Mokko (Ehon) モッコ 絵本 [children’s book]
Fujita Kenji ふじたけんじ, artist, Kimura Isao きむらいさお, author
Bungeikyōkai Shuppan 文芸協会出版, publisher
Single volume 29.4 x 21.2cm bound Western style, opens Japanese style. Navy textured paper over hard boards with a printed title slip. Black and white throughout with Japanese text. Illustrated title page followed by 12 double-page woodblock reproductions by Fujita Kenji ふじたけんじ [藤田健治]. Text is by Kimura Isao きむらいさお. (The original blocks were cut by Kawashima Keizō かわしまけいぞう.) This is a children's book reproduced from an original woodblock work. A 4pp 10.8 x 15cm sheet is tipped in between the colophon and last page and addressed to mothers that features short essays by the artist, author and others.
Manga and monsters go hand-in-hand, and in this book, cartoon-like characters face imaginary beasts of large proportions. Fujita uses the double-page to great advantage; the monsters appear even larger and scarier as a result. In Mokko, the first illustration is a landscape of a snowy winter day and the second illustration features a tree that is centered between the pages, stretching over to both sides, while villagers work in the rice fields underneath its branches. The idyllic atmosphere is ruptured in the third illustration, when a creature appears out of nowhere, killing many of the villagers. The gigantic centipede-like insect confronts the citizens and reader across double pages until ultimately the village is saved by the volcano Mokko that watches over it. The last page is simply white text against a dark background.
Fujita Kenji [藤田健治] was born in 1939 in Tsuruta-cho 鶴田町 in Aomori-ken 青森県, a lovely, forested prefecture that to this day reflects its name of “Aomori” (青森, “green woods.”) A cartoonist, print artist and essayist, Fujita formerly retired in 1999, but his work continues to be exhibited in museums and featured in local commercial products. Starting out as a civil servant working for the local Minyu Aomori 青森民友 newspaper, he was encouraged in his artwork. As a child, he had been inspired by the established manga artists Osamu Tetzuka 手塚治虫 and Masazo Takenami 竹浪正造 and so began developing his unique cartoon style, relying on his rural childhood for inspiration. One particular memory, of playing under a neighborhood Tamo tree (タモ, Japanese ash) , influenced many of his landscape and pictorial images. The artistry of woodblock prints, coupled with the whimsy and nostalgia of childhood, is an intriguing combination. He is also known for his non-fiction book "Kangofu no Oyaji Ganbaru" 看護婦のオヤジがんばる series, based on his own experience of living with a wife who was a nurse, which was made into a movie in 1980.
Foxing to title slip and marks on rear cover.