Tuesday, September 26

Tracing the genealogy of gekiga

LOS ANGELES -- Presented a copy of the latest English-language collection of his work, Yoshihiro Tatsumi turns it over in his hands and says, "This looks too beautiful to be a comic book."

Designed by acclaimed American cartoonist Adrian Tomine, "Abandon the Old in Tokyo" indeed is handsome. A weighty hardback with a black cloth spine, it must mark quite a contrast with the cheap paperbacks and weeklies in which the anthology's comics first appeared.

The stories, dating from 1970, all center on simply drawn characters navigating a claustrophobic world heavy with ink and carefully chosen detail. Sparse of dialogue, they turn on images of human degradation, quiet despair and outrageous violence carefully arranged to cinematic -- even symphonic -- effect. The underlying beat is that of escapist fantasy pounding its head against hard reality. This seems quintessential of Tatsumi's brand of gekiga.

Full interview is here.

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