Today is Day #40 in my campaign of reading Manga for 100 days straight. I’m still having a blast and thought that on the site today I would feature some of the books and resources I have been using to get up to speed.
First up was a talk that Helen McCarthy gave on ‘A History of Manga‘ as part of D&AD’s Japan: PechaKucha Event from back in 2012. You can find more details about the event by clicking on the link here. I was really impressed with the presentation and especially the range of material that fast-talking Helen was able to run through. It’s a real education on the medium and would have loved to have been there for the full event. It was seeing this talk back in December that prompted me to reach out to Helen and invite her on to The Awesome Comics Podcast. We are still nailing down the details but watch this space for the announcement.
You can find more about Helen’s work on Manga and Anime by visiting her site here. I had fun trawling through her articles and it prompted me to buy one of her books on Osamu Tezuka. Often referred to as the ‘Manga God’ his creations in the Astro Boy, Buddha and Black Jack series are pretty well known but there is so much more to this Manga Master. This coffee table book takes a deep dive.
This really is a treasure trove of all things Osamu Tezuka from photos of his life growing up in Japan to comics he created as well as behind the scenes photos and design work. I spent a happy evening by the fire reading this massive book and watching the accompanying DVD documentary. If you can find yourselves a copy it is highly recommended. It is pretty pricy on Amazon here but I managed to find a very reasonably priced version on Ebay.
So, what else?
Next up is an older book that was first published in 1988 ‘The World of Japanese Comics‘ and is written by Frederik L. Schodt. Whilst working in Tokyo is the seventies Schodt approached Tezuka Productions in order to get Astro Boy into print in English Language versions. His book that followed won an award in 1983 at the Manga Oscar Awards. I grabbed my copy through Ebay as there aren’t that may available at a good price elsewhere. As I was reading this over a lunch hour I noticed that one of the previous owner had highlighted certain sections for further study! And making me guilty I wasn’t taking notes!
This is another great resource. As well as having some really insightful views and explanations of the whys, how’s and where’s of Manga it is also full of panels, art and photos on the subject. In the back section we get a full 27 pages each of four manga landmark stories – ‘Phoenix‘ by Tezuka, ‘Ghost Warrior‘ by Reiji Matsumoto, ‘The Rose of Versailles‘ by Riyoko Ikeda and ‘Barefoot Gen‘ from Keiji Nakazawa. All printed on a matt newsprint style paper at A4 size. The paperback is showing up as £60 on Amazon here at the moment but I got mine from EBay for a respectable £8.00. Keep ’em peeled.
Next up is a regular UK contributor to the world of comics history, a book by Paul Gravett, ‘Manga – 60 Years of Japanese Comics‘. This is a much larger book than the aforementioned 1983 book and makes use of that bigger format to put the pages of art, often in their original Japanese, front and centre. It doesn’t go into the detail that Schodt showed us and doesn’t contain full stories but does allow you to drink in the eras of the medium.
Each chapter captures the growth of Manga and also shows what areas and styles were developed over it’s history. I really enjoyed seeing the original covers of the weekly titles, eye-catching and often more akin to a supermarket magazine or lads mag they are fun and telling snapshots of the popularity of comics in Japan that we in the west can only dream of here.
I also grabbed mine from EBay at a good price. If you read this and are in the area of St Albans in the UK I can tell you that the Oxfam that is just off the High Street has a copy! It is also available for £19.99 at the Hachette site. You can find more details at Paul’s site here.
Next up, something a little more recent.
One that you have probably heard me mention before is ‘The Translator Without Talent‘ by Ryan Holmberg. This was published last year by the people behind Bubbles Fanzine and takes a scrap book approach to the exploration of rare and obscure manga. Ryan was also recently behind the translation of ‘Bat Kid‘ by Inoue Kazuo that I mentioned in the last post here and is for sale here. This autobiography of a kind shows us over 400 pages of the time and detail that Ryan throws into his Manga research and translations. It’s a good one to leaf through and then avoid the urge to try and buy everything you can find online!
It may be a little pricy to purchase and import from the US but I think there are still copies available at Gosh Comics in Soho, London.
Next up are a couple of worthy mentions.
After loving the work of Yoshihiro Tatsumi I looked out this old issue of The Comics Journal (issue #281 when they were still making the large format, perfect bound issues). It has a great interview with the ever-so slightly grumpy Mangaka by Gary Groth as well as reviews of Tatsumi’s short story collections by Greg Stump.
You can find The Comics Journal here and probably dig out a copy of this issue from EBay.
As recommended by my buddy and Manga fan Jason Wilson I also grabbed some of the mid to late nineties issues of the English language comics anthology ‘Pulp‘ published by Viz Communications. In the wake of the Manga and Anime boom of the eighties and nineties in the UK they feature mostly adult style Manga including ‘Strain‘ by Buronson and Ryoichi Ikegami (more on these dudes soon!), ‘Banana Fish‘ by Akimi Yoshida, and ‘Voyeur‘ by Hideo Yamamoto. Added into each issue are short articles on Manga that are often well worth using in research. For example in Vol.4, No 5 of the run there is a piece on Kentaro Miura‘s ‘Beserk‘.
There’s a lot out there worth finding and this doesn’t include a wealth of YouTube and podcast episodes that have been helping me learn about the art form.
Next month at the Never Iron Anything podcast we will be running ‘Old Blokes Read Manga‘ where myself and four other comics fans educate you and ourselves with a different book on each episode. Keep your eyes out for news as each one gets released.
Many thanks for reading.