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Manga Artist Yoshihiro Tatsumi To Make NYC, Toronto Appearances

By March 29, 2009

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Manga legend Yoshihiro Tatsumi and comics creator / editor Adrian Tomine will be making appearances at the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature in New York City, which will be held from April 29 - May 4, 2009, and at the Toronto Comics Arts Festival in Toronto Canada from May 8 - 10, 2009. Both appearances will be to promote Tatsumi's latest mega-manga memoir, A Drifting Life from Drawn and Quarterly, which is due to hit better books and comics stores on April 14, 2009.

Tatsumi-sensei will be featured at two panels at PEN:
Yoshihiro Tatsumi and Kathrin Röggla: Modern Day Salarymen
Thursday, April 30, 2009 - 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
Austrian Cultural Forum, 11 East 52nd Street
Admission: FREE, but requires reservations to attend. Call The Austrian Cultural Forum at 212.319.5300, ext. 222, or email reservations@acfny.org.
From PEN's description of the panel:

"From Kafka’s Gregor Samsa in The Metamorphosis to Richard Ford’s Frank Bascombe in The Sportswriter, writers have explored the everyday realities of working life to tell larger stories. Yoshihiro Tatsumi began depicting the lives of Japanese working people in his comics more than four decades ago, while Kathrin Röggla’s docu-novel We Never Sleep describes the working experience of her European contemporaries. Join them for a discussion about writing the working lives of everyday people—East and West."
Revolutionary Writers: Yoshihiro Tatsumi in Conversation with Adrian Tomine
Saturday, May 2, 2009 - 4:30 pm
The Great Hall at Cooper Union, 7 East 7th Street
Admission: $10 / $8 for PEN members, or $25 for the entire An Afternoon With International Graphic Novelists session, featuring Neil Gaiman, Shaun Tan and more.

Both artists will also be special guests at the Toronto Comics Arts Festival in Toronto, Canada, which will be held on May 8 - 10, 2009. Tatsumi will be one of many honored guests at this annual event, including Tomine, Derek Kirk Kim, Bryan Lee O'Malley, Becky Cloonan and much more. TCAF will be held at the Toronto Reference Library in downtown Toronto, and admission is free.

Newsarama recently interviewed Adrian Tomine, comics creator of Optic Nerve and editor for A Drifting Life. While Tomine was peppered with questions about Tatsumi's approach to his semi-autobiographical epic (questions that Tomine preferred not to answer on Tatsumi's behalf), he did have this to say about the commonalities and differences between the comics business in Japan and the U.S.:

"In reading this book, and also in talking to Mr. Tatsumi, I'm constantly reminded that there are a lot of things that seem to be universal to being a cartoonist, regardless of the culture or era in which you grew up. One difference that I did notice, though, was that even in the 1950s and 60s, the business of comics in Japan was very much a business. In some cases, it almost seemed like you could replace the comics with any other product, and the bosses and all the machinations would still be exactly the same."
Tomine then goes on to discuss how "alternative" comics grew out of a smaller, less business-focused mindset of creators who simply loved and wanted to do more with comics:
"I think up until fairly recently, the world of “alternative” or “underground” comics in North America has been much smaller, with lower stakes, and consequently, most people got involved solely out of their love for the material."
I'm still digesting the sheer wonderfulness of this book and hope to get a review up soon. It may be 800 pages, but for me, it all just flew by as Tatsumi gives a fascinating first-person account of manga's evolution from kids entertainment to Tatsumi's role in creating dramatic manga for grown-ups. You can download a 7-page PDF preview from A Drifting Life from Drawn and Quarterly, or wait until this 800-page manga must-read hits better comics and bookstores on April 14, 2009.

Image credit: © 2009 Yoshihiro Tatsumi, © 2009 Drawn & Quarterly

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