Hirohiko Araki Lecture Part 1: His Past & Motives
Renowned artist and ageless wunderkind Hirohiko Araki (Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, Baoh, Steel Ball Run) recently gave a lecture at Tokai Junior & High School in Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture, as part of their Saturday Program series, as transcribed/compiled by @JOJO, Japan's premier site for Jojo-related news. Due to its length this entry will be broken into 2 parts.
The lecture hall was filled to its 1,500 person capacity. There were so many people that there was a delay while people moved in and out of the hall, and the lecture began 15 minutes later than planned, at 12:45.
[12:45: The Lecture Hall]
After a student MC introduces Mr. Araki and his body of work, he abruptly pops up on stage, at which time the hall erupts into a deafening round of applause. Mr. Araki, quite nervous at the reception, immediately has a slip of the tongue, saying "I'm a little honored to meet all of you today." "I'm a little, no quite messed up. I feel like I've met an entire lifetime's worth of people today." Although he claims that he is not a performer, and asks not to expect laughs, he claims "I'm just going to meander along today," scoring some unintentional laughs.
[Reason For Accepting The Invitation]
Araki, who marks his 25th year as a manga artist this year, used to dislike (from well over a decade ago) being told "I used to read your comics!" "I was a fan when I was young!" etc, since it stirred fears within him that perhaps he was getting old, and becoming irrelevant. But in the past 5 years or so, he has had a gradual change of heart, and has begun to enjoy and appreciate the accolades he gets, especially from older people and people in esteemed positions in society. Also, when he was younger he may have been writing manga to benefit himself and his publisher's bottom line, but now he has a slightly different point of view and wants to give back to people, especially younger people. That's when he got an invitation from Saturday Program, and, figuring it would probably just be a classroom of 30-40 people, he said "sure, I'll do it." However, he arrived today to this circus, and thought, "this wasn't what I signed up for." (audience bursts into laugher)
[Motives For Drawing Manga, Family, Days of Youth]
Young Araki lived with his father, an office worker, his mother, a stay-at-home mom, and younger identical twin sisters. Those sisters were quite a handful: for example, if there were 3 snacks, the sisters, upon arriving home first, would eat all 3, and then proceed to conceal any traces of evidence. Growing up, young Araki, thinking that there weren't any snacks, "would think 'man, I'm hungry' and go chew on something like a really old piece of kamaboko." (audience bursts into laughter). And when his sisters' evil doings came to light, a fight would erupt; and this would occur on a daily basis. (yet more laughter) He would often feel such a sense of exclusion and ill-will towards his sisters that he didn't want to come home. He used to find relief in spending time along in his room, reading classic manga from the 70's and his father's collection of art books, which he supposes was his motive for drawing manga. He figures that had he not started drawing manga, he "might have gotten out of hand and killed my sisters." (laughter)
[Days of Submissions and Rejections]
He attended a prep school through junior high and high school, but a friend complimented him on the manga he drew (apparently he drew his first manga while he was in 4th grade), which made him think that if his very first fan thought he was good, he might want to become a manga artist. So, he began to secretly draw manga when his parents were not looking. He first began submitting his work during his first year of high school; however, all of his submissions were rejected. At the same time, a rash of artists who were the same age (Yudetamago) or younger than him (Masakazu Katsura) continued to make big splashes with their debut. But Mr. Araki could not understand why he was rejected, and decided to finish off a submission on an all-nighter and go on a 4-hour trip to pay a visit to the editors in Tokyo, and to ask them for an explanation. At first he intended to visit Shogakukan, which published Shonen Sunday, but he was intimidated by the size of their building, and decided to take his submission into the smaller Shueisha building next door. It was noon when he visited, but one rookie editor (about 6'2", or 185cm, tall) happened to be there, so he showed him his work. However, the editor, after reading the first page, promptly quipped "your white-out's leaked (you haven't fixed it)": he was criticized every time the editor flipped through each page; Mr. Araki, already exhausted from having been up all night, felt like he was going to pass out. However, after he was finished, he was told that it might be good, and was immediately told to fix it up for the Tezuka Awards in 5 days. That submission was "Buso Poker (Armed Poker)", which won was the runner-up prize at the Tezuka Awards.
[The Jump Editors At The Time Were Really Scary]
At the time, Mr. Torishima (Akira Toriyama's editor, and inspiration for the Dr. Slump character Dr. Mashirito) would take submissions out of their envelopes, glance at the folder, promptly go "I don't want to see this style!" and order a rewrite. Apparently, he wanted people to draw in such a way that looking at the cover was enough to make people want to read the manga. The editorial department as a whole was always on edge at the time. But he also mentioned in the latter half of his lecture that manga editors were like golf caddies; they provided objective information like "why don't you hit this way" or "you're X meters away from the green" and that he appreciated them. He also said that people who wanted to become manga artists had to get along with editors.
Continued to part 2: Drawing Manga, Araki-Style
Translated by Neuroretardant