Kaiju Comrades Art Show , Tokyo Japan part 4

Part 4 – I’ve had the privilege of meeting a true master of Manga in Japan, Karasawa-san or Karasawa-Sensei as he is called in Japan and his charming wife, Yoshiko on several occasions. I was first introduced to them a few years back at a San Diego Comic Con by MC Bat Commanader of the Aquabats. Being a total dummy that I am, I had no idea that this meeting would represent and result in the wonderful collaborations we have had. Karasawa-san, and Yoshiko-san have always been so kind to stop by my toy booths in Japan, taking time from their very busy schedules. I was to learn later how very busy he is not only drawing many Manga comics but also lecturing about Manga, and producing the popular Patchi Summit conventions ( it’s a celebration of toys made back in the 60-70’s that we would call bootlegs or unlicensed toys ). I was lucky enough to have Karasawa-san contribute to my Bromide set last year, those images are so fun and cool

On their visit to the Kaiju Comrades art show, I told them how stunned I was at the beautiful prints he made !
I also confessed that my biggest regret was not coming to visit Japan in the 80’s or 90’s .. when many of my illustration heroes like Komatsuzaki or Meamura were still alive .. oh how i would have loved to meet them (!)
Karasawa-san agreed and that time is running out for some of these unsung heroes. He said he is trying to interview all the old Manga guys and get all their stories down .. I agreed it was most important to do, and was glad to hear he was doing so. Which brings me to what was for me a very special set of prints that were for sale at the Kaiju Comrades art show .. these four, AMAZING prints of:
Captain Maxx

according to Miyamoto-san, the translations for this are: 最大限隊長 is Karasawa’s own translation of CAPTAIN MAXX. MAX is written 最大限, and Captain is written 大尉 and this way, too 隊長.
いっぱいいっぱい means ‘many many (I think he meant ‘Max Max!’).
Kaiju Tripus

三本足蛸 basically means ‘three leg (tentacles) octopus’
ルルイエヨリ浮上セリ means ‘it came from (floated from) R’lyeh. R’lyeh is a fanciful undersea city in Cthulhu Mythology, from the book written by H.P. Lovecraft. Because the monster in this book looks like octpus or Tripus toy ??
Kaiju Eyezon

注目獣 is Karasawa-san’s own Japanese translation of EYEZON…actually means ‘Attention Monster’
コノ人ヲ見ヨ means ‘look at this person’
Alien Xam

惨夢星人 is Karasawa-san’s own Japanese translation of ALIEN XAM by sound…because 惨夢 means ‘terrible dream’ which has nothing to do with Alien Xam ( well maybe it does ?)
ムゴイユメヲ見ヨ means ‘have a terrible dream (nightmare)’
As you can see below, Karasawa-san went all out in making these prints. They are each hand carved out of a wood panel in traditional Japanese style. Black ink is rolled over the wood block.

Paper is placed on top of the panel and the top surface is rubbed. This paper is then slowly peeled off and left to dry.

Once dried washes of color can be applied, than signed.
The amount of work involved in this process, from basic designing of the four images to the labor intensive carving is truly amazing !!!
For me this set of 4 prints represented a perfect combination of melding my Western take of a Japanese superhero and Kaiju with Karasawa-sans Japanese craftsmanship.

it’s no wonder these sets sold out competely …
In Japan, I have been labeled as making “Kaiju” and not “Kaijyu” .. meaning my take has a Western feel or sensibility. Of course, I am to blame partially for this as a person spreading the “Kaiju” word in the States .. but not unlike “Otaku”, the word here has taken on a different meaning and really covers a wide spectrum of Japanese toys from Art Toys,Fight Figures, and to yes, Kaiju figures. I may have Japanese genetics but my upbringing is American, so I do make Kaiju figures but hope the inspiration and historical acknowledgment comes along with it. But having said that I am about to lanuch a new Kaiju that many fans in Japan have told me is my first “real” Kaijyu … called Drazoran … more on next time in Part 5 ….

About toykarma

Over the years Mark Nagata has collected thousands of toys and a fair amount of titles. The man behind San Francisco-based Max Toy Company is widely known as: Toy Collector. Illustrator. Magazine Founder/Publisher. Toy Designer. Artist. Author. Husband. Father. But the one description that might fit best is an unofficial one – Kaiju Toy and Art Ambassador. In the Japanese-inspired art and toy area, as well as throughout the larger toy collecting community, Mark is welcomed and recognized for his personal passion and commitment to supporting artists all around the world and the unique works they create. Beginning as a collector in his youth, Mark has had for years a keen eye for great art and a personal interest in collecting that he has spread through a variety of outlets. Trained at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, Mark honed his skills working for himself and for some of the most notable businesses in the country. As a freelance commercial illustrator, he completed works for such prominent companies as Lucasfilms, DC Comics, Hasbro Toys, IBM, Sony, and numerous advertising and design firms, both national and international. Mark’s colorful style graces over 40 cover paintings for R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps book series – Give Yourself Goosebumps. After hundreds of assignments, Mark made the decision to move in another direction, and that choice has led to whole new career as a successful businessman. For four years, the owner of one of the largest Ultraman toy collections in the world co-published Super 7 Magazine showcasing the finest in Japanese toy collecting. “I’d been collecting Japanese toys all along and suddenly realized it would be cool to have a magazine of some type devoted to them,” Nagata says. Mark’s devotion to presenting collectors with a selection of original figures inspired by classic Japanese toys from the 1960s and ‘70s as well as new versions of licensed Japanese characters is at the heart of Max Toy Company. Named for his son, Max Toys specializes in custom and limited editions of “kaiju” (Japanese monsters) toys and artwork. Many of the original toys produced are hand painted by Mark, a tradition that goes back to Japanese toy makers of the past. “Since our target is the soft vinyl Japanese toy collector, which is a very small niche, our runs of toys can be extremely small,” Mark says. “Runs range from 500 pieces of one toy to just one for a hand-painted, one-of-a-kind custom figure.” Through Max Toys, Mark has taken great pains to widen the reach of his two passions – toys and art. He played a significant part in the development of the first group kaiju show in the United States. Held at the Rotofugi Gallery in Chicago, Illinois in 2007, the “Toy Karma” Show featured detailed work from artists from Japan, the U.S. and South America. Participants marveled at the custom-painted toys and art on display. “Toy Karma” led to Mark being asked to be one of the artists spotlighted in the “Beyond Ultraman: Seven Artists Explore the Vinyl Frontier” exhibit at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. The October 2007 show, held jointly with the Los Angeles Toy, Doll and Amusement Museum, marked the first time – in a museum setting – that the influence of Japanese toys on California artists was explored. The exhibit featured more than 30 of Mark’s original paintings, toys and a selection of his vintage toy collection. Mark continued to be at the forefront as interest in Japanese-inspired art and toys expanded in 2008. Prestigious art houses Philips De Pury and Christie’s in New York and London sold Mark’s hand-painted custom kaiju toys in its auctions, spreading this unique art and toy movement into new and uncharted areas of the art world. In 2009, Mark once again took his love of toys and art overseas this time to a receptive and welcoming audience in Tokyo, Japan. Here, Mark curated the “Kaiju Comrades” Art Show, once again bringing together artists from various aspects of the kaiju toy realm in this first-of-its-kind toy art show. The following year found Mark in Barcelona, Spain co-curating with Emilio Garcia “Kaiju Attack,” the European country’s first kaiju art show. As the growth of kaiju art and toys increases worldwide, Mark continues in his unofficial role of Kaiju Toy and Art Ambassador. He has written and had his artwork and toy designs included in several books and magazines, both domestic and international. In 2010, Mark served as guest lecturer on kaiju and the toy-making process at the Morikami Museum in Florida. The San Francisco resident and his art can also be spotted in the first volume of the “ToyPunks” DVD and the “Toys R Us” DVD, while the video for the number one song by Owl City “Fireflies” featured Mark’s popular Kaiju Eyezon character. During this same time period, Mark has spearheaded the “Toy Karma 2” and “Kaiju Comrades 2” shows and has plans for future shows both in the U.S. and overseas. “Max Toys allows me to produce original artwork, new toys and work directly with a lot of talented artists,” Mark says. “Max Toy is a synthesis of toys and art, both life-long passions.”
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