REVIEW: The Collected Toppi vol.6 – Japan (2021)

A Graphic novel by Sergio Toppi

Sergio Toppi was one of the masters of European comics, sadly passing away about a decade ago. What he leaves behind is nearly a century of amazing illustrations and comics, finally being collected for the English market here in numerous volumes. I was unaware of this series (The Collected Toppi) until I saw this collection of pieces he did that happen to be themed around, or take place in Japan, available for review. As a result, I will definitely need to seek some more of these out as I love his artwork. Toppi first came to my attention when Heavy Metal Magazine either ran a feature on, or posted an article on their website about an impressive tarot deck he had released at some point. The images were striking, and I was amazed he was not more of a household name over here. The artwork is not atypical for European comics, but I can imagine that is because a lot of folks that came after him borrowed from his style considerably.

“This sixth volume contains five tales set in feudal Japan, presented in English for the first time: Tanka, Kimura, Sato, Ogari 1650, and Momotaro.
Featuring a new foreword by celebrated artist Kent Williams.”

The thing that is most striking of these stories is the authenticity they hold. It may be that Toppi was a fan of Akira Kurosawa samurai films or some such, but these stories stand out from the typical “mysterious far east” tropes that many western properties had at the time. Things like The Mikado or a multitude of Asian martial arts films come to mind as being especially problematic in regards to weird notions of what Japan was. These collected stories span from 1976 to as late as 2001, and each one is rich with beautiful art and deep with intrigue in the scripts. Most are adapted from tales from Japanese history, which show’s Toppi’s commitment to authenticity. I enjoyed his take on the legendary blacksmith Goro Masamune quite a bit, especially.

This is a no-brainer for anyone that enjoys European comics – do yourself a favor and start looking at these gorgeous volumes. Also, if you are a fan of Samurai films of the 1960’s and 1970’s, I’d imagine this would also be up there with something you would enjoy. They are available in hardcover volumes, which I assume would be most people’s preferred choice, or as a Kindle E-book. As far as I can tell, there are six volumes in this series that are numbered as this one is, and one on Biblical stories that appears to be in the same style.

If you would like a copy of this for yourself, click HERE

NOTE: I received a free preliminary, and likely unedited copy of this book from Netgalley for the purposes of providing an honest, unbiased review of the material. Thank you to all involved.

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