Review – ‘Hokusai, A Graphic Biography’: His Was a World of Infinite Possibility

Comic Books Entertainment Reviews

Giuseppe Latanza (author), Francesco Matteuzzi (illustrator)

Katsushika Hokusai is well known in the Western world for one single image: The Great Wave off Kanagawa. However, you might know that this was definitely not his one and only work of art.

Starting with his apprenticeship at young age, this graphic novel will introduce you to his life and his works, and will serve as a glimpse of the fascinating historical context of Edo-era Japan. You will also learn to spot the differences between Ukiyo-e and Yamato-e, which evolved alongside Hokusai’s work.

First, Hokusai was not his real name. Traditionally, an apprentice would take a part of the name of his master when he began signing approved works. From his block carving days to his explorations of ink and giant works, Hokusai always kept pushing himself, and he changed his names accordingly. As Wikipedia says:

Hokusai was known by at least thirty names during his lifetime. While the use of multiple names was a common practice of Japanese artists of the time, his number of pseudonyms exceeds that of any other major Japanese artist. His name changes are so frequent, and so often related to changes in his artistic production and style, that they are used for breaking his life up into periods.

This book is heavily researched and has to unpack a lot of information, because Hokusai lived a long and fruitful life, full of artistic exploration. It can work as an introduction to the artist and it will display some iconic images in a new form, following the other graphic biographies in the series, such as Kusama’s or Pollock’s.

Francesco Matteuzzi is a journalist, screenwriter, editor, and author of children’s books. His graphic books include a biography of Anna Politkovskaja. Giuseppe Latanza is a cartoonist and illustrator, who has been a professor at Graphite-School of Graphics and Comics since 2012.

Hokusai, A Graphic Biography is on sale since April 6th, 2021.

Publication Date: April 6, 2021
Graphic Lives Series
Format: Hardcover, 400 illustrations.
Price: $19.99
Genre: Biography, Adult

Featured image by Francesco Matteuzzi, all images belong to Laurence King Publishing

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