A 1973-74 classic from a manga master. This (very) free adaptation of the novel employs a range surrealist, collage-like techniques that engage with contemporary Pop Art and psychedlia, as well as Japan’s modern history of cultural appropriation, to bring to life the great American story. It features combines Sugiura’s signature brand of absurd action and exquisite drawing.
This PictureBox edition is the first book-length publication of Sugiura’s work in English and the inaugural volume in historian Ryan Holmberg’s Ten-Cent Manga series, focusing on manga straddling Japanese and American cultural influences. An introductory essay explores the complex art history of Sugiura’s Mohicans. Also included is a translation of Sugiura’s 1988 article “Silent Movies”, on his lifelong love affair with Hollywood.
“Not really an adaptation of the James Fenimore Cooper classic, this is a translation of Sugiura’s influential 1974 manga, which was a new version of an earlier work done by the cartoonist in 1953—a work that was itself not exactly considered faithful to the novel. As pointed out in the afterword by Ryan Holmberg, Sugiura often ignores Cooper’s original and relies instead on various aspects of screen adaptations that made it over to Japan, as well as his love of silent film in general and appropriations of classic western comics designs and tropes. Here, the adventures of Hawkeye—a diminutive, wide-eyed boy also referred to as the Carabine Kid—look like they take place not in the Northeastern U.S., but in a prairie from a western movie. Art styles are mixed around energetically—the Native Americans are presented sometimes as traditional Wild West Indians, but also as outlandish cartoon characters who seem absurd at best and offensive at worst, with big noses and buck teeth. Almost everything is played for laughs more than thrills. American frontier culture as filtered through silent films and interpreted by a Japanese cartoonist adapting work from the 1950s makes for a strange reading experience, with multiple levels of cultural interpretation—and misinterpretation.” — Publishers Weekly
160 page hardcover