Are we ready? Can we get started? All ready? Okay, let’s start! So, just a few words at the beginning to greet all of you and to greet master Ito, since it really is a great honor to have him here.
I expect that everyone has already seen his exhibit at Palazzo Ducale, here, just abovestairs.
This is how the Showcase will work: I’ll pass the baton to Christian Posocco from Starcomics (italian publisher of Ito’s works) who also deserves an applause, if only because he organized the exhibition… (The coordinator has asked sensei Ito if there is something he’s particularly afraid of) Well, there are too many things that I’m afraid of, ghosts, for example, but I obviously don’t believe in them. My wife scares me too, though. This is it, more or less. We should let him start drawing. The master won’t be able to talk for the whole time since he needs to concentrate to draw, so forgive me if I’ll talk a little too much However, since he started drawing, I’d like to ask something to his editor, Mr. Kato.
An applause for Mr. Kato, please. I’d like to know if, for him, working with Junji Ito is scarier than, for Ito, working with Mr. Kato. I think everyone here know that master Ito is someone who can make fantastic drawings, and every time I publish his stories in my magazines I’m always shocked by his drawings’ beauty and excellence. Lately I’m publishing the drawings of “No longer human” on my magazines, and what has really been imprinted on my memory are the pages involving the main character, Oba Yozo, when he’s hospitalized in a mental institution because of his marijuana addiction, and particularly when he tries to flee from this hospital. In addition to that, generally speaking, I could say that he’s always able to draw something that goes beyond the imagination, any kind of thing that one could conceive with creativity, and I think this is what scares me the most about the master. What scares master Ito about Mr. Kato, instead? Well… I think it’s his very pure(?) appearance. But once you start talking with him you can understand that he’s an amazing person, and that there’s nothing to be afraid of. He’s someone who always helps me a lot in my work. Talking about his work, we can see that he brought something from home, so I’d like to ask what he is drawing and what kind of technique he’s using, for example. Well, the subject is Uzumaki. I’m still drawing it, as you can see, it’s not finished yet. She’s a girl whose forehead is getting hollowed out. The spiral who’s consuming the girl’s face will get bigger and bigger… …until her whole body will be consumed. I’m drawing something like that. Could you tell us something about the technique you’re using right now? Well, I’m using a pen. Applause, please. Lately I’ve been using the electronic tablet a lot… It’s been a while since I’ve drawn on paper. Going back to drawing on paper I could use the fountain pen again, which is not like a ballpoint pen, but to draw with it you have to dip it in the ink, and the shape of… Basically, in Japan we call this “G point pen” because the gap’s shape of the front of the nib resembles the letter “J” a lot.
( “J” is pronounced “ji/gi” in japanese). This is an instrument I used when I was still working as a dental technician… Well, this part of the G pen, as you can see, is straight. I used this to tighten the screws of the braces I had to put on in my patients’ mouths. It was of the utmost importance, it’s very, very useful. And when I want to draw I always twist the pen’s tip a bit. In this way, drawing gets easier for me. I do something like this… Small movements…and I twist the tip. But I have to be careful, or else I could break it. I could say that this is my technique. Fantastic, really, extraordinary. So a dental technician tool can become vital for an artist like Junji Ito and the inventiveness
to apply a technical tool out of context,
obtaining incredible results. This is truly admirable. But since he has just introduced the concept of the electronic tablet, before letting him work a little more, I wanted to ask master Junji Ito how the profession of the artist can change thanks to the advent of digital technologies. Speaking of me, it’s not that I can answer that much. I mainly use ink by spreading it well on paper and then I also use the screentones. I take them off their main matrix and then apply them on my drawings. It’s a job that takes a long time, and every day it takes me a long time. To use the screentones in an efficient way I carefully cut and apply them to my drawings, and to do this I use the tool you saw before. Basically I found out that you can make a very effective use of the screentones by cutting them with this pointed part and then spread them on the drawing that I’m creating with this part. And I’m really fine with it. I could say that I invented it. And it’s true. Now everything is becoming digital. With the digital one simply need the touch of a finger or pen on the desired point and everything automatically becomes black and even with the effect of the screentones. The instrument you have seen before becomes no longer necessary. Well, are there any other questions? It’s very interesting. Digital allows you to save a lot of time, it makes life easier, but in the end some of the inventions or technical discoveries of particularly inventive or ingenious person end up being a bit mortified or obsolete, but I think the master is fond of his instruments. While the master works I would like to ask Mr. Kato another question. I had the chance to be able to hear dialogues between Master Junji Ito and his editor, Mr. Kato, in which they talked about various topics, literature, cinema, and he said that it is their way of working, of having new ideas. I wanted to ask how much Mr. Kato can feel enriched by these beautiful conversations he has with the master. The master and I are two personalities who are very close to each other, and being also art people it is normal that we are passionate about other forms of art that are different from comics. For example, the other day we found ourselves discussing about a film that we both saw, it was titled “The Third Man”, and we talked a lot and we confronted each other, we exchanged our impressions and opinions but above all we built different hypothesis on the film, on how it was made, on what the conclusions could be, and this is mainly what stimulates each other and enriches us more. Above all we try to put ourselves in the shoes of the director and whoever contributed to the creation of the work, and we wonder how we would have done it if we had been in the place of the director or the various staff members. This is really something that enriches us a lot and stimulates us on various points of view in our creativity. It is very interesting to find out how extraordinary authors like master Junji Ito can work even better thanks to the exchange with their editor, by discussing about various things, by having creative stimuli, by making hypotheses, and then maybe even having new ideas on what to do, how to do it, thanks to confrontation. These days we got to know master Ito as a really friendly, easygoing person, he’s almost like family for those who had the chance to witness what we did yesterday with other Italian publishers of Ito sensei’s works. It was almost astonishing to see that the master did not back down in telling anecdotes about himself, about his life, about his love for cats, about his wife, which is a subject that comes out quite often. And even now he does not hold back in telling his secrets, his techniques his way of approaching to this profession. He really is an extraordinary person. Now I would say that we can bother him once more, since we have given him the opportunity to go on with this splendid drawing
(seeing it taking shape is fantastic), asking another question. Master, do you have any scary anecdotes about your job? Has anything ever happened to you about your job that terrified you? Well, lately I’ve been spending a lot of late nights… …and when I cannot fall asleep… …I just keep drawing. At a certain point I start losing consciousness… …and I stab my finger. Here, perhaps, you can see that traces of ink are left under the skin. This is the most terrifying episode that has happened to me. When I stab my finger with the fountain pen, it’s as if I had been tattooed. I’ve heard that another great horror manga artist, Umezu Kazuo, has a sort of tattoo here, on the palm of his hand, and that it’s still there since the time he did it. Something else that scared me may have happened,
but now I can not think of anything. Fantastic. Immolating your body for art, here is an episode that explains what this means. I remind you that master Junji Ito works alone, that’s why he is forced to spend late nights and to hurt himself so as not to fall asleep not to miss deadlines. Unlike most Japanese authors, he has no assistants and does everything himself. This demonstrates even more the artist’s greatness. Still on the subject of fear, I have another question. Now that you have spent some time in Italy, at Lucca Comics and Games, can you tell us what are you scared of about Italy? So, it happened the other day… …or maybe yesterday, I don’t remember exactly… We went visit the torture museum, there were many torture instruments on display, and hung on walls there were pictures that explained how people were tortured with those instruments. I made comparisons between the reproduction of the instruments of torture that were displayed and the graphic representation of how torture occurred and I imagined these instruments entering my body, a very big sting with thorns piercing me in the ribs, or something else crushing me from behind. I tried to imagine it, and it was really terrifying. Those are really instruments of torture, aren’t they?
They aren’t reproductions, are they? Many are actually authentic. I saw that the metal parts were rusty and that the wooden parts were starting to rot and I imagined that it must have been very painful for those who were subjected to torture. This was the most terrifying thing about Italy. We asked the master “Aren’t you scared of tomorrow’s event?” and he replied “Well, yes, that’s another thing”. I will meet three other artists. On December 31st I got together for the first time with an English illustrator, Dave McKean, and a renowned Italian director, Ruggero Deodato, and we chose a theme together, and from that each of us started to freely draw a work. The theme addressed was that of the novel “Frankenstein”. We have relied on how Frankenstein was conceived, what were the phases of the conception of the novel. The author of “Frankenstein”, as you know, is Mary Shelley. Basically, Mary Shelley, along with her husband, the poet Percy Shelley, and other poets among whom Byron was also present, decided to get together, make a trip together, and decided to spend time in a mountain villa. However at some point they got caught in a storm that forced them to stay indoors because they could not get out, and in order to try spending time constructively they decided to discuss horror and that each one had to create something horror-related. And on that occasion Mary Shelley decided to put together the story of “Frankenstein”. The event we attended was basically built on this, because just like Mary and Percy Shelley began to draw the work gathered in a villa, we also gathered in the same room of a villa and we began to create horrifying works. English illustrator McKean and italian director Deodato, as I believe you already know, are people with great talent and are able to draw wonderful things. Since tomorrow we will have to present our works publicly, I feel a bit of pressure, and this is the thing that scares me the most. Will I be able to match the skills of the other masters? This is an instant communication, the meeting will be held tomorrow at 12 am at Teatro del Giglio. And it’s open to the public, of course. We recommend that you do not miss this further chapter of the Italian / Lucca adventure of master Junji Ito. We have heard very interesting things, this fascination and terror that the master felt after visiting the museum of torture as well as the impact of this event with the great masters who were called “masters of horror”, Ruggero Deodato, Alberto Dal Lago and Dave McKean. And, who knows? Maybe Ito could get inspiration from this Italian adventure for one of his next works, why not? It could be interesting. Well, yes, it could be. A manga focused on torture. We look forward to reading it. I asked the master what terrified him of Italy, but now I would like to know if there is something about Italy that he would like to take to Japan. Well, this building, for example. This building is magnificent and in general all Italian buildings reflect a similar magnificence. It is spacious. I envy you so much. The condo in which I live is a little narrow. There is also the place where I work… …which is my room. Basically, I work under a bunk bed, and once I have finished working I simply climb the stairs and sleep. When I wake up… Sometimes the doorbell of the postal delivery woke me up nd I climbed down quickly. I haven’t fallen yet, but I thought it would be rather dangerous to climb down in a hurry. I would very much like to be able to divide the space in which I sleep from the space in which I work, and as a work space I would love to have a place like this. It is truly a wonderful building. And you are beautiful, too. I would like to have a face like yours. Plus, Italian seems like a great language,
I know only a few words. When I saw Michelangelo’s sculptures, that refer to the ancient Greek statues, I was able to see the ideal beauty of the human being. It is truly a fantastic art. Italy is a country that covers everything from the artistic point of view and I would like to bring this to Japan. It’s a great compliment from an artist of his caliber towards Italian art. I’m really gloating after hearing these words, I feel like I’m lifted from the ground by lightness and happiness. Spending these days with Ito sensei has been really wonderful because he is a truly extraordinary person. I would also like to know if there is any kind of non-horror genre in which he would like to try, sooner or later. A very sweet love comedy with mild tones. But I have the impression that I won’t be able to draw it. I already know that very sinister and disturbing incidents will happen. Even the master Umezu Kazuo, whom I mentioned before, draws love stories. Those are love stories in which the characters fall in love by taking pills, medicines. However, as typical of the master, being a master of horror, even if he engages with love stories then they end up becoming horror stories. In the meantime the drawing is taking more and more shape… You can focus on it again, can’t you? Fantastic. By the way, in these days, during the signing sessions, master Ito has made a different sketch every day, he didn’t limit himself in putting only the signature. It’s something that surprised and made us very happy. We still have 5 minutes in the company of the master, and among other things, I have wonderful news for everyone in this room: when the event will be finished and the master will be left, he will leave the paper with his drawing on the table and all of you can come close and see it live. *me and my friend laughing after imagining a sort of Hunger Games to win Ito’s work* The event will end shortly, maybe there could be a couple of questions, not many, from the public..? Hello, I would like to ask the master if this character, who is called Azami Kurotani, who is the most iconic of all his work, at least in my opinion, is the one to whom he is actually more fond of or if some other character may be his favorite, even if portrayed less often. I would like to reformulate the question: she would like to know if you are particularly attached to the character of Azami, which you are drawing now, and who is considered perhaps the most iconic in Uzumaki, or if there is another character to whom he feels particularly attached even if he/she appears or is drawn less frequently. In Uzumaki… …she is actually my favorite. She’s a kind of a femme fatale, a diabolic woman. The characters of Uzumaki are figures that all have flaws or faults. These characters seem very fascinating to me, and I like them a lot. The protagonist is Kirie. She is a person who has a strong sense of justice. In real life it would be nice to meet someone like her, but in the world of manga her role is reversed and instead becomes an unwanted, indeed annoying, presence. Instead this scene, which portrays Azami-chan, is my favorite scene of Uzumaki. I can say that one can perceive that she has been drawn with love and a remarkable transport, in my opinion this seems to be beyond doubt. Another question? This time I’ll move away a bit … I wanted to know, since the spiral is a recurring element in his works, if he has ever felt swallowed or consumed by a spiral in his life. While Tommaso translates, I inform you that this is the last question, after which we will let the master calmly finish the drawing, and the event will end. Lately I’m getting old. I will tell you if I remember it. I have to think about it. Maybe we’ll ask him calmly, then we’ll let you know in the Starcomics mangas. I am a person who finds it hard to say no, so I often find myself involved in a lot of situations. It happened to me several times to buy useless items when door-to-door salesmen showed up at my door. Okay, thank you so much for coming here, thank you for all the affection you have shown towards the master. So let us end this event with a nice applause. Hello Lucca Comics. I really enjoyed taking part in your festival, thanks everyone for your participation. I had so much fun and I hope you have had a good time too. Italy is a fantastic country because it’s rich in art and culture, and this is a value that you must not forget, and it is one of the things I liked most about this country. Thanks again!