Saturday, May 9, 2009

Touring With the Tatsumis

Last week I had the distinct pleasure of sitting in on a lifetime's worth of stories with the Tatsumis, as their intrepreter during the PEN America Festival. Yoshihiro Tatsumi (husband-half) is of course, the author of the gekiga movement, and firestarter of the gekiga renaissance, grace à Drawn & Quarterly.


So imagine being able to spend a week with the foremost eye-witnesses to two generational crossovers in the manga medium. Frankly, it'd be unprofessional of me to disclose some of what I learned (psychotic manga artists who throw their food at people, anyone?), but hey... offer me a book deal and... oh who am I kidding it was just awesome to hang out with such cool 70-year olds.

The most important thing I learned, though:

Sure, Mr. Tatsumi, master mangaka, was something of a rich resource, but if there's a successful woman behind every man, MRS. Tatsumi would be the queen of Sheba.

...or a Yoko Ono lookalike.

Kai-ming and I got a real kick out of how fashionable these two were, and THEY ATE UP the compliments.

In the middle of day 4 Mrs. T said she really dug my shoes and asked to try them on...then added that she's a size 35.5, and my shoes were too big.

Anne: They probably make a size 35 or 36, if you wanted me to look.
Mrs. T: Oh would you?! THAT WOULD BE GREAT. Then mail them to me.

(Incidentally, I've had no luck finding these suckers. If any of you have ideas on where I would find Keds flats from like three years ago I and Mrs. T would be grateful.)

If it's any indication Mrs. Tatsumi wears the pants, here she told her husband to strike a pose for me and he whipped this pose in total vogue:

It's blurry but that's Mr. T being cute. He said "arigato" like a schoolgirl and went back to personalizing sketches for fifty billion more copies of his book. 'Tis the power of The Burns. Am I right, Comics Industry?

Did I mention how stylish Mrs. Tatsumi is? She made a point to declare a taste for tattoos, adding, "they don't bother me at all you know. In Japan it's taboo but I think they're just gorgeous! Now take a picture of me with this young man." (Nate Doyle, incidentally, who is a rockin' comics artist and indeed, has beautiful tattoos.)

I then proudly showed her my own tattoo, and she so astutely said, "yeah, but that's just symbolic. It's not like art or anything."


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