Today was Free Comic Book day.
In Tokyo there were two comic book stores offering free comics- Blister Comics (Akihabara) and Verse Comics (Ikebukuro). Addresses are below.
I decided to check out Verse Comics,Ikebukuro for a number of reasons-
1) They are a new store (opened March of this year).
2) They are in ikebukuro (close to where I live).
3) They had Mangaka Kei Zama doing an in store signing, an illustrator of two of my favourite comics as a school boy - 2000AD, and Transformers (G1).
Verse comics about 5 minutes from Ikebukuro Station and pretty easy to find if you have google maps (it's listed).The store is just off a square that when the weather is good tends to get quite busy with cos-players, and female (mostly) traders of manga character badges and stuff due to the big ANIMATE store being close by.
Verse's staff have been in the comic business for quite a while so are very knowledgeable. They don't speak English but they do have an American member of staff who is sometimes there and from what I gather also responds to emails sent in english to the store. The majority of the stock is in Japanese but they do stock a few english language comics and also have copies of PREVIEWS magazine so if they don't have something in stock you want you could always hunt it down in Previews and they could order it for you. They have a few tees and toys but this place is mostly for comic fans. They also have an exhibition area for artwork.
I went along for Free Comic Book Day and the place was pretty busy. They had a good selection of free comics and were well organised when it came to Kei Zama's signing.
I picked up a good selection of free comics (Rick and Morty, and 2000AD to name 2!), a copy of Previews, and a copy of the Image Comics Street Angel which I am super stocked about as I love Jim Rugg's work!
I am really pleased this comic shop has opened in Ikebukuro and will support it as best I can. If you see me in there please say hi.
Address and links will follow photographs.
2 Stores in Tokyo are participating in the event with special signings happening at each (Check websites for details)
MINAMI BUILDING 3RD FLOOR
4-3-10 SOTOKANDA CHIYODA-KU
Phone: (813) 620-64404
2F, DKY12 Bldg 1-8-6 Higashiikebukuro,Toshima-Ku,
Signing - 原画展示＆Kei Zama (座間慧) - Free Judge Dredd comic!
Printed in Kyoto and shipped from Japan. We'll begin shipping worldwide in March!
6.9" x 9.8"
Published by Black Hook Press.
I first met D when her exhibition was part of Asagaya Street Art festival in 2015. Our gallery was running a Bartkira show, also part of the festival and she came along to check it out.
D is quite a famous young artist, she graduated from the same art school as Shinjiro and now as well as creating art she also hosts a popular Tokyo radio show that has an emphasis on exposing Japanese listeners to foreign concepts and people. She interviewed me for it a while back, I'm not sure if my interview was ever broadcast. You are also likely to see her designs on phone cases and letter writing packs but don't let that take away from the fact she is serious about her art and goes to some length to engage her audience in understanding what she is trying to get across in her works. I like that openness about her.
The gallery is just 5mins from Asagaya station and there are a few interesting shops along the way so maybe make a couple of hours of it.
Below is a text taken from the gallery website outlining the concept of the current show-
The DOOR: Return to self
Subtitle: THE LETTER from the future, past, somewhere
Why did you choose that name? What is D? What is your real name? Where do you REALLY come from? That part of your name [di:] is a bit cumbersome, can I skip that part?
These are questions I have been repeatedly asked since I started working under this name.
It’s not Google-friendly, nor very memorable. Even if they have seen some of my work, most people don’t remember my name. There are only a handful of people who can spell my name correctly. Most parcels arrive with the wrong name on the address labels.
But this is actually exactly within my expectation. It’s perfectly fine.
D[di:], consists of one letter D – not any of the Japanese characters – and a phonetic symbol of it. This originated from one syllable of a nickname my friends used to call me. The nickname didn’t even start with D, rather it was the fourth letter in the name.
So, why did I choose this one specific letter?
“It is said that the Buddha once gave a sermon without saying a word; he merely held up a flower to his listeners. This was the famous “Flower Sermon,” a sermon in the language of patterns, the silent language of flowers. … Perhaps the message of the Flower Sermon had to do with how the living patterns of the flower mirror truths relevant to all forms of life.” – Gyorgy Doczi: The Power Of Limit, Chapter 1: Dinergy in Plants
In other words, Buddha made the gesture of Flower Sermon to suggest that the mandala, the enlightenment and the map of similitudes that charts the universe are contained even in the form of a flower.
The way I create artworks using repetitions of densely layered flowers and plants can be seen as me repeatedly building my own version of mandalas – cellular frameworks are comprised of flowers exhibiting their naturally evolved golden ratio to form symbolic figures, and I’m navigating the composition by feeling the harmony within the entire picture’s evolution.
Akashic records – the idea advocated by Rudolf Steiner, of an enormous cosmic memory where all the consciousness of the universe, from past, present and future are stored – do not have any scientific evidence. Yet although the terminology may vary, the concepts of enlightenment, nirvana, the Middle Way, sense of sharing, Heaven and Hell are ubiquitous in a variety of religions all over the world. This makes me believe that Akashic records do exist, though not physically, and even if only in people’s shared consciousness.
I suspect that the act of creation by artists like me is like weaving my own harmonies, reeling a string of events in from this cosmic memory, sensing its lingering impressions and translating the visions and the melodies of the events into stories. People call it “drawing inspirations” or being “afflatus”.
The reason I call my self D[di:] is, in part, to be an open door to worlds like this. To eliminate my personal identities and turn myself into a mere symbol, a device.
Primarily, what are names? What are letters?
As a Japanese word “Kotodama” (Shinto belief that there are spirits residing in spoken words) suggests, names evoke to us certain identities, gender, nationalities and meanings that bind us up to them.
There are lost languages in every corner of the world, their linguistic systems unrecovered, the letters illegible, the meanings incomprehensible. The forgotten knowledge, history, and communication tool that belonged to now-extinct civilisations.
How long will the clear evidence of our existence, the proof that we are here now, survive? No one knows what will happen in 1,000 or 2,000 years. Even the letters we use now may become unintelligible symbols and shapes scribbled on paper or engraved on monuments to future civilisations, evident from the examples of archeological findings in our time. No matter how sophisticated artificial intelligence will get, if they future civilisation can’t boot the machine the AI operates on, it will be just an useless object. Current technologies are hardly reliable or absolute.
In this exhibition, I am focusing on these lost languages, the “doorways” to different worlds, and the other side of these doors as I imagine.
What will you see when you face these pieces, imagining yourself as an alien landed on the earth for the first time with no background knowledge about current human civilisations?
I popped along to the Yamaguchi Akira exhibition at Mizuma Gallery last week.
It runs until 12th December.
Below are a couple of photographs I took and below the photographs text from the Mizuma website to give the photos some context.
Worth visiting if you are in the area.
YAMAGUCHI Akira’s prolific pace of solo museum exhibitions in recent years has encompassed Contemporary Art Gallery Art Tower Mito, the Kirishima Open Air Museum, the Equine Museum of Japan and now the Ehime Museum of Art (continuing until November 20th).
Further, in 2013 he won the Kobayashi Hideo Prize upon the publication of Hen-na Nihon Bijutsu-shi, a close analysis of Japanese art from Yamaguchi’s unique perspective. This year he has continued to enjoy flourishing success with a commission to complete a 5.4 x 7.7 metre mural, as the symbolic central painting of the newly-opened Fujisan World Heritage Center in Yamanashi Prefecture.
Yamaguchi’s singular means of artistic expression, often stylistically compared with classical Japanese Yamato-e painting, originated during his time as an art school student. He felt unable to discover an intrinsic, self-directed motivation in the context of the painting course on which he was enrolled, which enforced the aesthetic standards and methods of Western-derived painting.
Within Japan’s long history, the borrowed notion of the ‘oil painting’ technique exists as a discontinuous entity. This led the artist to wonder what, if anything, it would be possible for him to create with such a method. That impasse became a catalyst for Yamaguchi’s encounter with classical Japanese art. He felt great admiration for such pioneering figures within Japanese art history and the finesse of their powers of expression, which led him to think - ‘This, surely, is what I should study; this is the lineage of which I would like to my work to become a descendant.’ Through continuous ‘case-study practice’ of the formal qualities of traditional Japanese painting, Yamaguchi began to gain an understanding of the dispositions of the classical painters. He then wondered whether he could accede to their legacy using painting materials and subject matter that were both contemporary. His work has thus become another successor to the lineage of traditional Japanese styles - working with oil paint.
As such, Yamaguchi Akira has for many years been pursuing a personal artistic investigation of the construction and formal qualities of Japanese classical painting. In this exhibition, he presents new work created from a perspective of exploring resonances between the flow of contemporary art from the 20th century onwards, and that of traditional Japanese painting from the Muromachi Period (1338-1573) until the start of the Meiji (1868).
Please find below some key concepts with regard to the new artworks.
- A sense of depth created by a multi-stratification of the planar motifs of Sesshū (Sesshū Tōyō, 1420-1506).
- Work that possesses a sense of rapture toward the potential spatial effects embodied by the use of gold leaf, as seen in fusuma-e (folding screen) works of the Kanō school.
- A strong awareness of the paintings of Cezanne, through personal perceptive experience.
- A fixation with structures the artist has glanced upon while walking, such as construction sites, electricity poles, etc.
- A compositional focus on the features of various mechanisms, the seats of the Tokyo Monorail, and Kyoto’s Katsura Imperial Villa, amongst others.
The above may appear to be scattered or haphazard notions, but for Yamaguchi they all possess an equal significance. For all of them, if one is not consciously aware of them they seem to be in a state of resonance with nature. The paintings, sculptures and installation works shown in this exhibition are manifestations of the resonance of such pluralistic elements.
Yamaguchi has heretofore been exploring the question of how to pursue the act of painting within contemporary Japan. We warmly invite you to experience it yourself in this exhibition, where even direct opposites come to seem aligned.
I remember coming to see a Trevor Brown exhibition at the same gallery (SPAN) in either 1996 or 2000, I cannot remember. This exhibition was a collaboration with a Japanese artist called NaNa.
Trevor lives in Asagaya, the same place we have our gallery, so he sometimes pops in to the gallery to see exhibitions that tickle his fancy.
I popped along to the Halloween Party and took a few snaps and here they are....
Gallery link below the photographs.
I went to the opening of Tokyo Design week. I sometimes see publishers there and I also
have an interest in good design.
The event is a messy affair with a mix of good stuff and darn right terrible.
I will let you decide which is which from the pictures I took.
Design week runs until next week I believe.
I went along to Tokyo Art Book Fair last night.
A couple of changes since last year -
1) It's free!
This is a good move on the organisors/sponsors part. I paid 1,000 yen last year and
I didn't mind paying but I know for a lot of people in Tokyo, especially those on a budget, or those who would consider going but may not due to the 1,000 yen admission, will now go.
2) It's up from 3 days last year to 4 days this year!
Certainly this is a good move on the organizors part to increase foot traffic (also Monday is a national holiday). I spoke to a few tablers, some locals felt 4 days was quite a stretch but I imagine for the international tablers it makes more sense for them to do 4 days as it gives them that little bit more exposure.
The music on the Friday is always a nice addition and the vibe with the drink bars and food stalls makes it a nice chilled Friday night.
It was also nice to see a few of the tablers had organised fringe events (pizza parties, DJ Tape nights, get togethers) while visiting Tokyo so I will try and get to 1 or 2 of them over the weekend.
Below you can see some of my photographs from the event and also my haul.
I will be going again on Sunday as I didn't get round everything properly in the 4 hours I was there on Friday.I also want to check out the Brazilian exhibition and eat some food as I just didnt have the time Friday night so on Sunday Hola if you see me !
Admission is free.
Last day Monday.
Gekiga artist Shinichi (b1950) lived in Asagaya between 1970-73 and 1975-80.
He debuted in Garo in 1970 (he cites Mangaka Shinji Nagashima and Garo as being the main reasons he moved from Fukuoka to Asagaya in 1970).
Shinichi came from Tagawa in Fukuoka. His father was a wealthy business who prospered from charcoal mining, then clothes manufacture. Shinichi says that when he was a teenager he was the richest boy in within his group of friends.
In 1968, At 17 years of age, Shinichi ran away from his parents and headed to Asagaya to try and meet one of his mangaka heroes, famous artist Shinji Nagashima.
Shinji Nagashima advised Shinichi to see out his time at school and return to Asagaya after graduation. Shinichi followed the advice and went back to Tagawa to finish his high school education before returning to live in Asagaya in 1970.
In one of his most famous works, 'The Miyoko Asagaya Feeling' (1971) Shinichi shares his time in Asagaya, shares his loves, desires, and what is was like being a bohemian expressionist manga artist living in a Tokyo suburb in the 1970s.
The Miyoko in 'The Miyoko Asagaya Feeling' stories is Shinichi's partner. They met at high school and moved to Asagaya together in 1970 (Shinichi waited for Miyoko to graduate before they moved to Asagaya together). They married in 1973 and now the couple reside in Tagawa.
This exhibition is being run over 4 galleries on the Chuo line and features original art works, published (GARO, COM etc.) and unpublished works.
Gallery Hakusen will be showing the originals for 'Asgaya Shinju' (Asagaya Double Suicide)
(first published in June 1972, GARO) and 'Kitsune ni baka sare ta onna' ('The woman tricked by a fox')(unpublished).
The galleries involved are - Ganka Garo (Shinjuku), Taco Che (Nakano), Biblio (Kunitachi), and us, Gallery Hakusen (Asagaya).
I've been to Taco-Che (see below) , I will be checking out the other galleries in the next couple of days.
Photographs below are of Taco Che.
Doing a one day event like Comic Art Tokyo for the first time was nuts,nuts. The last 7 months have been nuts. So I’m sat here at 7pm in a coffee shop in Ikebukero going over and writing about why CAT happened (Part 1), how the day went and if we’ll do it again (Part 2).
We (meaning Aude and I) started planning not long after the TCAF exhibition at Hakusen in November.I am a partner at Gallery Hakusen and It was at the opening parting for the TCAF Tokyo exhibition, after a couple of glasses of wine that Aude and I agreed to ‘do a show’. Adam was there as well I think, I vaguely remember us (Adam and I) both both telling Christopher from TCAF we were thinking of doing something but he’d probably heard alchohol bravado a number of times before so didn’t question us on it.
Kaigai International Manga Festival Sunday came, I sold a bunch of comics and stuff to vaguely interested people but I didn’t really feel connected to the festival, it just felt like a mad rush to get there (by bike), set up, then leave. The whole day was a flash and then it was done. I managed to chat to a few people, the owner of TacoChe,Michael DeForge (briefly), Aude (briefly, she was overseeing Artist Alley), Adam, Ken Niimura (who we’re doing a book with but it’s taking ages..), Fred, and a few other people.
My friend Dan organises a reggae festival in the U.K, Dan and I did a couple of events together when we were university students. I had always admired Dan’s ability to create great things from ideas so I guess that was another reason for me to try and do a festival.His personality is based around community and togetherness, I guess that’s why he’s doing such great things with the festival he’s running, because it imbues the spirit of the music it promotes and it imbues the spirit of him. Dan’s an awesome dude.
So Aude set up a humongous spreadsheet in December and Aude and I began thinking about the festival and making decisions. Because that’s what you do when you create something new, you think about it at every available free moment, and often in unavailable moments, well that’s what i do anyway, think about things,often to the point of exhausting other people when I air my thoughts.
Aude and I both have full time jobs, plus I curate exhibitions at Hakusen Gallery and do stuff at Black Hook Press so of course we have time to put on an international festival.I think we may both be workaholics.
So the festival began to take shape, my ideas often put in check by Aude’s concrete objections, but more often than not affirmed by Aude’s agreement. We pulled from our network of friends to secure speakers, translators,and helpers.We haggled venues to give us substantial discounts and freebies. We spent a whole lot of time talking about the festival when we should have been doing other stuff or at least doing other stuff more efficiently.
We had more people come on board once we’d secured a venue in February. I believe Adam came on board then in more of an active role as Artist Alley Coordinator, and also japanese girl
came on board as a Workshop and Talk Coordinator as well as a japanese social media plugger, and the ever helpful Shinjiro at Gallery Hakusen. Adam came on board as Artist Alley Coordinator, I think if Adam lived in Tokyo he would have more of a role in planning and decisions but because he’s down in Nagoya, and Aude and I move so fast in our discussions, it was great to have Adam liasoning with artists and also contributing to some other important areas of the festival that needed attention as Aude and I may have neglected or not given proper attention too as there was so much that needed to be done.
Some of the elements of the festival were what we strived for in the festival, what we believed the CAT festival should be or represent, either as individuals or as a team, other things were happenstance. Long discussions (never arguments,no, never arguments) over table numbers, party foods, budgets, panels,costs,design, that sort of stuff. It got trickier when any more than two of us were part of a discussion on a decision. I feel sorry for japanese companies where decisions have to be made by large group consensus.It’s probably better to let it ride and let a person have their decision if they feel strongly about it. And that’s what all of us did, we trusted each other in areas of expertise to make decisions that would impact the type of festival that CAT would be when it took place on 31st July. And as I said some things were just happenstance. I will talk about how all these elements came into play at the 1st CAT festival in Part 2.