By Kuniko Tsurita. Published by Drawn & Quarterly.
Softcover, 384 pages, B&W, 2020.
A visionary and iconoclastic feminist Garo magazine cartoonist—available in English for the first time
Translated from the Japanese by Ryan Holmberg
The Sky is Blue with a Single Cloud collects the best short stories from Kuniko Tsurita’s remarkable career. While the works of her male peers in literary manga are widely reprinted, this formally ambitious and poetic female voice is like none other currently available to an English readership. A master of the comics form, expert pacing and compositions combined with bold characters are signature qualities of Tsurita's work.
Tsurita’s early stories “Nonsense” and “Anti” provide a unique, intimate perspective on the bohemian culture and political heat of late 1960s and early ‘70s Tokyo. Her work gradually became darker and more surreal under the influence of modern French literature and her own prematurely failing health. As in works like “The Sky Is Blue with a Single Cloud” and “Max,” the gender of many of Tsurita's strong and sensual protagonists is ambiguous, marking an early exploration of gender fluidity. Late stories like "Arctic Cold" and "Flight" show the artist experimenting with more conventional narrative modes, though with dystopian themes that extend the philosophical interests of her early work.
An exciting and essential gekiga collection, The Sky Is Blue with a Single Cloud is translated by comics scholar Ryan Holmberg and includes an afterword cowritten by Holmberg and the manga editor Mitsuhiro Asakawa delineating Tsurita's importance and historical relevance.
Praise for The Sky is Blue with a Single Cloud
A fantastic, continually surprising look at one of Japan’s most innovative—and least remembered—manga artists.The Atlantic
Graced with a thorough, informative afterword by Ryan Holmberg, The Sky is Blue with a Single Cloud is a generous, well-annotated retrospective, serving as both a fitting memorial and effective showcase for this iconoclastic artist, the first and only regular female creator for the legendary alt-Manga magazine Garo.Solrad
Meticulously curated... The Sky Is Blue with a Single Cloud is a label-defying collection of Kuniko Tsurita's gekiga [that] explores the role of women through numerous shorts in unexpected formats.Terry Hong, Shelf Awareness
A selection of comics completed by Tsurita—the only female cartoonist to appear regularly in the influential alternative manga magazine Garo before the late Seventies, arrives in English for the first time, featuring a smoothly rendered translation by Holmberg.Seattle Public Library, Best Graphic Novels of 2020
Tsurita gets her due in this retrospective... essential reading for fans of underground comics.Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
The Sky Is Blue with a Single Cloud is a superb and beautiful collection, one worth repeated readings for pleasure and reflection alike. The Anglophone world owes thanks to those involved in its production that English speaking audiences will finally get to encounter Tsurita's powerfully innovative and provocative work, which resonates with meaning for manga historians and contemporary audiences alike.Pop Matters
A long overdue and revelatory collection of masterfully crafted and deeply affecting stories.Library Journal
Gathered together in The Sky Is Blue with a Single Cloud, [the] stylistic differences across her oeuvre are now more discernible, affirming Tsurita’s role as pioneering comic artist (no gendered qualifier needed!). At last, her short career (she died at 35) can finally be recognized in mainstream comics.Hyperallergic
Challenging and insightful.Heroic Girls
[Sky is Blue with a Single Cloud] centers women while exploring the human experience through misogyny, sexuality and gender, patriarchy, politics, social disruption, and existential identity. If ever there was a time for us to be pummeled across the head with these themes, it’s now.CNMN Magazine
Despite some stories being over fifty years old, this book felt relevant to modern times and politics – a treat for contemporary literature readers, and graphic novel fans alike.Charlevoix Public Library Winter Picks
[T]hough her life may have been cut short by illness, Tsurita still impacts anyone reading her work on a level so deep it seems she might well have been a pen pal.Blogcritics
[This] collection of work from Kuniko Tsurita brought the work of the underexplored mangaka to the forefront this year, with one of the best collections of short stories to come out of the Japanese underground.Asian Movie Pulse, 10 Best Manga Releases of 2020
Offering far more than a glimpse into Kuniko’s professional career, The Sky is Blue reflects on her satirical subversion of social and cultural ideals of femininity in an industry dominated by men.ArtReview