While news of new manga licenses coming out of this year's San Diego Comic-Con was relatively light, there was one title announcement that surprised many manga fans (myself included): Picturebox announced that they will be publishing The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame, a collection of erotic bara manga by one of Japan's leading gay comics creators.
This release is notable because it marks the first time that a North American company will be publishing a collection of bara manga, which is basically erotic manga about men loving men, generally created by and for gay men. With its emphasis on manly, muscular looking men, bara manga has a distinct look and story style from yaoi manga or boys' love manga, which is comics about boys loving boys, generally created by and for female readers. Like yuri manga ("yuri" means "lily"), bara manga ("bara" means "rose" in Japanese) also has a floral reference; and like yuri manga, is a genre that is often talked about in certain fandom circles, but was rarely seen in English except via scanlations, until recently.
The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame is due for a Spring 2013 release, and promises to be an "oversized omnibus" with "never-before seen sketches and interviews." The book will also include ten short stories by Tagame dating from "the late 1990s to 2012," with a new, original story commissioned by book designer (and manga aficionado) Chip Kidd, created especially for North American readers.
Kidd, the author of the Bat-Manga collection from Abrams and an award-winning book designer (he designed the covers for many of Vertical's Osamu Tezuka manga titles), is one of the guiding forces behind this collection of Tagame's manga. Kidd designed the cover for The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame, which will come with a paper obi/wrap around band that, when removed, will show a sexy surprise.
Kidd announced The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame at a panel spotlighting gay comics at Comic-Con, and the announcement was also posted on The Comics Reporter. As explained in the announcement, this project to publish Tagame's manga in English largely came about because Kidd, and translator Anne Ishii brought this creator to the attention of Picturebox publisher Dan Nadel:
"I'm very excited about this book," Dan Nadel told CR "I'd never heard of Tagame, and wasn't even aware of his work, but as soon as I saw it I could tell that both the drawing and the storytelling were extraordinary. There's a velocity to the narratives and highly personal intensity to the drawing that comes through immediately. The more Anne showed me the more I began to think of Tagame like I would the other artists I publish: a sui generis talent, delineating his vision via comics. It'll be a stunning object when it's all done."
Nadel says he hopes to count on the scanlation/downloading community for support, as well as advocates for Tagame like Kidd and retailer/festival organizer Chris Butcher. While the publisher notes it's a different kind of book for his house, he hopes his readers will trust his taste and try out the book, and that working with the talented cadre of involved editors might lead to some market penetration not usually availalble to the publisher.
If you're curious about the art of Gengoroh Tagame, do check out this post about Tagame by Christopher Butcher, spotlighting Tagame's art and influence in the bara manga / gay comics world.
Also, check out the third issue of Thickness, an indie erotic comics anthology that features the very first Tagame story in English, Standing Ovations. Issue 3 is currently sold out online, but can be found at better, indie-friendly comics shops near you.
Image credits: © Gengoroh Tagame / PICTUREBOX