Hell is a comic that reifies the idea that the comics medium can be used to tell serious stories about serious issues.* It’s written and drawn by Yoshihiro Tatsumi, whose work resembles the dramatic comics by Will Eisner and Osamu Tezuka. It’s also reminiscent of Akira Kurosawa’s films set in modern times, such as I Wake Up Screaming and The Dead Sleep Well; it has a similar stark quality. The story of Hell is about a man revisiting the ruins of Hiroshima 22 years after he witnessed the horrible aftermath of the bombing in 1945. He reflects back on that day and recalls how he found shadows of people scorched onto walls like daguerrotypes. He became a minor celebrity when he photographed what looked like the shadow of a boy massaging his mother’s back. In a Will Eisner kind of ironic twist, he later finds out that boy was a hit-man, and he had been strangling the woman when the bomb hit. The story doesn’t end there. The comic deals with how sometimes memorializing a tragedy and speaking peaceful platitudes and truisms does little to alleviate the darkness and violence the tragic event stands for. Highly recommended. It can be found in Good-bye, a graphic novel of Yoshihiro’s work.
See: Maus, A Contract With God, or The Pride of Baghdad.
Tomorrow it’ll be something less depressing than Hell.