AWABI (Awabi, “Abalone”) ???? • Kan Takahama • Fanfare/Ponent Mon (2007) • Junkudo (2004) • Underground Comedy Drama • 1 volume • Unrated/16+ (sex)
Kan Takahama (Monokuro Kinderbook) is an underground artist whose work, as much like jôsei as it is like any conventional manga demographic, deals with age, depression and relationships (generally younger woman-older man, and often unhealthy). Her un-idealized characters and gray, tonal artwork, which appears to be scanned directly from the pencils and computer-painted, have a warmth and depth not often found in manga, even when the action consists mostly of people talking. In the title story, “Awabi,” a troubled young woman collapses drunk in a pool outside an old folks’ home, prompting a moment of lucidity from a senile old man inside, and forming a bond between the woman and the old man’s former mistress. This wry story is followed by several short vignettes–in “My Life with K,” a middle-aged man gets involved in the life of a suicidal young woman, in “Something’s Not Quite Right Story” a young Korean man talks about his depressed manga artist girlfriend, and in “Local Wide Show” Takahama makes up an imaginary tabloid scandal about her own life. There’s also a two-page collaboration with French artist Frédéric Boilet (Yukiko’s Spinach). While none of the other pieces are as substantial as the title story, and some are fairly cryptic, it’s an insightful, if downbeat, collection.
Fanfare/Ponent Mon is one of the highest-quality publishers of art-manga (and European comics) today. Who else would publish work as underground, as personal, as Kan Takahama’s? Their books don’t have the best distribution, so keep an eye out for them.
Today’s winner is Carolyn U. of Utah! Congratulations, Carolyn! We’ve also received a new photo from a previous winner, Noel of Florida:
Thanks for sending your photo! I hope you enjoy the manga, particularly “Category: Freaks” and the out-of-print horror manga of Junji Ito, creator of “Uzumaki.” I’ll be sending you five more possibly less horrific manga in the immediate future as soon as I run to the post office. See you tomorrow, and as they’d say in “One Piece,” “do it with a DON!”