TAKEKAWA –(Editor) MANGA – SHORT COMICS FROM JAPAN. 2001 The Japan Foundation.
This booklet was produced for a traveling art exhibition on Japanese Manga comic book work, which I happened to visit when it came to the Cornerhouse Gallery in Manchester, England, where I live. The exhibition and accompanying book were designed to show just how little of the art form actually deals with science fiction themes. Much Manga (the still life version of Anime moving picture cartoons). The booklet provides a series of essays on the history and nature of Manga, before taking a potted history of various artists one by one, giving a biography and illustrated examples of their work. In Tiger Tateishi’s work, a mystic meditates on each of the world’s religions, shown as thought bubbles over his head, but he finds no satisfaction in any and goes away contemplating evil as the shards of his visions lie broken on the floor behind him – have the religions failed him? Is he not worthy of any f them? Will he destroy the belief systems? Is he fundamentally bad or driven to it? The ambiguity of the silent comic speaks volumes. There are a few excellent examples of fantasy Manga included too, notably from Tanaka Masashi, who presents a baby dinosaur egg accidentally getting mixed up with a bird’s eggs in a tree-top nest. The dinosaur baby hatches and the birds bring it up, and he rewards them by proving to be more than a match for a cat that dares to attack the nest. Such simple, lyrical Zen like touches abound in comics with have a much more pedestrian pace than those of the West, but give a sense of care and attention to each and every panel of artwork. The book, like the exhibition that inspired it, is highly inspirational in more ways than one. Comics have truly come of age. http://www.jpf.org.uk/
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