Yoshihiro Tatsumi writes manga short stories about the common man. But his common men are anything but – in his works you’ll meet sewer cleaners, casual murderers, factory workers, prostitutes, monkeys, and amputees, among others.
The stories in the three books shown above, Abandon the Old in Tokyo, The Push Man and Other Stories, and Good-Bye, were all written in the late 60s and early 70s, so in many ways it’s like looking at a world that’s long since vanished. There are little touches here and there (space heaters, turntables, and rabbit ears) that seem surreal to me now, even though they’re all items that I remember from my early days.
Common themes, situations, and characters tie these books together – at one point, I found myself wondering if factory workers were allowed to date anyone other than bar hostesses, and if all businessmen nearing retirement age had ungrateful wives. But there’s always a surprising twist somewhere – a rat and her babies, a man who loves shoes, a little cross-dressing, a hidden story behind a photograph, a toothless dog, or maybe just a bit of revenge.
If you’d like to learn a little about the man himself, here’s a wonderful NY Times review of his autobiography, A Drifting Life. For a little more, try this interview from the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. And if you’d like to know a lot more, try reading A Drifting Life itself. It’s a hefty undertaking at 855 pages, but it’s definitely worth your time.
(P.S. The title of this post is from the short story My Hitler, on page 181 of The Push Man and Other Stories.)