Laurie Greasley talks about his experiences living in Japan through the earthquake and tsunami and his work on Fables for Japan.
LG: The experience was unreal. Japan is no stranger to quakes and I had experienced a few in my time before March 11th, but none were close to being as noteworthy. I was between lessons at school when it occurred so my main concern at the time was the students. After the earthquake we had no power or word of what was happening or going on. Phone lines were down so I was cycling around in the dark in the ensuing hours to check on friends in the area.
The reactor leak was simply the scariest aspect of the experience as I was living 100 kilometers away from Fukushima Daichi. As you can imagine, 100 kilometers doesn't really calm the nerves when a nuclear reactor is in the mix, so along with a group of friends we quickly made the decision to evacuate to Tokyo and then further to Kyoto. We dubbed it an 'evacation'.
KV: Were you forced to relocate? If so, have you had a chance to be back since?
LG: I wasn’t forced to relocate. The coastal city of Hitachi where I lived took a battering from the tsunami and the quake but was relatively safe. Most of the buildings required extensive repairs, but there were a few collapsed buildings and bridges as well as sunken and broken roads. Many of the fellow foreigners who I knew in the area had become prominent figures within our communities from working at the schools so we felt a certain desire and duty to return and help rather than go home or change location.
KV: Has your life in Japan changed much?
LG: Life generally returned to normal within a couple of months for those who stayed. For months we were still experiencing quakes, tiny quakes which always had the irritating tendency to occur in the middle of the night, waking you up with a nice jolt of adrenaline.
KV: Tell us a little bit about your work on Fables for Japan.
LG: The piece I contributed too was written by Jason Minor, the creator of the project. His story “A New Year” begins at the Zojoji temple in central Tokyo during the New Year's countdown. After picking me for the story he was surprised to find that I was actually celebrating at the temple that night. The story that Jason wrote was a very touching piece that lent itself to some great visuals for me to work with.
KV: Tell us a little bit about your artistic background. Are there any projects you are working on now?
LG: I have always loved comics and narrative art. I studied illustration at the Kent Institute of Art and Design and graduated in 2006. Since then I went on to teach fine art before coming to Japan where I started studying some of the unique Japanese arts in order to expand my influences. As well as practicing Japanese calligraphy, I'm hoping to get to grips with 'ukiyo-e' woodblock printing. Currently I'm working on a short one shot comic called Circuit Slum which I'm hesitant to say too much about. It's a very Japan-centric story and takes a look at some rather big issues that the country will have to deal with as the older population grows and the younger population shrinks.