Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tokyo, A Homecoming

If you haven't seen Tokyo, A Homecoming, a four-page story about one man's return to Japan after the recent earthquake and tsunami, you should definitely check it out.

A couple things struck me about this mini-graphic novel (it's more of a graphic article, really), which was written by Joe McCunney and illustrated by The Fates Crew. First was the timeliness of it. The tsunami occurred on March 11 and this feature was printed in the April 25 issue of New York Magazine, less than two months after the incident. While first person reportage like this is nothing new in comics (Joe Sacco and Josh Neufeld come immediately to mind), the timeliness of this comic is something new (at least to me). The subject is still fresh enough in people's minds to make this more relevant and emotionally engaging than a full graphic novel several years removed from the tragedy. The trade-off, of course, is length, but in this case, the shortness also works to its advantage. The article doesn't attempt to explore the incident from all angles, or put it in a broader historical context. It's simply a first person account of the situation as it stands today.

The other thing that struck me was the artwork's combination of Eastern and Western styles. Again this is nothing particularly new, but the seamless blending of manga figures and effects with more American-influenced settings and digital coloring, enhanced the outsider's perspective of the story, which focuses on a Japanese-American returning home for the first time since the tragedy.

Anyway, I personally would love to see more examples of the comics medium used in this kind of reportage capacity, and hope that more magazines embrace this format.

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