Space Coyote August 2009

Space Coyote, better known as Nina Matsumoto, was the owner of the manga scanlation site The Nameless Manga Translation Site, which was used by Space Coyote to host her scanlations before and during the early 2000s. The Namesless Manga Translation Site was originally kept as a low profile project, but later gained popularity when Space Coyote's friend Spamdini began linking to the site, since then, The Nameless Manga Translation Site served as an inspiration to many early scanlators, including Random Manga Translations's rp.

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In January 2007, Space Coyote's artwork Simpsonzu gained widespread attention on Digg, helping Space Coyote land a job as a professional comic artist. In 2009, Space Coyote won the Eisner Award for "Best Short Story" for her Treehouse of Horror #14. Space Coyote is currently working on her OEL comic Yokaiden and has done various other works with Del Rey and Bongo Comics.

Please introduce yourself!

Space Coyote: My name is Space Coyote. I used to be extremely secretive about my real name. Now it's all over the place; I may now be better known as Nina Matsumoto, professional comic artist—you can even look me up on Wikipedia! When I was a 15/16–year-old brat I wasted a lot of precious homework time scanning and translating manga for The Nameless Manga Translation Site. It was run entirely by me and it was always meant to be for my friends, not the public; however, when Spamdini linked to it, other people discovered it, and it became very popular all of a sudden. Word of mouth is a powerful thing.

Tell us a bit more about The Nameless Manga Translation Site.

Space Coyote: Around that time, I had just come out of the online Simpsons fandom (I was a well-known webmaster in the community at the time) and began reading more manga. There weren't nearly as many officially translated manga back then compared to today. I had some series I wished to share with friends who couldn't read Japanese, so little by little, I began scanning and translating. I scanlated whatever I had and whatever I felt they would enjoy. I wasn't really trying to provide a public was more like I was going, "I'm doing these for my friends but, here, you can take a look, too." I wanted to make it easily accessible to both real-life and online friends, so I threw all the scans up onto The Nameless Manga Translation Site, which was created entirely for that purpose. I mostly did Houshin Engi and Ayashi no Ceres. I also had some Fushigi Yuugi, Lost Universe, Et Cetera and Weiss Kreuz.

Why did you call it "The Nameless Manga Translation Site"? The site was a part of your main site Stick Rezo... what's a Stick Rezo?

Space Coyote: The name, I came up with in maybe three seconds because I needed a title for the page. Stick Rezo is a stickman version of Rezo, the main antagonist of Slayers season one, drawn by my friend which eventually became the site's "mascot"...somehow. became my first domain name when I moved all the scans from GeoCities to my own server.

So The Nameless Manga Translation Site was like a sub-section of Stick Rezo? What's the connection between the two?

Space Coyote: was meant to be a personal site with TNMT as a subsection. I had an art site there at the time, too. But when I lost everything on my previous host, I let expire and bought, which became newly available.

Tell us a bit about the online manga scene back when you ran The Nameless Manga Translations Site. How was your work received by the community?

Space Coyote: I have a feeling there weren't as many translators/scanlators online during that time... but honestly, I have no clue. I never read scanlations, and I didn't even know there was a "community" for people who did the kind of work I did. All I knew was that people liked my site a lot because I would translate more obscure titles.

It seems like you were also involved with Spamdini's Tales of the Swirly-Eyed Samurai site. How did that come about? What did you do there?

Space Coyote: Spamdini was an old friend of mine from my Simpsons webmaster days—he also held an interest in both The Simpsons and manga. Since I was the more artsy one, I helped improve the look of his site sometimes by creating layouts and whatnot.

What were some of the biggest roadblocks you faced? Did you ever get in trouble with manga publishers?

Space Coyote: The biggest roadblock I've faced would not be getting into trouble with publishers (which never happened) but readers demanding too much from me. People wouldn't stop asking me when the next update would be, asking if I would translate certain series I had no interest at all in, begging me to continue series I had stopped scanlating because they got licensed...because of that, scanlating felt more and more like a chore. Actually, no; the biggest roadblock was finding a stable host for all the scans. I went through multiple GeoCities and account because they kept getting deleted and I'd keep having to find new webspace.

What was your workflow? Any specific tools or software you preferred to use? What was a regular day like for Space Coyote?

Space Coyote: When I think back to those days...I don't know how I ever managed the workflow. I was going through high school so I lost a lot of sleep. My scanner was so slow it would take forever to scan one chapter of manga. I used Photoshop 5 to edit, which was not the best program, even for its time. I had a cheap tablet with a bad response rate. Translating was fun—scanlating was not so fun.

When and why did you close down your site?

Space Coyote: I stopped updating when I grew tired of scanlating but I kept the site up. One day, everything was gone; turns out I had forgotten to pay for my hosting, and the company hosting the site didn't remind me or anything and deleted my account entirely. When I signed up for webspace at a different company, I decided not to bother restoring TNMT.

Do you remember around when you stopped updating?

Space Coyote: I believe I stopped doing scanlations around 2002.

What are you up to nowadays? It seems like you recently won an Eisners Award!

Space Coyote: These days I'm a comic book artist and illustrator. I have my own OEL manga series with Del Rey and I do pencils for Bongo Comics (Simpsons Comics) once in a while. I guess I'm pretty well-known as a fanartist now; most notably the manga-style Simpsons stuff. I won an Eisner Award this year for that! For last year's Halloween issue of Simpsons Comics (The Treehouse of Horror #14) I did the pencils for a Death Note parody in my manga style, and it won Best Short Story.

Tell us more about your OEL manga and other works!

Space Coyote: My original manga series is called Yokaiden, and the first volume came out last November; the second one comes out this November. My aim with the comic is to teach people about yokai, which are Japanese monsters/ghosts/spirits/ghouls/whatever you want to call them. It's about a boy in an undetermined point in ancient Japan who loves yokai and goes into the yokai realm to find the kappa who killed his grandmother. It's full of dark humour, fairytale tropes and anachronisms.

What do you feel is the future for fanscan/scanlation?

Space Coyote: I've looked through some of the more recent scanlations online, and I'm very impressed by their quality! Nice, clean editing, and most importantly, accurate translations. Seems like they keep getting better and better. I do hope manga companies keep allowing them, because I do think they are essential in helping generate interest in manga.

Thank you for your time! Any last words?

Space Coyote: If I didn't get into anything artistic as a career, I believe I would've gone on to become a professional Japanese-English translator or interpreter. I do miss it sometimes. But I'm glad there are so many amazing scanlation groups now, on top of more official English releases of manga that I never imagined would make its way here (e.g. Houshin Engi, Et Cetera). The more accessible manga is to people who can't read Japanese, the better.