Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the recent launch of your Kickstarter campaign! As this marks the highly anticipated return of Osamu Tezuka's beloved character, what can you share with us about the experience in deciding to revitalize the character?
Samuel Sattin: Thank you! It's really been incredible to see all the excitement and support thus far.
Working with one of Osamu Tezuka's characters was like a dream to me in the most literal sense possible. After the pitch was accepted and I began to truly engage with Gurihiru and Tezuka Productions, we began to reimagine the character for a new generation of readers. One aspect of the experience that has been singularly wonderful has been the privilege of working with Gurihiru and the people at Tezuka Productions. Together, we've been able to come up with a novel tribute to the God of Manga that I can't wait to show to the world.
BD: What can you tell us about your shared creative process in working with artistic team Gurihiru to bring the story to life?
SS: Gurihiru is a brilliantly talented art team of two women from Saitama, Japan. I've been saying this quite a bit, but aside from their draftsmanship and color usage, I feel like their style is uniquely capable of combining Japanese and American comics arts styles. As far as the creative process goes, whenever I finish writing something, it's translated by our mutual professional comics friend, Aki, and then sent to Gurihiru and Tezuka Productions for opinions and approval. With Gurihiru in particular, I want to make sure that they weigh in on the story to whichever degree they are comfortable doing, so that the process is truly collaborative. It's particularly wonderful to see character designs emerge, since the project is centered around both homaging Tezuka and creating something new.
BD: How do you feel that Unico: Awakening will appeal to returning fans, as well as those who may be new to the character and his fantastical world?
SS: Our goal is to make UNICO: AWAKENING a story that can appeal to existing fans (and fans of Tezuka in general) and the uninitiated. That's the key reason we talk about this project as a reimagining, rather than a direct adaptation. With Tezuka Production's blessing, we've worked hard to create a story that homages the God of Manga, but also provides the characters larger roles than they were afforded in the original. We're also creating a larger, overarching plot that plays out in the backdrop, and expands the Unico universe in new ways.
BD: In light of the Kickstarter campaign, are there any particular backer rewards that you would like to highlight for our readers?
SS: Honestly, there are so many aspects of the campaign to dig into. There's the book, of course, by Gurihiru and myself. But we also have an incredible array of prints from renowned artists like Kamome Shirahama (WITCH HAT ATELIER), Akira Himekawa (LEGEND OF ZELDA), Peach Momoko (DEMON DAYS), and Junko Mizuno (REVINA THE WITCH). We also have an incredible array of what we're calling Artifacts--print items that each artist put a lot of thought into, and each of which differs in format. If I were pledging, I'd likely have a hard time deciding, so I might end up getting the book, all the prints, and all the Artifacts. But I'm biased.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Unico’s story will connect with and impact readers?
SS: First and foremost, the reason we are reimagining Unico is that we think the story itself is an important one. Unico might look like a cute little unicorn on the surface, but his story is complex, moody, and meaningful. It had a profound effect on me when I first read it, and I know many others feel the same. Essentially, Unico, in my opinion, is a multilayered story about what happens to people who try to practice kindness. It's about how beauty can be both a weapon and a salve, and the dangers of vanity. A story like Unico deserves to reach a new generation of readers. We hope UNICO: AWAKENING can pick up that torch (and we hope that it leads to a good English reprint of the original, as well).
BD: Are there any other projects on which you are working that you’re able to share with readers?
SS: I have a book coming out next year from Little Brown for Young Readers with Rye Hickman, called BUZZING. I'm super excited about it. I am also working on some yet-to-be-announced adaptation projects, and am collaborating with an artist in Japan on a strange noir project I'm excited about.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about and support the Unico: Awakening Kickstarter campaign?
SS: Please visit the Kickstarter and support our campaign! We are a small, but mighty, team of artists and translators who are working with Tezuka Productions to bring this story to the world. Every additional dollar goes to paying the creatives who are working to bring this project to life. Thank you so much to everyone who has supported us thus far. Go, Unico, go!