Monday, May 17, 2010

Manga Monday: Black Blizzard

Black Blizzard GN
Yoshihiro Tatsumi

A Drifting Life was a big celebrated release last year, an autobiography from Tatsumi that focused on his budding career as a manga artist and his role in the gekiga movement.  A few collections have been released from Drawn & Quarterly collecting short works by the creator, but Black Blizzard is a different animal.  This is the book that really cinched Tatsumi's spot as a major new talent at the beginning of his career.  Highly influenced by cinema and his idol Osamu Tezuka, you can see such influences throughout this graphic novel.  It's very cinematic, with a great noir edge, following two fugitives that escape a derailed train handcuffed to one another.  It's all very dramatic and tense, with loads of action and suspense, as well as a few surprises to keep readers guessing.  The artwork is often rough, but always clear, with words and objects breaking out of the panels, usually during a tense action sequence to accentuate the scene.  Overall, Black Blizzard is a fun pulpy story.  I wasn't expecting such dark themes in a book from 1956, and while the characters aren't very flushed out, there is a certain amount of depth and a gritty sort of sophistication that I didn't see coming.  Sure, it's very over-the-top and a little silly, but you really can see through this work that Tatsumi is a creative artist with a knack for storytelling, and a real vision.  Beyond its historical significance, I think it still holds up to this day.

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