Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Multi-format Gekiga by Drawn & Quarterly

I am consistently thrilled and impressed by the ever-growing wave of Japanese comics and literature that reach American audiences. Haruki Murakami is the likely catalyst to all of this, and I think American publishing owes a lot to to his peculiar blend of accessibility and intellect. Smaller publishers such as Vertical and Chin Music (who I've featured here in past posts) have managed to grow out of our national interest in Japanese literature and craft their own individual identities. It's wonderful to watch what these publishers focus on--Vertical, for instance, seems to be venturing away from their Tezuka-grade classics and are experimenting (successfully, I think) with niche manga like Lychee Light Club and 7 Billion Needles. Drawn and Quarterly, a Canadian comics press known primarily for their literary slant, have translated the astonishingly good work of Yoshihiro Tatsumi and are publishing some sharp-looking volumes of gekiga works by many of Tatsumi's contemporaries.

It's interesting to see how apprehensive Drawn & Quarterly seems to make their gekiga look the part of an ongoing series. At first, the collector in me found their different formats frustrating. To see how great Tatsumi's three short story collections look together made me want to see these various titles line up in a similar design. A Single Match came out a lot shinier than previous hardcover editions, and the latest title, Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths, is softcover with flaps and is to be read right to left.

But, really--syncing up the design for these books makes them no different than a DC Comics "archive" edition. Even if it is because of something as simple as budget reasons, changing the design with each new installment manages to expand the series while maintaining the integrity of each author.

Currently reading:
Between Parentheses by Roberto Bolano

Currently listening to:
John Maus, "We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves"

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