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


At first the stories seem so simple, but they have been haunting me since I read them. Come to think of it, its kind of frightening how real the characters and their swarming isolated worlds are. The minimalistic (mostly) 8 page stories emphasises the isolation, through which we come to realize that these are only small glimpses to the horrifying reality that these people are living. After finishing the book you realize that under the static surface of society lies a throbbing reality of people for whom the word "real" is allways filled with sour questionmarks and the boarderlines of subjective/objective are thin and desultory.

Andrew Anony

An awesome collection of short-stories. Drawn and Quarterly (the publisher) ought to publish more volumes. The interviews at the back of each volume of D+Q Tatsumi books indicate that Tatsumi has an enormous amount of work published over the decades in Japan. I would eagerly sit down and read every single page if only I could.I'm not sure I can say much about the actual subject matter of this book. The writing and drawing is incredible, and that should be all the prodigious comic book reader should need to know in order to rush out and grab some Tatsumi.

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.

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.


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.


** 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.


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.


I don't know about this one. The guys are incapable of handling their impulses which are either sexual or violent (a violence which is pretty much only directed at women, especially their wives) and the women are either nagging harpies or sex objects (in one case almost literally). I don't know if this is meant to be ironic on some level? Or if Tatsumi really genuinely hates all of humanity and wants us to know about it. In the back there's an interview between him and Adrian Tomine which provides a little insight into Tatsumi's intentions, and he says a lot of his inspiration came from newspaper articles. So maybe these short stories are meant more to be musings on the darker side of humanity and less about Tatsumi's honest opinions on wives/single women/murdering everyone. Maybe it's a blend of the two? So. I think I get the intent. But for my tastes it wasn't particularly palatable.

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.


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...

Hafiz Azam

If you're a keen reader of Japanese manga,this will open the door to a whole new meaning of manga. Amidst all the extraordinarily drawn manga of epic proportion,you have this little gem nestling in the quiet corner of mangaverse. It's the gekiga. I wont explain what it means because you can pretty much google it yourself. One thing that I like about this book is it does not follow the generic structure of a manga. It was more akin to graphic novel,more dramatic. There are minimal dialogue,common looking characters,and heavy story accompanying the already minimalistic drawing. You will find it a bit out of place as the art looks like a manga,but the story does not. You have the main character blending with the crowd,not standing out at all. This gives the sense of realism and it is surreal at the same time.Another strong point in this work is the theme. It is bloody dark. Dark and weird. Like the story about a guy who can only get horny because of pictures in the toilet,or a male character attached to a pregnant rat (yeah,it's that weird),and so on. Man,that was some kinky stuffs.Yoshihiro Tatsumi is a master storyteller,and truthfully I don't really know how to respond because it is so different. One thing for sure,I would definitely rate him among the greats of manga,and this is a piece of masterclass.


This is among the manga that I've read that I can truly recommend as Art. The kind of book I'd recommend right in the same breathe some the Great Contemporary Authors. It's a work that contains horrible women and even worse men. I read one story per evening and then entered a reverie after each one.If you want to read a work of High Culture that looks at it's worst you've found your small tome. There are some truly terrifying images and actions in here. But well worth the read.


The Push Man was centered around ordinary men in odd jobs including being a Push Man (to push people into subways), a sewage worker (and finding several dead babies over time), a car mechanic (who lated killed himself after rigging the brakes of a porn star), a factory worker (who mutilated himself for money), etc. Most were about sex, death, killing, helplessness, violence, manipulation, etc. It was weird though since it was drown in a very simple "old-school" way, so it didn't feel as nitty-gritty. Most of the male characters were silent (almost completely) while the females were usually the talkers, the pushers, the manipulators, the nags, which I'm not sure how I feel about that. The artist only had 8 pages for each story to work with, so I think that lessened the emotional impact of each story, which could have been very easily drawn out (no pun) more. I liked it. I didn't think it was amazing, but it was interesting and each story was pretty realistic while having just a touch of "a story you've seen in the newspaper that happened to someone else" feel. Crazy, but believable enough. I thought it was funny, too, that the manga artist at the end wanted to make sure that we understood that he didn't have this happen to him or want to do these things - he just made stories from them.An easy read.

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.


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.

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