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When Canadian artist Nina Matsumoto first drew a manga-style illustration of the cast of The Simpsons, she did it as a lark, just something fun to show her friends. But almost overnight, her manga-style remix of Bart, Homer, Lisa and the rest of the Springfield gang became an Internet sensation. Matsumoto's illustration was favorited, forwarded, blogged about and posted all over the Web. This flurry of attention eventually earned Matsumoto an offer from Bongo Comics to create new manga-style Simpsons stories. But it didn't end there.

Her "Simpsonzu" illustration caught the attention of Del Rey Manga Associate Publisher Dallas Middaugh, and from that, an offer to pitch an original manga story for possible publication. The result is Yokaiden , a hilarious shonen manga adventure about an ever-cheerful boy and his adventures in the world of the yokai or Japanese spirits / demons.

With Yokaiden Volume 1 earning rave reviews (it's my pick for the best original English language manga of 2008) and Yokaiden Volume 2 on the way later this year, I caught up with Matsumoto and asked her about astonishing comics Cinderella story, the inspirations for Yokaiden and her beginnings in webcomics. Check out my interview with Nina Matsumoto, and check out this spotlight gallery, featuring some of her illustrations and sketches from Yokaiden, The Simpsons and much more.

Also, stay tuned -- there's more yokai fun to come!

Image credit: © Nina Matsumoto


March 26, 2009 at 2:43 pm
(1) Jerry G says:

Nina didn’t actually get “an offer from Bongo Comics to create new manga-style Simpsons stories”. Her work was posted on the NoHomersClub fansite, and then I sent it on to Bongo. Nina was asked, and then hired, to do the b&w Manga-style panels within one of the three stories in Bongo’s “Treehouse of Horror” annual (their Halloween-themed annual standalone). For the life of me I can’t remember whether that story was already in the works before Nina’s art was seen over there or whether it inspired the story, but that guest-artist shot was a one-off, rather than a jump-off or an ‘offer’ to start a new book of Simpsons Mangafied.

March 26, 2009 at 3:15 pm
(2) Jerry G says:

whoops – I neglected that, after Bill Morrison brought her in to Bongo, she first did Mangafied Simpsons for one of the regular issues of ‘Simpsons Comics’, which was meta-themed around ‘international’ versions of the Simpsons Comics (for that job, the story existed first and Nina filled the need. Then came the Halloween story. The she tried out as a line-artist for ‘normal’ Groening-style panels, but she didn’t exactly work out.

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