Kia Asamiya (麻宮 騎亜 ) Interview

Kia Asamiya (麻宮 騎亜 ) Interview

Kia Asamiya is an unique artist who has worked on American comics such as Batman and X-Men. Back home in Japan, he has work on popular manga titles like Silent Mobius and Martian Successor Nadesico. While at this year's FanimeCon, we caught up with the man and discussed briefly about some of the differences between American and Japanese works and also a little about his current titles in Japan. Read also about his future projects such as the possible continuation on Silent Mobius!

T-ONO: We know that Kia Asamiya is your pen name. Can you tell us a little bit about how you came up with that name or if it has any significant meaning to it?


Asamiya: In Japanese culture, there's a philosophy that the number of strokes in kanji of your name reflects how long your life is going to be.  I did a lot of research on that and chose Kia Asamiya because the number of strokes in kanji are bountiful. The very last kanji, 'ah', is actually the same as the 'ah' in Asia. I wanted to emphasize that I am from Asia, rather than from Japan.


T-ONO: Talking about influences, we know you've worked on a lot of American comics. As an artist, do you have any particular Western stories or Western art that you were influenced by starting out?


Asamiya: The first American artist that influenced me heavily was Frank Frazetta who did Vampirella, Jean Jerome Mebisu from France, Mike Mignola, who does Hellboy, recently Adam Hughes, and the animator for the Batman series named Bruce Tim. I've had a variety of Western influences.

一番最初の海外のアーティストで好きになったのはFrank Frazetta、ヴァンピリアとかね。その後、フランスのジャンジュロームメビウスとか、アメリカで言えばマイクメノーラとか、最近でいうとアダムヒューズ、バットマンアニメーテッドのアニメーターのブルースティム。そういうのから影響受けてるね。

T-ONO: How did you get into the American series that you did?


batman child ofAsamiya: I've always wanted to do a Batman related manga, and it just so happened that an opportunity for that came up in Japan and I jumped at the chance. I approached them about doing it. As far as Marvel franchises go, I actually had a friend in America who was an editor at Marvel and he kind of got me in. He's currently a scout for Marvel now.


T-ONO: With the different styles, we know you're currently working on several series, were there any difficulties transitioning from a Japanese style to a more Western style?


Asamiya: Even before I started working on American comics, I was very knowledgeable of the whole system because making Japanese comics and American comics are completely different but I understood how the American side worked. In that sense, I actually was prepared for it. As far as Batman was concerned, I had much more freedom like what I had when I was writing my Japanese manga, so it was only between me and the DC editor creating Batman. With Uncanny X-Men, I only worked as a penciler and an inker so it was incredibly limited what I can do based on the scenario which was already given to me, even to the point where the text for each panel would describe what angle the camera was looking over what shoulder, and I found that incredibly restrictive and felt keenly the difference between drawing a Japanese manga and a American comic.


T-ONO: Can you describe a little bit on the differences between working on a Western comic and a manga?


Asamiya: As far with the manga, there is the creator/artist and the editor. They would go over the scenario together and make and manga. So the creator can also have a strong voice to his own creation. In American comic books, generally the publisher owns the exclusive rights to that franchise, the publisher has the initiative over the franchise, therefore the creator/artist needs to follow the publishers demands when they created the world of its creations.


T-ONO: Are you working on any current Western projects?


Asamiya: Not right now, not at the moment. I'm plenty busy with all of my work in Japan.


T-ONO: If you had the opportunity, is there any particular American series you'd like to work on?


Asamiya: A little while back I drew a cover for an Iron Man comic, but now I'd probably like to draw an entire comic book itself.


Iron Man #400 cover by Kia Asamiya.T-ONO: Any particular reason why Iron Man out of all the series?


Asamiya: As far as Iron Man's concerned, Marvel actually approached me. It was for some kind of anniversary.


T-ONO: Let's switch over to more of your Japanese work. The title Junk has a darker undertone. Can you tell us how you were inspired for the title?


Junk Volume 1 Cover.Asamiya: So I wrote many super hero stories, including Batman, but what I kind of wanted to do with Junk is to show the reality side of the super hero that they don't show in the normal super hero series, so Junk became a really dark and realistic piece.


T-ONO: So in that sense it kind of brings some of that Western influence over into a Japanese title?


Asamiya: Mhm.


T-ONO: With more recent titles you've done stories about cars like My Favorite Carrera. How did you decide to start doing stories about cars?


Reina from My Favorite CarreraAsamiya: I'm a huge car nut, so that's why I decided to write stuff with cars in it.


T-ONO: Do you own a Porsche?


Asamiya: Yeah, a Porsche 911, Carrera. (hesitantly)


T-ONO: Did you have to do a lot of research for it, or did the series spring up from buying a Porsche?


Asamiya: Despite the fact that I'm a big car enthusiast, in My Favorite Carrera, a variety of super cars appear. So took thousands of pictures, and I talked to as many owners, all the dealers and the makers. I tried to get as much information as I could because I realized that what I would need to do if I want to get it right with the other cars.


T-ONO: Which publisher is it currently published under?


Asamiya: Shueisha. Internationally, it's currently only available in Hong Kong.


T-ONO: We know in the series the main character, Reina, I believe she is an editor working on a comic or Weekly Playboy?


Asamiya: So she goes from being an editor in Play Guys (or Guides) to being an editor a magazine called Driven.


T-ONO: In terms of Himegami Gadget, is this a continuation of the trend of darker themes and involving cars?


Himegami GadgetAsamiya: Originally, Himegami Gadget was not supposed to be a manga at all. It was supposed to kind of be a manga series that appeared in the My Favorite Carrera world, but I realized if I wanted to do that I had to have at least have a little bit of scenario and setting set up, but as I was doing that I just said, "oh screw it, I'm just going to take this and turn it into a manga."


T-ONO: So the editors just went with it?


Asamiya: As far as Hinagami Gadget is concerned, it was actually under Flex Comics.


T-ONO: Currently you're working on those two series. Do you plan on any other future projects?


Asamiya: Currently I am not really sure; however My Favorite Carrera might end within this year. But it just happens to be that next year is the twenty fifth anniversary of Silent Mobius, and I might start a new series next year.


T-ONO: Just to wrap up, every artist has their own technique. What tools do you use, what's your preference?


Asamiya: In the early nineties, I was one of the first adopters of using Macs. I been using Mac for the longest time, but as I start using it more, I started to feel dull about it. So recently I've been doing all of my coloring in analog where I'm actually hand coloring everything. If it's a standard monochrome page, I will draw the lines and do the final touch up on computer.


T-ONO: What kind of software do you use?


Asamiya: Photoshop ONLY! (laughs)


T-ONO: Do you have any parting advice for aspiring artists?


Asamiya: This is something I practice myself too. First and foremost: expand your horizons (or vision). It's fine to focus on those things that you're really interested in, but try to absorb as much of the world as you can. As far as how good your art quality is, that's really secondary and shouldn't even be on the radar. It's about researching, understanding, and learning as much as you can. Especially with kids, it's all well and good to like anime and manga, but you all better study!


T-ONO: Any message for your fans in the U.S.?


Asamiya: First and foremost, the fans are what give me my motivation to keep doing what I do. Being able to come oversees and being able to meet the fans and talk to them and give them advice is fantastic. I'm incredibly thankful for all the fans that are willing to take the time to go out and meet me and cheer me on. As a way past technology goes, print media in Japan is starting to go away as everything becomes more digitized, as long as it's okay in Japanese, my comics are available for free on the web and its free! So I would implore my people to give it a read and keep looking at my stuff and keep cheering for me.


T-ONO: Thank you very much for your time, and we wish you success with your series. Maybe one day we can see an Iron Man comic!


Asamiya: *laughs* Thank you. I'm impressed with all the research you did on my current Japanese projects.


Special thanks to Nikolas Kamachi for interpreting. Transcription by Arthur Arends and Stephen Bajza. Interview by Theodore Mak.

Last modified on Thursday, 26 November 2015 23:56
(0 votes)