Terry Watadata Brings Nikkei Manga-gatari to literASIAN 2013

terry_watada_headshotDavid HT Wong’s Escape to Gold Mountain is just one of many great new graphic novels to come from Asian Canadian authors.  Terry Watada will be launching the first Japanese Canadian graphic novel at literASIAN 2013 in November, organized by the Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop (ACWW).   How do we deliver Nikkei historical information in an engaging and creative manner? One vehicle might be the Japanese manga genre – although it must be noted that not all youth are drawn to it.

Nikkei Manga-gatari traces and ties together three generations of Nikkei history and culture in an engaging visual format.  The inspiration for this project was the immensely popular 1983 manga titled Oishinbo that dealt with Japanese food and cooking. Written by Tetsu Kariya and drawn by manga artist, Akira Hanasaki, it has sold over 100 million copies worldwide. On the surface, the manga is about the exploits of newspaper writers trying to track down the ‘ultimate menu’ that reflects the best in Japanese cuisine. Each volume focuses on an essential ingredient and gives the reader detailed social, cultural and historical information.

nikkeiEach story in Nikkei Manga-gatari illuminates the humanity of each Japanese Canadian generation. The Issei story follows a Nikkei soldier of World War I through his exploits before, during and after the battle of Vimy Ridge while the Nisei story looks at the lead-up to WWII and the internment experience.  Finally, the Sansei story looks at a sansei’s discovery of his past and its implications for his life.”

Based out of Toronto, Terry was able to put the manga stories together in a relatively short period of time. The bigger challenge was finding a Japanese Canadian artist willing to take on the task – ideally a yonsei artist who would use this opportunity to learn more about our community’s legacy.

On Friday November 22, 3.00-5.00PM at UBC Learning Exchange, Terry Watada will be giving a workshop called Writers Beware: how to avoid scams, vanity press and find happiness as a published author.

Terry is one of the pioneers of Asian Canadian writing, with publications that include Kuroshio: The Blood of Foxes, and three books of poetry, Daruma Days; and Bukkyo Tozen: a History of Buddhism in Canada (non-fiction).  He maintains a monthly column in the JCCA Bulletin.  His archives of books, records, manuscripts, and significant artifacts have been collected as the Terry Watada Special Collection and housed in the East Asian Library, Robarts Library, University of Toronto.  Most recently, he was presented the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013. 

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