From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Penned, paneled, and illustrated in just 20 days by one of the architects of the gekiga (dramatic pictures) movement in Japan, this is a prototypical work of visual pulp fiction. Two convicts escape a train wreck while handcuffed to each other. As they flee the authorities, it quickly becomes evident that one of them must sacrifice a hand in order for them to escape. Neither is willing; one man is a card shark, the other a pianist. The story and layout of the graphics are simple, and the artwork is even crude at times. With a cinematic use of perspective, intensified via the characters and their circumstances, Tatsumi constructs a thrilling narrative with emotional depth. Originally published in 1956, when Tatsumi was only 21, Black Blizzard was one of his most innovative long-form stories. At the time, the story was forward thinking for comics and exhibited the ability of the visual narrative to act as a reading experience and a more sophisticated form of entertainment. The story was an achievement for Tatsumi and a cornerstone for the current genre of seinen manga. Any fan of Tatsumi, crime noir, or art house manga will want a copy of this.
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From School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up–Part of a line of classic reprints by a renowned manga creator, this early work evokes the visual and structural conventions of film noir. A depressed pianist, unable to remember if he murdered the father of the woman he loves, escapes from his prison train into a blizzard while chained to a career criminal. There are many strands of suspense: Is the protagonist a murderer? Will they escape the police? Will his companion chop off his hand in order to free them from their chains? It is difficult to accept the tension of each of these circumstances. The constant howling of the winter wind and the bleakness that the characters must navigate suitably instills a sense of hopelessness, and the criminal companion looks constantly ready to commit violence. However, this is also part of the difficulty, as the facial expressions are reduced to minor abstractions. The lack of expressive detail prevents a degree of engagement with the inner drama of the characters and instead reduces them to stock figures. The concluding expository coincidence doesn't help in this regard, and could leave readers feeling slightly cheated. Created in 1956, Black Blizzard is part of the Silver Age of American comics, and while its sense of storytelling and structure seems more cinematic than corresponding U.S. crime comics, the figure work may not be appreciated without historical perspective.Benjamin Russell, Belmont High School, NH
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