If the artwork of kashihon crime manga themselves is often such a buzz kill, it is partly because the covers of the books are so totally captivating.
The most iconic ones are by someone named Kimura Tadao. He seems to have begun doing covers for Hinomaru in the late 50s, beginning with the legendary crime and mystery anthology The Shadow, also doing some for its samurai jidaigeki series Mazō, as well as those for a number of single-artist books by members of the Gekiga Studio. When I met Yamamori Susumu earlier this year, I asked him if he knew anything about Kimura. He said no, only that he was a little older than the manga artists working for the publisher. The artwork suggests that he might have been a movie sign painter. At any rate, it is quite stunning. Here is a gallery of three.
But I think the absolutely best covers at Aomushi belong to Kao (The Face), one of The Shadow’s copycats and rivals. It too commissioned work from the Gekiga Studio group, and oftentimes the work there is stronger there than in the Hinomaru books.
If you want to see the manga inside, you will have to go to Aomushi.
A decent collection of the flagship Gekiga Studio publications The Skyscraper (Matenrō) and Tenka Muga are also there. So for a one-stop tour of the various things that appear in A Drifting Life, a weekend at Aomushi cannot be beat.