Monday, December 14, 2009

The History of Manga, Part 5

1895 brings us to Kobayashi Kaichi (1896-1968). Tokyo Art Beat seems to be one of the few sources of information for several of the shojo magazine illustrators here. Annoyingly the exhibits that TAB describes finished their runs at the Yayoi-Yumeji gallery just a few of months ago, before I knew of these people and long before I had any interest in them. Sigh. Kaichi was based in Kyoto, and there are two permanent displays of his collections, in Kyoto and Gunma. He's best known for his woodblock print postcards and envelopes. Little was known about his personal life and history until a relative recently stepped forward to provide some information. Unfortunately, not even the Gunma gallery has that info online in Japanese yet.


(Postcards by Kaichi Kobayashi, from Gekkan Bijutsu, used for review purposes only.)

What's still unclear is the reason for including Kaichi in with the rest of the shojo illustrators. He primarily produced sets of postcards such as the one shown here, with several variations on a theme. My assumption is that the postcards were either reproduced in the shojo magazines, or included as presents to the readers. A case in point is "Ehagaki Sekai" (Postcard World) magazine, a manga-based postcard collection which began publication in 1908, and may have been emulated by the various shojo magazine publishers.)


For elusive, we can look towards Masao Katou (1897-1977). Little is available on him in English, and the Japanese wiki just has a superficial overview. The Gekkan Bijutsu magazine talks about his art style without mentioning the magazines he appeared in. The accompanying images here (from Gekkan Bijutsu) appeared in Shojo Kurabu (1929) and Shojo no Tomo (1928).


(Shojo Kurabu illustration by Masao Katou, from Gekkan Bijutsu, used for review purposes only.)

(One note about the spelling for "Shojo Kurabu". The kanji used in the name phonetically spells out the word "club" as written in romaji, and the literal meaning of those kanji is "club or association". So, it's often written in English as "Shojo Club". The problem is that many magazines started out with "kurabu" in their names, and sometimes two different publishers would have rival titles where one used the kanji "kurabu" and the other used the katakana to represent "club". Other times, a magazine would start out as "kurabu" and later change its name to "club". So, I'm keeping the kanji spelling as "kurabu" where it was originally used in order to highlight this distinction and to avoid confusion between two different titles like "shonen kurabu" and "shonen club".)


(Shojo no Tomo illustration by Masao Katou, from Gekkan Bijutsu, used for review purposes only.)


So, let's quickly move on to Hatsuyama Shigeru (1897-1973). Finally, some meat! Well, not really. The Sosaku Hanga page only has 5 lines. He was born in Asakusa, Tokyo, and studied painting as a child. He then apprenticed as a goldsmith, wrote poetry, got involved in kabuki, and started illustrating children's magazines in 1919. He stopped illustration around WWII because he objected to making propaganda for children. Afterwards, he started doing hanga (woodblock prints), and joined the Japanese Hanga Association in 1944. After the war, he focused on woodblock prints for children. "Taberu Ton-chan" ("Ton-chan is eating") was a children's book published in 1937. Pictured here is "Hoshi no Juuji Mase" ("Star's Cross Fence"). According to the iiclo page, Shigeru tended to be a nihilist, and this shows in his later books.


("Star's Cross Fence" by Hatsuyama Shigeru, from Gekkan Bijutsu, used for review purposes only.)

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