The Secret Life of Nuclear Gypsies
In 1979 on a small island in Pennsylvania, after a myriad of complications, a nuclear plant omitted dangerous radioactive gases in the air. The Three Mile Island accident became the most alarming nuclear event in American history. This same event sparked Japanese magazines Garo and COM to call politically ardent manga …
In 1979 on a small island in Pennsylvania, after a myriad of complications, a nuclear plant omitted dangerous radioactive gases in the air. The Three Mile Island accident became the most alarming nuclear event in American history. This same event sparked Japanese magazines Garo and COM to call politically ardent manga artist Susumu Katsumata to create what we know now as Why Nuclear Power is Scary. Pages inked with fantastic visual interpretations of Katsumata’s interviews and research tells the unlikely stories of janitors working in a nuclear plant and the stark truth of their occupation.
This year independent publishing company, Breakdown Press, republished an English translation of Susumu Katsumata’s work Fukushima Devil Fish, a collection of his illustrated documentaries on “nuclear gypsies.” Despite nuclear power being one of the more feasible alternatives to fossil fuels, the fact of the matter is that nuclear power is frightening when things don’t go as planned. Even when it functions properly, its lethal properties poisons the environment, the 2011 meltdowns following the earthquake in Japan as a prime example.
Too many things can go wrong. And Katsumata wasn’t sold on this renewable energy source either:
“My impressions upon seeing a nuclear power plant? I’m a little prejudiced since I’m against nuclear power. But while the plants look clean and nice from the outside, inside they feel like a regular factory or plant. I don’t know if cluttered is the right word, but there are exposed wires and pipes everywhere, and cables squirming across the ground. […] You don’t feel like you are in the presence of the cutting-edge of technology.”
Structured into two segments, Katsumata tackles themes based on sociological conflicts of technology and humanity coexisting. While the first segment of Fukushima Devil Fish continues to inform the public on the dangers of having such a risky energy source, the second segment uses Japanese folklore to highlight Japan’s difficult transition into industrialization during the 60s and 70s. Edited by Asakawa Mitsuhiro and translated by Ryan Holmberg, this version of Devil Fish is more eye-catching than ever. This mindful graphic novel has remained as one of Katsumata’s best work. You can purchase this new version of the Fukushima Devil Fish on Breakdown Press.
All images © 2018 Susumu Katsumata