Exquisite drawings, paintings, comics and photographs balance each other perfectly as they illustrate Say’s childhood path to becoming an artist.
Although its story overlaps with The Ink-Keeper’s Apprentice (1979), this visual chronicle is a fresh new wonder. It opens with a soft watercolor map of Japan on the left, framed in a rectangle, while on the right is a delicate, full-bleed watercolor of Yokohama’s seashore and fishing village, with two black-and-white photographs pasted on: Say as a child, and the stone beach wall. The early arc takes readers from Say’s 1937 birth, through family moves to escape 1941 bombings and then Say’s nigh-emancipation at age 12, when his mother supported him in his own Tokyo apartment. The one-room apartment “was for me to study in, but studying was far from my mind… this was going to be my art studio!” The art table’s drawer handle resembles a smile. Happily apprenticing with famous cartoonist Noro Shinpei, Say works dedicatedly on comic panels, still-lifes and life drawing. Nothing—not political unrest, not U.S. occupation, not paternal disapproval—derails his singular goal of becoming a cartoonist. Shinpei’s original comics are reproduced here, harmonizing with Say’s own art from that time and the graphic-novel–style panels, drawings and paintings created for this book.
Aesthetically superb; this will fascinate comics readers and budding artists while creating new Say fans. (author’s note) (Graphic memoir. 10 & up)