Now in semi-retirement in his home in Ome, a suburban area of Tokyo, Toru Kanamori was - at the height of his career - one of Tokyo's most in-demand illustrators. Magazine stories, book covers, children's books, novels ... you name it, he was on call to illustrate it.
The public at large is not familiar with his name, but anybody who grew up during the years that his illustrations filled children's encyclopedias is certainly familiar with his work, as is any fan of the massively bestselling author Nishimura Juko, more than 100 of whose novels were 'covered' by Kanamori-sensei.
When the Star Trek boom first swept across Japan, and publishers scrambled to bring out translated editions of the books based on the TV shows, he was an obvious choice to do the illustration work.
Kanamori-sensei is no longer sure exactly how many of the Star Trek books he illustrated. He has records for 26 titles, but thinks that there may have actually been more.
For each of the books, he provided to the publisher a cover image (with appropriate blank area for the title information to be added), a colour spread frontispiece (known in Japanese as a kuchi-e), and around a dozen B&W images illustrating events in the story (which he carefully read and studied each time in order to be able to produce the best work - this guy is a pro!)
One 'set' of illustrations ...
My name is David Bull, I am a woodblock printmaker living in a suburb of Tokyo ... can you guess? ... yes, Ome, that same suburb; Kanamori-sensei is one of my neighbours. In fact, the reason that we know each other is that when he moved residence a few years back into a smaller apartment, I'm the one who bought his old home.
I knew the bare facts about his work - that he was a book illustrator - but not much more than that. So a short time ago when he showed me a large cardboard box full of his old illustration work, and it turned out to be bundles of these Star Trek images, I was completely blown away. Look at all this stuff! (I haven't counted it all, but there seem to be around 400+ illustrations ...)
Kanamori-sensei is retired now, and can no longer take on such major projects as this kind of book illustration. But he does need to make a living, and wonders if there might be some way he could make use of this 'old' material. He reads and hears so much about Star Trek still, that he kind of thinks people might be interested in his illustrations, but beyond that vague impression, doesn't know how to go about getting them out into the world; he is - to put it politely - not so 'web savvy', nor does he have the resources or experience to get into business alone.
So that's what this page is all about - tossing this out to the Star Trek community at large, and looking for feedback, suggestions, business offers, you name it. I have to mention right up front that Kanamori-sensei isn't going to sell these things outright - there isn't going to be a big eBay blowout here. But he's open to having them reproduced, licensed, published ...
Over on the next page I'll post a complete group of illustrations from one of the 26 books, so you can have a chance to see just what the material is like. I'll also include a contact form where you can write to him. Kanamori-sensei doesn't grok any English at all, but I'll pass on to him the gist of the communications, and we'll work from there. (Many images will popup into larger versions, by the way.)
I hope we can hear from you ... with interesting and useful proposals!
Dave Bull, woodblock printmaker
(Star Trek is a registered trademark of Paramount Pictures.
No infringement of copyrights is intended.)