Go Nagai: You know how back then, Tezuka-sensei’s linework pretty much defined manga style at the time? Your linework was totally different. Very unique. It was the first time I’d ever seen someone with your kind of personal touch. It felt like it came from a totally different place than comics had up to that point.
Monkey Punch: That’s because rather than making sure everything looked beautiful I figured I didn’t have to portray every little detail for the reader. Because when it comes to manga, you’re targeting people with a certain degree of familiarity with the medium anyway. Like Fumito Shimizu (note: then-editor of “Weekly Manga Action”) always used to tell me, “just make it crazy fun!”
Go Nagai: I see. When it comes to that kind of manga, you don’t have any competition. You’re the only one. That’s what I liked. I couldn’t figure out your influences, so I was imagining that maybe you were a foreigner or something! (Laughs)
Monkey Punch: I got that a lot because of my pen name. Actually that was Shimizu-san’s idea too. So that people wouldn’t have any clue as to what kind of a person I was. (Laughs)
Go Nagai: I think of you as an aesthete. Someone who’s more interested in emotions than logic. I really like that. Crazy stories that somehow pull together in the end because you’re so good at manipulating human emotions. (Laughs)
Monkey Punch: The furor over your Harenchi Gakuen was incredible. I never had that sort of thing happen to me. PTA protest campaigns and such. Though some of my work was branded as “manga [kids] shouldn’t read.”
Go Nagai: Yeah, I bet. (Laughs)
Monkey Punch: It might have been something that shouldn’t be read but nobody ever protested it. (Laughs)
Go Nagai: I was bombarded with interview requests from newspapers, magazines, and TV. Eventually I was like, “I can’t take this, I’m taking all my art and going into hiding.” I’d take a plane somewhere far away but when I got off, the TV cameras were right there. (Laughs) I wonder how they knew where I was going. I was branded a “nuisance,” an “enemy of society,” even. In spite of the fact I that what I’d done wasn’t any big deal. I would watch movies and things and had a very clear sense about not crossing the line, about what I could do and shouldn’t do. To make sure the police would never show up at my door.
[lil’ note: Harenchi Gakuen/Shameless School is the series Nagai ended by having everyone killed in a massacre started by the real life PTA groups that targeted him]