Sunday, March 29, 2015

Masahiko Matsumoto, "The Man Next Door" (1959, published by Breakdown Press in 2014)

Breakdown Press, a new publisher based in the UK, recently released two great new manga books edited by Ryan Holmberg (creator of the short-lived "10-Cent Manga" series from Picturebox). Although the 40-page Flowering Harbor by Seiichi Hayashi is an exceptional volume, I'm going to focus this post of Masahiko Matsumoto's The Man Next Door.

 Following my post last week on the passing of Yoshihiro Tatsumi, I feel it's important to shine the spotlight over to Masahiko Matsumoto, who was a behind-the-scenes (but integral) player in the formation of the gekiga movement of more mature, darker, literary and cinematic comics (he actually makes a few appearances in Tatsumi's A Drifting Life). Before Tatsumi ever coined the term gekiga, Matsumoto was experimenting with a new style he called komaga, or panel comics.

These "panel" comics are an interesting link to cinematic storyboards and allowed the creator a film director's range of nuance and pacing. Breakdown Press has reprinted four Matsumoto stories (originally published in "Shadow" magazine from 1956) that exemplify this new kind of storytelling and it's a marvel to see how Matsumoto works with his newfound abilities.

It's a gorgeous little book, to boot, with each story reprinted in a different hue of faded, colored ink in purple, green, blue and red.

I could write for pages on The Man Next Door, and in fact I did already: the Spring issue of Rain Taxi Review of Books features a lengthy review I wrote on it. Pick up a copy if you see one! I highly recommend The Man Next Door for anyone interested in vintage comics, manga, or simply a well-produced book. Looking at Breakdown Press's webstore, it appears that their titles are already selling out, so I also recommend acting fast.

Currently reading:
Will Self, Shark

Currently listening to:
"Avalon Sutra" by Harold Budd

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