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Interview: Moto Hagio - Page 2

Manga Artist and Creator of A Drunken Dream and Other Stories

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A Drunken Dream and Other Stories

A Drunken Dream and Other Stories

© Moto Hagio

Iguana Girl (Iguana no Musume) - 1994, short story
Moto Hagio: This is a story called Iguana Girl, which is also included in the book. In this story, a girl has a mother who thinks her daughter looks like an iguana. To everyone else, this girl looks like a normal girl, but to her mother, she looks like an iguana; she can't see her any other way. But without knowing for sure whether or not she is an iguana, the girl grows up believing that she is an iguana.

As a matter of fact, I have a problem with my own mother. I really wanted to try to understand my mother and have her understand me, but there was this insurmountable gap between us. For example, my mother believes that being a cartoonist is a very vulgar line of work. She was opposed to me becoming a manga artist, and when I became a manga artist, she kept telling me to quit.

Throughout my entire career, my mother has scolded me, telling me to 'Stop doing this awful work.' I had been thinking for a long time about creating a story that would express this lack of understanding between a mother and a daughter. But the only stories I could think of was just me bitching about my mother (laughs).

One day it occurred to me that my mother sees me this way because she doesn't see her daughter as a human being. So, I made the daughter an iguana. And for the rest of the story, please pick up A Drunken Dream and Other Stories at the Fantagraphics Booth! (smiles and holds up the book)

A Cruel God Reigns (Zankokuna Kami ga Shihai suru) - 1992 -2001, 17 volumes
Moto Hagio: This is the longest series that I've written so far. It ran for nine years. The hero of the story is a young boy whose beautiful mother marries a very rich Englishman. But as it turns out, the rich Englishman is a pedophile and a molester. He sexually abuses the hero, Jeremy, and the boy is unable to tell anyone about it. Finally, Jeremy ends up killing his stepfather. He does this by tampering with the brakes of his stepfather's car, but unfortunately, his mother was riding in the car, so she also dies.

Jeremy is in such a state of distress, he starts babbling to himself. Ian, the Englishman's biological son doesn't know anything about the sexual abuse, but he hears Jeremy babbling to himself at the funeral, so he suspects that Jeremy has killed his father. He confronts Jeremy and tries to get him to confess to the authorities. The story from there is how Jeremy can go about paying for this crime of having killed his stepfather and mother. It's very complicated. (smiles). In this edition, it's 17 volumes long.

A Cruel God Reigns was the Winner of the first Osamu Tezuka Cultural Prize Award for Excellence in 1997.

Other World Barbara (Barbara Ikai) - 2003 - 2005, 4 volumes
Moto Hagio: One day, this girl kills her parents and eats their hearts. She falls into a deep coma, and is in a coma for most of the story. In her coma, she's having a dream of the future. There is a specialist who can enter people's dreams, so they have him enter her dreams so they can find out why she killed her parents. When he enters her dream, he discovers that while she's having this dream of the future, she's actually making the future. It's a little bit complicated. (pauses) Well, it's actually really complicated. (laughs).

Other World Barbara was awarded the Japan SF Grand Prize in 2006.

Leo (Reo-kun) - 2007, 1 volume
Moto Hagio: This is a very cute story which is safe for children (laughs). This is about a cat named Leo who lives with his human mother and tries to look like a human child. In his attempt to be more human, Leo goes to school, and he goes to restaurants to try to order dinner, but because he's a cat, at school, he just runs around and plays instead of studying. At the restaurant, he wants to have a rat parfait. It's a fun story!

Anywhere But Here (2006) and Sphinx - short stories
Moto Hagio: In addition to Leo, I'm also doing a series of short stories. Each story is a stand-alone story. The picture you see here is from a story called Sphinx, which is also the title of the second volume of this series. This particular story is about Oedipus.

One of the stories from the first volume is called The Willow Tree. It is included in A Drunken Dream, which is available at the Fantagraphics booth, and at fine stores everywhere! (everyone laughs) And that's a pretty quick overview of my 40-year career.

Q & A: SCI-FI, SHOJO MANGA YESTERDAY AND TODAY

Matt Thorn: Why don't we take some questions?

Attendee 1: The art styles in shojo manga have changed over the years - do you feel left behind, or are you happy with your art style as it is now?

Moto Hagio: When I think of a story, I also think of a drawing style that fits the story. That's the way I work, and that's the way I'll continue to work. When I first debuted, the standard was about 8 panels per page. Today in shojo manga, the standard is about 5-6 panels. I'm working hard to reduce the number of panels per page.

Attendee 2: I have two questions: First, can you tell us if there are any American comics that you're aware of, and which do you like? Also, considering the impact you've had in shojo manga, what do you think of where the industry is today?

Moto Hagio: At the time when I was young, it was very hard to come across American comics of any kind. But there was a book called World of Disney, and it included stories about Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.

Shojo manga and shonen manga are basically for young people. The artists themselves are young, and they are writing for this even younger audience, and this pattern continues with each generation, as a new group of young artists emerge. It's always changing. I find this process of continual change to be very interesting.

Attendee 3: You mentioned that you like reading American science fiction by authors like Asimov and Heinlein. I was wondering if there were any particular stories or novels that particularly influenced you?

Moto Hagio: Probably the two that influenced me the most were Asimov's Foundation series, and Phillip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was the basis for Blade Runner.

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