Team TokuNet interviews Washington D.C.-based artist Jamie Noguchi about his relation with tokusatsu and the #tokutember art hashtag.
Tell us about what you do!
I’m Jamie Noguchi, a Washington D.C.-based cartoonist and illustrator. I’m currently illustrating book 2 of the YA graphic novel series, School for Extraterrestrial Girls, written by Jeremy Whitley. The first chapter was released as part of Free Comic Book Day a few weeks ago, so that was pretty exciting! I’ve always wanted an official FCBD book!
What got you interested in tokusatsu?
Waaaaaaaay back in the day, the local Channel 20 here in Maryland would play old Showa Era Godzilla films on the weekends. That was my first exposure to the genre, and I’ve been hooked ever since.
I was 16 when the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers first aired and it was basically everything that I loved all in one glorious show: punching, kicking, giant robots, and kaiju. It was no secret that Saban was repurposing Japanese footage. I always wanted to see the original Japanese versions, but I had no way to access that stuff.
I don’t remember why I went looking for it, but sometime in 2003, I came across Kamen Rider 555. That was my first Rider series and the afterschool drama of it all really hooked me. I’m a sucker for drama.
I’m much more of a Rider fan than anything else. Kuuga, Gaim, and W are my top three favorites. But I’m really happy with how accessible Ultraman is now thanks to Tsuburaya doing so much international outreach. Watching Ultraman Z every week with my 7 year old daughter was a welcome bit of joy last year.
How did #tokutember start? How do you make prompts?
#tokutember started in 2017. The first year’s prompt was “bugs.” But a few people asked if I could come up with more than one general prompt for the event, so 2018 was the first year I actually spent some time to come up with a proper list for each day of September.
In 2017, there was some controversy with another art challenge. Without getting into details or throwing shade, it boiled down to what I felt was unnecessary gatekeeping. I’m very passionate about encouraging others to create and being very open with our processes. It’s better for us all if we have more people making cool stuff.
I got a little pissed and thought, shoot, I’ll start an event that will be super inclusive and welcoming without any gatekeeping or snobbiness. Tokusatsu is all about pushing the boundaries of what you think is possible and achieving great things together. It just seemed like the perfect theme to pay tribute to with all that in mind.
Since this is the fifth year of #tokutember, I wanted to do something in honor of Super Sentai teams which are usually made up of five core members. So each prompt this year is based on the first 30 Sentai teams. But in general, I just kinda throw a bunch of words at the list and see what sparks an idea.
What are you most proud of or excited about regarding your work and/or #tokutember?
The best thing in the entire universe is that I got Mike Dent to cut an epic #tokutember launch trailer way back in 2017! It’s my favorite thing ever! I get goosebumps every time I play it. My dream would be for him to cut a #tokutember trailer and direct some actual footage from Toei or Tsuburaya!
One of my favorite entries was someone who made toku-themed bento boxes! I’d love to see more stuff like that. I think someone wrote fanfic based on prompts as well. I love the creativity coming from the fandom, and I hope #tokutember helps encourage more of that exploration.
Any projects/works you’d like to recommend or promote?
Keep an eye out for Book 2 of School for Extraterrestrial Girls. Book 1 has a bunch of toku references and Easter eggs hidden throughout. Book 2 will have even more!!
How can people follow you and your work?
I’m on instagram @jamienoguchi and twitter @angryzenmaster. At some point, I really have to build a new portfolio site. Oh, and also check out tokutember.com for more about the event and to see Mike’s amazing trailer.
Final message or advice for the readers?
I just want to encourage everyone to have fun with #tokutember. Whether you’re a musician or cosplayer or foodie or poet or artist, #tokutember is a celebration for everyone to show their love for this genre! I can’t wait to see what fans will create!
Thank you for taking the time to do this interview, Jamie, and good luck with your work!
Readers, you can check out a small sample of Jamie’s previous #tokutember pieces in the slideshow below.