Good-Bye by Yoshihiro Tatsumi

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by Yoshihiro Tatsumi
Drawn & Quarterly

yoshirotatsumigoodbycoverMost people in the States—even comics people—don’t know the name Yoshihiro Tatsumi, but they should. Tatsumi is a vastly influential figure in the history of manga, the Japanese comics style that developed in postwar Japan and that has exploded in popularity abroad in the past decade or so; until fairly recently, however, few people here had ever heard of him.

Tatsumi is credited with being the creator of gekiga, comics for adult readers, which contrasted with the manga that was prevalent in the 1950s and ’60s, generally aimed at children. He is, in a sense, the godfather of alternative Japanese comics, and a look at any of his work, much of which is now being repackaged and re-published by Drawn & Quarterly, will instantly tell you why.

Tatsumi wrote about and drew everyday people, a practice that in and of itself carries historical weight, but more than that, he focused on lonely, marginalized everyday people. Reading Good-Bye, D&Q’s third compilation of his selected short stories, makes it immediately clear that Tatsumi’s Japan is not the bright, shiny place we might be tempted to envision. His is a dark Japan, full of confusion, depravity, and despair.

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