2012 First Prize of Manga Kingdom Tottori International Comic Art Contest
Nominee of 2016 for Golden Comic Award for Best New Artist
As a young boy, manga artist Isamu Kurosawa came from the ocean, a gift for what his father had lost. Decades earlier, when his father, Taiwanese fisherman Hsieh Lang-Hsiung, also known as Rou, was no more than a boy himself, he was out fishing with his father, grandfather, and elder brother when their boat got caught in a terrible storm. The male members of his family – father, brother, and grandfather – were swept overboard by waves and gale-force winds. When Rou’s brother fell overboard, a terrified Rou fired the harpoon in his direction, hoping to catch at least one member of his family. Instead, the harpoon pierced his brother’s body. Returning home, he watched his mother crumple under the weight of the disaster.
One day, a grown Rou finds a young boy set adrift in a boat, a cloth painted with the name “Kurosawa” tied around his ankle. Rou names him Isamu. Although Isamu Kurosawa’s name and ambiguous heritage made his childhood difficult, the care and support of his parents gave him the strength to travel to Japan to fulfill his dream of becoming a manga artist. In the memories of his troubled past he searches for the strength to face reality, and to tell his father’s story.
This beautiful masterpiece of ink on paper brings to our eyes new possibilities for the manga genre, both as narrative and as visual art. Chen Jian’s characters do not “look” like traditional manga characters so often do – their faces and bodies reflect their emotions and environments, not the tropes of cartoon hyperbole. This narrative art speaks in a register that most of us have never heard before.