Tag Archives: Rokudenashiko

The FADER Sees the Fearlessness of Koyama Press

KoyamaPressWe’ve written about Annie Koyama before: about the playful and innovative comics she publishes at Koyama Press, about her unusual entrance into the world of publishing, even about her quirky bookshelf. But we just can’t get enough. Her story is so inspiring that notable music magazine the FADER branched out from its usual subject matter to interview Koyama on April 29.

The article opens with the accurate claim that Koyama Press’s origin story “could easily be the plot of one of the poignant autobiographical comics it publishes”: Annie Koyama, whose background is in film production, started the press on a whim after undergoing major brain surgery for a terminal aneurysm in 2007. The life-saving surgery spurred Koyama to delve into something she felt truly passionate about, so she began funding Toronto artists’ comics, publishing them, and taking none of the profits in return. Her generous spirit allowed little-known cartoonists, who were frequently snubbed by larger publishers, the validation and exposure she felt they deserved. As the FADER puts it, “her commitment to taking risks on emerging artists reflected an ongoing paradigm shift affecting the way alternative comics are produced and consumed,” and as a result, Koyama Press has become “one of the most important forces in independent comics” around today.

Even though Koyama is currently living with a second, inoperable brain aneurysm, she continues to push forward with Koyama Press and remains committed to diversity. As she9781927668276 told the FADER, “we live in a multicultural society and we need more artists telling their stories well—from every background.” She laments that finding a vast audience for alternative comics is still “an uphill battle,” but some of the attention Koyamobscenitya Press has gotten lately should help. The A.V. Club provided an exclusive preview of upcoming Koyama titles Gorgeous and What Is Obscenity?. Check out the previews here and here, respectively. Both books come out on May 10, and they’re just a few of the many wonderful things we know are in store for Annie Koyama and her press in the future.


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What is Obscenity? The Story of A Good For Nothing Artist and Her Publisher

KoyamaPressIn their “In Print” section, Rookie Mag (a webzine made by and for teenagers) likes to feature their favorite books, collections, chapbooks, and more. On March 11, blogger Rachel Davies went one step further, and highlighted not just one title but the entire collection of Koyama Press. Davies says she was astounded by “the originality found in the press and the variety of work published—something that I don’t think would be possible with bigger publishers. Koyama Press seems to be founded on a need to foster creativity, whether the authors are newcomers or thoroughly experienced.”

Creativity and originality: that’s certainly the motto of Koyama Press, or, as they put it, “We at Koyama Press are proud of our inability to be easily pinned down.”

Want proof? The first title of Koyama’s 2016 season is What is Obscenityobscenity: The Story of a Good For Nothing Artist and Her Pussy, which publishes May 10. It tells the story of Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi, also known as Rokudenashiko, who was arrested in 2014 in Japan on charges of distributing obscene materials. Rokudenashiko, which roughly translates to “Good For Nothing Woman,” started making dioramas on top of 3D molds of her vagina in the late 2000’s as a joke. Rokudenashiko soon realized that she was one of the only ones laughing: many people took offense to her lighthearted depiction of genitalia. She responded by upping the ante.

Vagina cartoons, plastic models, stuffed toys named Mancho-Chan and Miss Pussy, a full-sized costume—all lead to her magnum opus, which in turn lead to her arrest:  a two-meter long kayak to be 3D-printed from a scan of her labia. As you might expect, vagina-shaped kayaks are expensive, so Rokudenashiko decided to crowd-fund her project. She raised enough money to make her boat (and paddle it around!), but the buzz surrounding it landed her with obscenity charges, a trial in Japan that is still dragging on, and a fine of up to $20,000. Not one to be scared off, Rokudenashiko will be touring North America this year to promote her book and continue producing revolutionary art.

What is Obscenity is the type of title you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else except Koyama Press:one part art book, one part biography, and one part feminist manifesto. We can’t wait for it to be released!

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