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No Nukes for Dinner: Katsumata Susumu’s Anti-Nuclear Manga
- Ryan Holmberg (Visiting Associate Professor at University of Tokyo, freelance art historian/critic and editor/translator of manga)
One of the regulars of the legendary alternative manga monthly Garo in the magazine’s heyday of the late 1960s and early 1970s, Susumu Katsumata (1943-2007) has the curious distinction of having risen within the world of political cartooning and literary comics while studying toward a graduate degree in nuclear physics in Tokyo.
While best known for his stories about life and myth in the Japanese countryside, Katsumata also drew frequently about political and social issues since the mid 1960s, including numerous satirical strips about nuclear arms and the influence of big science within Japanese universities. After the anti-nuclear power movement gelled in Japan in the late 70s, Katsumata began illustrating critical science books about the history and dangers of nuclear power. He also drew frequent humor strips on related topics, as well as moving stories about the “nuclear gypsies” who maintained Japan’s nuclear plants under oppressive work conditions.
This talk will survey Katsumata’s work on the subject of nuclear power, which is the largest, most diverse, and most trenchant such oeuvre in Japanese visual art prior to the 2011 meltdowns in Fukushima. The talk supports two publications, a recently published collection of Katsumata’s manga titled Fukushima Devil Fish (Breakdown Press) and a forthcoming history of antinuclear thought, protest, and cartooning in Japan around Katsumata’s career, titled No Nukes for Dinner: How One Japanese Cartoonist and His Country Learned to Distrust the Atom (publisher TBD).
Visiting Associate Professor at University of Tokyo, freelance art historian/critic and editor/translator of manga
Ryan Holmberg is a Visiting Associate Professor at University of Tokyo. As a freelance art historian and critic, he is a frequent contributor to The Comics Journal, Artforum International, and Art in America. As an editor and translator of manga, he has worked with Breakdown Press, Drawn & Quarterly, Retrofit Comics, PictureBox Inc, and New York Review Comics. He is also the author of Garo Manga: The First Decade, 1964–1973 (Center for Book Arts, 2010) and No Nukes for Dinner: How One Japanese Cartoonist and His Country Learned to Distrust the Atom (forthcoming).