You might know Canadian born Takeshi Miyazawa from his work on the fan favorite Mary Jane and Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane. Takeshi recently moved to Japan to pursue comic writing in the Japanese market. Reporter James Chan caught up with Takeshi via e-mail to get an update on his status in Japan as well as what the future holds for him.
BlazedEnt (BE): You left Spider-Man loves Mary Jane to write comics in Japan. How is that going so far? Please give us an update.
Takeshi Miyazawa (TM): That's correct. I moved here at the end of 2006 and spent a year making connections and meeting other artists. It's an important initial step that I made sure to thoroughly cover through 2007. I'm currently working with a writer and providing art while, at the same time, working on personal projects as back up just in case. It's been fun.
BE: What is the biggest change you have had to make due to your move from Canada to
TM: The word "change" in your question can mean many things but I think it's one word that fully describes my current situation. I've not only had to adjust to life in Tokyo but learn to play by foreign editorial standards and rules. I've also been working hard to change my style and storytelling quite a bit in order to please readers here. It's something I was expecting so please don't take it as a complaint. Change is good.
BE: How are editorial standards/rules different in the US and Japan? How have you changed your style/storytelling? I always thought your art had enough of a manga-esque sensibility to it that you didn't need to change it up for Japanese readers.
TM: From what I've seen, they are much more hands-on in terms of story direction and artwork here in Japan. They prefer that creators live in Tokyo in order to have face-to-face meetings once in a while to discuss plot points as well as directly picking up pages from you as you complete them. It's a big change compared to working via e-mail and FedEx back home.
As for the actual drawing, I've never had complaints about how I draw but, rather, the rendering, like showing motion and using bigger and wider panels. I've been told to think in terms of spreads instead of individual pages numerous times and it was a real eye opener to hear that. I've also learned that fine-tuning art to your audience is a must. You can't just draw thinking everyone will like it. There are certain visuals every age groups requires to keep them flipping through your story.
BE: How receptive are editors over in Japan of your work at Marvel? Does it feel like it gets you on better footing with them or is Japan not as concerned with American comics?
TM: I've only been asked to show my Marvel work a handful of times during interviews and it's always been because I brought it up. I think they are more concerned with freelance fundamentals like meeting deadlines and being able to devote time to projects. I've gotten tips on how to make my actual drawings more appealing but it's always been a minor part of the discussions. I get the sense that they don't really care where or what you've worked on as long as you're professional and are willing to work through the good and the bad.
BE: You mention on your blog that you have some work coming out soon in the states. Care to elaborate on what that is or for which company it is for?
TM: Sorry. Can't.
BE: What is the best advice anyone in the comic industry (artist,writer,etc.) has ever given to you?
TM: To be honest, I've asked and gotten advice from so many generous people in the industry that I couldn't possibly narrow it down to just one or even a few. I suppose if I were ever asked to give advice then I would answer with "be patient" and "keep learning". That's all you really need.
BE: Who was your favorite artist growing up?
TM: I grew up on manga so I would have to say Katsuhiro Otomo and Shirow Masamune as my biggest influences back then. That was around high school for me when I seriously started to draw comics and not just illustrations.
BE: Who is your favorite artist right now?
TM: Currently, I'm a big fan of Hiroaki Samura, Tatsuyuki Tanaka and Naoki Urasawa. I also like to read random books and pick out elements I like in them. I try not to read too many comics any more since it just confuses me through influence. Part of growing as an artist is having confidence in your style.
BE: Favorite character that you would like to draw in the future?
TM: I would love to draw Blade one day but it seems pretty unlikely that you'll even see a Blade book again any time soon.
BE: What do you like to do to unwind from drawing all day?
TM: You'd probably find me watching movies or TV. I make a point of getting out of my apartment at least once a day so that would mean going to the gym, coffee with friends or just wandering Tokyo.
BE: Name 3 things that you have in your fridge right now.
TM: Hot sauce, natto and beer.
BE: What is the best way to get on your good side?
TM: Asking easy questions. These were easy so you're on my good side.
- James Chan