Drawn & Quarterly expands its gekiga offerings with the announcement of two new books from manga-ka Shigeru Mizuki, one of the most famed cartoonists in Japanese history. (Above image from Drawn, not from either announced project.) Shigeru is known as the master of the macabre yōkai tradition, but the two books that D&Q are planning are semi-autobiographical.
This is awesomely exciting news.
Drawn & Quarterly has acquired North American English rights to two graphic novel memoirs, Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths and NonNonBā, by one of Japan’s most acclaimed and legendary manga-kas, Shigeru Mizuki, it was announced today by Chris Oliveros, Editor-in-Chief, Acquiring Editor and Publisher of Drawn & Quarterly.
“It is a great honor for D+Q to be publishing Japan’s most famous manga-ka, Shigeru Mizuki, one of the greatest living cartoonists in the world,” said Oliveros. “Mizuki has been the major figure in Japanese comics for decades and we are pleased that two of his best known works will be finally published in English. Mizuki’s art is vivid, detailed, and enthralling and he possesses a remarkable range as a storyteller, conveying the ruthlessness and brutality of war in one book, and the poignancy and wonder of childhood in the other.”
Mizuki is known in Japan as the preeminent figure of gekiga/manga. The first book to be published, Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths, is a semi-autobiographical account of the desperate final weeks of a Japanese infantry unit at the end of WW2. The soldiers are instructed that they must go into battle and die for the honor of their country, with certain execution facing them if they return alive. Mizuki was a soldier himself (he was severely injured and lost an arm) and uses his experiences to convey the devastating consequences and moral depravity of the war. In NonNonBā, Mizuki looks back to his childhood at the beginning of the 1930s when all the kids in his neighbourhood played at war. Although Mizuki joins in the battles, he spends the rest of his time dreaming of and drawing the world of superstition and monsters, a world an old neighbour woman, NonNonBa, helps him create.
Born March 8, 1922 in Sakaiminato, Tottori, Mizuki is a specialist in stories of yōkai and is considered a master of the genre. He is a member of The Japanese Society of Cultural Anthropology, and have travelled to over 60 countries in the world to engage in fieldwork of the yōkai and spirits of different cultures. Currently in Japan, the life of Mizuki and his wife has been made in an extremely popular television drama that airs daily. Mizuki is the recipient of many awards including Best Album award for NonNonBā and Heritage Essential award for Operation Mort, at the Angoulême International Comics Festival, the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize Special Award, Kyokujitsu Shō Decoration, Shiju Hōshō Decoration and the Kodansha Manga Award. His hometown of Sakaiminato honored him with the Shigeru Mizuki Road, a street in his town decorated with bronze statues of his Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro characters and the Shigeru Mizuki International Cultural Center. The works of Mizuki have been published in Japan, South Korea, France, Spain, Taiwan, and Italy.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.