Mainichi Shimbun Interviews TenBu Productions Founder Austell Callwood
Today, otaku culture like manga and cosplay are very popular in the West, and Japanese fans are interested in learning more about what the Western otaku scene. Mainichi Shimbun's anime/manga/game news site Mantan Web recently posted an interview Austell Callwood (34), who was visiting Japan in July to promote his new manga Cove Pirate Mercenary. Austell Callwood runs his own anime & manga shop in Springfield, Virginia, and is one of the founders of TenBu Productions.
Q: Please introduce yourself, what do you do?
A: I import Japanese anime and manga to the U.S, and publish my own manga. "TenBu" is a production project to create theme songs and cosplay of my manga. I'm an artist, at the same time I'm a businessman.
Q: What made you decide to import Japanese anime and manga to the U.S.?
A: It's cool. That's all. When I was a kid, I saw "Battle Of The Planets." That was the door to Otaku culture for me. The best part of the show is the description of each character; I could feel what they're feeling. American comics have lost their "heart" due to commercialism.
Q: How did you learn to draw Manga?
A: Ever since I was 13, I have been reading books on Anime creation; I also read manga from all kinds of artists. I'm 100% self-taught. I paid more attention to techniques of actual creation like the framing of the pages, rather than the story. Also I received advices from animators, and studied books on art. My father was an architect, so I inherited my father's talent.
Q: Are there a lot of people in the U.S. who wants to be a manga creator like you?
A: In the US, It's hard to get one's own manga-style comic published. Artists make their own indies labels. I think there are a lot of people who wants to create their own manga, but very few manage to make a big deal out of it like me.(*Translator's Note: Original ここまでやっているmeans Austell is spreading his manga into other fields like music, few others do the same.)
Q: You are also producing music and cosplay.
A: A great point of the Japanese manga culture is the integration from theme music to the costumes from one series. All of the members who joined our project have excellent skills; it creates an amazing collaboration work. An American creator working in Japanese style is a significant sign in itself, I have to achieve the same level of skill as Japanese artists.
Q: Have you ever thought about living in Japan and becoming a famous artist?
A: I'm not planning on living in Japan, because my goal is to spread the Otaku culture in the US. I must say, I feel like I want to stay in Japan whenever I walk down the streets of Akihabara... anime, manga, cosplay and all other elements of otaku are stuffed into just single town. I heard the government and the community support Akihabara. Isn't that a great thing?
To dive into another culture is a very attractive idea, but the important thing is to make my dream come true.
Translated by T. Ohara
About Austell Callwood
About TenBu Productions