Garo (magazine)

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For other uses, see Garo (disambiguation).
Garo
GaroJune1974Cover.jpg
June 1974 issue.
Categories underground avant-garde manga
Frequency Monthly
Publisher Katsuichi Nagai
First issue July 1964
Final issue December 2002
Country Japan
Language Japanese

Garo (ガロ?) was a monthly manga anthology magazine in Japan, founded in 1964 by Katsuichi Nagai. It specialized in alternative and avant-garde manga.

History[edit]

Katsuichi Nagai founded Garo in July 1964 with the help of Sanpei Shirato, naming it after one of Shirato's ninja characters. The first series published in Garo was Shirato's ninja drama Kamui, which with its themes of class struggle and anti-authoritarianism was a hit with college students. Garo attracted several influential gekiga artists such as Yoshihiro Tatsumi and Yoshiharu Tsuge, and discovered and promoted many new artists.

Garo's circulation at the peak of its popularity in 1971 was over eighty thousand. However, during the 1970s and 1980s its popularity declined. By the mid-80s its circulation was barely over twenty thousand, and its demise was rumored to be imminent. Nagai managed to keep it going independently until 1991, when it was bought out by a game software company. Although a new, young president was installed and advertisements for computer games (based on stories featured in Garo) started to run in the magazine, Nagai was kept on board as chairman until his death in 1996.

After being bought out, there were allegations of the anthology taking a more commercial path. Eventually authors who were regular to Garo went their own ways and founded other anthologies like Ax. Garo is no longer being published.

Styles and Influence[edit]

For much of its existence, Garo was the premiere showcase for "art" manga in Japan. It was popular enough during its heyday to inspire several imitators, including COM, founded by manga legend Osamu Tezuka, and Comic Baku.

Over the years, Garo went through many artistic phases, including Shirato's leftist samurai dramas, abstract art and surrealism, erotic/grotesque, and punk. Unlike many of the popular anthology titles, the magazine never had a set theme to which the stories contained within it were required to conform; the only requirements were that they were interesting, and that their content was more important than their surface form.

Although it was never considered a "major" magazine, Garo's influence both within the manga business and in Japanese society as a whole has been considerable. Many manga artists who got their start in Garo went on to do much higher-profile work elsewhere, and several films have been produced based on stories that originally ran in Garo. Contemporary graphic design in Japan owes much to Garo artists, particularly King Terry, Seiichi Hayashi, and Shigeru Tamura. Retrospectives on the magazine have appeared in mainstream non-manga magazines, and in 1994 the Kawasaki city museum had a special exhibit of work by Garo alumni.

Garo in English[edit]

For the most part, commercial manga translators have passed over the offbeat works showcased in Garo in favor of more mainstream, action/adventure and romance stories from the major publishers. Similarly, scanlation translators have mostly overlooked experimental fare. However, some Garo comics are available in English.

In the early 1990s, Viz Comics (now VIZ Media) published some of Sanpei Shirato's Kamui under the title Legend of Kamui. More recently[when?], Blast Books has published books of avant-garde manga, including many pieces from the pages of Garo. Even more recently[when?] The Comics Journal published Yoshiharu Tsuge's work Screw Style in issue #250.

In 2008 Drawn and Quarterly published Good-Bye, the third volume of their ongoing edition of the work of Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Some of the comics collected in Good-Bye originally appeared in Garo. In 2010 an English version of the anthology, 'AX', was published by Top Shelf under the title 'AX:alternative manga' (edited by Sean Michael Wilson). It featured several of the creators who had previously appeared in 'Garo' in its later years and received a high level of praise from critics.

Manga artists associated with Garo[edit]

References[edit]