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Artist Spotlight Artists - Cartoonists Daisuke Higuchi

Daisuke Higuchi – Whistle!

From 2004 -2010 I lettered a book for Viz Media called Whistle!
The story and art were by Daisuke Higuchi. I lettered pretty much the whole run and in doing so became a big fan of Higuchi as a storyteller. The following is a brief bio that ran in the series’ final issue.

Daisuke Higuchi’s manga career began in 1992 when the artist was honored with third prize in the 43rd Osamu Tezuka Award. In that same year, Higuchi deputed as creator of a romantic action story titled Itaru. In 1998, Weekly Shonen Jump began serializing Whistle! Higuchi’s realistic soccer manga became an instant hit with readers and eventually inspired an anime series, debuting on Japanese TV in May of 2002.

Daisuke Higuchi

In a nutshell, Whistle! is about a young middle school boy named Shō Kazamatsuri who’s one and only dream is to play soccer but because of his small stature he has to overcome adversity after adversity to do so – he also serves as an inspiration to to his friends and teammates, drawing them closer together – classic underdog story.

Whistle cast with Shō in the foreground.

Note: For the uninitiated, the accompanying pages are read right to left – not left to right..

Page that starts out each volume if you open it the wrong way.

The following pages show a great sense of design as Daisuke Higuchi freezes a moment and shows different aspects of a scene. In the scene on the left, the opposing team has just made the winning goal. In the scene on the right,  Shō’s teammate Hiroyoshi has accidentally made a goal for the opposing team.

Click on image to enlarge.

More of the same, but in these two cases the focus is on characterization…

Click on image to enlarge.

The following is from a particularly strong sequence from Volume 12.
First a little back story from the previous issue; Shō has just made a near impossible shot tying the game – but the coaches see something else…

Click on image to enlarge.

The scene that follows opens with Shō and his friend Tatsuya showing up at Tatsuya’s father’s house (who he is estranged with). Tatsuya’s father is a soccer coach for a rival team and has some old soccer footage he wants Shō to see – at the same time some other coaches are meeting for lunch, and Akira (the female coach) echos Tatsuya’s father’s sentiments.

There’s so much to love in that scene.
• The way the dialogue bounces back and forth between the two characters speaking.
• The look of sheer joy on Akira’s face as a young girl followed by the more reflective aspects as an adult.
• The projector on the bottom of page 42 seen as just a glowing light.
• The end shot of Shō as he stares entranced at the footage of a father he never knew.

Beautiful stuff.

Stephen King in his book “On Writing” states, “I think the best stories always end up being about the people rather than the event, which is to say character-driven.”

There are a million underdog stories out there, the ones that resonate come not from the story construct but from how deeply you’re invested in the characters. Higuchi’s strength as a storyteller is her engaging cast of characters.


You can check out Whistle! at your local library’s manga section.
To purchase, go to Viz.com or Amazon (to name a few).

Whistle! © 1998 by Daisuke Higuchi. All rights reserved.

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Artists - Cartoonists Tom Richmond

The Mad Art of Caricature

I’ve always admired people who can pull off caricatures. When done in public it’s performance art that could go horribly wrong if you exaggerate a person’s features to the point of insult. Just a couple weeks ago recent MCAD grad Kirsten Bonafield did an exceptional job of it at her table at SpringCon.

Kirsten Bonafield at SpringCon 2012

One of the masters of caricature is Tom Richmond – so much so in fact that Tom was recently voted Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year by the National Cartoonist Society.

Tom Richmond in his studio giving a talk to my MCAD Pro Practice class.

If you haven’t picked it up yet I recommend Tom’s latest book, The Mad Art of Caricature. If you’re on the fence – here’s a preview…

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Artists - Cartoonists Conventions

SpringCon 2012 – St. Paul, Minnesota

Great time at SpringCon 2012 this year.
It was a beautiful day Saturday so the crowd lined up for when it opened went off as far as the eye could see.

The line on Saturday going off into the distance...

Setting up I was lucky enough to get a table dead center in the Grandstand.

My daughter Anna manning the table for me.

Great people on either side of me as well. Drew Blom on the one…

Drew Blom

…and Ben Tye, Jay Rasgorshek and Kirsten Bonafield manning the MCAD booth on the other.

BenTye, Jay Rasgorshek and Kirsten Bonafield

Lots of MCADians in attendance – best of all they were behind tables selling their wares.
More pictures at the MCAD Comic Art Tumblr.

And Speaking of MCAD, Adjuct Teachers Paul Fricke, Terry Beatty and Tom Kaczynski were also in attendance

Paul Fricke with daughter, Emily.

Paul’s daughter Emily hit the ground running selling her miniature clay figurines and jewelry she sells on her Etsy shop – I may have her in to talk to my Pro Practice class if I teach that one again…

Martin Powell and Terry Beatty

Terry Beatty – to the right of writer Martin Powell – is currently the new artist on the Phantom Sunday page for King Features. You can subscribe to it at dailyink.com.

Tom Kaczynski

Tom K is the publisher of Uncivilized Books. The imprint publishes limited edition, hand-made booklets and coming soon, The Voyeurs by Gabrielle Bell. Tom showed me a proof copy and it looks BEAUTIFUL.

Lots of other artists in attendance as well. Here’s a few I snapped pics of…

Bob McCleod giving a panel lecture.
Gene Ha doing sketches for fans.
Pablo Marcus
Don Rosa
Dan Jurgens

Special thanks to Dan Jurgens who took some time out from the NEW 52 books he’s doing for DC Comics to speak to my MCAD Pro Practice class this past semester.

Bob Lipski

And Bob Lipski is one of my daughter’s favorite cartoonists. We have every Upton Girl collection in print.

Jose Delbo was also in attendance – No picture here as I already devoted an entire blog post to meeting up with him.

All for now – wrapping up with my favorite costumes I saw…

Spacesuits inspired by Wally Wood .
Categories
MCAD

MCAD MFA Thesis Exhibition – May 11, 2012

This past spring I was a member of the Thesis Committee for MFA student Luke Ellison. The other members of the Committee were writer Will Alexander and Luke’s mentor, MCAD Associate Professor Linda Frichtel.

Just this past Friday the MCAD MFA students had a reception for their Exhibition.

Northrup King Building in Minneapolis – Cool fire door.
MCAD MFA Thesis Exhibition
Luke Ellison’s mug shot, reading corner and pillows.

Luke’s thesis project was comprised of two books; An original story titled AVES told in a mixture of ink drawings and verse, and an illustrated adaptation of  Ray Bradbury’s All Summer in a Day.

“All Summer in a Day”

I really admire the hard work Luke put into his project. Both books came out beautiful.
Here’s to continued success in whatever he ends up tackling next…

To see more illustrations from his adaptation, check out Luke’s Deviant Art page