17 January 2010

Yoshihiro Tatsumi

I was supposed to make a post of Neil Gaiman's appearance in Singapore but life had caught up with me. I'll put that aside for a moment and put up something more current that just happened today.

Yoshihiro Tatsumi made an in-store appearance at Kinokuniya this afternoon to announce the animated adaptation of his manga work by local filmmaker Eric Khoo, answer questions and a meet-and-greet with fans. He coined the term "gekiga" meaning "Dramatic pictures" back in 1957 to characterise his work which was aimed at adults, rather than manga, which was targetted at children.

I had become acquainted with his work due to Drawn and Quarterly's publication of his short story works beginning with "The Push Man and other Stories". Two volumes followed "Push Man"... "Abandon the Old in Tokyo" and "Goodbye". These volumes were edited by Adrian Tomine of "Optic Nerve" fame.

D&Q also released the english edition of "A Drifting Life", his autobiographical work chronicling the start of his career in manga, his influences, working relationships with fellow mangakas and publishers interspersed with all the historical soundbites of each year. The reader also discovers how he championed the "gekiga" movement in manga. This heavy tome (around 700 pages) of a graphic novel was awarded the Osamu Tezuka Award (the highest award for manga in Japan) in 2009.

These four volumes constitute just about my entire tiny manga collection.

He arrived before his interpreter and told the crowd in halting English how excited he was to be here in Singapore

(l-r) Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Eric Khoo, Lim Cheng Tju

Speaking through an interpreter, he gamely answered questions posed by the moderator and fans

"I am very excited to be here... my legs are shaking under the table..."

"I will not sleep with my feet towards Singapore when I go back to Japan"

"This is a tough story to tell... I am not popular in Japan...they like things which are new, whereas I am considered obsolete"

"I have little faith in the Japanese film industry..."

"Draw your story while you are still young... when you get to my age, I get tired even before I begin..."

"It was very difficult... but after I won the Osamu Tezuka Award for A Drifting Life, I received congratulations and cash from the people I portrayed in the book..."

Art demonstration

Completed in 5 mins 50 seconds

It was a scene portraying the immediate aftermath of the atomic bomb being dropped on Hiroshima

He signed and sketched for everyone in the queue. I waited 2 hours 20 minutes to meet the man.

He was tired and I merely requested for his autograph and passed on the sketch requests

A Drifting Life

Three volumes released so far of his work from 1969 onwards.

Each volume compiles about a year's output

Signed and dedicated to me. Notice how he prefers to sign on the left pages rather than the title page like most others? Could be a Japanese culture thing or perhaps he didn't want the ink to smudge to the next page where there might have been picture or text content.

Signed "A Drifting Life"

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