This is Infinite remembers Tatsumi

“Remembering Yoshihiro Tatsumi” / This is Infamous / Shea Hennum / March 8, 2015
I was working in a comic book store and on one very slow day, I pulled a book off the shelf and began reading. I hadn’t heard of the book or the cartoonist before, but at that point I was just reading whatever looked good at the time. The book was THE PUSH MAN AND OTHER STORIES and it was by a cartoonist I had never heard of before–Yoshihiro Tatsumi. The work was good, and it was totally unlike other manga I had read. It felt very contained, very considered, much like the alternative comics of Daniel Clowes, Los Bros Hernandez, or even Chris Ware.

I started reading more Tatsumi (though not a lot of it was/is available in English) and I started reading more about him. I learned that he was the originator of “gekiga,” a term which Tatsumi used to differentiate his work from the more child-oriented “manga.” Tatusmi’s short works and longer BLACK BLIZZARD became the basis for the alternative manga movement, and he emphasized the temporally specific qualities of comics.

His work proved highly influential, and reading his comics half a century after they first appeared, they still felt fresh and unique. None of the originality or technique of his work had been strip mined. Drawn & Quarterly should be commended for the work they’ve done to bring his work to American shores in the way that they have, and I will personally recommend every page of comics he drew. He is one of my all time favorite cartoonists–any language, any country. He’s also one of the most important cartoonists of all time, and his influence cannot be overstated.

Earlier today, historian and writer about comics Paul Gravett revealed that Yoshihiro Tatsumi had passed. Tatsumi was 79, and he had only begun making strides into the American market in the last ten years or so.

Tatsumi will be missed and his death is a loss to the whole of the international comics community. But that shouldn’t stop us from recognizing his stature and celebrating his achievements. Thank you, Yoshihiro, for the work you did and the work you influenced.

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