’t really… Sorry, this is just the way I am! I was of course glad that I was thought of highly. I generally thought since I worked so hard, at least one person would think it was good… Whenever my manuscript wouldn’t win an award or some such, I’d just think, I didn’t try hard enough…
I: Since you’ve been a pro this whole time, and you’ve been drawing manga that you love as much as you want, have you felt any changes?
Y: When it was only me drawing the manga, the storyboard only needed to be understood by me, and it didn’t matter if it was just a memo, basically.But since now I have to do it as a job, I drew it properly so that my editor can understand it as well. I suppose that changed. Especially, my editor at Tokyo Manga Publisher always gave me thorough comments and corrections,it was worth making the proper storyboards. (Turning to the editor, seated next to her): Look, I just said nice things about you.
I: Since there’s no editor for dounjinshi.
Y: Different from doujinshi, with commercial comic magazines, you don’t know who your readers are. Even if I get letters from readers, it’s not like I can see their faces. There’s definitely some distance there. Writing for an unspecified large number of people scares me, so instead, I aim to have my editor say my stories are interesting.
I: The existence an editor seems to be a particularly important role for you.
Y: I’m not particularly good at making friends or being close to people, but I consider my communications with my editor inordinately important. I think of my editor as someone I have to trust, and that’s sort of the feeling I have towards him/her. I end up putting distance between myself and others, so with my editor, I try not to do that so much. I’m prepared to go force my way into his/her space, if I need to.
Hello everybody! Today is finally the day I write a Black♥Jack masterpost with all the related stuff up to this point! I didn’t even write a single line of this post and I’m already sweating, I detest the way Tumblr uses HTML… ugh.
I must state something first: all this art has been made by Rem289, but I am, for the most part, the author of every story and concept. I know it may sound a bit pretentious, and I’m perfectly aware of the fact that is Rem who does most of the job, since I don’t even know how to draw a three, but I think I should at least claim what is mine – that is, the idea which moves every drawing.
That being said, cut the chatter and let’s go!