Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Comics shelfie: Yumi Sakugawa

A new month, a new comics shelfie entry. Today, the excellent Yumi Sakugawa (Never Forgets, I Thin I Am In Friend Love With You) talks us through her bookshelves and a selection of works that were of significance to her. Sakugawa is one of my favourite cartoonists (and yes, I have a lot of favourite cartoonists, because we live in a comics-talent rich time, and I have a lot of love to give), largely because of her ability to run a wide gamut in subject; discussing art, creativity, identity, the self, popular culture, relationships, and more, in a holistic manner that's both easily engaging and meaningful. I like how the form and style of her comics is a cleaner, refined iteration of a traditional alt-comics method, whilst the content remains distinctly contemporary. But over to Yumi for the main business:

'I just moved into a small apartment earlier this year so I had to let go of a lot of books. I don’t have the physical space of having a huge comic collection for the moment, so all of my comics need to fit within a few rows and share space with my art books, novels, nonfiction, self-help literature, travel books and other genres of books. In my home office, I also have this neglected to-read pile of comics I’ve accumulated from the last several comic festivals I’ve attended that I probably won’t have time to dive into until the end of this year. I’ve been reading Japanese manga since I was a kid, but I didn’t really get into indie comics until late high school. Over a decade later, I regret letting go of my complete Sailor Moon manga collection.

I honestly thought of cleaning up the bookshelf more properly before taking the photo, but then decided that that would be an inaccurate snapshot of my state of mind right now.

I can probably read the short stories “Iguana Girl” and “Hanshin Half-God” every day for the rest of my life and always discover a new detail or a new insight that makes me fall in love the stories even more. Those two stories in particular, but all of the stories punch me in the heart every single time. I am particularly proud of finding this book (after initially checking out the book at a local library) because it was purchased on the discount shelf of the Fantagraphics bookstore in Seattle—all because of a slight dent in the corner! One day I will have to hunt down the original Japanese version and compare the nuances of language in each one.

SKIM by Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki (Groundwood Books)
Someone once asked me for a podcast interview what comic book I would want to time-travel-transmit to a young teen version of myself, and I kicked myself later for not answering with this comic book title. SKIM would have been the perfect book for depressed and lonely sixteen-year-old me, but was still perfect for depressed and lonely 24-year-old me. I picked up a copy of SKIM at St. Mark’s Comics in New York City during a particularly lost period of my mid-twenties (or, to summarize, “my mid-twenties”) and I will always see this book as an emotional bookmark of that weird time when I was just beginning to find my comics voice but was still full of so much fear, insecurity and self-doubt about fully pursuing comics. This book was and is a guiding light for me for the ongoing need for these intensely personal narratives that represent the inner lives of young Asian American women.

DROP DEAD CUTE by Ivan Vartanian (Chronicle Books)
This book came into my hands almost ten years ago during my college years, when I was an art student and the only “comics” I made for myself were angsty, single-panel black and white portraits of my inner life drawn in Ultra Fine Point Sharpie and shared with my Livejournal readers. It is really a stretch to call this book a comic book (it is an art book anthology of 10 contemporary Japanese women artists) but it contains this wonderful and weird excerpt of a comic short story by Aya Takano and so many of the artwork contained in the book are so intensely personal and narrative-driven that they feel to me like wordless, single-panel comics. To this day, I find this book to be a tremendous influence on my own sense of narrative and visual aesthetics — a little manga-kawaii, messy but raw, unapologetically exposing your vulnerabilities and weaknesses on your sleeve for the entire world to see.'

A massive thank you to Yumi for her time and participation. You can view all the previous installments of comics shelfie here. Next installment will be up in a month.

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