Saturday, June 5, 2010

300 Years of Manga, Part 1

I want to tell you the story of a small boy who wanted to defeat the world.

...

No, I don't.

Actually, back when I went to the Yuichi Yokoyama exhibit, I spent a lot of time in the Kawasawki Museum's bookstore, trying to see if I could find the Yokoyama Exhibit book. There wasn't one, but the museum has a fairly extensive backstock on books from previous exhibits (including for the Shonen Sunday/Shonen Magazine DNA exhibit from last year). One specific book caught my eye and after paging through it, I figured that this one was really useful for my History of Manga series (or would have been back when I was first writing it). It's 日本の漫画300年 (300 years of Japanese Manga) for an exhibit that ran from 7/20 to 9/8, 1996.

Published by the Kawasaki Museum, "300 Years" is about 170 pages, 18"x13", with about 160 pages of black and white and color reproductions, and 10 pages of references and plate identifications. At 1800 yen ($19 USD) it's a great collection of historical manga, and is a pretty good deal for an art book. Not all of the pictures reproduced well, though; some are nothing more than black blobs, and some of the images are a little too small to be able to make out the details clearly. But still, it's worth the money if you are interested in manga history.

The book is divided up into 6 major categories, with additional explorations within each group. Quite often, a specific image or author will reappear in more than one section to be examined from more than one perspective; e.g. - Rakuten Kitazawa, as both a political cartoonist, as an interpretation of Japanese wars as seen through manga, and as one of the first professional modern-day manga artists.

There are too many pictures to choose from, so I'll only take one or two images representative of each section.

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日本の漫画300年
300 Years of Japanese Manga, by the Kawasaki Museum Press



The cover art is a detail taken from a set of caricatures by Kuniyoshi Utagawa.



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肉筆戲画の世界 古代。中世
The World of Hand-Drawn Art - Ancient to Middle Ages



This is a short 2-page section that acts as an introduction to the idea that Japanese artwork started out being hand drawn, then quickly transitioned to being mass-produced via wood blocks.

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複製としての漫画 - 江戸時代
Reprinted Manga (i.e. - woodblock prints) - Edo Era



This section starts out with an overview of hanga (woodblock prints) as a whole, showing the first rudimentary works, then building up to the really elaborate gag and kabuki player prints from the Utagawa line (including the cover art from Kuniyoshi Utagawa). One really important point to make here is that many English references name Santo Kyoden's (1761-1816) (山東京伝) "Shiji no Yukikai" picture book ("四時交加", 1798); and Aikawa Minwa's (合川珉和) "Manga Hyakujo" ("漫画百女", 1814) as the generally accepted starting points for the use of the word "manga". But, it's really hard to find examples of their works online, and especially difficult for the two named pieces here. Fortunately, we have an example of Santo's work in the book here (on page 11).


(A sample of Santo Kyoden's work.)


(Aikawa Minwa's "Manga Hyakujo")


(1) 肉筆から版本、 戲画浮世絵へ
(Section 1) From Hand-Drawn to Prints, Towards Ukiyo-e



In this subsection, the exhibit designers wanted to spend more time discussing specific hanga works leading through the development of Ukiyo-e (Woodblock prints of the Floating World). The images run from 1720 to 1850, with many examples of gag images or oddball themes. Note that the wiki entry states that Ukiyo-e first surfaced in the 1670's.


(2) 諷刺画の発場
(Section 2) Birth of Satire Art



The title pretty much explains it all. In this case, "satire" refers to parodies of people or practices of the time.


(3) 西洋漫画の影響
(3) Influence of Western Cartoons



With the opening of the Japanese ports to western ships in 1854, came the the influence of western comics on Japanese art. This section briefly looks at this influence, both with the works of Charles Wirgman, and the importation of copies of the British magazine "Punch".


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ジャーナリズムの中の漫画
Manga in Journalism

Before the advent of photo-journalism and the widespread use of cameras, newspapers used artists to depict current events, cover the war front, and let readers know what their leaders looked like. This section is populated primarily with political cartoons.




(1) 開化期と事由民権期の漫画
(1) Manga in the Age of Reason and Civil Rights



Mostly more political satire cartoons, and example covers of some of the magazines they appeared in.


(2) ワーグマンとビゴー
(2) Wirgman and Bigot



Two of the biggest western influences on Japanese newspaper artwork were the British Charles Wirgman (1832-1891) and the French Georges Bigot (1860-1927). This section dedicates 12 pages to them. Wirgman founded "Japan Punch" and Bigot illustrated Japanese life for the 20 years he lived here.


(3) 宮武外骨と北沢楽天の時代
The Age of Gaikotsu Miyatake and Rakuten Kitazawa



As Japanese artists apprenticed to the western publishers like Wirgman, they eventually started coming to the forefront and taking over the local publishing industry. The Kawasaki Museum decided to shed some light on Gaikotsu Miyatake (1867-1955), an author and journalist. There's little on him the the English wiki. Plus, Rakuten Kitazawa (1876-1955), who I've written about in the History of Manga section before.


(4) ポンチ本の世界
(4) The World of Punch Books



"Punch" originally referred to the British humor magazine, but it quickly became an overall reference to crude slapstick humor. Kitazawa chose to use "manga" to differentiate his political cartoons from the run-of-the-mill gag works appearing in the "Punch" pages of the newspapers.


(5) 日清、日露戦争期の漫画
(5) Manga in the First Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese Wars



This section shows political cartoons that specifically referred to the ongoing wars of the time.


To be continued...

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