Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Mystery, um, Thing

Going through some old Jim Ivey files, I encountered a folder of Japanese comics and editorial cartoons. Lurking in the folder I found this lovely and beguiling print. It is printed on tissue-thin paper (rice paper?), and it has the luminous colors that I associate with woodblock prints, though I see no evidence of woodblock lines. As you can see it's not exactly in mint condition -- pretty badly foxed on one end, dirty, and seems to have some age to it (minimum 60 years old, but I suspect quite a bit older).

There is some pretty odd imagery here, especially the giant grey hairy broccoli floret in the middle. Not to mention old guys with wings, a monster, and a couple of wolfmen.

I realize this is somewhat off-topic to the blog, but this thing is intriguing. I'm assuming it is comics of some sort. Can anyone tell me something about it? (Jim's memory of it is hazy -- his vague recollection was that there was a big book of these pages, and they did form some sort of continuity).


While I can't tell you what it is or where it's from, I did see some evidence (I think) that it's a woodblock print. Looking closely at the lower grey area and the upper blue area, is that wood grain from the block that I see? It sure looks like it to me. It sure is an interesting piece.
Hi Ben --
Interesting observation! Those gradations you're referring to are not nearly as noticeable on the actual print. But you sure are right, in the scan they do give the impression of woodgrain. Neat!

Hello Allan,

Firstly, I wish to congratulate you for your superb work and thank you for your willing to share it using your blog! :)
I asked for a translation in reddit for this print and a very solicitous person answered. It seems that it is an ukiyo-e from the series "Comic Pictures of the Floating World" by the artist Tsukioka Yoshitoshi.
I guess further information may be asked at the site Since it seems that they don't have a scan for this specific print, I'd be great if you send scans of it to them.

Best regards!
Thank you very much, zhamison, for your research on this subject! Wonderful to know what it is. I have emailed the yoshitoshi folks the image and asked for some details on the series from which it comes. Naturally Jim must have been attracted to this by 'comic pictures' being in the title! If I learn more, I'll post it here.

Thanks, again, Allan
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