Namio Harukawa, who has recently passed away, was always one of my reference points for femdom illustration. In my younger years I was drawn to his art as he was one of the few artists almost totally dedicated to the femdom theme, so I tried to find as much of it as I could. By then his style had developed a distinctive look and in the sex shops of the 80‘s you could occasionally find collections of his art, shabby bindings of photocopies from legitimate Japanese magazines (yes, it happened even then!)
I once found his art published in a more reputable collection of Japanese erotica and wrote to him via the editor to introduce myself. A short friendly correspondence by letter ensued but we then lost touch for many years.
Astonishingly, especially to younger people, I don’t think Namio ever came on the Internet – unless he lurked incognito – so if he knew of his developing fame it must have been only indirectly. I tried to connect with him again a few times in the 90’s but I only really heard about him through the Japanese blogger Homer, who knew him directly, organised an exhibition and produced a DVD devoted to his work. As a tribute to him he asked me to draw my own face-sitting art for the cover.
Harukawa’s range was somewhat limited, it has to be said, but magnificently obsessive. Facesitting was his universe and he rarely strayed from that. If he drew whipping or shoe worship, for example, it would seem forced as if he had little interest. Moreover his women were very much of a bulkier type, unusual amongst Japanese, and maybe for that very reason so attractive to him.
It is interesting to track his development of this. When he started drawing for the SM magazines of Japan in the 1970’s – either by choice or because it was requested – his women were normally proportioned. The line drawings were proficient and charming but unremarkable. As the years progressed the Namio Goddess developed. The buttocks became larger and larger, the settings more confined and claustrophobic, the light and shadow more haunting and the dreamy atmosphere more intense.
They are still recognisably Japanese for all that; this was before the anime cartoon style ruled that every female character had to have huge Western eyes and childish faces.
By contrast the men in his pictures remained largely homogenous and uniform, pathetic and passive in their adoration at their “altar”.
Rather than work under commission for portraiture as I have done, he seemed to be in the enviable position of supplying like-minded patrons with his vision and selling to SM magazines in Japan, a vibrant market which eagerly promoted bizarre artwork and amazing photography (so different to Britain!)
In latter days he supplied Megami-no-ai with previously published works but I understand he was too ill to produce anything new.
Namio stands remembered for his unique vision. I know he would have liked to pass from this earth suffocated underneath one of his goddesses but of course that never happened. He lived to a good age though taken by cancer, and leaves behind a substantial legacy which will remain one of the pinnacles of excellence in femdom art .
Namio Harukawa 1947-2020
For Irv O’Neil’s remembrance please go here
It’s a better article as he’s a proper writer!