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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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08/03/2006 Archived Entry: "Interview with Makoto Tateno"

Interview with Makoto Tateno, creator of Yellow

I had the pleasure of meeting the creator of "Yellow," Mokoto Tateno, at Neotypes Station, which will continue to host a gallery show of Ms. Tateno's illustrations through August 6 or 7, 2006 (please call Neotypes Station at (213) 628-8883 for more information). This interview was superbly translated by Amelia Cantlay, courtesy of DMP Books, for yours truly and our very special drop-in spider guest (who was very quickly dispatched to the next incarnation, yes, indeed).

Interview by Ginger Mayerson

Ginger Mayerson: What are you working on these days?

Mokoto Tateno: I'm working five manga series right now. "Hero Heel," "Noise," "Steal Moon," a shojo title that doesn't have a name yet, and "Angelic Room," which is a fantasy story.

GM: Which ones are yaoi?

MT: "Hero Heel," "Noise," and "Steal Moon."

GM: Where are you from originally?

MT: Toyamo.

GM: How did you become interested in art?

MT: I loved manga when I was a little girl, so I copied the art of my favorite manga artists.

GM: Who were your favorite artists and manga?

MT: Well, one of them was Go Nagai's manga "Devil Man."

GM: This is a manga from the 70s?

MT: Yes.

GM: Did you go to art school or are you self-taught?

Everyone: Eeeeeee! Spider! A SPIDER!

(At this point in the interview, a cruchy muscular-looking dime-sized spider dropped onto the table and there was much screaming this was very disconcerting. Keeping a cool head, I did what any yaoi-loving red-blooded American girl would do in the middle of an interview with a famous manga artist: I beat the arachnid to death with my notepad, thus saving us all from... something. Ms. Tatena's two assistants brought us Sprite, which was very nice of them, and eventually we calmed down enough to continue. Nevertheless, it took a while for the interview to get back on track, and we spent the rest of it casting fearful glances heavenward. But the show must go on.)

GM: Oooo-kay! Well, it's dead! Please calm down everyone, it was just a spider, not Osama Bin Laden. Do you like spiders, Ms. Tateno.

MT: I am a big fan of Spiderman.

GM: Ah, and who is not? What were we talking about? Oh yes, did you go to art school or are you self-taught?

MT: I took a design class in High School, but it wasn't really about drawing, so I'm pretty much self taught.

GM: (Gesturing to the color cover art and illustrations gracing the walls around them). These illustrations are lovely. Did you paint them? What medium did you make them in?

MT: I drew them, scanned them and then colored them in Photoshop on my Mac.

GM: They're really beautiful. What pens and paper do you work with?

MT: Crowquill pen and G-pen by Zebra, and paper is IC brand paper.

GM: What do you feel are the biggest influences on you now as an artist?

MT: There are a lot of artists that I admire, but no one artist or style is especially influencing me right now.

GM: What manga are reading now?

MT: I read a lot, but lately I'm really into "Death Note."

GM: What was a the biggest manga project before "Yellow"?

MT: There wasn't a yaoi title that was as big as "Yellow," but there was a shojo title that was running for a really long time in a sister magazine to Hanato Yumi called Aesattsu. It was called "Cute X Guy." (Like Cute Times Guy)

GM: When did this run?

MT: It just ended recently, but it ran from 2004 to 2006.

GM: Was "Yellow" serialized?

MT: It was in Be X Boy.

GM: What was the inspiration for "Yellow"?

MT: I've always liked a team kind of story where two people paired up and solved a mystery. I did a shojo story like that, so when I was asked to do one in yaoi, I did "Yellow."

GM: Do you know who "Starsky and Hutch" are?

MT: I love "Starsky and Hutch." Also "Joe and Punch."

GM: I don't know "Joe and Punch," but "Yellow" reminds me a little of the best parts of "Starsky and Hutch." There was a CD drama at Biblios, I think. Did you work on the script?

MT: A scriptwriter wrote it, but I checked it over before it was recorded.

GM: Were you happy with it?

MT: Basically, it was exactly the same as the manga, so I was very happy about it.

GM: Were you happy with the actors?

MT: Oh yes, I chose them. I found people that were perfect for the roles.

GM: What did you like best about the recording?

MT: I was very happy with the exchanges between Goh and Taki.

GM: Are Goh and Taki based on anyone.

MT: No models. I wanted to create characters who were opposite of each other and that's how they came to be.

GM: The plot gets pretty serious in Volume 3. It's the plot where the Taki's, um, foster parents come to get him. What was the impetus or inspiration for that particular two volume plot line?

MT: I had that storyline in mind, but I wanted to bring it out when I had a series that would be more than five episodes. So when I had the chance in "Yellow," that's where I was able to do that story.

GM: Now, about these hamsters...

MT: (laughs)

GM: I'd like to talk to you about this hamster on the dust jacket of "Yellow," Volume 2. Was this hamster the model for the character Kanji? (see panel right)

MT: Well, no...

GM: Ah.

MT: I don't quite see the resemblance, but it's amusing that you do.

GM: (to translator) Ameila, c'mon, help me out here.

Amelia Cantlay: Well, I guess, they're both cute and furry...

GM: Ah. Thank you. Okay: no real resemblance except in my head. (back to Ms. Tateno) So, how long are these five manga series you're currently working on going to keep you busy?

MT: About two years, but I forgot to mention another series I'm working on.

GM: What's it called?

MT: The title is "Martini Kouryakuhou" (roughly translated as "How to Conquer a Martini"). And it's about a bartender.

GM: Hopefully Digital Manga will have the English version before long. So there IS something to look forward to.

MT: I appreciate all my readers in America, I'd like to thank them for reading my work.

GM: Your work is wonderful, thank you for making it for us. And thank you very much for giving this interview to the Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society. I'm sorry about the spider.

MT: You're welcome. Oh, that spider... (shudders)

~~~

Yellow 1
Yellow 2
Yellow 3
Yellow 4, w/box

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