Book: The Book of Human Insects
Author/artist: Osamu Tezuka
Published: 2011 (Vertical; this edition), 1970-1971 (Play Comic; original serial run)
Trying to get a handle on what’s so good about a revolutionary is difficult when said revolutionary ushered in the movement that became the norm over the next forty years. Style taken for granted and even expected now blew people’s hair off when it first came out. But how does a style stay fresh through its process of mainstreaming?
Wait, I’m supposed to have an answer for that. Um. Sex and violence and blackmailing that all revolves around a pretty young girl who manipulates her way through most of the artistic talent spectrum while recharging at her childhood home next to a wax figure of her dead mother will always cause compulsive page-turning. Especially if there’s an insect metamorphosis structural metaphor that’s obvious but never explicated mentioned (I love you a little for that, Mr. Tezuka). Especially especially if the characters are all drawn so uniquely and the sound effects are either onomonopias or stage directions, depending on what makes the story clearer.
Yes! That is why Tezuka still reads completely unique. Uh huh.
I mean it could be that I’m still a noob in the comic world. But y’all, the point is I liked the story and I connected with the emotions and I kept turning the pages (taking a break when they discussed the Japanese steel industry and flinching twice when the young girl gets slapped by a man—once because she stole a life’s work’s honor from one and once because she wanted to get rid of another’s child, which—I understand the first instance a lot better even if my kneejerk reaction is “Gah let’s not hit women”) until I hit the lonely, lonely end.
And ultimately, that’s the best measure I have as your Constant Reader.