Gengoroh Tagame is often cited as Japan's most influential gay manga artist. Called the "Tom of Finland of Japan," Tagame has been working as a full-time, openly gay erotica artist since 1994. His work has been described as "Mishima meets Mapplethorpe," combining a meticulously drawn manga style with boundary-pushing themes of bear culture, bondage, S&M, and sexual abuse.
The 53-year-old artist's latest and easily most mainstream title, My Brother's Husband, Volume 1, comes out tomorrow in English from Pantheon. Featuring Tagame's signature draughtsmanship, cinematic visual storytelling, and hypermasculine beefcake characters, the graphic novel is a beautiful, stirring, and deeply human work.
The story follows Yaichi, a terse single father, and his bubbly, inquisitive daughter Kana. When Yaichi's estranged twin brother dies, his husband, a mesomorphic Canadian named Mike Flanagan, arrives at Yaichi and Kana's doorstep. His twin's husband brings with him new and subversive ideas, like marriage between two men (in Japan, same-sex marriage is still illegal), that challenge Yaichi's more traditional values.
In the excerpt below, "Silhouettes," Yaichi spends the day with Mike, sharing the places of his and his brother's childhood, when he comes to a sudden, painful revelation. The panels read from the "right-most side"—right to left—as is customary in Japanese written language.
—James Yeh, culture editor
From My Brother's Husband
From MY BROTHER'S HUSBAND: Volume 1 by Gengoroh Tagame, translated by Anne Ishii. Copyright © 2014 by Gengoroh Tagame. Translation copyright © 2017 by Anne Ishii. Reprinted by permission of Pantheon Books, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. All rights reserved.