Today on the site Ryan Holmberg returns with an article that will basically blow your mind. Ryan thinks he’s a scholar, but primarily he’s here to BLOW MINDS. This is about blood banks, blood, manga and so much more. Blood Plants: Mizuki Shigeru, Kitaro, and the Japanese Blood Industry.
Blood banks and comics? The topic’s not as arbitrary as you might think. It’s quite a natural pairing, actually, both in Japan and in the United States, though for utterly different reasons.
In manga, one cannot call blood banks a major motif by any standard. But it is an important one that crops up at central moments in the medium’s history, serving as a touchstone in a number of artists’ self-fashioning, and a reference point in kashihon and kashihon-inspired comics’ much-celebrated link with poverty and the underclass. As I will explain in detail in the present article’s sequel, most artists who took up the topic did so within the framework of biography. These stories, whether hagiographic or self-deprecatory, typically present the selling of one’s blood to shady blood banks as an essential part of surviving the 50s before achieving stability or success in the 60s. There is also the unique case of Tsuge Tadao, who worked at a blood bank in Tokyo for ten years between the mid 50s and mid 60s, before creating a number of manga about the punks and down-and-outers who sold their blood there, and about the grisly practices and petty labor disputes that went on behind the scenes in the industry. Despite their variety of perspectives, these artists would probably have agreed with the basic point that baiketsu (“sold blood”) expressed how postwar growth, despite its promises of plenty for all, was marked by widening differences of class.
Yesterday Tim wondered why I hadn’t mentioned the hilarious Archie Kickstarter. It’s sort of too moronic to even get into, but I think it’s funny that a comic book company that has built its empire on treating its artists like human garbage is attempting a kind of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed “reboot”, complete with terrible super hero comics, obvious stunts, and an appeal to the public. What all this says about the publishing landscape is the usual, with a twist: no one wants to make a capital outlay but now somehow people are being conned into believing they’re “participating” in something by paying for it. Anyhow, fuck Archie. I will spare you a much, much longer digression. For now.
In other news…
Tom Hart has finished his much-anticipated book, Rosalie Lightning. He writes about the process here.
Some “forgotten” Jewish cartoonists…
The Beat is hosting audio and awkward photos from last weekend’s TCAF panels.
This 1942 comic book is basically too good to be true. Enjoy.