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The Onion A.V. Club praises A SINGLE MATCH

Updated April 5, 2011


Graphic Novels & Art-Comics—late March 2011
By Noel Murray March 28, 2011
The A.V. Club

The tone and content is very different from Freeway, but Oji Suzuki’s short-story collection A Single Match (D&Q) is just as concerned with capturing the way human consciousness drifts from specific remembrances to outright reveries. Even the first image in A Single Match, from the story “Color Of Rain,” is both direct and dreamlike: A giant hand reaches down from the sky, just above a train car that’s on its way to a station where a little boy is waiting. Did the hand set the car down? Is it about to lift the car? Is the boy dreaming the hand? And why, as he’s lying in bed with a fever, does the boy insist to his grandmother that he saw his brother on the train, when he has no brother?

“Color Of Rain” sets the tone for A Single Match, a set of stories about life’s little mysteries. Suzuki’s characters frequently tell stories about people they knew, such as the madwoman who roamed the streets turning out street-lamps, or places they’ve been, such as a seaside town suffused with dampness. And sometimes those stories take a turn for the surreal. Suzuki uses children as protagonists often, perhaps because in the mind of a child, it’s not so unusual for Ultraman to appear and teach a lesson about bedwetting, or for a bird-driven rocketship-bus to arrive to defuse an embarrassing situation.

Suzuki doesn’t treat the wilder flights of fancy in his stories as that big of a deal. They’re pitched at the same level as the more realistic milieu of “World Colored Pants,” an elliptical tale of sexual awakening and an uneasy friendship, and “Crystal Thought,” a short anecdote about a son pestering his dad to buy him a radio the family can’t afford. Suzuki’s artwork alternates between conventional cartooning and panels that look more like standalone portraits, just as his text varies straight-ahead dialogue and free-floating poetic phrases. The effect is striking—a sketch of the woes and wonders of everyday life that makes room for those moments when we zone out.
 
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A Single Match




  The Comics Reporter calls A SINGLE MATCH harrowing and evocative

Updated April 5, 2011


CR Review: A Single Match
Creator: Oji Suzuki
Publishing Information: Drawn And Quarterly, hardcover, 240 pages, January 2011, $24.95
Ordering Numbers: 9781770460096 (ISBN13), 1770460098 (ISBN10)

You don't often get to use the word "harrowing" to describe anyone's comics, but I'd say it's the term that comes closest to describing the emotional desolation on display in A Single Match, Drawn And Quarterly's collection of short stories from gekiga-ka Oji Suzuki. The best comics in the collection follow a general outline. We're introduced to a child without the faculties to fully comprehend events swirling around them in which they have some peripheral role. They suffer at first and then slowly -- at times almost imperceptibly -- begin to cope, some by paving over the vast dead spaces of meaning and disconnect with elements of fantasy. What fascinates is how much emotional ground Suzuki covers despite employing a series of repetitive settings and bringing to bear art chops that are generally evocative but at times seem unfinished, even lacking in their ability to express nuance.

Suzuki's primary talent lies in pacing. In "Town Of Song," a sequence early in the story lays out in a few panels and a couple of pages the crushing disappointment a child feels for a mother who returns home from a night out unable to spend time with her. Later on, that girls says goodbye to her younger brother from a better place in a scene that seems to last forever, grinding out every excruciating moment. Suzuki not only manages to convey the emotional high point of each individual set piece, each underlies the gift of time withheld, then gifted. I don't know that I've ever seen a cartoonist employ with greater skill the way that people stretch and compress experience, ordering our worlds in way that only makes sense to ourselves, a meaning greater than any element we might see in the background and something that remains precious no matter how much of it is real.
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Featured artist

Oji Suzuki

           Featured product

A Single Match




The Miami Herald reviews Oji Suzuki's A SINGLE MATCH

Updated March 30, 2011


Mid-life crises, traffic jams
By Richard Pachter
March 6, 2011
A Single Match. Oji Suzuki. Drawn & Quarterly. 184 pages. $24.95.

“Gekiga” is a term coined by Japanese cartoonists who wanted to be taken more seriously, similar to the creation of the term “graphic novel,” to differentiate it from less lofty and more frivolous work. Suzuki’s gekiga certainly fits the bill. Angst, despair, loneliness and other, more ambiguous emotions are depicted in this collection of short pieces, appearing for the first time in English. The moody, detailed art is rich and vibrant despite the frequently dour settings. But there are touches of whimsy and fantasy sprinkled throughout, despite the mostly solemn moods set by the terrific and challenging Suzuki.
 
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Featured artist

Oji Suzuki

           Featured product

A Single Match





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