7.01.2008

Graphic Novel Of The Month

Good-Bye (Drawn & Quarterly): D&Q’s third strong offering of Yoshihiro Tatsumi work from 1971-1972 focuses on several tales that involve the disorienting era of post-war Japan. While I don’t believe Tatsumi’s intent was ever to merely shock or titillate, these stories can do just that. They also reveal heartbreaking frustrations and there’s a consistent theme of disillusionment with the little existences that many of the characters manage to eke out for themselves. Their surroundings, their very paradigms for living, ultimately dissolve and are devoid of fulfillment. Tatsumi’s stories in this volume are full of nuance and subtlety. Whether the protagonists’ actions or the events depicted are inherently appealing or not, they exist simply as truth in the lives shown. They’re presented matter-of-factly, without much judgment, and allow the reader to condemn, find small slivers of hope, or ultimately understand the dynamic while exploring some truly foreign concepts. Much of Tatsumi’s “lending library” work (read the Tomine interview) attempted to elevate the form by devising the label of “gekiga” or “dramatic pictures” to counter and disassociate from the “irresponsible pictures” or “manga” at the time. In fact, there is a nice Wiki entry that uses the analogy of Will Eisner pushing hard for the term “graphic novel” to supplant the assumably pejorative nature of the term “comic book.” Neither term really caught on with the mainstream with much gusto. I suspect that Eisner, Tatsumi, and the industry holistically came to realize that there’s more to something than what’s in a calculated name. Tatsumi’s work is full of mature and complex themes, not necessarily just adult content. Similarly, his clean unadorned lines, expressive facial features, and inherent stylistic differences are what sets his work apart visually. Though some of his figures border on caricature, through economy of form he’s able to capture a realism that the bluster and fury of manga, with it’s speed lines and bolded, altering font sizes, simply doesn’t. It’s these story tones and visual cues which provide the distinctions, not the label of “gekiga,” that allow Tatsumi’s work to have been ahead of it’s time as an alternate genre when crafted, and to now truly transcend and endure for an entirely new generation. Grade A.

2 Comments:

At 1:30 PM, Blogger Ryan Claytor said...

I love reading your reviews, Justin. :) I've been looking at this book being advertised and reviewed for some time, but I think I may have to pick it up after your comments.

In other news, I just submitted your site to an anthology that's looking for some media outlets and review sites.

In other news still, I uploaded my thesis to the printers last night. :) Fingers crossed, it should be done by con.

 
At 4:17 PM, Blogger Justin said...

Ladies & Gentlemen... Ryan Claytor!

Thanks for stopping by, Ryan! How'd the move go? Are you getting settled in?

I don't think you'd be disappointed by any of the D&Q Tatsumi books; they're all spectacular.

Sweet! Thanks for the mention, always looking to expand the reach of 13 Minutes. I recently reviewed Danijel Zezelj's REX for Optimum Wound Comics and was impressed by the publishers out there with strong work that I was previously unaware of.

That's great news, I can't wait to see that bad boy debut at the San Diego Con and drag all my friends over to buy it. Looking forward to seeing you.

J

 

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