Smash Pages Q&A: Gengorah Tagame

Alex Dueben goes back to the vault to share an interview with the legendary creator from 2017 on ‘My Brother’s Husband.’

Gengoroh Tagame is a comics legend, though many fans around the world may not know his work. He has long been acclaimed and beloved for his series of gay erotic comics, something that he’s achieved more attention for in recent years here in the U.S. with the publication of The Passion of Gegoroh Tagame and other books. His most recent project is the award-winning My Brother’s Husband, which after being released in hardcover in two volumes, is available now in an oversized paperback.

The book tells the story of Yaichi, a divorced father in suburban Tokyo who is visited by the widower of his twin brother, Ryoji. Mike wants to know and understand his late husband’s family, and Yaichi’s daughter is eager to, but what follows is a thoughtful meditation on prejudice, gender, conformity and identity. It is a hopeful and moving story about family life, masterfully told by one of the great cartoonists of his generation. At one point in the interview I mentioned the late Robert Mapplethorpe, an artist who remains beloved and perhaps best known for his erotic work, but who was a great portrait photographer with a gift for capturing people. Tagame has spent his career working as an artist, but while most straight people might be able to simply say that he was a great draftsman, he’s much more than that. What has made him great is his skill at body language, at conveying subtlety, depicting hidden or buried emotion. This is a project where he is putting those skills to work in a different way, and one that will hopefully introduce him to even larger audience.

I had the opportunity to interview Tagame in 2017, when the first volume was released in North America, although the article was never published. The collected paperback edition of My Brother’s Husband comes out today from Pantheon Books, and I’m happy to show this conversation with one of the world’s great cartoonists.

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