The Nashville City Paper on PYONGYANG and THE PUSH MAN

“The Nashville City Paper on PYONGYANG and THE PUSH MAN” / The Nashville City Paper / Wil Moss / October 28, 2005

" … One of the best and most comprehensive columns on comics in America."
- Alex de Campi, author of the graphic novel Smoke


That's from the blog of the all-too-kind Alex de Campi (alexdecampi.com) about this very column. Nice way to start off Year Two of Graphic Content, and boy have we got a doozy for you this month.

Below are reviews of more than a dozen new releases, including four volumes of manga, five graphic novels, five comic books, and one collection of comic strips. So get cozy, check out the recommendations, and then to a comics store with ye …

[D&Q Titles:]

The Push Man and Other Stories

By Yoshihiro Tatsumi
(Drawn & Quarterly)
drawnandquarterly.com

The first major English edition of work by the "grandfather of Japanese alternative comics," The Push Man and Other Stories is a fascinating short story collection.

The book is made up of more than a dozen tales, most of them eight pages long, all surprising in their stark look at the loneliness of man.

Tatsumi uses relatively simple, cartoony drawings to tell his stories, which contrast with the complicated actions the characters frequently end up taking.

"To survive in the crowd, you have to struggle alone," said one of Tatsumi's hopeless shlubs, which sums up the attitude many of the vignettes have - men surrounded by people in cities, but unable to really communicate with any of them - whether it be a trash man discovering his wife's infidelity or a man finding love with a woman while dressed in drag.

This is the first volume of a series, each volume focusing on one year of Tatsumi's work. This volume covers 1969. The book has lovingly been edited by cartoonist Adrian Tomine (Optic Nerve), a big fan of Tatsumi's. Tomine provides an introduction and a Q&A with the author all in a gorgeous looking book that collects some rare and compelling glimpses into humanity from a heretofore-unknown master of the form.


Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea

By Guy Delisle
(Drawn & Quarterly)
drawnandquarterly.com

When animator Guy Delisle was sent to North Korea to work on a cartoon, he kept a comic book diary of his time there, providing a rare glimpse into what life is like in North Korea.

What's striking is how little of the real North Korea it seems Delisle was allowed to actually observe. He was led around by a guide and translator at all times, rarely interacting with any other North Koreans. He stayed in mostly empty hotels and interacted mostly with other foreign workers.

It's like even when the veil of mystery around the country is lifted to allow Delisle in, the veil is still actually there to keep Delisle from seeing anything other than the work he's there to do.

Delisle is a skilled observer and cartoonist, able to convey the reality of what he was able to see with a sense of wit and cynicism. He brings with him a copy of George Orwell's 1984 and lends it out to his guide, curious to see if the guide would comment on the parallels between the book and the Big Brothered North Korea, but the guide just later nervously hands it back to him, saying he doesn't like science fiction.

As is the case with the guide's reaction, Delisle is able to observe a lot about North Korea based not just on what he sees or hears, but what he doesn't as well.

To find a comic store near you, call (888) COMIC-BOOK or visit www. csls.diamondcomics.com.

Graphic Content, a monthly comics, manga and graphic novel review column, is published online the third Friday of every month. It will return Nov. 18.

Review copies can be sent to:
The City Paper
Attn: Wil Moss
P.O. Box 158434
Nashville, TN 37215-8434

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