Ryan Inzana's Epic Ichiro
Combining ancient Japanese myths with a powerful modern storyline, Ryan Inzana has created a bold new adventure. He discusses the work that went into making this captivating tale here.
Ichiro is truly an epic. How long did you spend working on this book?
I spent about four years in total working on the book. From coming up with the idea, research, sketching it out, to the finished pages. There was a lot of reworking right up until the end. Spending that much time on a book, you get a more discerning eye for what is really important to the story. My editor was great too, and that never hurts.
What inspired you to write the book?
A visit to the Peace Park museum in Hiroshima started me on it. I was there with my wife and her family, who are from Hiroshima originally. The whole scene was pretty awkward, because this was my first time meeting my wife's parents and I was going to ask them permission to marry their daughter and here we are at the Peace Park museum, which, to say the least, does not paint America in the most favorable light. But my wife's family didn't take me there to rub my face in it, I don't think it even occurred to them. Nor were the other Japanese at the Peace Park looking at me like the reincarnation of General McArthur. It is a new day; it is hard to believe that such a thing could even happen little more than half a century ago. And that is one of the points in me writing this story. I try in the book to convey the experience that one gets, especially as an American visiting the memorial. It makes you see the world differently, which is the ultimate praise you can give to a museum. As I was going through the exhibits, I thought, "If I have a kid, how am I going to explain all this to him or her?" The character of Ichiro was a way to put it all in perspective, for me at least.
Tell us a little bit about the folklore and legends that you have incorporated into the book. Are they based on real-life myths, invented by you, or a mixture of both?
It is really a mixture of both. The folklore is all based on actual myths that I have either drawn out or tweaked a tick. I tried to stay very true to this material, especially in trying to envision how these characters would act or react to the situations I put them in. Even the war that occurs in the mythological world. The tensions there all have their basis in the writings of the Kojiki (Shinto scripture).
What are you hoping readers will learn about Japan and Japanese culture as a result of reading Ichiro?
It would be great if the reader would take the book as a jumping-off point to learn more about Japan's mythology, history and culture, all of which are fascinating. But I really hope that the reader gains a better appreciation of history and culture in general.
Do you see some of yourself in Ichiro? Do some of his attitudes align with those you have or have had in the past, particularly in regards to Japan?
Yes, there is definitely a bit of my thinking there. Ichiro is obviously not exactly me; he is a fictional creation. What he is searching for in the book is something I have sought in my life as I'm sure many have, a sense of identity and an understanding of the way the world works, its order, structure or perhaps lack thereof.
In some ways, the book represents a sort of departure and evolution in your artistic style, particularly in your use of tones and spot colors. Can you discuss the effort that went into achieving the tone and look you desired for Ichiro?
By using color in the manner I did in Ichiro, I felt that I was given a whole other set of storytelling tools to use. I wanted to use color as a device, not just by using tones to set mood, but as a thread that weaves its way through the narrative. Something that signifies and symbolizes.
What are you working on next?
I'm putting together a comic series tentatively titled "Animal Control." It chronicles the history of an American town beginning when the Native Americans settled the land up into modern day. This little town has repeatedly altered the course of American history. There is a faceless man, who shows up time and again through the ages and is the catalyst for these seemingly slight alterations that result in massive shifts. I've put in a huge amount of research already and am really happy with the way the story is coming along. I hope some publisher will pick it up.