Posts Tagged ‘Yoshihiro Tatsumi’


Illustration by Max Currie

Before I begin with excerpts from the book, I want to introduce Max Currie, the guy who illustrated Baby, You’re a Rich Man. When I was developing the character of Kent Richman and figuring where he fit in the Japanese landscape, I began to see how Kent’s life mirrored the comic book characters I’d read in manga from masters like Yoshiro Tatsumi, whose underground comics reflected a darker reality. I thought including illustrations, more graphic novel than comic, would enhance and complement the book since Kent’s life had begun to mirror the tone of some of the gekiga (dramatic pictures) style of Japanese comics. I like the way the illustrations reflect the combination of grim realism and the absurdly comic. And there’s the more obvious connection between the setting and Japanese comic books. The challenge was to find someone who could put what I saw in my head on paper.

I’d seen Max’s work and thought that he was going for similar effects and might understand how to capture the Japanese aesthetic without copying it directly. I wanted the illustrations to feel unique to the book and have a thuggish sense of humor, to take themselves seriously but be oversized like comic books and noirish like some graphic novels. But I also didn’t want to be too prescriptive. I wanted to see another’s interpretation.

I gave Max the manuscript, some general guidelines, and said have at it. He read it and came back with a few sketches, rough drawings that aimed to give Kent and other details of the book a distinct look. While that look has evolved, I recognized then that Max understood both Kent and the book.

From there Max took off, inked twenty plus original drawings. I wanted an illustration to precede each chapter but I asked Max not to worry about matching them with what was happening directly in the narrative. Instead, he discovered then focused on specific key details and transformed them into iconic visual moments that represent both the chapter (either directly or indirectly) and the book at large, yet still move the book forward. I love the way the words and images finally work together.

I’m grateful to Max for taking the chance and doing great work. So… thanks, Max. It’s been a pleasure.


Max Currie

You can check Max and his work out here at:
Max Currie – How a Raven is Like a Writing Desk