It's a Garo world

Dirk Deppey's find: A 1992 issue of Garo
Dirk Deppey's find: A 1992 issue of Garo

There's an exhibit up at the Center for Book Arts in New York right now about the early years of pioneering Japanese comics magazine Garo. The other day I linked to an interesting essay by the curator of the show, Ryan Holmberg, that was rather surprising — I don't think most people think of it as antiwar propaganda for children, but that was the original intent.

Anyway, the exhibit seems to be getting people's attention, and for the curious who would like to see more, Dirk Deppey has put up a monster post with many, many scans of a single issue, which he picked up in 1992 (long after the scope of the NYC exhibit). It's all in Japanese, but Dirk has some explanations (garnered in part from comments to the original blog posts). Set aside some time for this one.

Still curious? Julia Rothman went to the exhibit and took some pictures for her site, Book By Its Cover. And here's an interview with a Garo editor.


Garo, 1992

Two years ago, I walked into my favorite bookstore one weekend and found something in the Japanese-language section that I’d never seen before: an issue of the avant-garde magazine Garo. It was 282 pages in length, printed in the usual manga-anthology size — think Shonen Jump — and the print varied between black and violet ink on newsprint, save for an eight-page photo spread by Gengui Numata at the beginning of the magazine (one of the few items actually identified in English), which was printed on thicker paper stock. Even if you don’t know the language, it was chock full of fascinating stuff, so I bought it, took it home and spent a happy two or three hours puzzling over its contents.
I decided that it might be fun to discuss its contents on my blog, ¡Journalista!, under the reasoning that most of my readers probably hadn’t ever seen an issue of Garo, either, and spent the next week running scanned excerpts from the issue. (The posts in question: onetwothreefour and five. The excerpts in question are about a third of the way down each page.) It was a fun exercise. I knew next to nothing about Garo — still don’t, really — but each day, more knowledgeable people would pop up in the comments and do their best to fill in a few of the many blanks in the subject. After it was done, I put the issue on a high shelf and forgot about it.

I’d always meant to assemble the various blog posts into a single piece and posted it to the website, but never got around to it until Monday, when Dan Nadel posted an excellent essay by Ryan Holmberg on the early days of Garo. It seemed an opportune time to finally do the job. Alas, our website is under reconstruction at the moment — the comment section for the old blog is on the fritz, and the fellow doing the work has more important things to do than to fix them just so I can post an article, so a certain amount of information has been lost for now.

What follows, then, are are a series of short excerpts from this issue’s various features — obviously, I can’t reprint whole strips without permission, but I’ve tried to present as much as I can while still staying within the spirit of fair use. Please note that all images used in this little guided tour are ©1992 by the artists being excerpted. Remember that all comics read from right to left.

The issue begins with a 50+ page section on Ohji Suzuki, who was one of Garo’s mainstays during the 1970s, and his work. There’s a series of pictures of Suzuki wandering around town at night, which were used to illustrate a ten-page interview with the man, plus a ten-page story by the artist, two essays and a number of comics by other cartoonists about his work. Here’s a picture of him from the magazine:

The title page and three story pages from Ohji’s comic:

Here are the first three pages from the Suzuki interview. Note that clicking on each image will open a larger version in a separate window:

And here are the opening pages to two of the commemorative strips by other cartoonists in the Suzuki section which opened the issue:


Search for a Corpse

More Graphic Arts


Header Credits|The Aereal