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Art historian and writer. National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilizations (INALCO), Paris, France, professor; Center of the French School of the Far East, Tokyo, Japan, head.
(With Jocelyn Bouquillard) Hokusai Manga, Seuil/Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris, France), 2007.
(With Jocelyn Bouquillard) Hokusai, First Manga Master, translated by Liz Nash, Abrams (New York, NY), 2007.
An art historian who specializes in the history of publishing in Japan, Christophe Marquet is the author, with Jocelyn Bouquillard, a curator at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in the Photography and Prints department, of Hokusai, First Manga Master. The book looks at a master Japanese engraver named Katsushika Hokusai, whose style was a precursor to the modern Japanese comic style that has swept the globe. Known for his beautiful, strange, and sometimes surreal sketches and caricatures, Hokusai includes in his work studies of facial expressions, postures, and various situations, from the mundane tasks and duties of everyday life to otherworldly ponderings. In his landscapes, Hokusai shows his compassion for the peasants, farmers and artisans, while still often inserting the absurd into his landscape work. For example, his landscapes and other artwork may show a common scene in life with the addition of ghosts and gods in the picture or just a fanciful depiction of mice wearing kimonos.
In their book, Marquet and Bouquillard take the readers on a tour of Hokusai's work. The book is an editorial condensation of a series of works by Hokusai, originally released in Japan in fifteen serial volumes over forty years between 1814 and 1878. "Writer Christophe Marquet highlights an unanticipated element of the Manga's global significance in his introduction," noted Rob Vollmar in a review of the book on the Comics Worth Reading Web site. The authors had more than 4,000 images to choose from for inclusion in the book and are presented to reflect the original images as closely as possible, even to the extent of leaving in faded coloring. Images are grouped thematically in an effort to reflect the artist's original intention of presenting them as a type of encyclopedia. Writing in the same review, Vollmar noted that the book "is, at once, a copious sketchbook left by one of the 19th century's most influential artists, an encyclopedia of Japanese visual culture before Westernization, as well as the supposed precedent for one of the world's now dominant narrative art traditions."
Although Hokusai's works differ from most comics in that the works do not tell stories in sequence, many critics, including the authors, believe that Hokusai's work has fundamentally influenced modern Japanese comic artists. The authors comment on the drawings in a manner that "moves the material beyond … [its] original function, delivering stunning … drawings," according to Comics Worth Reading Web site contributor Vollmar. Martha Cornog, writing in the Library Journal, noted that the "work can be appreciated by comics fans interested in Japanese history."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Choice, October, 2007, review of Hokusai, First Manga Master, p. 269.
Library Journal, September 15, 2007, Martha Cornog and Steve Raiteri, "Graphic Novels," review of Hokusai, First Manga Master, p. 41.
Comics Worth Reading,http://comicsworthreading.com/ (January 13, 2008), Rob Vollmar, review of Hokusai, First Manga Master.