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Thursday, February 17, 2011

A few words about A SINGLE MATCH



I'm pretty proud of the gekiga that we've brought to North America over the past couple of years. Besides the brilliant and celebrated work of Yoshihiro Tatsumi (5 volumes so far and more to come) we've published some Japanese gekiga masters like Seiichi Hayashi (Red Colored Elegy), Imiri Sakabashira (The Box Man), Susumu Katsumata (Red Snow), and coming this Spring, Shigeru Mizuki (Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths).

One of the things that I'm most proud of is that each of these great artists is distinctly different from the others. They share many sensibilities but each has a distinct voice. Our latest gekiga release, Oji Suzuki's A Single Match, shares in this tradition. Suzuki's stories are largely grounded in a post-WWII small town world with distinct flashes of surrealist imagery representing the emotional states of the characters. The lines of reality and fantasy are so blurred that initial readings of each story leave the reader less sure of what happened plot-wise but certain what happened emotionally (I actually think this emotionality is one of the defining features of these great Japanese comics. Rarely have I been so thoroughly moved by what I've read than when I read gekiga.). Rereadings of Suzuki's works start to bring out details of plot and relationship and place in a way that I don't notice my first read through. These comics are specifically meant to be reread and reread again. I also like the kind of brushy bluntness of Suzuki's artwork. He is the master of resting the eye on an away-from-the-action symbol or fraught-with-feeling silhouette. As a book designer, I have never worked on a book that had so many great visual possibilities (This is definitely design-nerd speak but any designer knows what I'm talking about--sometimes you just can't find an image or panel to use for a cover or endpapers.). I will happily admit that I am still wrestling with the meanings of many of these stories. And now, a parade of non-sequential pages to give you an idea of the visual power of this book.

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