“I don’t trust human’s emotions. It’s not something that I deal with in my work.”
CA: I used to think of your Engineering pieces as very frightening because all the machines’ action goes unexplained, but now I find myself more in awe of them. I see the machines as being like divine creatures. Is there an emotional response you’d like your comics to produce in the people who read them?
Yokoyama: Thank you. I am happy to hear you respond like that. I would like each reader to construe my works freely.
CA: I’m especially interested in your interactions with American comics. A lot of people have commented on your art’s similarity to Jack Kirby; has he influenced you at all?
Yokoyama: Unfortunately, I am interested in neither American comics nor other countries’ comics.
“Imagine that you turned on a television. You happened to see a drama in the middle, watch it for a while and turned it off since you needed to leave. Maybe it was 10 min of the entire movie but it may be quite interesting to you. It often happens to me. But when you see the left part of the movie, you may find it boring and not interesting as you expected.”
“I’ll give you another example. Someone is constantly interrupting our conversation. She continuously comes and picks up something on our table and goes back. That situation is really interesting to me. It inspires me to draw before and after of that moment. I want to draw these scenes. Manga is the method to realize that.”
CA: Are there any cartoonists making work right now that you feel inspired or influenced by?
Yokoyama: No, I don’t have such cartoonists.
CA: It seems to me that the dialogue about humanism and its absence in your comics ignores the spiritual. Do you think there’s a spiritual aspect to your work?
Yokoyama: My dialogue doesn’t have humanism, but it has the spiritual. However, on the other hand, you can see they are without the spiritual. It is up to each reader’s interpretation.
“Drawing manga book is like a life work for me. However, I can’t enjoy the process at all. It is so distressing.”
-What is cuteness for you?
That’s a difficult thing to describe. It’s similar to describing the taste. How delicious it is.
I love babies, any babies from human’s to animal’s. I asked my mother to have more babies when I was little. I love babies that much!
-Why is that?
It’s really adorable. However, I don’t want my own. (laughs)
-Until what age, do you regard as a baby?
Well, it is hard to say. To be honest, I think that even after getting old, people might not be growing up from a baby.
-People keep some child part inside.
I taught water color painting to elderly people two years ago. They were like a child concentrating on drawing. I imagined their childhood from each face.
It’s not connected to my work but makes me think of what is to be a human. I see adult’s childish behavior just like becoming a child again.
“Emotions prevent you from finding or sensing interesting matters. Ukiyo-e (Japanese traditional print in the 17-19th century) is drawn from a similar perspective. It is eliminating human’s emotion. Some are drawn from high above the city. Others are drawn from the ground, placing a hip of a cow in the center. It is fun to see things in that way. It is not a human’s perspective.”
“I thought Yuichi Yokoyama is like a boy who likes scribbling and fishing with a quite pure heart. This exhibition is his manifestation about his past and current and future.”
The plot of Garden is pure simplicity: A crowd of would-be sightseers (all wearing costumes and headgear that make them look like a lost Kinnikuman toyline) sneak into a sprawling “garden” filled with inexplicable, incredible sights and structures, from a river of rubber balls and a forest filled with disassembled cars to mountains made of glass and a massive hallway filled with floating bubbles. The endlessly chatty characters slowly walk, climb, swing, float, and otherwise make their way through the environments and obstacles, constantly narrating as they go. (“Now what could this be?” “It’s a field of boulders.” “All the boulders have ladders on them.” “Let’s climb it.”) By explaining exactly what’s happening at all times, the little explorers make following Yokoyama’s often kaleidoscopic art a breeze, freeing you to simply marvel at the sheer scale and scope of his imagination (and chuckle at the crazy stuff the characters encounter). The overall effect is like being strapped in for a ride through some Bizarro Disney World where every single attraction is as colossal and otherworldly as the big Spaceship Earth golfball, as fast as Space Mountain, and as dizzying as the Mad Tea Party.
-Sean T. Collins
Yuichi Yokoyama: All of my works are prediction.
“For example, seeing me wearing a pendant, human beings may think “oh well, a middle-age man is wearing it.” But a cat won’t think in that way although we are viewing the same pendant. Cats won’t think “oh, he is cool or she is cute” like humans do. They might only care whether it is dangerous or not. I want to draw from that point of view. Seeing the world from a cat’s or a fly’s eye. Or even from a wood shelf or a chair down below.”
At times, Garden reminded me of going to a theme park and playing around on rides and exhibits. For example, when the characters ride up the mountain on a moving block of stone, or climb up trees and slide down poles to get from place to place, it made me think of Disney World, almost. And Disney World itself is a Garden-like environment, where people created a vast artificial playground in what was otherwise wilderness. Were amusement parks or theme parks on your mind when you created Garden?
No, I never had such idea or images when I created Garden.
CA: Did you read a lot of comics before deciding to draw them yourself?
Yokoyama: No, I had little occasion to read other comics.
“I like faces a lot. I love it. I can think of as many as I can. I purely like faces. I recently found that other people are not as interested in faces as I am. Anything can be seen like a face for me. Even trashes or a garbage can could be.”
– Do you put a character on each person in your mind?
>No, I don’t. But, recognizing that I am actually redoing faces these days, I wasn’t like that before. I can’t deny that I am putting characteristics in some ways. This is not good but I can’t avoid it.
“For example, I first drew a rock with an elevator (above). Then, I decided to draw what happened before and after this scene and ended up with 24 page-manga. I finished it with 24 pages but can still continue. Actually, I intend to do so in the future.”
“No. I personally don’t read manga. This was the only way to express my vision. I didn’t have an interest in drawing beautifully or developing its texture. It could be fun. But I couldn’t have a deep interest in it. So I need to think what I should do. That is how I developed my style. But this is what I found afterwards. I don’t remember how exactly I started.”
“Ultimately, I want to go beyond the meanings. Usually, people enjoy meaningful stories. So if there is no meaning, people get bored all of a sudden. But I think there is more than that. I believe that things can’t be described with meanings or words. Ultimately, I want to show that. It is difficult.”
Actually, the sheer size of all the places explored by the characters left me wondering who or what could possibly have constructed them all. Do you ever give any thought to the architects and builders who create these spaces within the story, or do they simply exist?
They simply exist. I don’t have any background on who created them.
This exhibition also showcases your oil painting works including works made when you were at college. It will be treasure time for your fans. So, would you like to do oil painting in the future?
I would like to do it, but as a hobby. Because painting is difficult for me to express my idea, and I’m not interested in working on the same expression what forerunners have done before. I don’t get excited. But in manga, I felt like building a house in an uninhabited island. I could worked on things I wanted to convey, with being assured of doing something nobody has done before. But I like to see works of other people, especially a Meiji-born painter Kunitaro Suda’s work. I often see his works when I get sleep. I don’t know why I like his works, but his work makes me quite emotional.
SOME WORKS BY KUNITARO SUDA-
There’s no doubt that Yokoyama’s manga depict the flow of time. All expression has been removed from the people and animals that appear in his work, while the characters’ gestures, actions, and the outcome of every event are presented in a straightforward manner. The issue is what the goals of the people who are walking, fighting, or making things are – there are no endings in Yokoyama’s manga. But this is only appropriate, because there are no endings in the way we perceive time, either.
– Keiko Kamijo
CA: Both Garden and Color Engineering end with sections that function like afterwords, following up on ideas raised by the narrative after it’s reached its logical conclusion. Do you prefer this style of closing a book to a more typical “ending”?
Yokoyama: Yes, I like this way, but I can finish my comics without any [afterword]. This way is just for my fun.
CA: Do you think using color contributes to a sense of the human?
Yokoyama: No, I don’t think using color makes any contribution to a sense of humanity.
CA: From what I understand, Japanese culture incorporates high levels of both conformism and individuality. Do you think your work emphasizes one or the other?
Yokoyama: I think my work emphasizes both aspects.
“People try to use words to describe. I think it is wrong. I think there are many things which can’t be described in words.”
“Please enjoy in your own way. That’s the best.”
p.s. Hey. ** Dominick, Howdy!!! Ooh, leak #2. Everyone, Dominick’s mighty zine among zines SCAB has issued another crucial missive, i.e. a very stellar looking photo/text combo thing called ‘Tea-Bagged’ by the artist/writer duo Amy Bassin and Mark Blickley, and it’s right here‘ Wow, that looks nuts! I can’t wait. Everyone in your government needs to be force fed huge doses of MDMA. One would think since MCR are rescheduled in the US they’ll restore their overseas commitments. Fingers crossed if need be. I’m happy you’re a fellow deep dish pizza craver. Deep dish pizza seems to be yet another thing the French don’t realise they need. Weirdos. The only thing I want more than deep dish pizza is an amusement park, so thank you. And my favorite one is less than a day’s drive from Paris, so your love is basically perfection. Love sneaking out in the middle of the night and graffiti-ing SCAB and its URL over every inch of Budapest’s parliament building, and that’s a lot of inches, so that’s a lot of love, G. ** Ian, Hi, Ian. Big congrats on the lengthening sobriety from someone (me) who’s into the psychedelic possibilities of a clear mind. I say just think of ‘The Illuminations’ as prose in a weird shape. Yes, hook us up to the interview. Cool, intriguing. My first vax is next Monday. Tomorrow night Macron goes on TV to announce how the reopening will work, and prayers. Me too re: crowd jonesing and not being hugely into crowds. The pandemic is like magic? Best of the best, sir. ** Misanthrope, Hi, Yeah, trying the traditional writer-to-publisher route first makes sense, but just remember the ‘lesser’ way, i.e. a small press that gives a shit, is sometimes or maybe even often the best way. Humor is a good drug. ** David Ehrenstein, Oh, that’s why people on Facebook were putting up stuff about Ann-Margret yesterday. I couldn’t figure it out. ** Jamie, Hey! Lovely cars soliloquy. That totally made the hours spent making that post more than worth it. So, you see which post I restored. It’s a pretty one. I added a few links at the bottom for people buy his books if they want. I hope that’s okay. Anyway, thank you again so much from the future present tense! At my current pace it’ll take about another two weeks to finish the deleting. But I need to move fast because my host site says they will only help me stop the multiple image uploading problem when I’ve completed their assigned talk, and, hence, the storage tank is continuing to overfill every day. Urgh. My first jab is on Monday. I would truly love that old unfinished post of yours, you betcha. Please, if you like. So, enjoy the rebirth today, and have a generally lovely one. ** Bill, Oh, yeah, I almost put that car thing you linked to the post, but I decided not to, I don’t remember why. Maybe too much resemblance? One reason my desk is a mountain is because there are books piled all over and underneath it. My bookshelf got overstuffed ages ago, and, in fact, I’m waiting for the IKEA across the street to reopen so I can buy another bookshelf, even though I’ll immediately overfill it too. I don’t buy a lot of books because publishers and writers very kindly send me their books all the time, and I’ve gotten so I ask for pdfs instead. I don’t have either a CD or DVD player here so no problem on acquiring those. Other than a few small things people have given me, all my art is in LA. So, hence the mostly sparseness. But my desk … another story. ** Jeff J, Hi, J. Charley Ray’s car piece is one of my all-time very favorite artworks ever. If you look at the dates, a lot of the car pieces that have a resemblance to his were actually earlier or around the same time. None of them can touch his, frankly, as likeable as they are. Huh, yeah, I’m not a big His Name Is Alive fan, so that’s curious. All right, I’ll give it a shot. While I was making the Anderson post I rewatched some of ‘Hospital Britannica’ because, at the time, I found it very disappointing, and yet a lot of critics make a big case for it, and it did seem a whole lot better than I’d remembered. And making the post made me really want to watch ‘O Lucky Man!’ again as I haven’t seen it in decades, and I really loved it back when. ** Steve Erickson, Oh, right, I remember you telling Zac and me about Glass’s close-by locale. Good luck re: your mice. Since our holes got plugged, we’ve only seen one mouse very, very occasionally. I never heard that Delta 5 album. Sounds odd. I really didn’t like ‘Mesopotamia’. It seemed like a disaster at the time, although happily they bounced back with ‘Whammy!’. ** Brian, Hey, Brian. Thanks about the cars. I keep expecting MoMA to call me up and offer me the job of Head Curator, but they haven’t (yet), ha ha. Sucks about your trying week, man. Any sparkling lights in the near distance? Which Caretaker album? He has, like, seven or something? I like his stuff a lot too, although I haven’t felt compelled to get more a couple. If it’s any consolation, you didn’t sound lacklustre. The magic of prose? I do hope your day ends up being full of thinking and even talking points. I’ll see what mine’s got on offer too. ** Billy, Hi, Billy! Good to see you! Thanks about ‘Closer’, or, I mean, assuming you didn’t mind being made sad, that is. I almost put John Chamberlain’s stuff in that post. I can’t remember why I didn’t. You alright? I’m alright, I think, as far as I can tell. ** Right. Today I have restored another post by the very fine artist/musician and dude and d.l. Jamie McMorrow, and it’s a beauty. Luxuriate. See you tomorrow.