Early Japanese Influence
Now to today's subject....
Back in 1986, I was a huge fan of Frank Miller and his groundbreaking work on books like Wolverine, Daredevil, Ronin and The Dark Knight Returns. I drew plenty of bad riffs off of the Miller/Janson styles.
In interviews, Miller mentioned what a huge influence Japanese comics were. I was determined to track down a recent issue. I high school junior in South Bend, Indiana, so this wasn't easy. There was no Internet as such, with websites for looking up and ordering obscure foreign books. Foreign comics pretty much meant Heavy Metal and Captain Canuck. The first American edition of Lone Wolf and Cub wouldn't be released until next year.
My mom would occasionally drive to Chicago, the big city, for Korean groceries. A block away from the grubby Korean market on Clark Street was a tidy little Japanese bookstore. I made a jaunt over there, went through the comics, and paid about $10 for something I can't read.
I thought most of it was crap. I still do. But a few of the stories and images had a huge lasting influence on my work.
The first story, "Up To Date", is about a girl who likes to take off her panties and sticks them on the heads of confused pup-tented boys. Japan was and is a bizarre place. I never got into drawing teen sex comedies, but the backgrounds in that story blew me away.
This was years before Akira hit our shores. I really didn't know a comic book could have images like this. At first, I assumed that this was an architectural image that had been licensed for re-use by a comic studio. But the style is consistent with the rest of the story, and the little helicopter shows up on the next page carrying the protagonists. I began freehand copying this image in my spare time.
Which led me to eventually doing pages like this:
Here's the other page. I just love the dynamism and the use of lettering to pop the composition. I still sit back trying to figure out the Japanese science of baseball manga, and it's well-tested formulas for distorting the baseball and the bats and the limbs. I love how it switches from distortion to freeze frame in the panel before the batter swings. I find this far more interesting than 99% of the manga I see translated today:
That 1%, specifically, is Death Note and Yotsuba&!.