Earlier this year, the anime community was taken aback when a piece of art surfaced for Naruto. The official cover art was ordered by Viz Media for an upcoming collector's home video release. Fans went to war over the artwork with plenty siding with and against it. And thanks to a recent interview, the man who inked the cover art is detailing the thought that went behind the piece.
Oh, and we should mention the artist themselves. The person who penned the now-infamous poster is none other than While Portacio. The Filipino-America artist is a legend in the comics community, and they took on this Naruto commission with the intention of bringing the ninja closer to the style of Western comics.
"My son is the real Naruto fan, and VIZ then sent me a couple of the art books, some of the manga, and three DVDs. Watching the three DVDs, I then totally fell in love with the character of Naruto," Portacio gushed.
"But interestingly enough from a comic book standpoint, from a hero standpoint, I then really wanted to interpret it in my way. As I'm learning now — I come from this weird thing where I was exposed to anime and manga in the '80s, but now it's become its own social phenomena — I know nothing of the current social thinking of manga and anime today. So I approached it from the point of view that I've approached every other character I've had and my interpretation of it."
In the same way Portacio helped cultivate X-Men's iconic run in the 1980s, the artist took to Naruto the same. He identified the major elements of the series and looked deep into Naruto as a leader. When it came down to art style, Portacio did what he does best, and he drew in his own interpretive style. And when it comes to haters, the artist says he tries to distance himself from mean-spirited detractors.
"I try not to dive in too much. I dive in a little bit because I need to be aware, but not too much. One thing you learn as a "professional creative," especially if you've been able to last a little while, is really to have thick skin," he told Crunchyroll.0comments
"It's interesting, then, some of the negative comments I've read over here of, you know, "he looks too realistic." Again, on the personal side, it hurts anybody. Especially on the creative side, you want to be appreciated."
What do you think about this now-infamous piece? Would you be down for an entire Naruto comic illustrated this way? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @MeganPetersCB to talk all things comics and anime!