This Week's Read: A Drifting Life

Yoshihiro Tatsumi coined the term "Gekiga" - "Dramatic pictures." As a young man, he wanted to distinguish the types of drawn stories he and his friends created from regular manga, which at the time (1950s-60s) was mostly marketed for children. In A Drifting Life, Yoshihiro weaves his life story through several decades, several cities in Japan, and the several manga groups he worked through in order to find his artistic style.

It's a long read - 834 pages, not including the appendix -- but not tiring. The book starts and ends with his love of Osamu Tesuka's work. He got into manga through Tezuka and other greats of the era, and continually strove to be on that level. Yoshihiro also gives regular updates on the state of Japan, with news stories intermingled with the main content. He talks about films that came out, actors and actresses he loved, the aftermath of WWII, the introduction of the television, local tragedies and nationwide fads. All of these affected his work development.

The story left me feeling that I need to work harder on everything. This guy and his friends would knock out 2 or 3 30-page stories in a month for several different publishing companies. The stories weren't all the best the of the best, and it eventually left the artists physically and mentally exhausted, but they pushed themselves. Not only that, but they started figure drawing as an afterthought. Their first mission was to put the work out; technical skills were developed along the way. I think what stops me from doing certain projects is not believing I can pull them off with my skill level. But skills are developed through practice. Procrastination is a killer.

I picked this up at my local library, but if yours doesn't have it, you should be able to find it on Amazon or your local comic shop. It's a great kick in the pants if you've been putting off work.

Go read.