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Giant Robot, never a drag

In the very beginning I think, people who did bigger magazines would look at it and maybe out of fear, I’m not sure what they thought, but they just saw what we were doing, and thought this is something totally different, and it’s not going to work, they’re gonna run out ideas, and what else have I heard…stuff like that, just “they’re never gonna be able to do this, it’s not gonna work,” just nothing but negative comments like that, but in the end we were able to get into the small stores and people bought it and as we went along we just grew it little by little, and all those people that discouraged us most of them are now out of business, and we’re still here.

I mean I don’t want to like, make it sound like you know, we did better, but in the end, we lasted longer, and I think it’s because we started smaller, with less expectations and no pressure and we’re just having a good time and ‘til this day we still have a lot of fun making Giant Robot, I think that’s the whole key, is that a, it’s never a drag.

Giant Robot publications

Date: November 27, 2005

Location: California, US

Interviewer: John Esaki and Janice Tanaka

Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum

Interviewee Bio

Eric Nakamura is co-founder and publisher of Giant Robot magazine. He is a Sansei (third generation Japanese American) from Los Angeles, California who grew up in a typical Japanese American household. He attended Japanese school on Saturdays where he learned the basic traditions of Japanese culture. It also played a large role in his identification as Japanese American.

After graduating from University of California at Los Angeles in East Asian Studies, Nakamura worked at Larry Flynt Publications. While working there, he had an idea for publishing a magazine focused on Asian pop culture in the U.S. In 1994, Nakamura and co-founder Martin Wong photocopied and stapled the first edition of Giant Robot. What began as a zine with a distribution of 240 copies has grown into a full-fledged magazine with an increasingly international fan base.

Nakamura has built on the success of Giant Robot with stores in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco selling imported art goods from Japan. The stores exhibit artwork from local up-and-coming artists. There’s also a restaurant called gr/eats.

In addition to his work with Giant Robot, Nakamura also made a film called Sunsets and is involved in other projects. For his creative cultural contributions in the United States, he was honored the Award of Excellence by the Japanese American National Museum in 2006. (October 26, 2006)

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