Gengoroh Tagame - Master of Gay Erotic Manga: Violent, visceral and provocative

The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame by Gengoroh Tagame, ed. Anne Ishii, Chip Kidd & Graham Kobleins. PictureBox Inc, 2013.


Violent, visceral and provocative, to say the least, Gengoroh Tagame’s unquestionable talent for story and illustration is already the stuff of legend. His gay BDSM stories are now widely celebrated for both their virtuosic drawing and their unparalleled passion. Produced by a veteran Japanist–Anne Ishii–The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame is a project that began some years ago, when Ishii was translating Chip Kidd’s personal Tagame collection and decided to reach out to him. Inspired by filmmaker Graham Kolbeins’ online work with gay comics, the project took on new ambitious proportions, materializing in this exciting celebration of one of the world’s most poignant erotic artists. This hefty Tagame omnibus includes ten English editions of short stories dating from the late 1990s to 2012. The newest work is an original story commissioned by Kidd himself: Tagame’s very first foray into writing directly for an American reader. Celebrated novelist and biographer Edmund White contributes an introduction to the volume.
Gengoroh Tagame (born 1964) is a legend in gay comics throughout the world and in the American underground, where loyal fans have quietly shared foreign-language editions of his groundbreaking work in the outermost edges of bondage and pornography. Beyond the comic book format, Tagame’s original artwork has been exhibited internationally and paired with the works of Tom of Finland. Tagame was also the founding Editor and Art Director of Japan’s most widely circulated gay journal, G-Men.

Dear Future Shipwreck readers,
I’m thrilled to announce a project very close to my heart: The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame.
Gengoroh Tagame is an extraordinary, prolific artist widely recognized as the master of bara manga. Tagame comes from a long line of sexual provocateurs like Jean Genet, Yukio Mishimia, and Tom of Finland. His comics and paintings are scintillating, drenched in masculinity, and rife with sadomasochistic fantasy.
Tagame’s comics are nearly impossible to find in English. I felt like that was a criminal oversight, and it turned out I wasn’t alone! After I made a video for Future Shipwreck about gay manga last year, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my friend Anne Ishii had privately translated some of Tagame’s comics for the collection of Chip Kidd. Chip is not only of the world’s greatest graphic designers, but also a connoisseur of obscure Japanese comics (see also: his awesome collection Bat-Manga: The Secret History of Batman in Japan) and a huge fan of Tagame’s work.
So the three of us got together, and now we’re working with Tagame and the fantastic art book publisher Picturebox to put out the first offical English-language collection of Tagame’s work! The volume will include 10 stories from Tagame’s prolific catalog as well as a brand new story commisioned by Chip, exclusive sketches, and an introduction by gay literary icon Edmund White.

Read the full scoop on The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame over at The Comics Reporter. I’m visiting Tagame in Japan this fall, so expect plenty of fun surprises! Stay tuned as we get closer to the book’s Spring 2013 release. I hope you’re as excited as I am! It’s time Tagame got his dues.

Passion is generally defined either as “any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling” or, within the context of personal relationships, as a “strong sexual desire; lust.” Strength & power are two words that dominate these definitions. Strength & power are two concepts that dominate the short, hypersexualized narratives of Gengoroh Tagame’s characters: strong, large & butch men dominating, fucking, & occasionally loving other strong, large & butch men.
In the world of manga, and especially in the imported consideration of such, there’s an abundance of yaoi stories that teen girls flock to, love, write fan-fic about: yaoi is a subgenre of manga that takes young, thin, often effeminate boys loving other young, thin, often effeminate boys. Clearly, there’s a contrast between this & what I’ve mentioned Tagame’s narratives hold above: thick muscles, thick cocks, heavy BDSM overtones–there is the occasional cross-generation ‘romance’ told by Tagame, but even the young boy shares a closer physic to a professional wrestler than the twinky waifs that populate yaoi.
Pierre Guyotat once remarked that he couldn’t write unless his cock was hard. Similarly, Tom of Finland once remarked that his best drawings occur while he’s erect. I have to imagine that the sexual narratives that overtake Tagame’s work drive their creator, as well, to sexual satisfaction. There’s a remarkable sense of erotic obsession that drives the work, moving from gang-bang fantasies to hyper-developed arenas of sadism. Sometimes, when there’s time for it to develop, a work develops a plot, often a somewhat complicated one considering the constraint of a number of pages. Sometimes there is less plot, but always there is a surge of powerful eroticism dominating each panel.
I would hope that in 2013 there’s been enough critical consideration given to the subject that we’re pass the point of immediately dismissing anything erotic or pornographic as trash–dismissing the idea that these genres can’t carry anything but a sense of sexual satisfaction. Pornography & eroticism, as genres, are inherently more attuned to the experience of the reader–the idea is to, often, give the reader something to get off to. This means that the way the story is constructed has to play with the idea of affect while at the same time deal with the mechanics of narrative itself (while, yes, the joke is that pornography never has more than a pretense of plot that is quickly abandoned to the repetition of the in-out-in-out flow of the fuck, the reality is that narrative itself can be an important element of the best eroticism).
Tagame’s narratives, as mentioned before, float between being expertly constructed and being a thin pretense used to present sex. The back and forth between the stories creates an interesting dynamic, presenting varying modes of how eroticism is working within the same, shall we say, container. When given the space, the narrative can take on importance that finds the sex functioning in a utilitarian manner, simply moving the narrative forward. I find the stories that have more space to breath both more interesting and also more titillating, due to their overwhelming narrative insistence that the sex is couched within.
There’s something to be said, as well, for the increasing levels of sadism displayed as the book carries on. In hyper-masculine sex situations, there is generally always an air of sadism present–sometimes this is hidden by machismo, other times it’s present in power relations due to age differences, etc. But a few stories near the end of the volume further approach a developed, Sadean insistence of cruelty for sexual excitement (and this is not surprising, in an interview Tagame says he starting reading Sade when very young). The intense sadism is not for everyone, clearly, but it’s wonderfully constructed and really satisfying if you are ‘into it.’
A final note should be made on Tagame’s drafting skills–he’s fantastic. There’s a real energy in his drawings that provides the momentum necessary for these narratives to really take off. While the immediate point of reference (big-cock big muscles “man’s-man” types fucking more of the same) is Tom of Finland, Tom of Finland’s characters are as stiff as the cock’s jutting from their bodies–they don’t move, there’s no real energy. Tagame delivers a total sense of movement that provides more of a reason for the sweat that drips down brows.
It seems obvious to say that this collection isn’t for everyone, but it doesn’t need to be. Tagame has articulated his own sexual fantasies within a collection of great manga. If you like seeing huge muscle dudes fucking other huge muscle dudes with varying degrees of sadism, there’s no reason you wouldn’t enjoy this. However, there’s more inside than what’s on the surface, so prepare to experience more than a boner. -Impossible Mike

Gengoroh Tagame's blog:

New comic album “The Winter Fisherman Lodge / In The Chest” (in Japanese) coming on July 25, 2013

My new comic album in Japannese, “Fuyu no Ban-ya / Nagamochi no Naka (The Winter Fisherman Lodge / In The Chest)” will be released on July 25th, 2013 from Pot Publishing.
Includes 3 stories, “Fuyu no Ban-ya (The Winter Fisherman Lodge)”, “ACTINIA (man-cunt)” and “Nagamochi no Naka (In The Chest)”, those were originally published on Badi magazine from 2010 to 2011. Each stories are from 48 pages to 112 pages, and the book’s total pages are 272 pages (as same as “The Country Doctor, Pochi, and other short stories”).
Now available for pre-order at the publisher’s site (in Japanese only) or Rainbow Shoppers (with English page).
There is also in Amazon Japan, but the book is labeled as an adult material, so they don’t send it to overseas.
About the detail of the stories, Graham Kolbeins’ Tumblr “Gay Manga!” is very useful guidance for english speakers.
Or check the promotion video below. I made it by myself!

The book is boxed in a simple outer case, but the inside cover is very beautiful.
I drew 2 new illustrations for this book, with my eyes set on the taste of some kind of art prints. The drawing is printed by 3 inks (almost-black-indigo, gold, opaque-white) on natural brown paper. I’m very proud on this cover!



Judith Butler’s recent lectures have been kinda weird, don’t you think

i enjoy the joke, but i also want to cite the original artist, gengoroh tagame
oh ps gengoroh ranges from beefcake to the hardest of hardcore porn so, y’know, check him out at your own discretion

rebageling again for credit!

GENGOROH TAGAME : Standing Ovation, 2010

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.