RIP Yoshihiro Tatsumi: 1935-2015
It with a heavy heart that we post the news of Yoshihiro Tatsumi's death this past Saturday on March 7th, at the age of 79. Thanks to the generosity of several North American festivals, San Diego Comic-con, PEN America and TCAF, we were able to spend quality time with Tatsumi, more time than we get to spend with our North American cartoonists. Above is a photo of Mr and Mrs Tatsumi in Toronto. We will be posting more remembrances this week, but for now, here is Tatsumi's editor and designer Adrian Tomine and his official statement:
There are a few cartoonists whose work literally changed my life, setting me on the artistic path that I continue on to this day, and Yoshihiro Tatsumi is one of them. It was an unbelievable honor and privilege to participate in the translation of his work, second only to the improbable, dreamlike experience of spending time with him in cities as far-flung as Tokyo, San Diego, Los Angeles, Toronto and New York. For the most part, we spoke with the help of an interpreter, but that fact now seems hard to reconcile with the vivid memories I have of our free-flowing, wide-ranging conversations. It didn’t take long for me to discover that, despite differences of age, geography, history, etc., Tatsumi-sensei reminded me very much of all the other great cartoonists I’ve had the fortune of becoming friends with. He could be taciturn and occasionally inscrutable, but in the right circumstances, he'd open up with humor, inquisitiveness, and an unflagging excitement about the process of making comics. I'd studied and learned from his work since I was a teenager, but I think Tatsumi's humility, generosity, and artistic determination were as inspirational to me as any of his stories. I had several occasions--usually when one of us was dashing off to catch a plane--to offer my best attempt at a bow and to say “thank you,” but I always felt that I hadn’t been clear or emphatic enough, and that he was too modest to fully accept all that I was thanking him for.–Adrian Tomine
The last time we saw Tatsumi was in 2009 at the Toronto Comics Arts Festival. We started the festival with a Harbourfront event and ended it with a D+Q group dinner where the Chief toasted Tatsumi.
Here is Tatsumi bowing to Chris in appreciation of Chris's speech.
Tatsumi sharing a laugh with his translator Jocelyne Allen.
We miss you Tatsumi, you were a great cartoonist and a good friend. Thanks for always fighting the good fight until the very end.