09 Jun / The Swamp by Yoshiharu Tsuge, translated by Ryan Holmberg [in Shelf Awareness]
Yoshiharu Tsuge abandoned making manga in 1987, and yet his legacy has only expanded – deservedly so – during the decades since, far beyond his native Japan. Considered one of the originators of the graphic ‘I-novel’ (shishōsetsu), he eventually “abandoned what had been considered one of the bare minimum requirements of the comics medium – storytelling – by exploring the possibilities of the irrational and the surreal,” writes noted manga editor and researcher Mitsuhiro Asakawa in his compelling, indispensable introduction. “His work did nothing less than redefine the comics medium for readers, creators, and the world of Japanese manga.”
The dozen shorts gathered here are a contrasting showcase of both unexpectedly mythic and seemingly quotidian tales, each bearing signs of post-World War II hardships and tragedy; many end without resolution or closure, considerably raising the intrigue factor. In “The Phony Warrior,” a mysterious samurai bears “the heavy weight of simply getting by.” In “Destiny,” a young couple’s suicide is thwarted by an unexpected baby rescue. An aimless young man finds “An Unusual Painting” that guides him to endless free drinks. A couple adopts “Chirpy,” a Java sparrow that will never fly away. A bibliophilic boy gets an unexpected gift in “The Secondhand Book.” Revenge requires utmost patience in “The Ninjess.”
Since making his English-language debut in January 2020 with The Man Without Talent – translated by comics historian and professor Ryan Holmberg, who returns here – Tsuge’s Western success has expanded. The Swamp is the first in a projected seven-volume series from indie graphic publisher Drawn & Quarterly, with volume 2 in the Complete Mature Works of Yoshiharu Tsuge planned for winter 2021.
Discover: Iconic Japanese manga innovator Yoshiharu Tsuge is poised for international recognition with the publication of the first of a seven-volume series.
Published: 2020 (United States)