The Swamp by Yoshiharu Tsuge, translated by Ryan Holmberg / ISBN 9781770463844 / 256-page hard cover from Drawn & Quarterly
The essential early work by the modern master of Japanese literary comics
"Powerfully strange... A gritty and humorous postwar Japan is depicted in these early works by the influential manga cartoonist." ―Rachel Cooke, The Guardian
"Exemplary... This fine start to a much-anticipated Tsuge retrospective series offers an elucidating glimpse into modern manga’s origins." ―Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
Yoshiharu Tsuge is one of the most influential and acclaimed practitioners of literary comics in Japan. The Swamp collects work from his early years, showing a major talent coming into his own. Bucking the tradition of mystery and adventure stories, Tsuge’s fiction focused on the lives of the citizens of Japan. These mesmerizing comics, like those of his contemporary Yoshihiro Tatsumi, reveal a gritty, at times desperate postwar Japan, while displaying Tsuge’s unique sense of humor and point of view.
“Chirpy” is a simple domestic drama about expectations, fidelity, and escape. A couple purchase a beautiful white bird with a red beak. It is said that the bird will grow attached to its owners and never fly away. While the girlfriend is working as a hostess, flirting with men for money, the boyfriend decides to draw a portrait of the new family member, and disaster strikes.
In “The Swamp,” a simple rural encounter is charged with sexual tension that is alluring but also fraught with danger. When a young woman happens upon a wing-shot goose, she tries to calm it then suddenly snaps its neck. Later, she befriends a young hunter and offers him shelter, but her motivations remain unclear, especially when the hunter notices a snake in the room where they’ll both be sleeping.
The Swamp is a landmark in English manga-publishing history and the first in a series of Tsuge books Drawn & Quarterly will be publishing.
Yoshiharu Tsuge was born in Tokyo in 1937. Influenced by the realistic and gritty rental manga of Yoshihiro Tatsumi, he began making his own comics. He was also recruited to assist Shigeru Mizuki during his explosion of popularity in the 1960s. In 1968, working for Garo magazine, Tsuge published the ground-breaking story “Neji-shiki”, which established him as an influential manga-ka and a cultural touchstone in the changing Japanese art world. He is considered the originator and greatest practitioner of the “I-novel” method of comics-making. In 2005, Tsuge was nominated for the Best Album Award at the Angouleme Comics Festival and in 2017 he won the Japan Cartoonists Association Grand Award.