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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Comics Lowdown: Comic-Con to Stay in San Diego

Plus: Udon to publish Daigo manga, another comics shop is robbed, a comics professor quits his job

It’s official: Comic-Con International will remain in San Diego for now, resisting the blandishments of other cities such as Los Angeles and Anaheim, which have been trying to woo it away. San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced on June 30 that the city has signed a three-year deal with Comic-Con that will last through 2021; the current contract ends after next year’s show. Faulconer made a pitch for expanding the convention center, something that has been talked about for years now; the City Council recently refused his request to put a special tax on the November ballot to fund an expansion. Con-goers get a bit of a break in this new contract, though: The last contract held all hotel rooms to their 2016 prices for the duration, and the new one only allows a 4% increase over the 2018 price over the subsequent three years.

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TCAF: Translator stopped at Canadian border

While en route to the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF), translator and agent Anne Ishii was detained at Billy Bishop Airport in Toronto for over two hours yesterday as Canadian customs officers questioned her and went through every book in her luggage to determine whether she was bringing comics illegally into the country.

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