Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The History of Manga, Part 2

The Yayoi-Yumeji gallery ran its exhibit on Shojo no Tomo magazine from Oct. 1 to Dec. 23, 2009. The exhibit itself consisted of two small rooms of maybe 200 articles, from copies of the original magazines, to examples of the artwork that accompanied the stories, and some information on Tezuka and a few other artists. Tezuka arrived kind of late to the game. His "Shin Takara-jima" ("New Treasure Island") started in 1947, and the two titles included in the Shojo no Tomo exhibit were "The Maiden of Tatsugafuchi" and "Robin-chan" (both roughly around 1954). Granted, all manga publications (unless they contained propaganda promoting the war effort) were halted during WW II, but for the almost 35 years worth of magazines leading up to Tezuka's debut, there were many other artists already active in the shojo manga scene.

(Soleil, a shop dedicated to selling Junichi Nakahara's artworks, in Tokyo.)

The 4000 yen book that accompanied the exhibit was published by Junichi Nakahara's company. Junichi (1913-1983) was a well-established fashion designer who was attracted to drawing illustrations for Shojo no Tomo. He went on to found two of his own girl's magazines - Soleil and Himawari (Sunflower).

The Soleil shop, near Ebisu (from Ebisu, take the Hibiya line one stop east to Hiro-o; it's right around the corner from the Hiro-o station) in Tokyo, continues to sell his prints and old copies of Shojo no Tomo, and displays some of his dress patterns. His paintings were used extensively for Shojo no Tomo's covers from the 1920's.

Also available for sale at the Yayoi-Yumeji gallery was the September issue of Gekkan Bijutsu (Monthly Art), which included feature stories on Junichi and Shojo no Tomo. There's also a brief time line of girl's magazines, and an overview of ten of the most important illustrators of the first half of the 1900's. I've already written about Katsudi Matsumoto. So, I'll cover the others as I go.

(Poku-chan, by Katsudi Matsumoto, from wikipedia. Used for review purposes only.)

Not all of the artists listed drew manga. All of them created illustrations to accompany fashion articles, serialized fiction stories and for the cover art, in a variety of shojo magazines. Katsudi in particular drew illustrations for the Japanese translations of western fiction (i.e. - Hans Christian Andersen). A smaller number tried their hand at manga, generally "yon-koma" (4-panel gag strips). I need to mention here that while they're called "4-panel", the strips could be of any length needed to tell the story, from 6 to 20 panels.

(Mysterious Clover, by Katsudi Matsumoto, from wikipedia. Used for review purposes only.)

Katsudi drew an irregularly published narrative strip about a girl named "Poku-chan" for Shojo Gaho (Girl's Illustrated) from 1930 to '34, but he really broke new ground with the creation of his "Nazo no Kuroubaa" ("The Mysterious Clover"). Appearing as a booklet insert in Shojo no Tomo in 1935, Clover was a female version of Zorro, a masked and caped crusader helping the oppressed. Katsudi's most famous manga was the yonkoma "Kurukuru Kurumi-chan", which ran in Shojo no Tomo from '38 to '40.

(Kurukuru Kurumi-chan, by Katsudi Matsumoto, from wikipedia. Used for review purposes only.)

Unfortunately, there was a divide between the first half of the century and the second half, when the Japanese military government banned most entertainment publications to "conserve printing paper" (as well as to keep people's focus on the war effort). What this meant was that the artists that had been successful up until 1941 suddenly lost their audience, and then just as suddenly found themselves facing new competition and changed public tastes following 1946 (plus being in the middle of massive poverty). Additionally, several magazines folded in the years just before, during and after the war, making way for new publications later. In a way, this break in publication can be said to have allowed new artists like Tezuka to stand out more against the older vanguard, even though he was actually repeating things that Katsudi and the others had originated 10-15 years earlier.

The 10 major shojo magazine illustrators as given by Gekkan Bijutsu are:

1891 - 1979, Fukiya Kouji (蕗谷虹児)
1897 - 1977, Katou Masao (加藤まさを)
1904 - 1986, Matsumoto Katsudi (松本かつぢ)
1898 - 1946, Sudou Shigeru (須藤しげる)
1888 - 1930, Okamoto Kiichi (岡本帰一)
1896 - 1968, Kobayashi Kaichi (小林かいち)
1894 - 1983, Takei Takeo (武井武雄)
1897 - 1973, Hatsuyama Shigeru (初山滋)
1901 - 1974, Iwata Sentarou (岩田専太郎)
1908 - 1942, Kobayashi Hidetsune (小林秀恒)

And of course,
1912 - 1983, Nakahara Junichi (中原 淳一)

I'll look more at each of these people in the next few entries.


Shonen King said...

Another great installment!!! Thanks I needed some schooling on the Shojo manga. I always liked the art from Rose of Versailles.


TSOTE said...

Thanks. Hopefully the next couple of day's coverage of girl's mag illustrators won't be too much of a distraction...