“Alcoholics are complicated,” Manga creator Hideo Azuma muses near the end of Disappearance Diary, his by turns amusing and sobering account of the multiple occasions when he dropped off the grid times due to work and other pressures. Azuma’s cartoonish art makes for an interesting contrast to some of the pretty chilling material included here, such as his months-long stretches as a homeless person (complete with dumpster-diving,) becoming a manual laborer after abandoning his wife, and his stint in a hospital’s rehab wing. While I’d normally be tempted to say that the material is undermined by the relative lack of nuance presented by the visuals, they serve to distinctly mark the work as his story, told in his voice, using an art style familiar to readers of his work. There’s a few stretches where I sort of questioned what Azuma was doing (the too-detailed description of his life working for a the gas company for instance, killed a lot of the emotional momentum for me) but I found this to be a very satisfying read overall. The only real problems I have with the work were more the fault of Fanfare/Potenent Mon than anything else. The quality of the translation was frequently lacking, yanking me out of the material by a too-stiff phrase, and the slipshot lettering compounded things, with some basic tenets of comics grammar ignored for the sake of a quick cut-and-paste job. (Yes, it involves the Barried “I”. It always involves the barred “I”, guys.)
Amazon, of course offers it at a discount, if your local library or comics shop can’t provide.
I’d like to thank Deb Aoki for pointing this book out to me after I’d mentioned my anger at Whole Foods’ summary firing of a good employee after he’d set aside a sandwich that was to be thrown out. Wasting perfectly good food drives me up the wall, and she thought I’d find way Azuma discusses this practice interesting. She was right!