Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What inspired you to write Amulet? A: When my brother and I graduated from college, our parents found themselves in financial trouble, so we worked hard to help them out. We learned a lot about what it means to take care of family members at a very early age. During this time, I was developing the story for Amulet, a graphic novel. After discovering Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind by Hayao Miyazaki and Bone by Jeff Smith, I realized how I wanted Amulet to look and feel. I wanted to create a story that could sit on the shelf next to the works of these two masters and for it to belong there. I also discovered Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud and the many works of Osamu Tezuka, creator of Astro Boy and Black Jack. Through their work, I developed a newfound respect and excitement for the comics medium, seeing how comics can be used as a powerful educational tool. Years after I graduated from college, I spent a few years working at various jobs. I worked at a movie theater, a department store, an internet startup, an architecture firm, and an animation studio. During this time I continued to draw my comics on my website and in magazines during my free time, but I was hoping to be able to focus on them again. I eventually decided to leave my job in animation to pursue comics full-time, and I began with Daisy Kutter, my first graphic novel. After creating a book and knowing I could finish one, and remembering my experiences with my parents and the years of working in other fields, I decided it was time to go back to working on Amulet, and that’s when Amulet Book One: The Stonekeeper came together. It is a culmination of many life experiences.
Q: When did you start drawing comics? A: I started drawing when I was about 4 or 5 years old. My grandmother had a restaurant where my mother worked, and I spent long hours sitting at a table drawing pictures to keep myself entertained. I remember laboring over trying to draw cars properly when I wasn’t peeling carrots or potatoes. I also drew a lot of helicopters and airplanes. My friends in middle school really enjoyed my drawings so they encouraged me to take my drawings more seriously. I started to practice a lot. This continued through high school, where I drew for the high school newspaper, and through university, where I drew for the college newspaper. I also drew pictures and wrote stories for literary journals and other school publications. Whenever there was a space to fill on a page, I would volunteer to draw or write something. As much as I loved to draw, I actually spent more time writing during high school and college. Because I spent so much of my free time drawing, I felt I needed more work on my writing skills, and put a heavy focus on that in my education.
Q: Did you go to art school? A: I could not afford to go to a private college, and most art schools are private (as opposed to public) colleges, so I decided to enter Film Studies at UCSB, where I was accepted. The tuition was low enough that I could afford it, especially with the help of loans and grants. I had a lot of friends who attended Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, and I learned a lot by spending time with them. While I was at UCSB, I worked for the Daily Nexus newspaper, and that was like getting an art school education. I spent a lot of time studying other cartoonists from years past, and practiced by creating thousands of drawings for the paper.
Q: Where were you born? A: I was born in Tokyo, Japan, but my family has been in the United States for more than a hundred years. My mom was raised in New York and my grandfather was born there, so we have a long history in this country. My great grandfather and his brother even opened the oldest Japanese grocery store in the United States. It’s called the Katagiri Store, and it is located in Manhattan. I came to the United States when I was 3 years old.
Q: How many books will there be in the Amulet series? A: 9 books.
Q: Is Amulet going to be made into a movie? A: Amulet was originally going to be made into a movie by producer Akiva Goldsman and Weed Road Pictures at Warner Brothers. When the movie didn’t come together, it was picked up by Will Smith and Overbrook Entertainment, and was being developed for Jaden and Willow Smith for Warner Brothers. When this didn’t come together after several years, the rights reverted back to me. In 2015, we were approached by Temple Hill Entertainment and 20th Century Fox, who proposed making a series of movies based on the books. After several great discussions, we signed with them at the beginning of 2016 and the first movie in the proposed series is currently in development.
Q: Will there be more Copper comics? Or Daisy Kutter? A: Yes. My focus, however, has been on doing the best job I can on Amulet and being a dad, so I’m careful not to take on too many projects. I have more stories in mind for both Copper and Daisy Kutter, but I’ll need to find the right opportunity to add them to my busy schedule. In the meantime, I have been drawing new stories in the Explorer anthologies between Amulet books. Explorer features short stories by me and several other talented storytellers. The series is currently comprised of three books: The Mystery Boxes, The Lost Islands, and The Hidden Doors.