Profile: Autobiography, Manga, Graphic Novel
After Action Report:
A Drifting Life is a wonderfully thick tome of a graphic novel. Equal parts autobiography, national history and understated drama; the book chronicles the story of one of the founding fathers of Japanese Manga. The style pioneered by Yoshihiro Tatsumi was one of the first attempts to turn cartoons into a medium for serious works. Appropriately, his story is a serious one, touching on the themes of artistic integrity and the struggles of living in postwar Japan. It is an exquisite novel, and only feels unfocused because that’s how life sometimes is.
While A Drifting Life is an autobiography, Tatsumi authored the book as if it were about someone else. His fictional stand in, Hiroshi Katsumi, is the central protagonist, and a brief editor’s note remarks that a number of other names have been changed. The book picks up at the end of World War II with the surrender of Emperor Hirohito. Hiroshi is ten and has already developed a love of Manga and drawing. Along with his brother, Oki, Hiroshi starts on the path of a Manga-ka, submitting amateur comic strips to various publishing houses. To his surprise, he is published.