You were a stand-up comedian before drawing picture books. What was it like back then?
I was 20 years old when Fuji TV started the programme You knock on a jumping door! In the 8-year broadcast, that was the only time they created a midnight show with a young cast, in the name of producing stars from the show. The programme was at its peak when I was 25 years old and it got top rating in various TV stations. For that reason, I was able to get to where I had wanted to be as a performer faster than expected.
What made you decide to draw picture books then?
My life got better and I was pampered. Eventually, I felt that I was not going to become a star since there were many seniors in front of me. I had no influence. I thought it would be terrible if I left it as it was. Instead, I was thinking of doing something the seniors were not doing. At that time, Tamori said to me, “You, go draw a picture” and that what how I got into drawing.
Why do you use music in the picture book production?
When I hold large scale solo exhibition with nearly 100 staff and if I tell them what to do one by one, they’d become like robots. On the other hand, when I tell them to do as they please, things become inconsistent. To resolve that, I say let’s compose some music, listen to it and work along the beats. With this, they are able to achieve what I’m really looking for.
Do you actually compose songs?
I don’t really compose. I get the pros to do it. I tell them what kind of feeling I want from the music by using a guitar or just humming the tunes. I think, after all, music is the best medium when you’re making people move, so I should start to make music myself.
Do you have any dreams?
One of my dreams is to beat Disney at least once in my 30s. That means winning by number. Disney is the top in entertainment scene. I don’t think anyone has ever defeated Disney. But then, I don’t hate Disney. In fact, I’m a Disney fan [laughs].
Is there anything else you want to challenge yourself to?
I’m not using any lighting in my Poupelle of Chimney Town exhibition that is held around Japan right now. My illustrations are lighted on their own. In other words, I can take them anywhere because I don’t need any lighting facilities. So I’m hoping to really bring my illustrations around for solo exhibitions in different places. I’m think of places like Cambodia where I’ll hold my exhibition for the children and help them create memories they will always remember. I want to do something that would be the “first” for someone.
I wear glasses depending on the scene at work. It’s a little inappropriate, but I actually wear glasses when I want to mess with art [laughs]. That’s why I usually pick glasses that are more classic in style and would give an artistic vibe. I’m thinking when children want to draw me, I’ll just buy like 7 sets of the same clothes to wear every day to make it easier for them. I also want to keep wearing this pair of glasses and make it like a trademark.
BRAND: John Dillinger P/No.: JD2011-D
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Picture Book Author/Stand-up Comedian
Born in Hyogo, Japan in 1980. Managed by Yoshimoto Creative Agency.
Began his career in stand-up comedy as one half of the duo King Kong. Has appeared in numerous TV programmes, including You knock on a jumping door! and in solo live talk shows and has penned novels and scripts for performing arts. Now a picture book author.
Marked his debut as a picture book author with the publication of Dr. Ink’s Starry Sky Cinema in 2009. Involved in a wide range of activities including holding solo art exhibition overseas.
Released Poupelle of Chimney Town in 2016 after spending 4 and a half years working on it and has exhibited around Japan 41 pieces of lighted illustrations from the book.
2009 Dr. Ink’s Starry Sky Cinema (Publisher: Gentosha)
2010 Zip and Candy: The Robots’ Christmas (Publisher: Gentosha)
2012 Music Box World (Publisher: Gentosha)
2016 Poupelle of Chimney Town (Publisher: Gentosha)
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