August 22, 2012
Elsewhere: The Aomushi Showa Manga Library at
For more the past year-and-a-half, The Comics Journal's Ryan Holmberg has been writing a column by the name of "What Was Alternative Manga?" This series of articles (found here, in reverse chronological order) looks at the history of Japan's equivalent of America's underground/indy/art comics movements. I must admit (if I haven't already) that manga is a notable blind spot for me, so I look forward to reading this column to get my foot in the door.
Most exciting, however, is Holmberg's most recent post on the Aomushi Showa Manga Library in Tadami (western Fukushima Prefecture). Although it is only one of many cultural institutions devoted to manga, it is Holmberg's favorite for the quantity of kashihon (rental books) of certain periods and styles of manga. If this strikes you as odd, it may help to know that (as I understand it) Japan has long had a culture of book rental, whereas it has been largely absent here in the U.S. In any case, this impressive library houses thousands of jewels of the "alternative manga" that is relatively unknown outside Japan. Interesting stuff!