More details on the exhibit are on this post on the Hattenba Production blog. Hattennba Productions appears to be taking on an interesting role of advocacy that I haven't really seen before, doing outreach from Japan to other countries in English (and Spanish, French, etc) about their stable of cartoonists. Right now, they are promoting Garo alums and influential underground manga artists Yoshikazu Ebisu, Takashi Nemoto, and Issei Sagawa.
This is a pretty exciting idea, and I wonder who in the States is already in touch with them? I can imagine with Hattenba providing the support and making deals/coordination easier, it could theoretically be possible to have a show like this in New York or at San Francisco's SUPERFROG Gallery space in the New People center. --For folks that have been to visit, SUPERFROG is a fantastic space for interesting shows but their programming and curation to date has been really weak. Loosely themed and sorta uncontemporary group shows? Yoshitaka Amano overprized day-glo paintings? They seem to not really have an idea what they want to do with the space, and it seems to be months passing before new exhibits go up. In lieu of every show they've done to date, I'd have loved to see an exhibit like this one in Paris made to happen in San Francisco-- along with about a dozen other ideas for shows I have (What I'm Saying Is: HIRE ME TO CURATE THAT THING, PLZ)???
Anyway, I'll stop with my self-absorbed mild rant and get back to the "Deichu ni Hasu" exhibit; here are some photographs from the Hattenba blog and the gallery's site:
The Manga we know today is as much a child of the Japanese artistic tradition as of the trauma of the War and the atom bomb. Its first master was Tezuka and its first hero Astroboy, a robot-child created by a scientist rendered inconsolable by the loss of his son. Astroboy’s begetter went on to construct the girl robot Uran (short for Uranium) and a second boy, Cobalt (another metal used for making atomic bombs): these were machine children endowed with superpowers, destined to save humanity and bearing the same names as the radioactive substances that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki...
Unique in our time, Manga has become a culture, a world and an industry whose stories and characters appear in the print media, films, video games and tie-ins. It also represents a resource pool many contemporary artists have no qualms about exploiting.
The feudal world, science-fiction and everyday life, cyborgs, magical creatures and perfectly ordinary characters, animal impulses, kitsch heroism and sentimentality: beyond the conventional codes of the types of Manga targeting
specific readerships – Shounen for boys, Shoujo for girls, Seinen for adults –there also exist unclassifiable experimental books hinging more on deep experience than on mere entertainment. Whether Manga’s critics like it or not, these books are «dangerous» in that they represent a host of thresholds, doorways and channels leading to visionary, nightmarish, grotesque worlds whose common characteristic seems to be the absorption of those who look into them.
Yoshikazu Ebisu, Usamaru Furuya, Kanako Inuki, Suehiro Maruo, Junko Mizuno and Toru Terada: it is to these dedicated practitioners of the draughtsman’s art that this exhibition is devoted.
- David Rosenberg, curator of show
While the exhibit features a number of cartoonists we dig, I wanted to specifically highlight the works of Yoshikazu Ebisu. I admit to not knowing a ton about the artist beyond what Fred Schodt wrote about him in Dreamland Japan, and his short bio from the back of Comics Underground Japan. He seems like a fascinating dude, who didn't start drawing manga until his 40s, publishing a number of short comics in Garo during the 80s and 90s about the hellish life of white-collar drones.
Two of those comic, "Hell's Angel" (Jigoku no Tenshi) and "It's Alright If You Don't Understand (Wakaranakutee mo Daijoubu) were published in the 90s in Comics Underground Japan. "Hell's Angel" is the first comic in that anthology, and sets a darkly satirical tone for the tome as it follows a nightmarish, neverending commute home by a generic every(salary)man.
The soulless tedium and mechanized alienation of Japan's corporate culture is a recurring theme in Ebisu's witty and scratchy depictions. He did a whole run of salaryman comics, one of which (Salaryman From Hell) was scanlated by our friend Rizzah over at Wanted: Cheap Manga.
For forks looking for more on Yoshizaku Ebisu, please check out his personal website, and the three pages from Dreamland Japan that Fred Schodt dedicated to his works.
Here are more fantastic pieces by Yoshikazu Ebisu from the exhibit:
And here is the man himself, Ebisu!