Interview with Jiraiya

'The Best Trio' a short comic and illustration book by Jiraiya

We were recently lucky enough to interview Jiraiya, a popular and well known artist from Japan who exhibited at our Boys Life exhibition for the Sydney Mardis Gras.

Using Illustrator, QuarkXPress and Photoshop, Jiraiya’s illustrations are realistic and delicate descriptions of Japanese men. His works have been published in both books and magazines in Japan and France, including G-Man.

We hope you enjoy the interview!

Can you tell me what lead to your becoming illustrator/cartoonist for gay?
My main business is commercial design and illustration. For commercial illustration, I had very few chances to draw my favourite type of guy who is big and well-muscled, which was getting to me. At that time, I knew about a gateway to success for illustrators for gay, “Otokoe-juku”, organized by Mr. Gengoro Tagame in a gay magazine “G-men”. I posted my illustration to give it shot, and it was adopted. Since then, I’ve obtained job of illustration for gay.

I wanted to be a cartoonist in my 20’s and I was given some chances to put my cartoon on general comics. However, it was uncongenial to me to draw cartoon in weekly or biweekly basis, so I once gave up becoming a cartoonist. However, about 1 year after drawing illustration for gay magazine, I told the editor that I used to draw cartoon, and I was asked to do that for the magazine and I took this offer up until now.

Where did your pen name come from?
‘Jiraiya’ is the name of the imaginary benevolent picaroon who uses magic. He is acted in kabuki or joruri and very popular in Japan. I just wanted Japanese pen name and never imagined that I would use this pen name for more than 10 years.

I heard that you manage to be a businessman and a cartoonist at the same time… Do you have any reason about that?
Regarding pictures for gay, I want to release only what I want to draw. That doesn’t work to make a living.

寝そべる男 - Lay down man, 2006

Actually I’ve become a freelancer recently so I’m not a businessman anymore, but I still distinguish my main business from works for gay.

Is guy you draw actually your type?
Of course! But it’s still picture, so I deform it a bit.

Do you have general theme for your works?
I’m not sure if it’s called theme, but, I produce my works hoping that gay feel happy to be gay through my works.

What is the most difficulty or thoughtful point in your works?
I’d like to draw guy with reality as I hope people who see my works can feel something like ‘I want to meet someone like him’ or ‘he looks like someone I know’. So, I’m trying to draw accurate picture as much as possible without easy deformation.

If you don’t mind, do you have a partner?
I’ve been with my partner for 10 years.

Sculpture (incomplete), 2009

What do you think of gay community in Japan?
As I don’t know much about gay community in Japan, I’m not in the position to say anything about that.

Regarding the environment surrounding gay in Japan, I feel Japanese has been not a littlie broadminded about homosexuality from ancient times, thinking about pederasty or oyama in kabuki. So, I reckon Japan is a good place to go about gay’s daily life. On the other hand, compared to Western countries, gay’s right is not clearly defined by the law about marriage or succession of property etc, so legislation should be promoted in the future.

What’s on the horizon?
The 4th omnibus (The 3rd cartoon omnibus) will be released from Furukawa Shobou on April 30th 2009. In addition, I’ve been polishing an idea for illustration to post on the website which provides elementary information about HIV/AIDS for Japanese young people. (This website will start in late May or June). Also, I’ve been working with story of cartoon for gay magazine ‘G-men’. (It’s not clear when my cartoon will be appeared on the magazine).
I’d like to make time to draw nonworking cartoon and carve between above things and my regular job, but it’s difficult and I feel frustrated (laughing).

Japanese Athlete 1, 2, 3 by Jiraiya (left and right still available, $450 AUD)

From Kenkyusha’s New Japanese-English Dictionary
Kabuki: a traditional form of drama and music performed by make actors
Joruri: a type of dramatic recitation, accompanied by a samisen, that is associated with the Japanese puppet theatre.
Oyama: a male actor who takes female parts.

Translation by Mioko Kimura (thanks Mioko!)



4 Comments

  1. VINCENT KIMMURA wrote:

    Konichiwa,
    I’m very enjoying the best of man naker art, wish you can product the best of best gay ma life cartoon moving.

  2. Shimuzu wrote:

    I’m new to Jiraiya’s work – but am already a huge fan! Looking forward to seeing more.

  3. Cris wrote:

    is there another place to see more of his work? baralover is down, and they had a great showacase, not hard to find :-(

  4. spy16888 wrote:

    Jiraiya, you are genius. I love your arts. I love you :)