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

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.

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.


** 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.

Grace Le Fay

Tatsumi uses simple, uncluttered drawings to depict the gritty and quietly shocking lives of ordinary Japanese people. This book is a series of very short stories. The narratives are unembellished. The people are not admirable. They work in sewers, bars, train stations, factories. An atmosphere of something very human, private and bare is evoked through the stripped-back style of storytelling, which makes the unexpected moments of tragedy or perversion all the more provocative. Loneliness, silent desperation, distance in relationships and abortion are a few recurring themes. Altogether I found this a very eloquent but saddening piece of work. It left me thinking that maybe everyone has a God-shaped hole in their lives.


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...


What am amazingly bleak read. Sixteen short stories, and at best they end with an uplifting "I'm not quite as worthless and hopeless as I'd feared!" message. What's really amazing is that this array of similarly themed stories, in terms of emotion, have such a broad spectrum of characters. Sure, they're all down-and-outers, but for different reasons, leaving different lives. Too many authors I've encountered have an entire character in mind, and that characters is just plugged into the necessary plot. Oh? I need a depressed and sexually repressed character? Time to dust off Character S-3!But Tatsumi's character remain individuals, and because of this the whole book is satisfying, not just the individual stories.

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.

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.

Lars Guthrie

A collection of Tatsumi's work from 1969 that presaged comics by modern authors like Daniel Clowes, Seth and Adrian Tomine. Indeed, Tomine's thoughtful and well-written introduction and his postscript interview with Tatsumi enhance the value of these sixteen decidedly off-beat, yet quotidian, vignettes. The quirky Japanese sensibility that kind of bothers me in Murakami made these a little difficult for me to get into, but once I did, I found the stories deep and thought-provoking. I'm not sure why I find modern manga so baffling when I am so impressed by its forefathers like Tatsumi and Osamu Tezuka.

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.


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.


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.

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.


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.

Maurice Carlos Ruffin

If I told you I read a disturbing, bracing set of stories about alienation, you'd probably think that didn't sound like anything out of the ordinary. But what if I told these were stories told in the graphic novel format, by a Japanese man, 45 years ago?Tatsumi's vision is so clear and compelling that I read this beautiful lean set of tale straight through. I sat it aside for a few days and read it again. Tatsumi is a genius. Not only because he reveals a Tokyo that is both familiar and strange to my Western eyes, but because his work is edgy even by today's "anything goes" standards. The collection is full of pieces about loners, the disabled, transvestites, and sociopaths. But they all have dreams of something they can't quite articulate. The art is simplistic, but also visionary. He uses his technique to push the narrative in ways that I've never seen anywhere else.I'm almost sad that this work has existed for the entire span of my life without my knowledge of it. But I'm surely glad I found it.This collection is worth your time. Check it out.

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