The secret history of alternative manga
October 24, 2014 1:35 AM   Subscribe

Without komaga (literally “panel pictures”), there would have been no gekiga. Moreover, because by the mid 60s gekiga had become lingua franca in comics for adolescent boys and young men, and because without gekiga it is unlikely that the “cinematic” would have become the obsession that it did amongst manga critics and historians, one could also say that without komaga neither manga or its discourse would exist as we know them.

Despite this, komaga’s creator, Matsumoto Masahiko (1934-2005) has only recently been resurrected from the archive. Yet still has his work barely registered within the mainstream of manga scholarship, which remains stubbornly Tezuka-centric in focus.
Ryan Holmberg looks at the work of pioneering manga artist Matsumoto Masahiko and his influence on manga as an artform.
posted by MartinWisse (10 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
This column assumes a much deeper knowledge of different genres of Japanese comics than I have.

What are "gekiga", "komanga", and "kashihon"? I am guessing from context that "gekiga" (and maybe "komanga" as well?) is another term for the medium, akin to how English has "comics" and "graphic novels", both of which describe the same combination of words and pictures, but with different implications for presumed sophistication and artistic intent. I can't even begin to guess what "kashihon" is/are.

But really I have no clue what these things are, and why it's worthwhile to examine their early instances. Context please?
posted by egypturnash at 5:40 AM on October 24, 2014

Or I could google.

"Gekiga": "dramatic pictures". As contrasted to simple cartoony stuff for kids.
"Kashihon": Books that are rented. The term also refers to the store you rent the books at; Wikipedia says these store pretty much died out in the 1950s when public libraries started to take over, and larger print runs made for cheaper copies.

No hits for "komaga" but I'm pretty sure from context that it's a term with much the same aim as "gekiga", denoting manga with more sophisticated visual, literary, and/or narrative techniques than stuff for kids.
posted by egypturnash at 5:47 AM on October 24, 2014

"Akahon": cheaply printed books aimed at kids, including comics.
posted by egypturnash at 5:51 AM on October 24, 2014

A Drifting Life is the book to read about the creation of gekiga.
posted by Nevin at 6:20 AM on October 24, 2014

It's also singled out in the article for being a reason why Masahiko's role in the history of manga has been underplayed. Haven't had time to read the whole article yet but looks like professional rivalry is a major reason for his treatment in A Drifting Life.
posted by ardgedee at 6:36 AM on October 24, 2014

Not according to that article tho.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:38 AM on October 24, 2014

Err yeah.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:39 AM on October 24, 2014

Oh cool, a new book from Ryan Holmberg. I was wondering what he was going to do after Picturebox went away. (It is my secret ambition to helm an avant-garde comics imprint, but it sounds like I would need a lot of money to essentially throw into a bonfire.)
posted by Standard Orange at 11:16 PM on October 24, 2014

Well as someone who did helm an indie comics imprint (Les Cartoonistes Dangereux, back in the day), Standard Orange, let me tell you that you would indeed need a lot of money, and that a bonfire and/or toilet would definitely be required.

I'd still do it again in a heartbeat, though.
posted by ninthart at 2:29 AM on October 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Well as someone who did helm an indie comics imprint (Les Cartoonistes Dangereux, back in the day),


I remember that. Bought the Charles Adlard, Robbie Morrison White Death after it got recommended on the old Comix-L mailing list, as well as that series of translated French slice of life comics.
posted by MartinWisse at 7:38 AM on October 26, 2014

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