San Diego Comic-Con 2010 Moto Hagio Focus Panel
by Gia Manry,
Comic-Con Guest of Honor Moto Hagio's panel opened with Hagio being presented with Comic-Con International's Inkpot Award. After this came Hagio's own presentation of her history, translated by Fantagraphics editor Matt Thorn.
The presentation included a collection of her art shown on the screen. Hagio began working as a mangaka at the age of 20 as a shojo artist, producing primarily short stories. Her first long story was called The Poe Clan (Poe no Ichizoku), which ran from 1972 to 1976 and featured two young boys who had been turned into vampires prior to their adulthood.
After Poe, Hagio was asked by her editor to create another long series, but the one she produced, Thomas no Shinzou, was not very popular and her editor instructed her to end it quickly. Shortly after ending that manga, Poe was released in the then-new book (tankobon) format, the first shoujo manga from Shogakukan to be released in that form. The first print run was 30,000 copies, and it sold out in one day, allowing Hagio to write more stories in that franchise.
Next Hagio showed art from a sci-fi series called They Were Eleven (Zoku Juuichinin Iru!), about ten boys taking the exam to enter the space academy. The exam consists of living aboard a spaceship and getting hands-on experience, but once on board the boys realize that there are eleven of them, not ten, leaving a mystery as to who is the eleventh child.
Citing authors like Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Robert Heinlein, Hagio professed herself to be a sci-fi fan, and presented another sci-fi story titled Marginal. The story is set on a future earth in which there is only one female giving birth to nothing but men, a gender-flopped take on an idea she read in other stories where men disappeared and only women existed.
Hagio presented another short story called Hanshin, a 16-page manga that is included in Fantagraphcis' Drunken Dream. The story is about two girls who are conjoined twins; one is ugly and intelligent and the other beautiful but empty-headed. The intelligent sister has a strong heart and is essentially supporting the beautiful sister, and as they grow older a doctor tells them that they must be separated or they will both die, but if they're separated one must die.
Next came Iguana Girl, Iguana no Musume, also available in Drunken Dream. The story is about a woman who gives birth to a girl, but to the mother the girl looks like an iguana. To everyone else she looks perfectly normal. The girl grows up believing that she is an iguana. Hagio notes that she has problems with her own mother, and wanted to try to understand her mother and be understood in return, but there was an "insurmountable gap" between them. Hagio also said that her mother believes that cartooning is a vulgar line of work and was opposed to Hagio's career, frequently encouraging her to quit throughout her entire career. Hagio also suggested that all of her stories were a way for her to "bitch" about her mother, which was met with laughs from the audience. The Iguana Girl story is about how the mother could not see her daughter as a human being and therefore turned her into an iguana.
Hagio then presented her longest series to date, titled A Cruel God Reigns (Zankouna Kami ga Shihaisuru). A boy's beautiful mother marries a rich Englishman, but the man sexually abuses the boy, Jeremy, who can't tell anyone about it. He winds up killing his stepfather by ruining the brakes in their car, but unfortunately his mother was in the car at the time and died as well. His stepbrother begins to suspect Jeremy's guilt, leading Jeremy to want to confess and atone for his crime.
One of Hagio's most recent works is a sci-fi series titled Otherworld Barbara (Barbara Ikai). The manga features a girl who eats her parents' hearts and falls into a coma. A specialist enters her dreams to find out why she killed her parents, and upon entering the dream he learns that she is not only dreaming about the future but is also making it.
Next comes a work that is "safe for children" titled Leo-kun, about a cat named Leo who lives with his human mother and tries to live as a human being-- going to restaurants and school. But because he's a cat, at school he only runs around and plays, and the restaurant does not serve his desired dish: a rat parfait. This story is currently ongoing.
Hagio's next presentation was of a series of short stories titled Anywhere but Here, featuring independent stories. The image shown is from a story titled Sphinx, which is also the title of the second volume in the series. The story revolves around Oedipus. Another story from the first volume is available in Drunken Dreams called The Willow Tree.
After the presentation came an audience Q&A, with questions translated by Mari Morimoto. During the session Hagio also detailed her experience breaking in. At first she attempted to submit works for Kodansha, who was publishing the anthology Nakayoshi, aimed at young girls. They wanted "bright" and "lively" works, but Hagio's frequently involved death and killing and Kodansha rejected her works. She was then head-hunted by Shogakukan, who published the stories Kodansha had rejected, and Hagio says that now she is "killing people left and right."
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