Sugiura Shigeru

Ono Seiko and Aaron Gerow onogerow at
Tue Apr 25 10:11:45 EDT 2000

This is not really film news, but I just had to report that one of my 
favorite manga artists, Sugiura Shigeru, died on the 23rd at the age of 
92.  Sugiura was active from before the war, first apprenticing for 
Tagawa Suiho, but became most famous in the 1950s for his nonsense 
children's manga like _Sarutobi Sasuke_ and _Shonen Jiraiya_ which, I 
would argue, posited a fascinating alternative to the cultured realism 
Tezuka Osamu introduced into manga.  His wonderful combination of a 
child's sense of anarchy with a sophisticated play on the elements of 
manga were extremely influential in not only subsequent gag manga 
(especially the deconstructive manga of Akatsuka Fujio), but the 1960s 
surrealism of _Garo_ or a Sasaki Maki (I always find it appropriate that 
Sasaki is now a children's book artist, drawing very much in the style of 
Sugiura).  Sugiura's own surreal work in his later years helped revive 
interest in his work, even as the codes of realism came to dominate even 
more the field of shonen manga.  His work has been republished several 
times, but is always hard to find because it sells out so quickly.  When 
so many scholars focus on contemporary manga and its contemporary visual 
culture, I hope more can remember the miriad of alternative possibilities 
a pioneer like Sugiura posed.

Aaron Gerow
Yokohama National University

P.S. People have sometimes asked me what era Miyazaki's _Tonari no 
Totoro_ is set.  While acknowledging that in Miyazaki, temporality and 
historicity are always somewhat ambiguous, I nonetheless say, "About 
1954."  Why?  Because in one scene, we see the boy taking notes in school 
and on those notes there are doodles of the characters from Sugiura's 
_Sarutobi Sasuke_ (which appeared in 1953-54).  Miyazaki's hommage to the 
genius of Sugiura Shigeru!

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