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In 2013, Fantagraphics released The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame: Master of Gay Erotic Manga, which can easily be considered the most important English translation and compendium of a gay Japanese comic artist. Gengoroh Tagame reigns supreme, so there was no indication that editors Graham Kolbeins and Anne Ishii, with book design by Chip Kidd, could possibly top The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame, yet here we are, a year later with another absolutely divine book, equal to the Tagame collection and yet mind-blowing on so many different levels. Before anyone accuses me of hyperbole: bara, gay Japanese manga by gay artists for gay audiences, is the shit. The unfettered (and sometimes very fettered) eroticism, the DIY-to-refined art and storytelling are rarely, if ever, published—much less translated—outside of Japan, meaning an entire queer culture is mostly out of Western reach, sans the nether regions of the Internet with fan-made translations. Well, this is not the case anymore, because Massive is just that: massively hot, massively entertaining and massively informative. It’s as if the editors decided that they had just one shot at this and went whole hog, literally.
Tagame is back. His work rightfully opens the book, which is printed right to left, so you start at the back (as is the case with the Japanese language), and which features eight other prominent artists: Inu Yoshi, Kumada Poohsuke, Takeshi Matsu, Jiraiya, Gai Mizuki, Fumi Miyabi, Seizoh Ebisubashi and Kazuhide Ichikawa, all with interviews and photos. The breadth of their story telling—from cavemen to yakuza, from hard passion to incidental transgressions—and the varied drawing styles—from the cartoonish to the more traditional, traceable to Japanese woodblock prints—all make this book an absolute treasure trove. An illustrated timeline of gay sexuality in Japanese culture at the end serves as an excellent primer, hopefully bringing renewed attention to 20th-century masters Go Mishima and Sadao Hasegawa. (Yes, I’m talking to you Anne Ishii,Graham Kolbeins, and company. Keep up the good work, domo arigatou gozaimasu!).
Here is the video from the release party of Massive at DOOP in Tokyo’s gay district, Shinjuku Ni-chome:
Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It
Edited by Graham Kolbeins and Anne Ishii
Book design and introduction by Chip Kidd
Paperback, 9781606997857, 280 pp.