The French duo of Fabien Grolleau (Audubon, On the Wings of the World) and Ewen Blain have collaborated on a new graphic novel that explores one resident’s experience in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the ensuing nuclear disaster at Fukushima. Guardian of Fukushima is the second book in TOKYOPOP’s Comics That Matter initiative (the first was Victory for Ukraine). The initiative seeks to raise awareness of import issues using the graphic novel medium. Guardian of Fukushima will be released ahead of its March 11th anniversary.
Guardian of Fukushima is told from the point of view of Naoto Matsumura. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered a meltdown after the tsunami and spread radiation throughout the region. The Japanese government evacuated residents from the area as a preventative measure, but Matsumura the farmer risked his life to return home and care for the abandoned animals.
Grolleau and Blein blend European art style with Japanese aesthetics. Soft expressive art complements the impactful story and characters. This original French graphic novel alludes to timeless Japanese legends as an ode to Mother Nature and human resilience.
Grolleau recalls what brought him to the project:
“When I discovered Matsumura-san’s life in the forbidden zone of Fukushima, I immediately was in awe of this man’s courage, modesty, and nobility. His story is full of hope and resonated with themes I was keen to explore as an author, such as ecology and nature, and with the vision I had of Japanese myths that I wanted to share through comics.”
Tokyo-based writer and scholar Roland Kelts provides the forward to the book. The TOKYOPOP edition also includes bonus materials by Fukushima-resident and acclaimed photographer Ko Sasaki, who provides photographs of the disaster and its aftermath. TOKYOPOP founder Stu Levy contributes photography and background information about the tragedy.
Levy speaks about his passion in bringing the book to publication:
“I will never forget my experiences in Tohoku immediately after the tsunami, especially the resilience and determination of the local people. Naoto Matsumura exemplifies this spirit – and this will to not only survive but also to ensure the survival of the creatures he loves. I am proud we can bring readers Fabien and Ewen’s extraordinary work as part of our Comics That Matter initiative, and I invite readers of all ages to discover his mission and become inspired to find ways to make a difference in their own communities.”
Guardian of Fukushima (MSRP $19.99, ISBN 9781427871367) goes on sale in bookstores on February 28, 2023 and in comics shops on March 1, 2023.
And now, here are the first 11 pages of Guardian of Fukushima. Enjoy!