Night Parade Preview: Garappa

Today’s heat was deadly!! The rainy season can be awful, but this year’s weather seems especially hot and humid.

Today I took my art class down to the riverside for the final class of the summer. (July and August are just too hot to paint outside.) The river was so cool and inviting! The water was crystal clear with an emerald blue tint to it, visible all the way to the rocky bottom. Big and small fish were swimming in it, and herons, swallows, and other birds were flying around and splashing in the shallows. I waded in up to my feet, and it felt so nice.

More than anything else, I wished I were a Garappa today. Garappa are very similar to Kappa — closely related cousins, actually. They live on the island of Kyushu, and resemble Kappa in appearance and behavior, except that Garappa have much much longer legs and arms than Kappa. I would have loved to dive into the river head first and just drink in all that fresh mountain water.

Garappa

Garappa

Night Parade Preview: The Hyousube

Today I bring you another sneak peak at some of the artwork in my upcoming book, The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons. Today we take a look at the Hyousube!

Hyosube

Hyousube

Hyousube detail 1

Hyousube detail 1

Hyousube detail 2

Hyousube detail 2

As you may remember from my last hyousube post way back a couple years ago, they are huge eggplant enthusiasts. They are also extremely violent and nasty! If you should happen to catch a hyousube picking at your eggplant patch, look away and pretend you didn’t see anything — if the hyousube catches you spying on him, he will curse you with a deadly illness that turns your whole body purple and kills you the following day. (And really, you should have properly made a sacrifice of eggplants to the hyousube instead of forcing them to come all the way from the river to your patch just to get a meal!)

The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons

For many weeks now I’ve been alluding to a project I am working on, but I didn’t want to go into too much detail until I reached a certain point in the project. I’ve finally reached that point, and I am excited to announce my Very-Big-Project-That-Until-Now-I-Couldn’t-Talk-About-And-Is-The-Reason-Why-I-Haven’t-Posted-Much-Art-On-My-Website-This-Year!

I am making a book about yokai! It will be an illustrated field guide to yokai, and it will also other supernatural Japanese beasties. It will be fully illustrated, full color, and choc-a-block full of awesome information about these creatures, which I have been researching for a long time now. The book is tentatively titled The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons, which as you may know was the title of one of yokai master Toriyama Sekien’s yokai anthologies. One hundred, so yes, there will be 100 yokai in this book. In fact, a little more than that. And that means 100 full-page, color illustrations! There will be text and descriptions accompanying each yokai, but the main focus of the book will be the artwork. I am hoping to make this the most comprehensive and the most beautiful collection of yokai ever published in English. Some of the images will be cute, some will be grotesque. I am trying to present the yokai as they are described in tales, rather than in contemporary popular culture. That means there is some violence, some sex, and so on. It won’t be a kid’s book, but it won’t be rated R either.

I spent the entire first quarter of this year collecting stories from books, the internet, and (the most fun part) native Japanese who remember the stories from when they were children, translating them into English, and trimming them down to single-page tidbits that give a nice overview of each yokai. The 2nd quarter of the year was spent drawing, designing, and doing layout for the book, until I had a fairly complete working manuscript. Now, that the third quarter is starting, I am starting the biggest part of this project: painting all of the pictures!

You’ll see some similarities between this project and my A-Yokai-A-Day series, including many of the yokai. Almost all of the yokai I’ve presented on this website will be in the book, with new illustrations accompanying them (as you can see with the Kappa below). Of course, I haven’t shown nearly 100 yokai on this site, so you will get to see a large number more yokai that most people have never seen or heard of before (including many of the Japanese people I have talked to). Later on I will post a list of all the yokai included in the book.

In a few more weeks I will also be launching a Kickstarter funding project to help with the cost of publishing it (not to mention to cost and time involved in making it). There will be a number of patronage levels, starting from $1 on upwards, each one with specific rewards as a way to say thank you for your support. In the meantime, I will be posting updates on the book here on my blog, and on my Facebook page.

For now, here is a little preview of what the interior art will look like. The Kappa, one of Japan’s most famous and most loved yokai. I said there would be some blood, and here is a good example. The Kappa, while one of Japan’s favorite yokai, especially among children, is not at all the cute little rapscallion that most people know him as. In older folklore, they hunt and eat humans, rape women, and murder horses and cattle. Their favorite food is raw, bloody, human anuses. So be careful!

Kappa

Kappa

And some up-close details of the artwork:

Kappa detail 1

Kappa detail 1

Kappa detail 2

Kappa detail 2

Kappa detail 3

Kappa detail 3

I hope you enjoy these! And stay tuned for more updates on this book, especially for the Kickstarter project! I guarantee it will be worth becoming a patron of this project! :)

Monkey, the Precursor to Ecchan

Small Monkey

Monkey

Before there was Ecchan, I went through a number of different characters trying to come up with a good theme. One of my favorite concept characters before we came up with Ecchan was this monkey.

Monkey is a character I have been drawing ever since I was a little kid. In fact, I think the first monkey cartoon I ever did dates back to when I was in 5th or 6th grade, and he had a few precursors before then. He has evolved a little bit over the years, but the general look has stayed the same.

We ultimately decided not to go with Monkey and I went on to develop Ecchan, but before we went that route I wrote up two Monkey comics, which never got printed. They would never have seen the light of day if not for this blog, so I’m glad I can post them here and Monkey can get just a little bit of viewership.

Monkey Comic

Monkey #1

Panel 2:「ゴミ袋に名前を書くなんて・・・! 日本はおかしいよ!」
“Why do I have to write my name on the trash bags? Japan is strange…”
Panel 3:「確かに嫌だよねえ。でも、ちゃんと理由があるんだよ。」
“It really is a pain… but there’s actually a good reason for it.”
Panel 4:「それって、きっと変な理由なんじゃないの?」
“Well, it must be a pretty strange reason, right?”

Monkey Comic #2

Monkey #2

Panel 2: 「こんなに細かいんだろう?」「このゴミ箱1つじゃ足りないわね」
“Why are the trash rules so complicated?” “This one little trash can isn’t big enough.”
Panel 3:「このゴミ箱すてきだと思わない?」
“Don’t you think this trash can is nice?”
Panel 4:「買っていい?」日本のゴミ箱メーカーは儲かってるんだろうな。。。」
“Shall we buy it?” “Japanese trash can makers must be really do really well for themselves…”

Ecchan #3

Ecchan -- summer version

Summer Ecchan

Here is the 3rd “issue” of Ecchan no Eco-na Hanashi. This is the June issue, so I redid the little Ecchan face spot that I posted on the first comic. The face goes below the comic and helps introduce the bulkier text part where the month’s ecology theme is explained further. So this is “summer Ecchan” which will be used probably for this month and next month. In August I may do an “Obon Ecchan” wearing festival clothes.

Since this one is this month’s issue, you’re all caught up on Ecchan, and it probably will be a few weeks before I post the next issue in July. But I still have a couple of alternate comics that didn’t get published, so I’ll be publishing those soon as well.

This is the first issue to start using returning characters as well… I needed a couple of characters, and when I was sketching up ideas for what animal to use for the series, I went through a whole list of animals. The bear and the frog were both candidates, so I am glad to be able to give them a spot in subsequent comics.

Read on below for the translation of this month’s comic!

Ecchan #3

Ecchan #3: June 2011

Panel 1:「新しいのを買わないとだめかな…」
“Do I have to buy a new one…?”
Panel 2:「自転車屋さんで直してもらえば、まだ乗れるんじゃないかな!」
“I bet if you take it to the bike shop, they can fix it for you!”
Panel 3:「この制服、もう小さくなっちゃった。」
“This school uniform is already too small.”
Panel 4:「学校のバザーに出すと喜ばれるよ!」
“You can make someone happy by donating it to the school bazaar!”

Ecchan #2

Here is the second Ecchan comic I did. This one was the May version, printed last month. Translation below!

Ecchan #2

Ecchan #2

Panel 1:「よし、今日からREDUCE(ゴミ減量)生活だ!」
Alright! Starting today, let’s live based on “Reduce!”
Panel 2:「詰替え用の商品もReduceにつながっているね」
Refill packs are part of “Reduce” as well.
Panel 3:「食べきれる分だけ買おう!」
Let’s only buy as much as we need.
Panel 4:「マイバッグ、持ってますよ!」
I brought my own bag!

At this point I have to say it: translations from Japanese to English and English to Japanese always sound really weird, just because the languages are completely unrelated to each other, and the style of speaking is completely different too. It sounds weird and unnatural when translated, but it doesn’t sound so silly in Japanese.

Meet Ecchan

Ecchan the stork

Ecchan

Recently I was given the opportunity to design a character for Echizen City’s Department of Environmental Affairs. The theme was supposed to be environmental, and the character was going to be used in comics talking about local environmental issues, and through the Echizen City International Association it would be geared towards foreigners as well, and translated into Portuguese and Chinese (no English). I was also going to get to design the comics! :)

It wasn’t too hard to come up with a character idea. In the 1960′s, chemicals and overdevelopment completely wiped out the Oriental Stork in Japan. Through a long process of captive breeding and stricter environmental laws, the stork was reintroduced to Japan, and wild hatchlings were reported for the first time in 2007. A few years ago, one of the storks made its home in Echizen city, and it has become a favorite mascot in town. It seemed like the obvious choice for a character symbolic of environmental action, so I drew up Ecchan the stork.

These comics are being published one a month, and can be seen in Japanese, Chinese, and Portuguese on the Echizen City webpage, and International Association monthly newsletters. Hopefully they will be expanding viewership to a larger area. Since there’s no English version, I’ll translate it here. Anyway, here is the first comic.

Ecchan comic #1

Episode 1

Panel 1: 日本の人口は世界で10番目に多い。
Japan’s population is the 10th largest in the world.
Panel 2: でも、日本の国土面積は世界で61番目。
But Japan’s land area is only the 61st largest.
Panel 3: 日本のゴミの年間排出量 5273万トン・・・
Japan creates 52,730,000 tons of trash every year…
Panel 4: 「私たちにできること。それは3R!」 「3R?」
“There’s something we can do… 3R!” “3R?”

After the panels there is a paragraph with tips and information on the month’s theme, this one being Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. The strange tan blank spot at the top of the comic is for Ecchan’s profile. This comic was for April’s edition, so I’ll post May’s and June’s later on!