This Keiichi Tanaami’s silkscreen works were made by using Yamakawa’s original drawings, which were exhibited in a retrospective show of Soji Yamakawa held at Yayoi Museum in 2008, in commemoration of the 100 years since his birth.
At age 23 in 1931, Soji Yamakawa established a production company of “a picture-story show (which has a series of colored pictures depicting the content of the tales)” and published the first original picture-story “Shonen Oja (King of Boy)”. In the following year, 1932, he showed “Shonen Tiger (Tiger Boy)”, and it became incredibly popular. After enduring and making it through the war, Yamakawa again showed Shonen Oja (King of Boy) on the war-mangled streets of Japan. Released in book form in 1946, it became the first best selling book after the war and established a genre of its own. In 1951 Shonen Kenya (Boy in Kenya) was serialized in the national newspaper and Yamakawa soon left his mark in history by making his way to the top of a list of millionaires as an artist, overtaking Taikan Yokoyama (who was the highest authority on Japanese painting then) in 1954.
Many boys and girls were amazed when they encountered animals and supernatural beings in the unknown jungles drawn in the Yamakawa’s stories. Keiichi Tanaami was one of those enthusiastic young followers, as well.
Thinking back on those times and memories running after the picture-story show in his childhood, Tanaami talked about his encountering Yamakawa’s work as follows:
“A storyteller started a picture-story show “Shonen Oja (King of Boy)” as the gigantic sun was setting under the horizon. There were about 50 kids enjoying the show. I used to wait for a long time in long lines in order to see every show from the front row. Although the town had been destroyed and it was depressing, I got totally into the picture-story show as if I saw the whole world through it… Soji Yamakawa inspired me. I might not have worked in this field if I hadn’t encountered Shonen Oja (King of Boy) of the picture-story show and the book…” (excerpted from the article featured in “BRUTUS TRIP” (2008 July)
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