Fields × JAPACON “Contents & Human Future Lab. is planning to interview a Japan’s leading comic artist every month. We are going to clarify the artists’ background and how they think of their works under the keyword of their image of hero or heroine.
The second interviewee is Ms. Satonaka Machiko.
She debuted when she was a high school student. At that time, there were a few female cartoon artists. We can say Ms. Satonaka was one of female artist pioneers.
Currently she is a director of a cartoon association and a professor of Osaka University of Arts. Since her debut, she has been sending her message strongly to female readers. We would like to interview her passion for cartoons and her images of heroes and heroines.
■Becoming a popular artist
Having learned comics and done club activities, you debuted. Could you tell us something around that time?
My parents who wanted me to become a lawyer or a doctor did not support my dream. I therefore worked part time in a printing factory in my neighborhood and bought pens or some others for comics. I got abandoned papers for nothing from the factory. I made use of the paper to submit my works to publishers.
Although my high school banned part time work (I kept secret my part time at the factory.), they gave a special permission for me to work as a comic artist. Media picked me up as a 16 year old genius. But I do not like that.
My work, my having lived in Osaka, was quite tough. I had to discuss the details on my work over the phone and send my work via air mail. We did not have fax machine then.
At the latter half of my second year at high school, many of my classmates having become more nervous about entrance examination, my school, which was generous till then in spite of a banning part time job rule, suggested I suspend my job. They could not treat me as an exception any more. It was fatal for just debuted artists to suspend the activity. So I decided to quit school after I contemplated for 15 minutes. My parents tried to persuade me to go to school but in vain.
So, you came to Tokyo?
Yeah. We did not have much information in those days. All places I knew in Tokyo were “Otowa” where my publisher located”, “Toshima-ku” where an apartment house of young cartoon artists located, and “Nerima” where Mr. Chiba and other artists lived. Among them I decided to move to Otowa near my publisher.
You must have been busy soon after you moved to Tokyo.
Not really. For a while, I cannot say my job was going well. My editors were very much disappointed and told me, “I looked forward to your work.” or “You had better go home.” Although I was 17 year old, I chose this occupation on my own. So I had to draw illustration for some magazines to earn money. The most difficult one was a weaving machine. Still I remember that I stared at the photo of the machine in a book for quite a while at a book shop to memorize its shape because I could not afford the book. (laughter)
It was really hard for me to make the ends meet. I was not able to buy enough food. I had often eaten soy beans and dried fish both of which were cheap and nutritional. Fortunately, I had no problem with cooking because I got accustomed to it in order to help sickly Mother since my elementary school days.
You experienced hardship. How did you get a chance?
I was anxious to create a heroine who make decisions by herself. But it was not easy. I was suggested a romantic comedy by my editor. I was unwilling to draw that Komuro:
You experienced hardship. How did you get a chance?
I was anxious to create a heroine who make decisions by herself. But it was not easy. I was suggested a romantic comedy by my editor. I was unwilling to draw that kind of comic. In that comic, I created a heroine to love but not to be loved. That made a hit. With this success, I drew my own comics in between comics recommended by my editor. I was anxious to create heroines who could send my message that women were strong enough to carve out their career.
10 years had passed since my debut, one of my readers told me she was encouraged by my comic and stopped thinking of committing a suicide. I realized my message was understood I was really happy. On the other hand, most of male characters in my comics are indecisive because I pursue women’s independence too much. I figure there are only 4 men who have right mind in my works. (laughter)
Very interesting. You have drawn many heroines and heroes for readers. Could you tell us your images of them?
My heroes are Astroboy and Leo in Tezuka Osamu’s work. They have power to overcome adversities beyond their capacity. One of Korean cartoon artists once told me, “American heroes fight for their nation. Korean heroes fight for their friends. Japanese heroes sacrifice their lives to strangers.” I think Astroboy’s self-sacrifice the best heroism.
We understand you have been a theorist since you were very young and that you have been pursing your heroines with their own will since your debut. Thank you very much for your time today.
Ms. Satonaka has been actively involved with activities beside her creation. One of the activities is “Manga Summit” an interaction event among Asian cartoon artists. She came back to Japan just several days before the interview from the event conference. This event had been started by meeting with Korean artists that she had with Mr. Chiba, who was our first interviewee coincidently.
Last but not least, she drew Nukata no Ookimi, a heroine of her work located in ancient Japan’s court. We deeply appreciate her cooperation.
■Introduction of Interviewer
Senior Executive Director, Contents Portal Website Executive Committee
Executive director, Japan Photographic Copyright Association
Vice president, Japan Photographic Copyright Association
Interacts with various people including creators.
Research and Development Office
(Fields Research Institute),