Interview for "Monstress" German edition.
You've worked already together with Marjorie Liu at Marvels X-23. Even though you as a Japanese are not speaking English and she as an American isn't speaking Japanese, the result of your work was at least brilliant. How did your communication work?
Takeda : Imagine a situation where you could not communicate at all, even you and the person you are speaking to are both having a conversation in German?
I believe something important can go beyond verbalized language.
Of course, I do not understand difficult terms and words for business in English, so I do need a translator to communicate on that side when I talk with Marjorie.
But, I think the most important thing in communication is the " mind to understand" what the other party intends to say or what the situation is like. Also it's important not to be judgmental based on existing information of stereotype.
Marjorie has not only an outstanding talent as a writer, but also an outstanding talent to listen to others and to be sensitive to what and how they feel. I'm sure those talents of hers have enriched our communication.
After completing the cooperation on X-23 some years passed until it came to a renewed cooperation for Monstress. How did that come?
Takeda : The time I worked with Marjorie for X-23 was special for me.
Every word of hers really encouraged me, so I felt as if we had been walking hand in hand.
I was shocked when I heard that X-23 got canceled, and thought it was my fault with my poor artistic work. For a while after then, I stayed away from the comic book industry. But I personally had a wish to work with her again someday.
Meanwhile she came to Japan and said that we could work together someday again. At that time, I just thought that she was kind enough to say so, but soon she came up with a offer, which really made me happy.
You noticeably changed your artistic style from the very successful Marvel series X-23 to Monstress. For what reason?
Takeda : When I heard about this project from Marjorie, I felt she was determined to do something innovative and challenging. So I thought I should scrap all of my art style in the past and rebuild one from scratch so that I could respond to her commitment.
Actually, I was thinking about re-building my art style to a simpler one since I thought that my art was over-weighing.
But when we started Monstress, Marjorie suggested we should have an art-deco design in the center, so I changed my mind.
By drawing more lines, I tried to make balance by making colors simpler.
Your illustrations, perspectives and image sections could be described as cinematic. I noticed especially recurring geometric shapes and patterns, which reminded me of the films of Akira Kurosawa. Also the fact, that e.g. grids repeatedly narrow down a clear view on the protagonist (bars in jail, slats on the windows, stripes of shadows on the figures) reminds me on his way to present or even not present things. How much Kurosawa is in your drawings?
Takeda : I've never heard someone say something like that, so I feel honored.
First of all, Marjorie's script is so wonderful that I felt as if I was watching a movie as I followed her words, and that may be one of the reasons.
As for my art, when I think about the composition when I read the script, I first think about the arrangement of space inside my head, and move the characters there.
Then, I think about where to place the camera, which angle should be the best to frame it so that it will flow naturally, and that is how I come up with the composition.
Also, to express the writer's intention effectively, I try to work on the pages thinking about what to show and what not to show in mind.
I do not know if my art is cinematic or not, but those work may have given the effects on showing my arts that way.
Honestly, this is embarrasing to say, but I have never seen a Kurosawa film.
It's shame that I ended up not watching any of his films until today...
Are there furthermore other artists who affect you in your work or where you even would consider them as role models? And are these, like in Kurosawas case, Western artists or are you rather connected to the Eastern tradition?
Takeda : I have been affected little by little by all of the things that I have seen till today, so it is difficult to identify ones, but I think the foundation of my art is attributed to the inserted pictures of novels by Gojin Ishihara and Kasho Takabatake around 1920's.
Also, Kuniyoshi Utagawa, the Ukiyoe artist, compared with Hokusai is more alluring for his unique vigourousness and wildness. And manga and anime from the 1980s which I used to read and watch as part of my daily life when I was little can be part of it.
Some of my favorite artists from Germany are Edoger Ende, C.D. Friedrich and Michael Sowa. I also love the writer, Michael Ende. I think their wonderful and universal works may have influenced me in some sort of way.
Otheres may be Andrew Wyeth, Alberto Giacometti, Yasutake Funakoshi, Shoji Ueda, David Lynch... to name a few, but there are a lot more that I can keep going... wonderful talent with universal work, these kind of creators gives me comfortable stimulus, transcending the limit of time and space.
What are the most striking differences when it comes to work with clients from the US and clients from Japan?
Takeda : I have never worked for comics or manga in Japan so it is difficult to give an exact comparison, but when I started working in the American comic book industry, I was surprised to know that the publishers owns the rights to the characters and that various creators works on those characters. In Japan, the author owns the character as his own and it is very rare to have another creator work on those characters that they do not own.
Will Monstress also be published in Japan?
Takeda : I'm not sure, but I hope that it will be read by a wide range of audience.
You're also illustrating numerous artworks for trading cards, as we can see on your website. Do you personally think, working on this artworks is more interesting than working on comics? Or are there maybe no differences in this regard?
Takeda : I personally prefer comics.
My favorite part of work is to imagine.
For example, imagine the expression and the motion of the characters, and how we should balance a certain characters' expressions and movements so that there will be no inconsistency or a sense of discomfort, or what can be happening outside of the panels...
I really have fun when I imagine those things, so working on comics is more interesting.