Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Art Interview with UDON Editor in Chief Erik Ko

September 22, 2015 at 9:00 am | Posted in Yu-Gi-Oh! | 4 Comments
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Duel Art English title page

Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Art — or more formally, DUEL ART: Kazuki Takahashi Yu-Gi-Oh! illustrations — is a collection of gorgeous full-color artwork, line art, and concept sketches straight from the creator of Yu-Gi-Oh! himself. The hardcover book includes images of characters and monsters from the classic Yu-Gi-Oh!, GX, 5D’s, and ZEXAL series. Takahashi also offers a step-by-step walkthrough of his creative design process and sits down for an exclusive interview where he reveals his influences, methods, and development as an artist.

Duel Art was originally published in Japan by Shueisha under its V Jump Special Book line in 2011. At San Diego Comic Con 2014, North American publisher and art collective UDON Entertainment revealed that it had acquired the rights to publish an English-language version. One year later at SDCC 2015, a small number of copies of the book were sold before it was finally officially released to the masses last week.

In a special interview, Erik Ko, the Editor in Chief of UDON, graciously provides some insight into the licensing and production of Duel Art and what makes the book a must-have for all Yu-Gi-Oh! fans.

News that UDON would be releasing Duel Art came as a surprise to some Yu-Gi-Oh! fans because the book was originally published in Japan way back in December 2011. What led UDON to decide to release Duel Art?

Erik Ko: The answer is actually very simple — a lot of us here at UDON are really big fans of Yu-Gi-Oh! And we admire Takahashi-sensei’s artwork a lot! So, when the opportunity to work on the English version of Duel Art came about, we (without any hesitation) were very excited to start working on publishing Duel Art for the U.S. market.

In the West, rights to the Yu-Gi-Oh! property are owned by a few different companies. For example, VIZ Media handles the manga, 4K Media handles the anime and merchandising, and Konami Digital Entertainment handles the card game and video games. Did UDON work with any of these companies to bring over Duel Art, or did you approach Shueisha directly?

EK: UDON has very friendly relations with all these companies, and after a few meetings, UDON secured the deal to publish the Yu-Gi-Oh! book. Also, we would like to take this opportunity to send a big “thank you” to all those involved who helped us facilitate this deal!

Did UDON encounter any unexpected challenges while working on Duel Art? Are you able to comment on why the book was delayed from its original May 2015 release date?

EK: First and foremost, UDON has been known to put the reproduction quality of our books as our top priority. The Duel Art art book was no exception to this priority. To ensure that our English edition was highly compatible to the superb Japanese original by Shueisha, we worked very hard and took our time with the printers and the editors at Shueisha to cross check the print proofs and compared them to the original Japanese version. Upon seeing the colorful results in Duel Art, we felt it was worth the extended wait!

What was the best part about working on Duel Art? Do any of Takahashi’s pieces stand out as a favorite for you?

EK: The best part was of course being able to admire Takahashi-sensei’s art up close! Each piece has so much detail. Fun fact: Did you know, in order to truly reproduce Takahashi-sensei’s original colors, a special fifth ink was used in the book to enhance the vibrancy of his art!

Back in 2013, UDON announced a deal with comiXology to bring many of your books to the digital realm. Do you have any plans to distribute Duel Art digitally?

EK: The comiXology deal was geared mainly for our Street Fighter comics, and for some of our select manga titles. While the digital market is growing for us, we believe art books are best served in physical book format so that fans and art book collectors can actually experience every page and admire the amazing artwork up close. We feel it just isn’t the same seeing pixels of artwork on a screen!

I agree with that sentiment. Do you have any further thoughts or tidbits about Duel Art that you would like to share with Yu-Gi-Oh! fans?

EK: As I mentioned previously, all of us at UDON are huge fans of Yu-Gi-Oh!. UDON is looking at Duel Art as our first official Yu-Gi-Oh! project, with the possibility to do more books in the future if this book is deemed successful. We have spent a lot of love and effort in producing this book, and hope Duel Art will get the fan support it deserves! So, I hope if you are a Yu-Gi-Oh! fan reading this, please help spread the word that the official English edition of Duel Art is now available!!

Thank you again for your insight. And on behalf of English-speaking Yu-Gi-Oh! fans, thank you for releasing such an awesome product.

EK: Thank you again for your support!!

* * *

Check out UDON’s website for an overview of Duel Art and a preview of some of the fantastic artwork between its covers.

UDON is also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and DeviantArt.


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  1. Hi, is it OK for me to share your interview with Erik Ko on to my Blog? I will like I do for everything else, credit and link back to you. If you don’t want me to share the interview, that’s fine. :)

  2. Thanks for reading! If sharing the interview means paraphrasing it, generating discussions about it, quoting from it, linking to it, or doing anything else with it that is considered fair use, then of course you can share it. If sharing means copying and pasting it, then no, you can’t share it. These principles hold true for all copyrighted written works and you don’t need to ask the content owner every time. :)

  3. You should have asked about why we didn’t get Horakhty like Japan.

  4. I didn’t ask about that because I previously saw UDON explain that situation on Twitter:
    “The Japan book came with an entry ticket to win a promo card, not a guaranteed card, fyi. Unfortunately, we are not able to replicate that promotion for our English-language release (so, no card, no contest for card) :(”
    If it makes you feel any better, that card still hasn’t been released outside Japan, not even in other OCG countries, so it’s not just the TCG that’s missing it.

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