The Push Man and Other Stories

ISBN: 1896597858
ISBN 13: 9781896597850
By: Yoshihiro Tatsumi Adrian Tomine Yuji Oniki

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About this book

A collection of short stories from the grandfather of Japanese alternative comics. Legendary cartoonist Yoshihiro Tatsumi is the grandfather of alternative manga for the adult reader. Predating the advent of the literary graphic novel movement in the United States by thirty years, Tatsumi created a library of literary comics that draws parallels with modern prose fiction and today's alternative comics. Designed and edited by one of today's most popular cartoonists, Adrian Tomine, The Push Man and Other Stories is the debut volume in a groundbreaking new series that collects Tatsumi's short stories about Japanese urban life. Tatsumi's stories are simultaneously haunting, disturbing, and darkly humorous, commenting on the interplay between an overwhelming, bustling, crowded modern society and the troubled emotional and sexual life of the individual.

Reader's Thoughts


Yoshihiro Tatsumi is credited with being one of the pioneers of a form of underground comic in Japan called "gekiga." Essentially, "gekiga" are experimental comics with adult themes...not your typical mainstream manga. From what I've read, they weren't even widely sold but rather found in larger libraries and such places for borrowing. All in all, I was captivated enough to read the entire volume - I think mostly out of an almost morbid curiosity for a form of manga that was previously unknown to me. However, the subject matter is just not for me. At least in this particular collection, all of the female characters are rather blatantly demonized and pretty all of them were whores (even the ones who were married spent their evenings selling their sexual services...and they openly discussed their activities with their spouses). And most stories ended rather horrifically. As an example, in one story, a wife is working as a hostess in a club (think gentleman's club) while her husband works at a factory. She complains constantly about him not making enough money to help her open up her own club for her to run. To make her happy, he intentionally cripples himself at work (losing an arm) so that she can have the insurance payout to start her club. She gets her own club but continues to complain about him being lazy around the house. So he buys a tank full of piranha and dunks her arm in the tank. In another story, a disgruntled husband - fed up with his "loose" wife - knocks over her clothes iron while she sleeps and then leaves the house, watching both her and his house burn from afar (noting that sometimes you just have to clean up the garbage).So, as you can see, not very easy reading...

Ricardo Baptista

** spoiler alert ** Para se afastar do Manga (imagens irresponsáveis) e dos seus temas, o termo Gekida (imagens dramáticas) foi criado para designar uma bd mais adulta e "alternativa". Um dos autores a quem foi atribuída a invenção da palavra é Yoshihiro Tatsumi que começa a publicar o que chama de gekida já em 1957.Resultado da iniciativa de Adrian Tomine e da Drawn and Quarterly, The Push Man and other stories trata-se da primeira tradução oficial da obra de Tatsumi para inglês e é uma antologia de 16 bds curtas feitas em 1969 (o propósito é cada volume representar o melhor que Tatsumi fez em determinado ano, portanto, o segundo teria histórias de 1970, o seguinte de 1971 e por aí adiante...).As histórias escolhidas partilham uma atmosfera opressiva e tensa que culmina numa explosão emocional que, embora esperada, surpreende sempre. O Japão representado no livro está longe da sociedade ultramoderna e tecnocêntrica que actualmente associamos aos nipónicos risonhos, aluados e de câmara fotográfica na mão. Em 1969 ainda pairava o fantasma do pós-guerra (a II Guerra Mundial deixou grandes mazelas na psyche japonesa): prédios degradados; as roupas ocidentais que coexistiam com os trajes tradicionais que resultam de uma espécie de esquizofrenia cultural; personagens desempregadas ou com profissões de baixa qualificação. O que nos leva a outra coisa comum a todas as narrativas: o protagonista. Embora se tratem de indivíduos diferentes, a desempenhar papéis e profissões diversas, podemos falar de um protagonista único. Homem, introvertido, dado a impulsos, vive uma relação com uma mulher que o domina de uma forma ou outra. O desenho de Tatsumi ajuda também a esta personagem masculina genérica, claro que há excepções mas, a representação física dos protagonistas é tão próxima que as histórias misturam-se na cabeça do leitor. São narrativas que normalmente retratam um relacionamento onde há um desequilíbrio de forças na dinâmica do casal que acaba por se resolver, regra geral, de forma violenta. Como remate, uma moral que salienta a tragicidade da resolução. Esta relação é sempre disfuncional e, por vezes, a disfunção estende-se à interacção social e temos o protagonista a adoptar um papel de pária.É uma leitura desconcertante, nem mesmo o distanciamento temporal, físico e cultural permite ao leitor não se deixar afectar; a estranheza encontra-se no que é e como é contado, longe do quotidiano "normalzinho" de uma sociedade ocidental moderna. Tatsumi ainda ressalva numa entrevista no final do livro que o leitor não deve interpretar estas histórias como representativas da personalidade do autor e que para compreender a sua obra é preciso ler mais.

Mikael Kuoppala

Short, sharp and smart stories from Yoshihiro Tatsumi. This collection is all about the invisible people who have difficult lives and bad jobs; people, who are constantly on the verge of slipping through the cracks of society. Every story is colored with quiet despair and barely controlled hate. There is some really dark, gloomy stuff here, and Tatsumi’s approach to humanity feels almost hopeless; his characters are defined by the selfishness and carnality. Yet there is a compassionate aspect present in the middle of all the dirt and grime, and that gives these simple but delicate stories needed depth.

Adam N.

A few weeks ago I borrowed “The Push Man and Other Stories” by Yoshihiro Tatsumi. It’s a compilation of Tatsumi’s serialized work from 1969: very short, very dark tales from the underside of maligned post-post-war Japan. Tatsumi is widely regarded as the heir to what people regard as “alternative” comics, and a quick summary of some of the stories definitely supports that: deformed sex slaves, cross dressing office workers, fetuses floating in sewers. His character work is elegant but emotional, the protagonists are all short, squat, dim-looking men and the women all seem to be draw with as few lines as possible. The highly detailed scenery jumps out around them, threatening and all consuming. It takes a few passes to get used to the sparse dialogue, but I suppose that is the idea. These characters struggle to define themselves internally, so it is no wonder they stall to express themselves with words. Definitely not for the faint of heart.

Arjun Rajendran

Tatsumi is by far the most powerful graphic novelist I've encountered, perhaps second only to Art Spiegelman. I first read "Abandon the old in Tokyo", then "Push Man" and "Goodbye"; all three are intense explorations of the human spirit and don't shy away from depravity and the macabre.

David Schaafsma

A young Tatsumi's stories, which he says should be seen in the light of later works. He wrote these when he was unknown, for a men's magazine, and did not gain acclaim for them, and they are not warm and fuzzy stories, many of them are about sex, looking at (mostly young) working class men's lust and loneliness and failure to connect, though it is also true that women fail to connect with the men, and are filled with longing and lust as well. Sad, mostly, rarely happy, people... but there's a kind of deep compassion that threads its way through these... Some are horror stories, murders, some fantasies, but they are largely slice of life working class Japan...


** spoiler alert ** Not entirely sure what to make of this. Some stories were great, others fell flat, and almost all were as dark as you can get. All of the men are voiceless and angst-ridden and all of the women are prostitutes. It all comes off as rather misogynist as story after story the men act out their hideous revenges on their terrible wives and whatnot. Amusingly, in the short interview at the end of this English reissue, Yoshihiro Tatsumi's answer to the question of what he'd like to tell this English-speaking audience is that these stories don't reflect his personality and he's actually a normal person. Kind of cute, but I don't know if it makes me feel much better about it.Nevertheless, the storytelling and art IS awfully good, and this stuff surely was ahead of its time. The only hint of sweetness in this collection of stories came from "Make-Up," a story about a man who dresses up as a woman while his mistress is out and ends up having a nice moment with the woman who has a crush on him (as a man) at work. "…so you're actually a man. But I want to love you as a woman."Other personal standouts include "Telescope," in which a man kills himself after being paid to watch another man have sex, and "Traffic Accident," about a man with an unhealthy obsession with the host of a men's late-night TV program (Surprise! It ends tragically).I feel like this probably deserves more than three stars, but given my recent ratings I can't quite give it four. Whatever, who cares about that stuff.


Some great short stories in this collection. This is not, by far, a comprehensive collection, as the author simply published too many stories over his lifetime. What neat, too me, is that you can see his art become more accomplished from one story to the next. I noticed a couple of trends that Tatsumi follows. Most of his main characters look exactly the same, even though they are supposed to be different people. The main character is almost completely mute, so that he can serve as a sort of cypher.I really like the way he tells a,story. But sometimes the wordless transitions make a couple of the stories difficult to completely follow. Particularly, I had trouble with "Disinfection". But that's my only gripe, Ii love this stuff. It really transcends the whole comic book genre. ,Or at least it should. This stuff should appeal to anyone interested in gritty real-life short stories, Japanese history, or Post World War 2 Japanese culture.


Yoshihiro Tatsumi is a little known artist in the states. Well, he may be better known since this came out 4 years ago. But his slice-of-life stories are sad glimpses into the darker territories of life (these are set in late 60's Japan, but still hold up today.)Most of these short stories are 8 pages long, due to constraints put out by the magazines publishing them. But they convey a lot in those pages. True, some feel rushed or incomplete, but more surprising is most don’t.Instead, they feel like whole novels, given to us quickly. Few are hopefully, but sometimes, life isn’t. And the one story that can be seen as hopeful is one of the books best. “Make-Up” is about a man who wants to live as a woman, and finds some peace in that. There are other great stories, but I don’t have the book in front of me for the titles. One about a medical student donating his sperm shows the kind of sadness and lostness that most of these stories delve into.Mostly, these stories were intoxicating. I started reading to pass a few minutes, before I knew it I was on page 100, and even if the stories do get a little repetitive, I couldn’t stop thinking about them. I had to put the book down for a few hours to decorate for the holidays, but I kept wanting to go back. And I was rewarded when I did, by a great artist, but an even better writer.

Mattias Appelgren

Getting quite familiar now with Tatsumis short stories and I still really like them. These small slices of a slightly different and uglier Japan. The loners, blue collar workers, pervs and outcasts all trying to make ends meet and go about their lives. Often in a city that seems dark and unrelenting.

Albert Wu

Amazing, disturbing, revolting. Revolutionized the way I look at manga. Yoshihiro's protagonists (dare I call them "heroes?" )are mostly speechless; they're mute observers to the senselessness that surrounds them. Yoshihiro's depiction of post-war Japan is very different from the standard narrative we read in textbooks of the Japanese economic miracle coupled with orderly, conservative social norms. Rather it's one of moral confusion, sexual perversion, and soul-crushing anonymity. For those reasons alone it's worth reading his work.


A colleague let me borrow this and I'm probably going to have to replace the copy now because I've read and re-read these dystopic little vignettes over and over again and can't stop. Tatsumi's characters strike a similar chord with me that my favorite English-speaking fiends do from drama and fiction (Shakespeare's Iago and Nabokov's Humbert come immediately to mind). Previous reviewers have already pointed out here that these stories tend to revolve around men who feel oppressed by women and hence fantasize or even act out aggressively because of it, but I think that's an oversimplified way of viewing things. All of Tatsumi's characters are broken and terrible in their own ways; and while it feels natural to want to distance ourselves from them and judge them for the awful things they do, the more we consider their situations the more we come to identify with them. OprahLit here in the U.S. usually gets away with is moving the characters along far enough on the timeline or in "golden opportunity" moments that give these broken characters one last chance for redemption; when they make the right (but usually tortured) decision to move away from the darkness, we collectively exhale grandly and believe Everything Is Gonna Be Alright. That's why it's so interesting to read Tatsumi's stories: these golden opportunities never present themselves. And the more we study the world, the more we realize these opportunities simply *don't belong*, that they are an elaborate rhetorical trick to get us to finally disconnect from what we're really experiencing. Tatsumi's characters aren't flawed because they drink too much and haven't found Jesus yet; they are individuals who--like all of us--are being ground up in the machinery of their jobs and relationships (this is brilliantly metaphorized by the title character, the Push Man, who is caught in an endless loop of both railing against and controlling the machine).In the end, yes, we are all together, but we are all suffering.

Emilia P

So erm, yeah. I just purchased A Drifting Life, and I hope it is more fun/weirder/clearer than this. I think this was alot like Goodbye except every story was more clearly about sexual awfulness, impotent men and grating women. And oh yeah! Dead/aborted babies in sewers as a palatable symbol of the results/detritus of this cultural awfulness. Swell! On one hand, I can't imagine any culture ever being as completely dark and awful as this vision of post-war Japan, on the other hand, isn't every culture a little bit like that? Perhaps the most hopeful stories were of a man who was happier dressing like a woman, and a man who admired the persistence of a pregnant rat. Tomine puts it well "keenly observant, deeply self-critical, and constantly torn between sympathy and misanthropy." Makes for hard but good stuff. Woot Tatsumi.

Artur Coelho

Marcadamente diferente do que habitualmente entendemos por manga, e particularmente notável por ter sido criada nos anos 60, a obra de Yoshihiro Tatsumi enfrenta dentro dos limites da gramática gráfica da banda desenhada japonesa temas fortíssimos, a anos-luz da puerilidade que é assinalada ao género. Neste The Push Man and Other Stories as histórias são abertamente sexualizantes. Mas não se espere contos de encantar, delírios românticos ou estórias titilantes para fazer sonhar adolescentes. A sexualidade vista pela lupa de Tatsumi é feita de solidão e vidas desfeitas, de homens dominados por mulheres de vidas questionáveis, de gravidezes não planeadas e abortos forçados, e até de homens que se encontram a si próprios femeninizando-se. Este livro é surpreendente, por vezes chocante, sem que no entanto caia no simplismo ou na erotização estilística. Este retrato mostra-nos um Japão distante da imagem rígida e moralista que é projectada para o exterior.

Sam Quixote

Yoshihiro Tatsumi's "The Push Man" is a collection of 8 page stories detailing the lives of young people in working class areas of a nameless city. As usual with Tatsumi's work the stories are highly imaginative, well drawn, and utterly compelling to read. Once you pick up the book you won't put it down until you've finished. Then you'll go back and re-read some of the more haunting stories. The themes are of betrayal, isolation, revenge, sacrifice, and loneliness. It isn't the most cheerful of books! That said, a lot of the stories will stay with you. "Piranha" follows a factory worker deliberately having his arm chopped off for the insurance money, giving the money to his cocktail waitress girlfriend, who leaves him after he can't take more of her abuse and grabs her arm, thrusting it into his piranha tank. "Bedridden" features a mysterious girl in a bed who is apparently the perfect sex slave. Yet each of her "masters" ends up dead. "The Push Man" follows a train worker/student whose job is to push people onto the trains, literally cramming them in so they'll all fit, until one day he gets swallowed by the crowd himself. There are a lot of 8 page stories in the 200 page book so I won't go into all of them. Unwanted pregnancies, cheating partners, confused and desperate young men, are all explored in the book. There are a couple of longer pieces included as well. The artwork is fantastic, in particular the opening pages to the stories which is usually a page long illustration of a shadowy part of a city. Tatsumi does a brilliant job of capturing urban life in Japan albeit slightly dated with massive TVs and a lack of computers, it's fascinating to see how familiar the stories are and how fresh they read despite being decades old. The freshness of the stories reflects the high quality storyteller and artist that is Tatsumi and I loved this book like all the others the brilliant Drawn & Quarterly have been steadily putting out over the last 5 years. An excellent comic book by an incredible artist.

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