Haida Manga is a blend of 2 different cultural appraoches. And in that, lies the theme of what i do. I'm not necessarily interested in one object or another as I am in the space between. I'm interested in hybridity, what happens when cultures connect. What does cultural diversity create? I believe it creates a third entity - it's not about indigenaity or non-indigenous, it's not about good versus evil, it's about the space between - how do we figure out the relationship.

Generally, I suspect that there's a lack of comfort with that. But that's what I am attracted to, because that's where I think creativity really comes from - when we first meet, it's what we first think of - that interesting moment when things become immensely important. They are foundational, because you build on it. It's not about taking over, replacing something that's there, it's about two dancers and how they hold hands as a third unit, the tertiary element.

I've been working in art all my life. Even when I was one of the organizers what I would say one of the most significant blockades in Canadian history, where we stood on roads and blocked logging roads in 1985 - no one had done this before. Even during that activist community-based political work that i was doing for 27 years, I was always doing art.

I'd been doing political art for nearly 30 years. And just realized that I had to get out of that to save my soul. You can't be in public service your entire life. You have to serve your time and get out of the way and let someone else come in. And so you can't have elites without tremendous cost to the entire system. If I didn't move into an art career, that I was never going to do that and I would spend the rest of my life hard on myself, and I didn't want to turn into a brittle, critical face. So I quit that career. And at the same time, i started to take Japanese university students out into the forest. And for them, they had never had a relationship with a tree closer than 40 KM. And I would take them to a place where you had to go 40 KM to find a light bulb - in deep green, mossy forests, on an archipelago immediately south of Alaska, immediately west of Canada.

So I would take these kids out, rent a big fishing boat, and I would lead them in the forest for 4 hours. It was amazing. I remember hearing these stories after picking them up, and one guy says "I probably stood for 2 hours, because I didn't see anything clean to sit on." And of course, people coming back just loaded, filled with emotional connection with something so big and beautiful as a living forest. There wasn't any terror. But there was one young woman who we had to arrange a signal so I could locate them - and I went back to try to find her, and I was running back and forth to see if she'd wandered back, and getting quite worried - and I'd been running, very concerned, and I saw her - I called out and I could see her mouth move, so I knew she made a sound, and kept my eyes on her and making noise until I was 12 feet away from her. And her sense of self as a young Japanese woman was so reduced that she couldn't speak loud enough to project her voice so I could hear her. She was so shy... she saw herself as so small.

What I learned from that general experience was something called Manga back in 2000. Manga at that point was not widely known in the western world, and they were talking about Manga-ka as quite well-known and respected artists. They were well-paid, published, people saw their artwork as a respectable contribution to the community. Compare that to what's happening in North America - the purview of young men suffering from hormone toxicity levels. It's not high brow art. So I was thinking I'm trying to take a complex, ancient iconic art form - which is totem poles, which is my cultural birthright, I guess, and translate that in a way that becomes accessible to regular people in primarily North America.

And the way to do it, I feel, is to do it in comic books. Because comic books are accessible. As much as the market used to be driven by young men, the thing about comic books is you don't need to be educated or privileged in any sense - you can come from any cultural background and read a comic book. I thought that using that medium would be a way to connect what I'd spend 30 years defending as a political activist.

So that's where I created Haida Manga.

But I don't want it to simply be seen through a Western lens. This is different. This is a graphic art form that is exotic to you, perhaps, but it comes out of the North Pacific, and when I heard from these Japanese students about Manga, I realized it was truly a North Pacific tradition - Manga being a tradition for centuries, and by merging Haida and Manga together, I would be positioning myself for a new generation of Haida manga.

There's also back history on Haida peoples of the Pacific and Japanese culture that is very friendly. At a time when if you were a first nations person in North America, you were subject to some pretty extreme racism.

My site: Another site about Haida Manga:

Today, and over the next few days, we are going to have a graphic and text driven exploration of New York.

Through the lens of a graphic artist I will be touring New York and sharing impressions via reddit and other digital platforms. When people come to places that are unknown, to Japan or other communities, they observe and journal through their own eyes and peculiar views of how the Universe was organized, usually with white guys on top. And there's a whole societal structure made with assumptions about ethnicity and diversity based on those preliminary sets of explorations. Those assumptions still affect us and influence us today, in HUGE ways. And I want to sort of reverse that a little bit. And I want to say"Let's walk back, observe the city of New York, particularly these institutional structures like the Met or the American Natural History museum - they have artworks done by my relatives in their collection - these are inordinately valued artworks, that would fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars, priceless objects, and so they built these huge structures to hold and present these objects, and my question is - is this similar to when Napoleon returned back to France from the campaign in Egypt with his horse-drawn carts full of booty - including obelisks? I want to use my artwork as a way to re-translate those assumptions as they relate to people who are highly marginalized today - it's a commonality.

I am looking forward to your questions today.

Victoria is helping me get started. AMA.

Phase II: Thanks Victoria! We hopped on the 1 train and are now at the American Museum of Natural History! Drawing random things, taking requests, and then off to the Met!

Comments: 102 • Responses: 45  • Date: 

EiichiroOda11 karma

I have a little manga that I write and illustrate myself. Would you mind if I sent it to you so you can tell me what you think of it?

MNYahgulnaas8 karma

Sure! I would be delighted

MNYahgulnaas3 karma

Now that my lectures and book launch formalities are ended here in New York I will go to a bookstore to buy a copy of your work.

smith__tj7 karma

What is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen?

MNYahgulnaas27 karma

Well, hmmm. Well there's different categories of things. I couldn't say that there's one that applies in all situations. But here's one that is very powerful we just experienced.

On the north coast of Haida Gwaii, formerly called the Queen Charlotte Islands, there is a stretch of sand that goes for... 40 miles. And the terminus is this sliver that stretches way out into the ocean, known to be one of the most ferocious bodies of water on the planet - shallow, GREAT tidal flows, like 24 foot heights - just rushes up against the continent - and incidentally, that's where these fools want to send oil tankers... so this stretch of sand- you can STAND on it, and see NOTHING except the horizon of the ocean, and when you have that vast panoramic view, you realize that the ocean is not flat.

You can see the curvature of the earth.

What appears to be a flat light is bent ever so slightly and what accentuates this is you are standing on the edge of the ocean, on the flat sand, and these small waves are coming towards you - and they come light heartbreats, like a base line in a piece of music, like a metronome. And it comes with such calming regularity that you slip into a meditative trance.

I find myself in my gumboots, and realized my jaw was actually open. I was slack-jawed. I had just toned out.

And that particular morning, my daughter and I, were harvesting crabs. You have a net and waders, and you wade in the water, you just try to get the males, but since it's mating season, sometimes you would be finding them making love - why rip them apart - but we don't eat the females so they can reproduce. You just take the males, and put them in your bucket, and just keep wading. They're very heavy. And you sometimes - you get pinched a lot.


That was a very zen thing to read, for me. Upvotes

bjoseph26 karma

Do you view your art as reviving Haida traditions - reclaiming them from the past to breathe new life into them - or extending them in new ways, using contemporary technology and mixing them with other art traditions? Or is it not either/or?

MNYahgulnaas6 karma

That's a really good question. Somebody is not wasting oxygen, whoever asked that.

The best answer I can come up with is: The oldest tradition for Haida - and I would suggest, for ALL the entire species - is the tradition of innovation.

And so I want to apply that tradition of innovation to the Haida iconic form, and I want to make it vital and accessible, not only to Haidas and not only to those people who are informed, but to ALL people.

Let's say 300 years ago, EVERYTHING was embellished with art. Every static surface was carved or painted. In today's city, you see billboards, you see graphic design - presented and accessible to everybody. And this is where I think comic books and Manga are so accessible and powerful.

So I want to increase the omnipresence of design. And not see it primarily through ethnicity as a filter, but as something that is easily accessible and experiential. When we see a piece of art in the Met, we aren't going to say "It's a Russian painter from the 1920s and therefore what do I think of Putin and the Ukraine" - I want to access the art FIRSt, and be enriched by it, and play with the questions and answers it presents to us.

For example, I do a rotational series - a piece of artwork where down in the lower right hand corner, I will rotate the canvas and put my name, and I"ll rotate my canvas and put a date, and rotate the canvas and put the title - so that when someone picks up the painting they are not sure what the horizon line is, because they have to turn the canvas to read the information.

What I am trying to do is force the observe to become an active participant. I am trying to undermine my OWN authority and privilege as an artist. I am trying to say "You become engaged. Claim your own sovereign authority." I think there is too much instruction laid out in how we're supposed to fall into step here.

I am saying "Question authority, and question my OWN authority as an artist."

It's about taking the powerful, sophisticated graphic iconography that is Haida, and presenting it as a tool for someone who knows NOTHING about Haida, and yet, with those tools they can play with themes that are common to all people.

Some of those common themes I think are "compression and expansion" and by that I mean - in a social situation - how big should we be, or how small should I be? Should I share my jokes with everyone, or am I too big, do I need to stay in my place, and smile meekly? I am not saying that everyone is always in expansion or contraction, it is a dance, and we have to be conscious of that. and the Haida art form plays with that element in exquisite detail. This is something I do in my practice, to take that theory of compression and expansion, and apply that in colors, and forms, and materials - whether it be steel plate, canvas, car hoods, paper, prints - and make those tools accessible in a variety of media.

RelicHunter264 karma

I am familiar with some of your work in Vancouver and your amazing "Bone Box" work at MOA. I really enjoyed reading Red: A Haida Manga, the artwork and story is beautiful.

Is there any plans to create more Haida manga?

MNYahgulnaas4 karma

Yes. I've got one on the go. And I am actually - the sketchbook I have, which I will take some photos of right now and post at

One of the challenges of such a big project is that the time required - and the only way I can do that is if I sell artwork in advance, so I have enough money to live on while I am creating the new mural.

I am trying to get my mind around a Kickstarter campaign - could that support a nine month creative period. What do you think? Have you any experience with Kickstarter?

CrackerFurry4 karma

Have you ever drawn yiff? (anthropomorphic animal porn)

MNYahgulnaas6 karma

I typically draw genitalia in my work. As a matter of fact, I have a series at home that are framed and ready to go - the "Fleshtone" series that are particularly focused on that dynamic.

Haida design and worldview is very much engaged in bodily functions - we don't take the prudish approach. Cultural norms are culturally specific, and Haida, puns are something that we really engage in, both in terms of the language and artwork. So even if i don't put a penis in an artwork, one of my relatives will see it there!

We're a very fertile people. Perhaps that is due to the fact that 9 out of 10 people died after meeting with the Europeans. And we had to figure out how to survive. And you can't do that if you're extremely prudish.

jonnyknuckles3 karma

Outside of Manga, are there any other art forms that you would like to explore eventually that you think parallel or are similar to the art from the Haida Gwaii area and could combine?

MNYahgulnaas2 karma

I think there's an intersection between Western practice - painting, Cubism - because you can have multiple simultaneous perspectives of what appears to be a static object... this is is similar to Haida art with its layers of multiple meanings and punning. The Cubism exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of art is high up on my list of to-dos!

june_tl3 karma

I imagine this to be a difficult question to answer, but of all your works, which do you find most engaging with social, political and cosmological significance?

p.s. I was at your guest lecture for Charlotte Townsend-Gault this past September! Thank you for such an inspiring lecture. You have such an awesome energy about you : ) You should think about leading a seminar at UBC one day!

MNYahgulnaas3 karma

The most significant is hopefully the next one. Of the current works RED, A Haida Manga surprises me by its continuing appeal and reception. It not only launched yesterday here in New York at the American Museum of Natural History but will become permanent public programming at Canada's prestigious McMichael Collection, two days ago I learned it is on the reading list at Harvard (90en) and in a few weeks the original mural ships to Seattle Art Musuem for a 4 month exhibit.

Measuring significance of a work is a process that must involve the "audience" and time. The audience is growing as is time since RED was painted in 2008/09.

My feelings about this work and it's earlier predecessor War of the Blink is that these works are significantly developmental.

There are other stories that will benefit from the production techniques that I have learned working previously and one of these is now on my sketchbooks.

Let me think a little further on the question as I want to consider a worked recently printed by UBC press, Haida Cosmic. Also I would be interested to hear your answer to your question .

orangejulius3 karma

I want to use my artwork as a way to re-translate those assumptions

that thought seemed a little disconnected from the paragraph. what are you 're-translating'? is your artwork a reflection of the items you consider stolen cultural treasure or what? (I'm confused)

MNYahgulnaas3 karma

Okay, I'm not that much interested in the notion of "stolen property" as much as I am interested in changing the power dynamics that fuel that idea that you can steal someone's property - where you have nations like the US or Canada moving into other people's territories and assuming that they can manage other people, to manage situations that they know nothing about. In a contemporary way, this would talk about nation-states imposing management regimes on oceans and lands. We have to ask ourselves, in a political sense: do we really know what's going on in the Middle East?

This point that I think you're talking about - I am trying to refigure the lens we look at the world through. I am coming at it as an artist. Re-translating comes out of the fact that we were successful in 1985 at stopping the largest logging companies in the west coast of Canada, who had influential shareholders with the cabinet ministers, who were making decisions on who had the right to log the forest - we stopped them, and we were under-educated, economically marginalized, unimportant people. And we stopped them. Stopped these large logging companies and powerful interests. At that point, we had to ask ourselves - had we won this battle so we could have revenge? Did we survive 200 years of pestilence, attack, oppression in order to do the same BACK now that we are at the top of the game?

We said: no.

We said "We have to stop this." We don't want to inflict injury to other people. So we created a progressive model, an organization that is a trust fun that is worth probably $70 million right now, and it is run by consensus of EVERYONE who lives on the island - white and red people. We did this with the Canadian Government on a park reserve on our island. National Geographic said it is the best-managed area in North America. And this is based on a full consensus.

This approach to decision-making doesn't say "I know what's best for the other" or "I have more votes than you" or "I have more political power" or "i'm the right ethnicity and I am therefore better."

It steps TOTALLY away from that approach and says "You are valid. What I have to say is valid. And we can do this together."

It's a total re-engineering. And that's what i am looking for. Where it's not about judgement, or taking away value from that which is different. Trying to find a new methodology for harmonizing.

And based on that experience, of the blockades and reconstructing progressive social models, I want to apply it to art now.

I witness it, and I still see it happening.

So how can we do this in art?

I don't have all the answers, but I am trying to re-translate. So I want to have this exploration today and tomorrow in New York.

We want to examine how we can find commonality.

One of the things i think is a real problem here, is that in our current society, the governmental theory is of specialization and removing citizens from direct engagement in decision-making, which means removing citizens for responsibility of what's going on in their lives.

It's about Dis-engaging from the process. It is phenomenally dangerous. It leads us to places where highly influential elites will take care of everything. And maybe that's alright if you're a member of that elite, but I think there's an inherent corruption in there, and it needs revitalizing in a very inclusive way.

sd51513 karma

What inspired you to create Haida Manga?

MNYahgulnaas6 karma

See what I wrote in the introduction about my exposure to Japanese college students.

And here's another story about the Haida Japanese connection:

There was a time when Haida's and Native Americans were not allowed to spend much time in the company of white settlers. For example, there would be cafes in restaurant that had signs that said "no Indians and no dogs." There was a time when Native Americans and Haida were not allowed to sit outside their designated area in a movie theater. There were toilets reserved for Indians. Indians were not allowed to hold Canadian land titles, nor allowed to vote. And in summation of the North American policy towards Indigenous Peoples, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, ex-Prime Minister of Canada, told Marlon Brando that the difference between the U.S. and Canadian policies towards Indigenous Peoples was that "In the United States you shot them, and in Canada we starved them to death."

At the same time as these horrible things are part of the formal state policy, Haida men found themselves in Japan. They worked there as seal hunters working on sailing ships that sailed the North Pacific following the Pelagic Fur Seal. Stories would come back at home about how wonderful the experience was of being in Japan for these Haida men. They could walk freely on the street. They could go into any restaurant. They could walk into an shop and spend money. They could use toilets. They were treated like full human people. Such a relief, and such a pleasure, when compared with the constant pressure back in North America.

So I grew up hearing these stories and for me as a young man Japan was a sanctuary. It was like a safe place. I often thought about what experiences my relatives must have had, such relief, in Japan. And yet, as a young man I am exposed to North American stories about Japan, as insular, xenophobic and unfriendly. Militaristic, you know? So I had to reconcile these divergent views. And it was in my exposure to the Japanese students, to working with the Slow movement in Japan, that I could see that the more truthful characterizing of Japan was the Haida experience. I wanted to honor the historical experience by referring to my graphic narrative work as "manga" and not comics.

Some people ask if I am appropriating and in my defense, this last Spring, I was contacted by the Design Association in Tokyo. This organization, chaired by the top typographer in Japan, also organized and administers the largest design fare in Asia (since 1982). In conjunction with the Adachi Woodcut Institute, one of only two families that continues the Ukiyo-e woodcut tradition in Japan, they asked if I would design a contemporary wood block print for them as part of their effort to revitalize this ancient and culturally significant art practice.

I take this as an invitation and appreciation of what I am trying to do with my manga work.

spacepasta2 karma

How do you deal with art block?

MNYahgulnaas3 karma

I have two strategies to deal with Art block.

1) I clean up my studio. Reorganize, rearrange and renew.

2) I recognize that my task as an artist is to be a ready instrument so that creativity can easily flow through.

The Canadian publishing company called Douglas and MacIntyre has a book coming out shortly the title is "me artsy" and the editor is Drew Hayden Taylor. My contribution is a black ink on white paper , a mural that is reprinted on 10 individual pages. He rather deeply personal narrative focuses in on this whole idea of where does creativity come from and how do we allow it to flow through us.

I was also happy to run across a YouTube video in which the artist Agnes Moore explains her vision of creativity. If I recall correctly she said that our mind was like a room and we had to keep it clean (quiet) so that we could recognize when creativity walked through the door.

Both Agnes Moore and I agree that creativity is something coming from somewhere else.

What are your strategies?

albertoroa2 karma

What are your top three favorite mangas?

MNYahgulnaas3 karma

Miyazakia Nausica which subsequently became the Anime piece remains my all time favourite. This is because of the complexity of the narrative as well as his particular drawing style at that stage of his life.

albertoroa2 karma

I've never heard of it. I should check it out. Thanks for the reply! This ama is great!

beernerd2 karma

What did you think of Big Hero 6?

MNYahgulnaas8 karma

I haven't seen it yet. If you say I should go, I'll go! I'm in New York right now!

bjoseph25 karma

Oh yeah, you should go. It's based on a Marvel comic about a Japan-based superhero team and, for the movie, it takes place in the U.S. but in a San Francisco re-built a century ago by fictionalized Japanese tech. So the movie is not Anime but it definitely speaks to both manga and anime traditions with reverence.

MNYahgulnaas3 karma

Okay! So I have to find out where it is. And those folks there, need to know - I'm sure if you've seen any of the Miyazaki flicks. And don't bother going to see Nausicaa - but read the book, the graphic novel - it's complex, major epic piece of work. And it's very foundational to all his films, it lays out how he sees the world. Absolutely stunning. It's my favorite book.

beernerd2 karma

I thought it was very good. I only bring it up because you mentioned culture hybridity, and the film is set in a city that combines San Francisco and Tokyo.

MNYahgulnaas5 karma

I'm so going to watch that while I'm here! I typically live on a little island outside of Vancouver, where there are more trees than people, and yet I'm 20 minutes from one of the coolest cities on the west coast of the continent.

fatmanyolo2 karma

What inspired you to begin sculpting?

MNYahgulnaas3 karma

My initial training was in sculpting in the late seventies, working as an apprentice on 4 cedar totem poles, about 16 foot long wooden columns that we had to carve. And more recently, I joined forces with a project manager in Vancouver, and in 2010, was commissioned to create original artwork for the Winter Olympics, which was immediately followed by a commission with the City of Vancouver in which we built the single largest piece of art in the City of Vancouver - it's 147 feet long, it weighs 9.5 tons, and is made out of quarter-inch steel plate, and it is located at 33 and 9th in Vancouver. Here's my site about it:

And then more recently the city of Kamloops, BC, we raised a 25 foot steel and aluminum plate sculpture.

NorbitGorbit2 karma

what is the best non-toxic sculpting material?

MNYahgulnaas2 karma

Flour and water is pretty nice - paper maiche in terms of access to the materials, and cost, and safety.

cited2 karma

If you could start learning to draw all over again, how would you learn?

MNYahgulnaas4 karma



In a very real way, every time I draw or paint or sculpt it is starting all over again.

I realize I am developing inclinations and technique and familiarities with my tools and materials. But that moment of looking at the blank field, be it paper, canvas or others, is a feeling of starting all over again.

jonc232 karma

I want to learn how to draw. Where should I start?

MNYahgulnaas3 karma

Have a pad and a pen or pencil (I always propose people use Pentel brush pen to start off). Any time someone calls you on the phone, and you are busy in conversation, doodle. This frees your judgmental brain, gets it out of the way, and lets your artistic inclination to be expressed. Collected every doodle. Don't throw them away. Over the course of time you will have noticed the development of a skill you have long denied yourself.

MrSejuani2 karma

Can you please draw me?

MNYahgulnaas8 karma

Yes! I thought you'd never ask. Got a pic?

MrSejuani3 karma

Yep, ill send one right away. Thank you so much!

MNYahgulnaas5 karma

I just sent down and drew a quick ink drawing of you. We will upload it in a few moments to my website

MNYahgulnaas6 karma

Apologies for the delay! Ran into some issues with the wifi. This was done at the Met.

Finished pic

Video of the drawing process
This is actually four short clips put together, although none of the actual drawing was missed. Quick pencil sketch, and then inking.

If you'd like the original, just pm an address, and I'd be happy to send it (or come pick it up at the American Museum of Natural History on Saturday, November 22!).

Butt_surfer_90002 karma

Do you foresee the possibility of another stand made, in the vein of Lyell Island, if the northern gateway goes ahead?

MNYahgulnaas3 karma

Obviously that kind of strategy remains an option for many people and likely a highly diverse group of people. But something tells me the project won't even be developed to that point. I remain optimistic that the construction of that pipeline will never take place.

Are you someone who feels responsible and engaged enough to become involved, directly involved in these and similar other issues that confront your community?

bjoseph22 karma

What's it like for you to go into a Natural History museum with extensive historic collections of Haida cultural treasures?

MNYahgulnaas2 karma

In a few moments I'm going to upload a photograph of an artwork in the Met collection in New York City. This will be an upload to my website at I'm currently in the permanent collection of native art at the Metropolitan Museum of art to New York City.

This piece that I'm uploading to the site as well as many others are absolutely beautiful. They inspire and teach.

mommynerd2 karma

I just stumbled across this AMA and felt compelled to ask you something. I'm a white girl, living in the Seattle area. I grew up exposed to and loving the Native art of the region, and ultimately got my undergrad at UW in Art History, with a focus on Northwest Coast Native Art. As part of my studies I was lucky enough to study with artist Marvin Oliver, and learned to draw in the NWC style. Since then I have struggled with this talent I seem to have gained. Everyone who sees my drawings or paintings says I should sell it, or do more with it. But...I'm a white girl. Not at all native. I feel like it's not my right to do so. What are your thoughts on this appropriation of another culture's style? It seems very taboo when it deals with native culture, and so therefore I haven't really done much with my art (although I did sell one painted a Haida friend!) That being said, here is a link to a grad school project I did last year. It's an online presentation/story for kids of the Raven story where he names all the birds. I did all the art myself.

Also, I must mention that about 10 years ago I got this idea to try and illustrate the Raven myths in the manga style. I didn't even remember this until literally this week when my parents found some of my old sketchbooks. Inside I found my initial sketches. Then I ran into this AMA. Coincidences are weird.

I also see you will be part of an exhibit at the SAM in February. Can you give us a little info on what that will include? Thank you!

MNYahgulnaas2 karma

BIIIG questions

cultural mimicry ? But as always context context context

Yes RED a Haida Manga the original 5 meter long mural will exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum Feb to May 2015. There is also a solo exhibit of my work at Seattle's Stonington Gallery and I think that I may be lecturing elsewhere at another institution.

The questions you raise are complex and I would be happy to discuss them with you in person. Go to my website, send me a message and let's arrange that off line conversation.

MNYahgulnaas2 karma

I don't see the link in your message. Please resend it.

50PercentLies1 karma

What are your thoughts on tropes in manga and anime? Do you think they are bad/weighing down the genre as it transitions to the west?

MNYahgulnaas4 karma

I don't think the term "bad" ought to apply to creative expressions.

What particular tropes are you asking about?

50PercentLies2 karma

Prevelance of tsudere female characters, the ubiquity of odd sexual fetishes in main character groups (especially sisters being romantically in love with brothers, taken to the extreme in OreImo), how common high school settings are, incredibly long monologues during fights, etc.

MNYahgulnaas5 karma

Let me take some time with this specific question. I don't really follow Manga as closely as you obviously do, content as I am to create new works not too reverentially to other sub genres.

hypermirage0 karma

Huh, this just took an interesting turn. If you're unfamiliar with the tropes specific to manga, what sort of 'hybrid' are you achieving exactly? I'm not trying to be confrontational here, but if you endeavor to blend art forms or styles, it seems that a minimal fluency in the language of those forms would be necessary, otherwise it really is nothing more than cultural appropriation, no matter how much ink you spill explaining that it's not.

That said, I don't think it's necessarily important to repeat those tropes specific to manga -nevermind that this is usually how one would go about defining the borders of identity, by recognizing and then subverting recognizable tropes- but as an indicator of familiarity, not being literate in manga tropes suggests that perhaps you've not read very much of the stuff. And having a blindspot in your reading is nothing to be ashamed of -we all have them- but for a creator, particularly someone interested in hybrid forms who also seems to be sensitive to charges of cultural appropriation, that's something of a credibility gap.

Now I want to know what manga you've read, now I'm curious what your entry point into the medium is, and most of all, now I really want to know what exactly it is that you connect with in the manga you have read which suggested to you the idea of hybridization. Unlike manhwa or other pan-asian manga hybrids which developed organically over years out of subcultures of artists and creators, your hybrid seems ... not to put too fine a point on it, opportunistic rather than strictly organic. Thoughts?

MNYahgulnaas2 karma

Speaking to the manga in Haida manga.

Perhaps it is my advancing age and a hopeful anticipation that like the inspired mangaka Master Hokusai I might also finally paint a fair hand in my sixth decade. My own slowly increasing agility with the brush and a growing appreciation for the relaxed skill required to execute a simple line is much inspired by brush work seen in Master Hokusai works. I love the simplicity of bristles and ink.

When I first heard Japanese university students call my work manga in the late 1990s it was a term much unknown in the western world. My subsequent use of the term most publicly in a 2001 publication a Tale of Two Shaman delineated Haida graphic narratives from western practices and "Comics". Is this opportunistic. Maybe and with no apology. More importantly this is true. Haida graphic narratives purposefully reject some basic assumptions of western sequential narrative. Please read RED, Haida Manga.

There are fundamental cultural elements some expressed in Shintoism that like Haida cosmology substantially deviate from western norms. These have informed my wish to distinguish my telling of our Haida graphic literature and more properly link it to its Asian family and to also inoculate it against western appropriation.

My manga influences were and remain for the most part NOT works done in recent decades and with respect not so much work created and evolving in sync with an expanding technical toolbox but the much older works by hands long dead.

Notwithstanding a personal attraction for such seasoned historical works and contemporary creations of H Miyazaki and gut wrenching potency of anime such as Graveyard of Fireflies I do not at all dispute that vigorous, contemporary, diverse and commercially popular works are desirable. Considering that Manga, and perhaps manwha and Manhua, translate into English as "pictures without borders" it seems critically important to avoid judgements about the good or the bad of any particular style or "trope". The fact that there is diversity and complexity in the narrative and technical execution is desirable and consistent with the intent of the over arching genre.

The Haida side of the Haida manga term is referred to elsewhere on this AMA and there are compelling historical and familial reasons for the affinity of Japan and Haida relations.

As to the cultural appropriation I have indeed learned that lesson from the best. My political activism over almost three decades in my ancestral home islands was much informed by cultural, geographical and economic appropriation. My work is not about cultural appropriation as it is about exploring and describing the tertiary spaces, the new spaces, the fertility that is possible in the relationships between that which are seen as alien, different and perhaps even oppositional.

As to opportunistic I am one of only seven non Japanese living artists in the world invited to design a Ukiyoe print as part of a Japanese effort to revitalize one of their key cultural icons. If what I create as a Haida Mangaka was non organic and opportunistic it seems highly improbable that this year the organizers of Asia's largest design fair and one of only two remaining families or Japanese lineages still maintaining the tradition of cutting and printing woodblocks would seek me out and invite me to join in their efforts to protect their ancient art practice.

Having said these things I appreciate that you and others looking at this AMA are teachers.

I appreciate and have considered your comments and remain confident that my focus on historical manga expressions is my best path.

I hope you have a better sense of my comfort that Haida manga is not only appropriate and validated and generally welcomed but is also makes a helpful contribution to advancing the concept of pictures without borders.

MNYahgulnaas2 karma

Master Hokusai rules

TheDirtyOnion1 karma

What is your favorite kind of bird, excluding raptors?

MNYahgulnaas2 karma

Cranes, particularly the great blue heron.

TheDirtyOnion1 karma

Damn, well played.

MNYahgulnaas1 karma

What's your favorite bird? And what part of the world are you living in?

spanxxxy1 karma


MNYahgulnaas2 karma

Yeah! Don't they grow wheat in Nebraska? I'd love to go there. Seriously. My wife's family have some people there, working in farming and ranching. I am attracted to look at that lifestyle as it is quite creative in the sense that challenges come at you, they are new challenges and ever-changing challenges, and you have to figure out how to respond to them using limited resources.

naturalsavage1 karma

I have never heard of Haida Manga before this, but I did read The Golden Spruce this summer and I was wondering if you've done any manga renditions of the story of Kiidk'yaas. Also, do you have any anecdotes of where you were and how you felt during the events that take place in that book? Thank you for your time and I really look forward to experiencing your art!

MNYahgulnaas3 karma

I have got a story that I did in the early 1980s - its in black and white ink.

This story is closely related to the Golden Spruce story.

In regards to how I felt when the Golden Spruce was cut down, I felt sick in my stomach. Considering that we had just defeated the most powerful timber interested in Western Canada, it felt so totally unnecessary and defeated that someone would feel that they had to cut down this iconic tree.

Joe567801 karma

Could you say hi to me?

bjoseph21 karma


Joe567801 karma

...not you d:

MNYahgulnaas5 karma


Joe567801 karma

Now I feel I have to ask you a real question, what are your top 5 manga?

MNYahgulnaas3 karma

Hayao Miyazaki's Nauscicca - Valley of the Wind - remains by biblical refernce in regards to narrative themes. I love Studio Ghibli works. Like Totoro. The one anime that made me cry is Graveyard of the Fireflies.

I am also really drawn to Ukiyo-e styles.

dragonfly19931 karma

favorite snacK?

MNYahgulnaas6 karma

Seaweed, toasted seaweed.

But raw herring... The world's largest sardine is called a herring. The males and females get together and have sex. The females lay layers upon layers of eggs upon the blades of large kelp. Then the males (no longer able to contain themselves) ejaculate all over the place and the water turns absolutely white. And this is how the eggs are fertilized. Then you wait for the eggs to grow a LITTLE bit larger. They are about the size of a 1/3 of the top of a thumbtack. And then WE come along - us happy people who love this food - and we pull these leaves of kelp up out of the water, and the best snack in the world is the fresh kelp and just BITE into it. I can remember there was a time in the 1970s that Japan was paying us... $80 a pound for this? It's called kazunoku-kombu. It's crunchy, like eating little golf balls. You get protein, you get sea vegetables loaded with all kinds of minerals, and it's salty. And if you can't be there to eat in the water, you can bring it home and pay fry it in butter with a little bit of soy sauce. And if it's cold, you've got leftovers, you can put mayonnaise and just a LITTLE bit of mustard on it, maybe some green onions, and then roll it up.

That's the best snack going.

That's why I'm so hyped up on healthy oceans.

MNYahgulnaas7 karma

You can sun-dry it too. It turns a golden yellow coppery color. The eggs collapse due to being dehydrated. It's like potato chips as healthy as kale chips but tastier than both.

It's very rare now.

We're trying not to harvest it now, because we're afraid that herring populations are dropping - like one group of herring that spawn in one bay are completely different than other herring that spawn in another bay. Industrial fishing theory has been saying that each group is the same, and once they fish out one bay - it's GONE. So we are not harvesting much herring spawn anymore. It's quite a rare delicacy. Because herring is a critical food source for the fully functioning ocean in the North Pacific.

RelicHunter261 karma

Are you a fan of Oolichian/Eulachon? I hear that is a delicacy along the West Coast. I'm in school to become an archaeologist and have had some classes on archaeology along the west coast. It is disturbing to hear of the huge decline of not only herring but other small marine life due to industrial fishing.

MNYahgulnaas5 karma

YES! Big fan. Oolichan are rare, much valuable, and probably ought to be left alone in the ocean until their population rebounds.

MrSejuani1 karma

Hey there, I was just wondering if you havr uploaded the drawings yet? I haven't been able to see them.

MNYahgulnaas1 karma

We had upload issues at the Met and while we can do text we couldn't do images. My tech guy says best to do it tonight EST.

seezed1 karma

Alright, as someone that has the drawing ability of a quadruple amputee could you give me your own personal tip to become better at illustration?

Also, what is your "taste", as in what kind of pieces instantly impresses you?

Thank you! You've given amazing responses in this AMA!

MNYahgulnaas2 karma

Try the small drawing pad next to the telephone and a simple drawing instrument. Try to do little doodling while you are occupied in conversation on the telephone and I think that you will be amazed to see how creative you can really be. Do this over time it will work.

fimmas94-3 karma


MNYahgulnaas6 karma

What kind of poop. Is this coffee beans that have gone through lemur tummies?