Fukushima Devil Fish
by Katsumata Susumu
edited and with an essay by Asakawa Mitsuhiro, translated by Ryan HolmbergBreakdown Press, 2018
More than twenty years before the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi reactors in 2011, Katsumata Susumu was using his cartooning skills to alert Japanese to the dangers of nuclear power. Inspired by Katsumata's research trips to the now notorious facility and his background in physics, Fukushima Devil Fish begins with two stories from the 1980s on the subject of “nuclear gypsies,” the men who labor under oppressive conditions to maintain Japan’s fleet of nuclear power plants. The book then cycles back to the late '60s and '70s with a group of stories, originally published in the legendary alt-manga magazines Garo and COM, populated with creatures from Japanese folklore and lonely young men bereft of home and family. At turns haunting and endearing, Fukushima Devil Fish reveals Katsumata as both a master of comics as a poetic form and a true friend to the victims of Japan’s modernization. The collection is rounded out with a suite of essays by the artist, historian Asakawa Mitsuhiro, and critic Abe Yukihiro, which illuminate Katsumata’s life and career and the importance of his work in a post-Fukushima world.
Praise for Fukushima Devil Fish
For most electricity consumers, where energy actually comes from and the workers behind its production are entirely unknown. Recognizing this, the late manga artist Katsumata Susumu felt the need to give voices to the hundreds of thousands of invisible janitorial workers in Japan’s nuclear plants, documenting their existence in popular comic form during the 1980s.
—Madeleine Morley, Eye on Design
Art changed in Japan after the tsunami and nuclear meltdowns of March 2011. So did art history—or at least it should have… That the disasters ushered in a new era in Japanese culture is widely recognized. That they also inspired a reappraisal of what had been made in the past is only partially so… Fukushima Devil Fish reveals Katsumata’s personal geography and compromised pastoral landscape as a map to a better understanding of how the 2011 disaster was, above all, a disaster for northern Japan.
—Ryan Holmberg, The New York Review
Red Colored Elegy
by Hayashi Seiichi
translated by Taro Nettleton, with an essay by Ryan HolmbergDrawn & Quarterly, 2018
Ichiro and Sachiko are young artists, temperamental and discouraged about what life has to offer them. They fall in and out of love, jealous of each other's interests and unchallenged by their careers. Red Colored Elegy charts their heartache, passions, and bickering with equal tenderness, creating a revelatory portrait of a stormy love affair. A key figure of the postwar Japanese countercultural scene, Seiichi Hayashi wrote Red Colored Elegy between 1970 and 1971, in the aftermath of a politically turbulent and culturally vibrant decade that promised but failed to deliver new possibilities. Sparse line work and visual codes borrowed from animation and film beautifully capture the quiet lives of a young couple struggling to make ends meet. Ichiro and Sachiko hope for something better, but they're no revolutionaries; their spare time is spent drinking, smoking, daydreaming, and sleeping together and at times with others. Red Colored Elegy is informed as much by underground Japanese comics of the time as it is by the French New Wave. Its influence in Japan was so large that Morio Agata, a prominent Japanese folk musician and singer/songwriter, debuted with a love song written and named after it. This new paperback edition features an essay on Red Colored Elegy and Hayashi's contributions to contemporary Japanese comics from the art historian Ryan Holmberg.
by Yokoyama Yuichi
translated by Ryan HolmbergRetrofit Comics, 2017
A new surrealist tale by the creator of neo manga, the critically-acclaimed Yuichi Yokoyama. His frenetic visual style contrasts with the taciturn pace of the story and dialogue as a group of friends wander the high-latitude areas of the strange icy Far North looking for someone. Readers of Yokoyama's other stories may even recognize some characters.
Yuichi Yokoyama is an Eisner Award-nominated artist who was born in 1967 in Miyazaki prefecture, Japan. A graduate of the Oil Painting Department of Musashino Art University, he shifted to manga in 2000, feeling that through it he could “express time.” These unique works would go on to be called “neo manga” and receive high acclaim in many fields. Presently, he is also active as a contemporary artist. His other graphic novels include Color Engineering, Travel, Garden, and World Map Room.
Red Red Rock and other stories, 1967-1970
by Hayashi Seiichi
edited, translated, and with an essay by Ryan HolmbergBreakdown Press, 2016
A definitive, career-spanning collection of stories from one of Japan’s most famous alternative cartoonists. Totaling more than 250 pages, Red Red Rock collects over a dozen of Hayashi Seiichi’s most famous stories from his most prolific period, spanning his debut for Garo in 1967 to his adult work for Josei Jishin in 1969-70.
Praise for Red Red Rock
Discovering Hayashi Seiichi's work was a revelation—it's an astonishing blend of sensibilities, steeped in a graceful melancholy.
by Tsuge Tadao
edited, translated, and with an essay by Ryan HolmbergDrawn & Quarterly, 2015
Tadao Tsuge was one of the key contributors to the legendary avant-garde Japanese comics magazine Garo during its heyday in the late 1960s and early '70s, renowned for his unpretentious journalistic storytelling and clear, eloquent cartooning. Trash Market brings together six of Tsuge’s compelling, character-driven stories about life in post–World War II Japan.
“Trash Market” and “Gently Goes the Night” touch on key topics for Tsuge: the charming lowlifes of the Tokyo slums and the veterans who found themselves unable to forget the war. “Song of Showa” is an autobiographical piece about growing up in a Tokyo slum during the occupation with an abusive grandfather and an ailing father, and finding brightness in the joyful people of the neighborhood. Trash Market blurs the lines between fiction and reportage; it’s a moving testament to the grittiness of life in Tokyo during the postwar years.
Trash Market features an essay from the collection’s editor and translator, Ryan Holmberg. He explores Tsuge’s early career as a cartoonist and the formative years the artist spent working in Tokyo’s notorious for-profit blood banks.
Praise for Trash Market
The stark, simplistic drawing style and total absence of hope mean that this is not an easy read, but is ultimately a fascinating and rewarding one.
—Pete Redrup, Quietus
Trash Market [is] one of the year’s major comics publications, historically important and aesthetically raw.
—The Globe and Mail
Ding Dong Circus and other stories, 1967-1974
by Sasaki Maki
edited and translated by Ryan HolmbergBreakdown Press, 2015
This collection presents, for the first time in English, the best of Sasaki Maki’s work, mainly from alt-manga super magazine Garo. Drawn between 1967 and 1974, the fifteen stories here follow Sasaki’s groundbreaking exploration of collage methods in comics storytelling, weaving through references to R&B, rock ‘n’ roll, the Vietnam War, Andy Warhol, the Summer of Love, the Beatles, British humour, and the wacky world of Japanese consumerism. Ding Dong Circus demonstrates what manga fans already knew: that in Sasaki Maki, Japan can claim not only a pioneer in experimental comics, but one of the world’s masters of Pop Art and a trenchant avant-garde critic of the Sixties.
The Man Next Door
by Matsumoto Masahiko
translated and with an essay by Ryan HolmbergBreakdown Press, 2015
By the late 1950s, a new language of expression had come to dominate Japanese comics. Against the conventions of children's manga, it introduced a more adult focus on dynamic cinematic paneling, gritty urban settings, and the violence and hardships of everyday life in postwar Japan. Today, this style is known as "gekiga" (dramatic pictures), a term coined by one of Japan's most famous cartoonists, Tatsumi Yoshihiro, in 1957. The true innovator, however, was a little-known figure named Matsumoto Masahiko. His name for the style was “komaga” (panel pictures), in honor of the fact that the essence of storytelling in the comics medium is based on the dramatic composition of multiple paneled pictures. Matsumoto began exploring this new language in 1954, perfecting it in a series of gripping mystery stories between 1955 and 1957. Japanese comics would never be the same. The Man Next Door collects four of Matsumoto’s komaga stories, translated into English for the first time. The volume also includes an essay by Ryan Holmberg on the importance of Matsumoto's work in the history of Japanese manga, as well as an explanation of komaga by the artist himself.
by Hayashi Seiichi
translated by Ryan HolmbergBreakdown Press, 2015
It is 1969, and famed artist Seiichi Hayashi has decided that his comics, having flirted with pop, need some heart and soul. He turns to the moody graphics of old kashihon gekiga and the sentiments of Japanese enka blues.
"Because of you, my long life will be withered with frost. This fading shadow of an empty shell... our love." So laments the heart-broken bar hostess of Flowering Harbour, one of the classic works of the legendary alternative manga magazine Garo.
Reprinted in Vérité: Comix India vol. 2 (2019).
Nothing Whatsoever All Out in the Open
by Kondoh Akino
translated by Ryan HolmbergRetrofit Comics, 2014
This collection of three stories by Akino Kondoh presents some of the cartoonist and animator's best-known work for Ax, Japan's premier venue for alternative manga, and a recent story about life in New York City.
Quiet stories of contemplation, mixed with the surreal strangeness just beyond conscious thought: pushing events into the background until you forget what they were, a girl feeling a strange presence as she goes to sleep, and losing part of yourself in preparing for someone's return.
World Map Room
by Yokoyama Yuichi
translated by Ryan HolmbergPictureBox, 2013
In this, Yuichi Yokoyama’s long-awaited original graphic novel, published simultaneously in Japan and France, a stripped-back plot and minimal characterizations allow the artistry of Yokoyama’s ethereal drawings to shine through. The events within the narrative are spare and enigmatic: Yokoyama is as much fascinated by shapes and visual effects as he is by character and plot. First, the protagonists visit a city; then, our heroes watch airplanes departing and arriving at an airport; next, they go on board a ship and cross a river. Eventually, they arrive at a building where a man welcomes and guides them to the “world map room,” where they inspect a library. Eventually they leave, and reach a pond with a sunken ship. Their guide starts to explain the ship’s history, and slowly, with casual suddenness, the novel comes to a close. Yokoyama is the author of Travel, New Engineering, Color Engineering, and Garden (all published by PictureBox). He was the subject of a one-man show at The Kawasaki City Museum in 2010, and has exhibited in galleries and museums in Tokyo, Singapore, Rome and San Francisco. He lives and works in the suburbs of Tokyo.
The Mysterious Underground Men
by Osamu Tezuka
translated and with an essay by Ryan HolmbergPictureBox, 2013
The influence of Osamu Tezuka (1928–89) on Japanese cartoons and animation is comparable only to a Walt Disney or an Art Spiegelman. Now, manga fans can finally enjoy the first full-color Tezuka work to be published in English. While Tezuka’s New Treasure Island (1946–47) was the first major hit for the “god of manga,” the artist himself regarded this later publication as the first of his signature “story manga.” Originally published in Osaka in 1948, The Mysterious Underground Men tells the story of Mimio the talking rabbit, as he struggles to prove his humanity while helping his friends save Earth from an invasion of angry humanoid ants. Inspired by Bernhard Kellermann’s Der Tunnel (1913), and drawing widely on European and American science fiction as well as Milt Gross’ own pioneering graphic novel, He Done Her Wrong (1930), this full-color edition of The Mysterious Underground Men will not only introduce to English-language readers a founding father of modern Japanese comics, but will also offer a rare glimpse of the wide-ranging Western cultural sources that made up young Tezuka’s world. This is the second volume in PictureBox’s Ten Cent Manga series, edited by Ryan Holmberg, which aims to explore that mysterious nether-realm where Japanese and American popular culture overlap.
Winner of the 2014 Eisner Award for Best US Edition of International Material: Asia
Gold Pollen and other stories
by Hayashi Seiichi
edited, translated, and with an essay by Ryan HolmbergPictureBox, 2013
Seiichi Hayashi was a leading figure in the hotbed of avant-garde artistic production of 1960s and early ‘70s Tokyo. He is best known for his lyrical and experimental manga for Garo, the famous alternative comics magazine. This volume collects a selection of Hayashi’s most important manga from this period, including “Red Dragonfly,” “Yamanba Lullaby,” and “Gold Pollen,” as well as the autobiographical “Dwelling in Flowers.” Published here in their original full color, these stories mix traditional Japanese aesthetics with Pop art sensibilities, and range in topic from the legacies of Japanese rightwing nationalism and World War II, to the pervasive influence of America over 1960s Japanese youth culture. This first color reprinting of Hayashi’s work captures the vivid experimentation of Japanese art at this time. Hayashi’s youth and beginnings as an artist are illuminated by an autobiographical essay from 1972, translated here for the first time into English. Art historian Ryan Holmberg discusses Hayashi’s place in postwar Japanese art and manga, as well as his wider contributions to the Tokyo avant-garde as a designer and experimental animator. This lavishly illustrated book is likely to have widespread crossover appeal for design and fashion aficionados, as well as for students of the manga genre.
The Last of the Mohicans
by Sugiura Shigeru
translated and with an essay by Ryan HolmbergPictureBox, 2013
Sugiura Shigeru (1908-2000) is widely regarded as one of the masters of Japanese comics. His 1953 adaptation of James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans sold over 60,000 copies, quickly establishing him as one of the most sought-after children's manga artists of the 50s. His popularity had faded by the mid-60s, but he made a comeback later in the decade with a number of highly surrealistic, collage-like works, and he chose to rework Mohicans in this new style in 1974. Considered a masterpiece of postwar manga, The Last of the Mohicans is as beautiful to look at as it is a delight to read. This PictureBox edition—the first book-length publication of Sugiura in English—is edited and translated by Ryan Holmberg, who also provides a detailed introduction. It is the inaugural volume in PictureBox's Ten Cent Manga series, exploring that mysterious nether-realm where Japanese and American popular culture overlap.
by Yokoyama Yuichi
translated by Ryan HolmbergPictureBox, 2011
Comic artist Yuichi Yokoyama (born 1967) draws wordless narratives of scenarios that verge on visual abstraction. Stripped of any detail that might orient them in the past, present or future, they record the self-determined activities of machines and architectural structures in a pre- or post-human universe. With his fourth volume for PictureBox, designed and edited by the artist himself, Yokoyama broaches significant new terrain: color! Color Engineering reproduces both older and unseen imagery from the 2000s with dozens of color drawings and paintings that were executed in 2010 during a six-week open studio event held in Tokyo, at which the public was able to view Yokoyama at work. A selection of these canvases is reproduced here as gatefold pages, and is integrated among comic-strip sequences executed in a variety of techniques: photography, loose marker drawings, hyper-real portraiture and much more. These sequences continue his investigations into the world of machines, architecture and post-human fashion, and are the first Yokoyama narratives to provide insight into the artist's personal world, in details of his rural habitat.
Garo Manga: The First Decade, 1964-1973
by Ryan HolmbergCenter for Book Arts, 2010
Garo Manga: The First Decade, 1964-1973 is a catalogue supporting an exhibition of the same name at the Center for Book Arts, New York City. It offers a survey of the renowned legendary alt-manga monthly Garo during the period of its greatest artistic efflorescence and political commitment in the ‘60s and early ‘70s. Among comic enthusiasts and historians of postwar Japanese culture alike, Garo is famed for literary and avant-garde experimentation within the comics medium as well as for engaging with the main political issues of the day, from rightwing incursions into national education policy to the Vietnam War. The exhibition featured each issue of Garo during the magazine’s first decade, from its inaugural issue in September 1964 to its 120th in December 1973. Among the artists spotlighted were Shirato Sanpei, Mizuki Shigeru, Tsuge Yoshiharu, Tsurita Kuniko, Kusunoki Shōhei, Hayashi Seiichi, Sasaki Maki, Tsuge Tadao, Katsumata Susumu, Suzuki Ōji, Abe Shin’ichi, and Akasegawa Genpei. Though this catalog has been sold out since the exhibition in 2010, an expanded edition is currently being planned for release hopefully in 2022.