The panel opened up with JManga Robert Newman’s introduction. Maeda Tomo-sensei debuted with Honey Blood in Wings magazine in 2000. Other manga include Black Sun Silver Moon, Me ni ha Sayaka ni Mie ne domo, Tsukuroi-ya and her ongoing series, Kesshou Monogatari which began in 2008 and Kamitsuki which began in 2011. Black Sun Silver Moon was released by Go Comi! initially and the first volume can currently be found on JManga.
The Q&A session began with an interesting question that stems from an age old belief of Creators vs. Muse….
- Q: Does your stories have a tendency to write it’s own plot? Do your characters take a life of it’s own? Did you ever get into a fight with your characters over plot?
A: I come up with the storyline and I have to submit a plot. At times, the character moves on it’s own. Unless it’s a huge change, I let it move freely. Other than that, I make the storyline and the characters.
Midori: Maeda-sensei would like to ask a question of the audience. How many of you want to become a mangaka? *audience raises hands* Thank you.
Q: When did you want to become a mangaka and what are your influences growing up?
A: I actually wanted to become a mangaka after my debut. While growing up, I was influenced by everything I saw when I was younger.
Newman: She said before that while growing up, she always drew manga which was a part of her everyday life. After her debut, that was when she decided to become a mangaka.
Q: In Asian society, yaoi and yuri are very odd. How do your family feel about what you draw?
A: *laughs* I never really asked them about their opinions about that. Considering the age range from my parents, they may not know that such genres exist. They must be thinking that I am drawing something interesting.
Fan: I understand completely.
- Q: How do traveling affect your work?
A: Traveling within Japan is very different between the north and the south. The houses could be constructed differently or the traditional clothing is very different. Taking in that and making them my own ideas. How spread out the houses are very different so I make the emphasis to put that in my work.
Q: What is your typical workday like? When do you wake up?
A: I usually wake up around 7-8am. During the day, it’s the same as everybody. At night I try not to stay up too late, but I stay up until 3am but no overnights. For meals and such, I have meals at home like everyone else.
Q: Do you have a favorite story that you created?
A: Of my works, the one most precious to me is Black Sun Silver Moon. I personally have alot of fun creating that so it means alot to me.
Q: Are there people you know who inspired you in creating your characters?
A: There aren’t anyone who is exactly the same. However, I do put in habits of certain people I know.
Q: Do you have any assistants? What is the average number of pages you draw?
A: I only use assistants when I really need them. I draw about 5-6 pages a day which is a bit slow.
Photograph from Linda Yau@animediet
- Q: There are stories of mangaka and authors who run away from their editors when they come close to their deadlines. Are there any funny experiences of running away from your editor or explaining yourself to them?
A: *laughs* My editor is actually over there…. *points* If asked if I was an honor student, she would say yes. *laughs* ‘She is an honor student for her deadlines.’
Q: When you submit a storyline, how often are you asked to change a major aspect?
A: I am not held back much by my editor. I am pretty free in my writing though I do receive requests to write in a certain genre. Like drawing something in yuri, but other than that, I’m pretty much free to do as I want.
Q: Since you like to travel, is there a specific place that you’re drawn to that inspires your story?
A: I draw alot of inspiration from being in places that are very different from where I live, different from my regular surroundings. Last night, I went out to New York City. Seeing that kind of environment and backgrounds are very inspirational to me.
Midori: Maeda-sensei has added that when she sees the beautiful ocean and staring at it with a blank mind, a lot of inspiration comes.
Q: How do you think of a storyline and make it interesting?
A: Often times I come up with the story from things I see around me. There isn’t a certain process to keep the storyline interesting so if you’re interested in it, I’m very grateful.
Q: What series or artists do you like?
A: There are many artists that I like. I’m inspired by Fujiko-sensei from Doraemon and many mangaka from Shonen Jump. I like older ones and there are so many mangaka in Japan that I’m sure there are more that I have never read.
Photograph from Linda Yau@animediet
During the drawing session that followed, Maeda-sensei drew Taki again from Black Sun Silver Moon. No color this time, but the lines are clear as is the sweetness in his expression. Next to him is Agi, the silver dog that he adopted.