City of Sound is about cities, design, architecture, music, media, politics and more. Written by Dan Hill since 2001.

“The city doesn’t need a sky”

Written in


The best recent comic book I’ve read is from 1969. Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s The Push Man has been dug out by Adrian Tomine and lovingly reprinted by Drawn and Quarterly. Tatsumi has been described as "the grandfather of Japanese alternative comics." He mentions, in an insightful interview with Tomine, "I myself am a very normal person. Please do not interpret these stories as representative of the author’s personality." Given the entirely bleak, surreal scenarios, I’m pleased for Tatsumi-san.

The inspiration instead comes from newspaper ‘human interest’ stories. Interesting human stories, indeed. They’re almost exclusively from a male perspective but never from a position of power, essentially revolving around impotence, fear, and lack of respect. The relentlessly alienating city itself – presumably Tokyo, though it’s deliberately unclear – is implicit in the humiliation of these men. The drawing is spare and carefully lovely, as shown in these selections, which remind me of other favourites The Bloody Streets of Paris by Jacques Tardi and Leo Malet and Berlin: City of Stones by Jason Lutes.

The Push Man excerptThe Push Man excerpt

[Click the images for large versions]

The monologue accompanying these images also defines the general mood fairly well: "Sundown in the city always makes me uneasy / A pretty sky just gets me wound up, and my head starts pounding. The city doesn’t need a sky." A beautifully bleak book. Enjoy!

The Push Man, Yoshihiro Tatsumi [Amazon UK|US]


3 responses to ““The city doesn’t need a sky””

  1. Joao Avatar

    I loved it too. The character is just the sort of person one hopes to meet in a bleeky izakaya in Nishi-Shinjuku and listen to for hours and hours. Can’t wait for the next volume “Abandon The Old In Tokyo”!


  2. Jones Avatar

    Ahhh, you just can’t resist them Drawn And Quarterly comix! This sounds awesome…time to head to Borders 😉


  3. ina Avatar

    I love it very much, what it said..
    The city doesn’t need sky…
    It was almost the same with my question about Why the plant, tree and nature gradually dissapear…?? is it We as human being who live in nature don’t need nature and ignore it.. just put it when we need it.. how selfish we are…


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