GOOD-BYE reviewed in The Tampa Tribune

Graphic Tales

Tampa Tribune    |    Kevin Walker    |    August 31, 2008

Every year, it's the same thing - some of the best releases are graphic novels. And every year, I have to convince people that reading one doesn't make you an overgrown adolescent. Or a moron. I also hear from people who want to know more recommendations, which is always a scary thing, as I can never tell who I might offend if I offer something that might be a bit, ah, too edgy.

My problems aside, today seemed a good day to mention a few graphic novels, as a number of good ones were recently released, or will be in the fall.

"Good-Bye," by Yoshihiro Tatsumi (Drawn & Quarterly, $19.95)

Yoshihiro Tatsumi is one of the greats of Japanese manga, a man who figured out decades ago that a graphic novel could be used as a great medium for writing gritty, literary short stories about the intensely private lives of everyday citizens.

It makes for gripping, if not altogether comfortable, reading. For example, "Just a Man," the second story in this collection, deals in a memorable way with middle age and impotency and somehow makes it a metaphor for Japan itself.

But the one you're most likely to remember is "Hell." It revolves around a Japanese photographer who takes pictures shortly after the atomic bomb destroys Hiroshima. In addition to the charred corpses, there are the "shadow people," people whose silhouettes were burned into buildings from the flash of the bomb.

"I burst into tears when I saw it," the photographer says when he sees the shadows of what appears to be a young child comforting a mother. But when he learns the truth, the story begins a series of twists and turns that show Tatsumi's storytelling mastery.

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