Fukushima Devil Fish: Susumu Katsumata’s Anti-Nuclear Manga

External event - Japan Society of the UK

Friday 22 September, 2017
6:00pm BST

Ryan Holmberg (Academic Associate, Sainsbury Institute)

One of the regulars of the legendary alternative manga monthly Garo in the magazine’s heyday of the late 1960s and early 1970s, Susumu Katsumata (1943-2007) has the curious distinction of having risen within the world of political cartooning and literary comics while studying toward a graduate degree in nuclear physics in Tokyo.

While best known for his stories about life and myth in the Japanese countryside, Katsumata also drew frequently about political and social issues since the mid 1960s, including numerous satirical strips about nuclear arms and the influence of big science within Japanese universities. After the anti-nuclear power movement gelled in Japan in the late 70s, Katsumata began illustrating critical science books about the history and dangers of nuclear power. He also drew frequent humor strips on related topics, as well as moving stories about the “nuclear gypsies” who maintained Japan’s nuclear plants under oppressive work conditions.

This talk will survey Katsumata’s work on the subject of nuclear power, which is the largest, most diverse, and most trenchant such oeuvre in Japanese visual art prior to the 2011 meltdowns in Fukushima. The talk will serve as a preview of two forthcoming publications, a collection of Katsumata’s manga titled Fukushima Devil Fish (Sainsbury Institute and Breakdown Press) and a history of antinuclear thought, protest, and cartooning in Japan around Katsumata’s career, titled No Nukes for Dinner: How One Japanese Cartoonist and His Country Learned to Distrust the Atom (publisher TBD).

About the Speaker

Ryan Holmberg is an Academic Associate of the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Culture. As a freelance art historian and critic, he is a frequent contributor to The Comics Journal, Artforum International, and Art in America. As an editor and translator of manga, he has worked with Breakdown Press, Drawn & Quarterly, Retrofit Comics, PictureBox Inc, and New York Review Comics. He is also the author of Garo Manga: The First Decade, 1964–1973 (Center for Book Arts, 2010) and No Nukes for Dinner: How One Japanese Cartoonist and His Country Learned to Distrust the Atom (forthcoming).

The lecture is co-organised by the Sainsbury Institute and the Japan Society.

The same lecture will be delivered in London on Monday 25 September at 6.45pm. To book your seat, please contact Japan Society 020 3075 1996 or email

Japan Society of the UK

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