Friday, May 15, 2009


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There is a short but hallowed list in my head of older cartoonists that I adore and would travel to meet in person. And atop the list are perched Kazuo Umezu & Yoshihiro Tatsumi. This past weekend, as part of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF), the chance presented itself to meet Yoshihiro Tatsumi in person... and I took it!

I already put up my TCAF round-up, but wanted to take a little time to post just about Tatsumi stuff.

The first big event of the weekend was held on Friday at Toronto's Harbourfront Centre, featuring cartoonists Seth, Adrian Tomine, and Yoshihiro Tatsumi.

The Beguiling's excellent Chris Butcher MC'd the talk, which started with a preface by Adrian Tomine. Tomine talked briefly about the process by which his earliest Optic Nerve stories were re-printed in a boxed set as fascimilies of the original minicomics.

But finally came... the main event! A 45 minute interview/discussion between Adrian Tomine and Yoshihiro Tatsumi with Jocelyne Allen serving as Tatsumi's interpretor. It was a treat to listen Tatsumi talk about his early days as a cartoonist, the tension of his relationship with Tezuka, and the release in English of many of his pioneering gekiga works. Here are a few photos:

Also from the talk, here's a 3 minute video (shot by me from my seat) of Tatsumi responding to a question from Tomine about getting his early short works published:
Jocelyne Allen did a wonderful job all weekend interpreting for Tatsumi, I thought. Though, it was nice to be able to listen along to Tatsumi directly :)

At TCAF on Saturday and Sunday, Tatsumi was the main event and most in-demand cartoonist at the festival. He spent 2-3 hours at the Drawn & Quarterly booth each day, generously signing books and giving sketches to fans. Since he took so long giving personal drawings, the lines were out of control at the booth:

I got to the line too late on Saturday to make it before he finished, but was able to meet Tatsumi on Sunday after a 30 minutes wait. I just briefly spoke to Tatsumi (in Japanese), stammering out that I love his comics and that I used to live in southern Osaka, just a ways from Shinsekai and Tennoji, where a number of his gekiga tales take place.

Here are a dozen photos of Tatsumi generously signing books for a long and adoring line of fans:

My favorite thing I captured from TCAF, here is a short voyeur-esque clip of Tatsumi doing a nice sketch in a lucky fan's book. There is something really exciting and perfect about watching a talented cartoonist at work:

[Click here for another short video from a different part of TCAF of Tatsumi signing for fans]

Yoshihiro Tatsumi signed my book!

And here I present, the most beloved page in my Disneyland Autograph Book!'s manga guide Deb Aoki got some time to interview Tatsumi on Sunday, and just posted that article today. She asked him some interesting questions about his relationship in later years with Osamu Tezuka and his impressions of Tezuka's reaction to the "threat" of gekiga in the 1970s. Check it out!


things_404 said...

I just finished reading "A Drifting Life". Thanks for posting this up.

Ryan S said...

@t_o_e: Thanks for checking it out :)