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The Four Immigrants Manga

The Four Immigrants Manga

A Japanese Experience in San Francisco, 1904-1924

The first English translation of the groundbreaking 1931 graphic novel!

A "documentary comic book" published in San Francisco in 1931, depicting the true adventures of four young Japanese men in America between 1904 and 1924. 

Written and illustrated by Henry Yoshitaka Kiyama(ヘンリー木山義喬, translated with copious notes and a foreword by Frederik L. Schodt, and published by Stone Bridge Press in 1998 as The Four Immigrants Manga: A Japanese Experience in San Francisco, 1904-1924.

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7 x 9"




"These poignant tales of four immigrants in turn-of-the-century San Francisco try for irony in depicting the protagonists' attempts to understand the convoluted whims of their American employers. But the humor hovers near slapstick, and the pie is always in the face of the Caucasians. The illustrations are direct and effective; we see how hard it is for Japanese immigrants to reach the top shelf of an American cupboard. The story is bookended by the dates 1904 and 1924, as in 1924 the immigration laws stiffened and some of the protagonists elected to return to Japan. 

After 18 years of preparation, this book includes extensive notes historically pinpointing several of the cartoons and an introduction providing an overview of the author/illustrator. Though not quite the first "graphic novel" ever, as it is being touted, this book does have historical significance and belongs in libraries specializing in comics, cartoons, and graphic novels, as well as those focusing on California history, immigrant studies, and the Japanese American experience.

Library Journal

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About the Author(s)

Henry (Yoshitaka) Kiyama

Henry (Yoshitaka) Kiyama

Immigrated to the United States in 1904 where he wrote The Four Immigrants Manga,  an early example of autobiographical comics.

Frederik L. Schodt

Frederik L. Schodt

Fluent in spoken and written Japanese, is an author and translator of impressive breadth. He has written extensively on Japanese manga, as well as on pop culture, technology, and history. 

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