Yoshiharu Tsuge, trans. from the Japanese by Ryan Holmberg. Drawn & Quarterly, $29.95 (284 p) ISBN 978-1-77046-506-0
Tsuge (The Swamp) sends readers through a twilight back-alley world of obsession and paranoia in this essential collection of short stories from one of the most acclaimed creators of alternative manga. The title piece, “Nejishiki” (which has been previously translated as “Screw-Style”), is arguably Tsuge’s most famous short work, a dream-inspired journey through a landscape of cryptic symbolism and vague menace. In this story and others in the volume, a nameless protagonist wanders through derelict buildings and empty village streets, pursuing amorphous desires and anxieties as he encounters figures who offer dubious help. Even more starkly naturalistic pieces—such as “A Summer Memory,” in which a man out on a stroll comes across a female accident victim and responds by sticking his hand in her underwear—have a nightmarish, unreal bent. Tsuge’s constantly shifting art style mixes simple character designs with feverishly detailed backgrounds, a common manga technique that Tsuge takes to such extremes that his pages have the look of Surrealist collage. This is the third in Homberg’s excellent series at Drawn & Quarterly translating Tsuge’s short manga, and covers what many consider his strongest period. It’s a must-read for any aficionado of alt-manga. (Sept).
Reviewed on: 09/01/2023