In this feature, I ask comic creators that I like a lot to recommend a great comic that they’d like to see spotlighted. They pick the comic and then I write a review of the comic (of course, this runs the risk of them picking a comic that I don’t like, but there’s so many great comics out there to pick from that I find it hard to believe that that will ever actually happen).
I was doing this as a weekly feature earlier this year, but I didn’t think it was getting enough attention, so I figured I would instead do it every day this month, make it a bit of a thing. Draw some attention to these great books being recommended!
Today’s creator is Sonny Liew. Liew is an outstanding artist with a varied career in comics. I’ve reviewed his excellent graphic novel, Malinky Robot, here but he is also quite well known for his work on My Faith in Frankie for Vertigo, Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice for Marvel, The Shadow Hero graphic novel last year and, most recently, his work on the Doctor Fate series for DC Comics. Sonny’s choice was pretty much anything by Yoshiharu Tsuge, so I went with “The Master of Gensenkan Inn.”
Yoshiharu Tsuge is regarded as one of the masters of manga, best known for his surrealistic masterpieces of the late 1960s. The problem is that Tsuge was done with comics entirely by 1987. Thus, his work really did not get translated much into English much.
1968’s “The Master of Gensenkan Inn” fit in nicely with Tsuge’s work of the period, as it is a surreal tale of a man who visits a strange town where he can’t help but feel some connection to. While there, he ends up retracing the steps of the “Master of Gensenkan Inn,” even buying the same kids mask of a demon at a candy store. While at the store, the women tell him the story of the master, who had come here years earlier and ends up taking control of the inn (which is owned by a deaf mistress whose face is contorted) through practically brute force. While there, he discusses with the mother of the inn’s mistress the concept of ghosts…
Once the story is told, the new visitor decides to visit the inn, even as the old women of the town beg of him not to, as the master of the Gensenkan inn is soon going to be visited by his ghosts…
The idea of repeating the sins of the past was prevalent in the fiction of post-War Japan, or at least showing how the sins of the past haunt us in the present (Godzilla is a perfect example of that trope) and that likely is what Tsuge was alluding to here.
His artwork is stellar – such evocative pencils. You can tell why he was so influential in the time period – it is striking to think that this was being created in the late 1960s!!! Bring more of his works to American audiences, comic book companies!
Thanks to Sonny Liew for the recommendation!
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