Sunday, April 19, 2009
The world of Yoshihiro Tatsumi and the gekiga comic style
Yoshihiro Tatsumi penned the word "gekiga" around 1957 to describe the comics that he created which did not fall under the all encompassing word of manga. To start with, Manga was created initially for children whereas Tatsumi's comics dealt with serious dramatic themes and were for adults. Tatsumi moved away from the fantasy element of the manga and can be considered one of the first artists to create graphic novels as we know them today. He even adopted the difficult format of the short story as a way to tell gritty, hidden and dramatic everyday tales of the dark face of a real Japan which came out of the second world war deeply wounded in all levels of its society.
When you read one of Tatsumi's literary short stories you are immersed in the private world of the underground. A dark world of late night bars, of pimps and prostitutes, of hidden aspirations and passions, of people working in the sewers of Tokyo or having a 9h.00 to 22h.00 blue collar job, of poor everyday people that you might bump into in the street. People with their secret fantasies, their hopes and dreams and the situations that they find themselves in. But this is not only the underground of Japan in the 60s and 70s. It is an underground that we can all relate to. Our personal underground. A private place that we want to keep hidden and when we see it out in the open we are uncomfortable with what we see. Originally these works were circulated as underground art but eventually found their way to more mainstream publication in the 1970s. Now thanks to the serious work of Canadian editing house "Drawn & Quarterly", these important works are being published for the first time in English. In 2005 "The Push-man and other stories", in 2006 "Abandon the old in Tokyo" and in 2008 "Good-Bye" were published by D&Q.
To accompany the reading why don't you listen and buy some interesting experimental music freshly created by Kobe based Hirohito Ihara alias "Radicalfashion" from his album "Odori" available from HeftyRecords. This specific piece of music starts rather mechanically but be patient and you will be rewarded.
Listen to :
"Shousetsu" by Radicalfashion
Posted by Douglas at 5:14 PM