In Part 2 of e-HOBBY’s interview with Hidetsugu Yoshioka, he gives his frank opinions on artistic techniques, characterization, and US comic writing. This 3-part interview is packed full of new info!
From Facebook: “What marker brand do you use on your work? Thank you, and I love your work!”
Yoshioka: I use an ultra fine-point pen. They streak really nicely. When you can get them to streak, the lines come out in just the right way, but it’s a tough balance. When the pens are brand new, the lines are too heavy. I use Staedtler or Pigma fine-point pens, and brush pens as well.
From Twitter: Are there any stories or scenes from the Marvel comics that you’re fond of?
Yoshioka: Rather than any specific scenes, I liked how they’d lump guys like Bludgeon, Octopunch, and Stranglehold together, and make you wonder what they could possibly have in common. (Laughter)
Three Pretenders of different shapes and sizes
Simon Furman did like to give quirky characters part of the spotlight.
Yoshioka: That was fun in the cartoon, as well. You’d have Inferno and Red Alert, or Grapple and Hoist. There were those pairings, just like how on “G.I. Joe,” Alpine and Bazooka would always be hanging out together.
You seem to use that element in your works quite a bit, like when Warpath, Sideswipe, and Cliffjumper appeared as a unit.
Yoshioka: It wasn’t so much a team as that I just thought it would be interesting to use those characters together. They’ve got different forms and sizes, although they probably have something in common. (Laughter) It’s that visual disparity that makes it fun.
From Facebook: “Your use of heavy shadowing, evoking the atmosphere of American comics, gives an intense visual appeal to your works. When drawing in that style, what’s the vision behind your art?”
Yoshioka: In Japan, there’s a style of manga called “gekiga”. It’s pretty much a dead genre now. (Laughter) This style used a lot of shadowing, which would make the panels seem more distinct when compared with typical white backgrounds. Gekiga were practically pitch-black. I read some of them when I was a kid, and it had an influence. Japanese art doesn’t usually use shadowing that much. It must have been after Katsuhiro Otomo that people began using screen tones to tighten up art.
Is that style of illustration more difficult in comparison to more typical styles? For example, is it more time-consuming?
Yoshioka: To be honest, it blurs the line between expression and laziness. (Laughter) But I do put a lot of thought into it. I’ll deliberate over shadowing a certain area. I might shadow it in the rough sketch, but then change my mind when I’m ready to ink it.
The image changes greatly with the use of shadowing
From Twitter: “Genre aside, among all manga and comics, is there any series you’d like to illustrate if given the opportunity? Personally, I’d love to see “G.I. Joe” illustrated by you.”
Yoshioka: And I’d love to draw “G.I. Joe” if I had the chance. Those vehicles would be a challenge, though. (Laughter) I’d have a tough time with all the vehicles in the series.
Wouldn’t they still be easier than Transformers? Is drawing the H.I.S.S. Tank and such really so challenging?
Yoshioka: I’d be more excited about being able to draw the characters. In the original “G.I. Joe and the Transformers,” there weren’t really enough of the Joes in it. My reaction was, “What’s with this cast?” (Laughter) Hawk, Beachhead, Sergeant Slaughter, Scarlet, Mutt… Those were the main ones. I suppose more than a story, I’d enjoy doing poster illustrations of each of the characters.
Yoshioka’s illustrations of humans (?) also impress
Aside from the Joes, are there any other series you’d enjoy the chance to illustrate?
Yoshioka: Since I’m a fan of Marvel comics, I’d like to be able to draw some Marvel characters. I have done art for some of the toys.
From Facebook: “Would you ever consider working on Transformers comics for the Western market, such as titles published by IDW? I know we’d love to see your work published on our shores!”
…As you can see from this question, you do have a lot of global fans. When we announced this interview, we got a lot of people in foreign countries saying “I really want to ask Yoshioka-sensei a question!” or “I’m dying to get one of his illustrations!”
Yoshioka: Oh, I’d be honored. I don’t know how we’d communicate, though. (Laughter)
I’ll be your personal interpreter! (Laughter) If you had the chance, would you be interested in taking part in one of the overseas Transformers conventions?
Yoshioka: I’d really like to. We don’t have that kind of thing in Japan.
I feel like if there was a Transformers-only event in Japan, a lot of fans would flock to it.
Yoshioka: At general events like Wonder Festival and Super Festival, it’s not focused on Transformers, and there’s no official booth, either. I wonder how many fans would come together in Japan for a TF-themed event?
Looking at the number of fans who line up to buy exclusives at the events we have now, I definitely think it’s possible.
Yoshioka: It’d probably be those same people who would take part in a Transformers event. But that should be enough, as long as they don’t mess up with the capacity of the convention center. (Laughter)
From Twitter: “Are there any characters that you haven’t had a chance to include in your work, but that you’d like to in the future?”
Yoshioka: To answer from the opposite direction, characters other than Optimus Prime. I’ve had times where illustrations come back with the comment, “Optimus Prime wouldn’t do this.” Well, the Optimus Prime in the movie didn’t hesitate to blow a fallen enemy’s head off. (Laughter)
A lot of fans overseas reacted to that scene, as well. I take it that in your illustrations, Optimus is unlikely to be ripping any faces off?
Yoshioka: I wouldn’t have Optimus go that far. That’s what Cliffjumper is for. Him or Warpath. They’d shoot Decepticons in the back. (Laughter) But honestly, I have more fun with Megatron and Galvatron. Megatron’s a great leader. He thinks up his own plans, carries them out, he’s strong… He’s magnanimous. (Laughter)
So, what was your first impression upon seeing Megatron?
Yoshioka: My first thought was, “This guy’s the leader? With this design?” (Laughter) “He’s all gray? And he’s a gun, so somebody’s got to shoot him?”
Optimus certainly is more colorful. He’s kind of this symbol of Americanism in different ways.
Yoshioka: Optimus is more of a good person, isn’t he? He doesn’t need to be that strong. I feel like Megatron’s the smarter one, too. (Laughter)
There was a lot of Megatron devising some scheme, and the Autobots having to react to it.
Yoshioka: He’s got the ability to plan things and carry them out. That’s why I really prefer to make Megatron my main character rather than Optimus. My personal image of Optimus is based strongly on his portrayal in the comics, so he comes off as this pained character who’s always getting stuck with dire situations. (Laughter) He’s very much a character who can’t escape his fate.
You mean like in issue 24, when he allows himself to be blown up after losing to Megatron in a videogame?
Yoshioka: And as soon as he becomes a Powermaster, the first thing Optimus says is, “URRK! PAIN!” (Laughter)
Combining with a middle-aged man to become a Powermaster was a very different portrayal from Ginrai in Masterforce.
Yoshioka: With teams like the Headmasters and Pretenders in the US, you have the benefit that they could split up and fight in unison.
That works for the toys, but I always felt like the US comics had a hard time selling the usefulness of that concept.
Yoshioka: The Headmasters can fight separately, and then combine to confer with each other while they do battle. That was supposed to be the benefit compared to the original Autobots. As for the Pretenders, they get to infiltrate intergalactic bars. (Laughter) And also fight alongside their shells.
I think that’s something Masterforce was smart about. The Pretenders shrink down so that they can interact with humans. In the US comic, you had these enormous humanoids.
Yoshioka: The comic had a certain impact there. Cloudburst’s shell pops right open, a robot comes out and turns into a jet, and the shell rides in it. That’s the kind of thing I like. It’s just my personal preference, so it’s not that I dislike Masterforce or anything. But for me, it’s the US take that’s really exciting.
I assume that means it wasn’t Diver who appeared in the e-HOBBY comic?
Yoshioka: It was supposed to be Waverider. They never killed him off in the comics. (Laughter) I assumed Landmine was dead after Thunderwing blasted him with the Matrix. There were a lot of scenes in the comics where my reaction was, “Is he really dead?” I wondered if Chromedome was dead or not…
The thing was that at the time, new toys were being pumped out at an incredible rate, so they were forced to kill off some of the characters to make room for new ones.
Yoshioka: Tons of characters died in G2, also. Nightbeat really just died?! (Laughter) I suppose what’s different about US comics from Japan’s anime and manga is that the story progression is given priority. Characters follow the storyline, even in death. That holds true for “X-Men” or “Captain America.” “Banshee just died?!” (Laughter)
In the third and final installment, Hidetsugu Yoshioka talks about his later works and experiences in the 90’s. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, G2, Beast Wars, and more! Will you win one of 3 original Yoshioka sketches?
Stay tuned for Part 3 on Friday, August 17th, 2012!