Tuesday 12 July 2011

We have always been trying to figure out how to get a review in the NY Review of Books. Brought to my attention by Ethan in yesterday's Comments:
Meanwhile, in this corner, famed inventor and scientist Freeman Dyson oh-so-casually makes this comment in what is probably one of the first-ever reviews of a comic book in the very prestigious New York Review of Books:
"Twenty years ago, when I was traveling on commuter trains in the suburbs of Tokyo, I was astonished to see that a large fraction of the Japanese commuters were reading books, and that a large fraction of the books were comic books. The genre of serious comic-book literature was highly developed in Japan long before it appeared in the West. The Ottaviani-Myrick book is the best example of this genre that I have yet seen with text in English. Some Western readers commonly use the Japanese word manga to mean serious comic-book literature. According to one of my Japanese friends, this usage is wrong. The word manga means “idle picture” and is used in Japan to describe collections of trivial comic-book stories. The correct word for serious comic-book literature is gekiga, meaning “dramatic picture.” The Feynman picture-book is a fine example of gekiga for Western readers."

by Jim Ottaviani, with art by Leland Myrick and coloring by Hilary Sycamore
First Second, 266 pp., $29.99


Blogger bob said...

From Tatsumi's A DRIFTING LIFE on the relationship between "manga" and "gekiga".

I'm not sure that Dyson is right that anyone "commonly use[s] the Japanese word manga to mean serious comic-book literature". Certainly I can't recall anyone ever using it in that way, as opposed to using it to refer to comics from Japan or that emulate Japanese comics in art style or book format, the vast majority of both groups being as un-serious as you can get.

The Ottaviani/Myrick FEYNMAN book is excellent, by the way, either as an introduction to Feynman (which Ottaviani's earlier book, TWO-FISTED SCIENCE, which had a few chapters on Feynman with various artists, was for me) or as a supplement to the Feynman memoirs and biographies that serve as source material.

12 July 2011 at 07:44:00 GMT-5  

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