Derik Badman's Journal

2019-09-23 08:13

Reread That Miyoko Asagayo Feeling last night. It's a new collection of Shinichi Abe manga from Blackhook Press. The manga all date from the early to mid 70's. I have a French edition of Abe's work Un Gentil Garcon and all but one of these stories are in that translation. Like many of the manga marketed as "gekiga" in English translation, Abe published in the magazine Garo, and like many of those artists his work is autobiographical or semi-autobiographical.

Stylistically, many of these stories rely on photo reference (per tha back matter), which gives them a really interesting look. Dense panels with a lot of lines, texture, and blacks, especially in the earliest stories. In some of the other stories we see him drawing with less reference in a looser cartoony style. I find I like the photo referenced style a lot more, and it's what really draws me to these comics. It can be stiff, but it also feels like it fits the content better and makes the stories stand out from a lot of other similar manga. Photo referencing is often done really bad, but I feel like Abe somehow goes beyond the norm.

One tactic Abe takes in a few of the stories is to write from his girlfriend/wife's perspective. In some of the stories she is the narrator, and in others there is a least a shift to her perspective at different points. I can't help but wonder about what she thought of this (they did stay together for a very long time), and how much the stories are him projecting thoughts and feelings onto her and how much they are him... not so much transcribing, but... bringing her actual feelings to the story. The profusion of images of her naked and images of their sex life (explicit for a comic of this sort, but not exactly porn-y) add to my questions, clearly she participated in the taking of the photos for reference, but one can't help but wonder about her thoughts about it all.

The longest story in the collection, "Love", is one of those in the looser cartoony style, but it has a lot of dynamic brush work, lines going everywhere. It partially takes place in the lead up and during a typhoon, and the line work is like the wind and rain rushing about in all directions, in a way that is really effective.

In the end, I find Abe's work a lot more visually dynamic and narratively interesting than some of his contemporaries, like Tatsumi. One wonders why, amongst all the other manga translated, we hadn't yet seen work by Abe in English.

I'm finding that sometimes I wrote so much for a day, that I have other things I leave out. I decided to write about one book or movie or game and then totally neglect something else from the day: the other book I read, something interesting I saw, thoughts or feelings I had. And I wonder how much that relates to knowing that I am (potentially) writing for some form of (very very small) audience.