Manga Kamishibai: The Art of Japanese Paper Theater, 1930 to 1960

613qmgnbokl_ss400_An Illustrated Lecture and artifact demonstration by Eric P. Nash, author of Manga Kamishibai: The Art of Japanese Paper Theater
Date: Monday, August 23rd
Time: 8:00
Admission: $5
Presented by Morbid Anatomy and part of the Oxberry Pegs Presents series
Books will be available for sale and signing

Before giant robots, space ships, and masked super heroes filled the pages of Japanese comic books–known as manga–such characters were regularly seen on the streets of Japan in kamishibai stories. Manga Kamishibai: The Art of Japanese Paper Theater tells the history of this fascinating and nearly vanished Japanese art form that paved the way for modern-day comic books, and is the missing link in the development of modern manga.

During the height of kamishibai in the 1930s, storytellers would travel to villages and set up their butais (miniature wooden prosceniums) on the back of their bicycles, through which illustrated boards were presented. The story boards–colorful, hand-painted, original art drawn with the great haste that signifies manga, glued on cardboard and lacquered to protect them in the rain–told stories ranging from action-packed westerns to science-fiction stories to ninja tales to monster stories to Hiroshima stories to folk tales and melodramas for the girls. Golden Bat, a supernatural, cross-eyed, skull-faced superhero; G-men; Cinderella; the Lone Ranger; and even Batman and Robin starred in kamishibai stories. The storytellers acted as entertainers, acting out the parts of each character with different voices and facial expressions, and sometimes too, they became reporters, when the stories were the nightly news reports on World War II. Kamishibai was so popular and widespread, that when television hit Japan in the mid-1950s, it was known as denki kamishibai–electric paper theater.

Tonight, author Eric P. Nash will tell the story of kamishibai as detailed in his gorgeous new book Manga Kamishibai: The Art of Japanese Paper Theater. He will also bring in a genuine kamishibai set from the 1930s and make copies of his book available for sale and signing.

Eric P. Nash has been a researcher and writer for the New York Times since 1986. He is the author of several books about art, architecture, and design, including Manga Kamishibai: The Art of Japanese Paper Theater, MiMo: Miami Modernism Revealed, and The Destruction of Penn Station. His work has also appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The San Francisco Chronicle and Discover magazine.

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