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Yoshihiro Tatsumi, father of the gekiga style of manga, dead at age 79

by  in Comic News Comment

Yoshihiro Tatsumi, known as the creator and grandmaster of the darker gekiga style of Japanese manga, has passed away at the age of 79.

News of Tatsumi’s passing comes from a message posted by London-based comic book journalist Paul Gravett on his website. “The news came through to me in a short email [from director Eric Khoo] yesterday, March 7th 2015: ‘Sensei passed away today,'” Gravett wrote. “His innovations were vitally important for Japanese comics and his lifetime’s work stands as some of the most psychologically powerful and humane narratives, not only in manga but in global comics culture.”

Tatsumi coined the term gekiga in the late 1950s to describe the nontraditional style of manga storytelling he was creating at the time. His most well-known work may be his multi-Eisner Award-winning, 840-page autobiography A Drifting Life, recounting his own struggles to earn an income post-World War II. Khoo adapted the manga into an animated film titled Tatsumi, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011. In an interview with Gravett, Khoo revealed that Tatsumi was working on a sequel to A Drifting Life that was meant to conclude at the Cannes premiere.

Canadian publisher Drawn and Quarterly has been publishing North American versions of much of Tatsumi’s work, including a new compendium project edited by Adrian Tomine that highlights the best of his work from each year beginning in 1969.