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Published May 18, 2014
Definitely one of the more fun comics I’ve read in a while, Adventures of a Japanese Business Man, created by José Domingo and published by Nobrow, is a silent comic book about a large-headed Japanese businessman who, upon leaving work for the day, manages to stumble into one madcap adventure after the other. A sense of lightheartedness pervades this book; I was instantly charmed by the chibi-esque characters (which reminded me so much of the art of Earthbound on SNES) and the colourful world they inhabit. The places the businessman visits are varied, from the city streets to the woods, to outer space and inside a mountain, and yes, even to the post office, all the while meeting a motley assortment of characters, friends and enemies both. Yet despite the dramatic pace of the book, Domingo is able to tell a story more ably in four to eight panels than most, and manages to create a narrative flow out of what was essentially an act of artistic improvisation. In the intro to the book, Domingo explains it this way:

“The idea stems from a fixed page set-up and the comic is created as the character walks over the space, vignette by vignette, with no previous plot or structure, so the way our protagonist faces the situations he is presented with is a surprise even for me. What did I want to achieve with this? I wanted to experiment a little and see how far I could go with this creative approach, but I especially wanted to have fun, firmly believing that the more I had fun and surprised myself while drawing this comic, the more the reader would have fun and feel surprised while going through it.”

Surprised is an understatement. While I knew this was a beautiful book the moment I got my hands on it, the amount of depth and thought that went in to each panel is evident right from the outset. Domingo uses the guise of the Japanese Businessman, a stereotypically uptight figure, as a fitting contrast to the outrageous situations he finds himself in, further heightening the gleeful insanity of each panel. Though this book is ostensibly just about a series of unfortunate events, Domingo uses his titular character to explore a staggering amount of themes, including (without getting too spoilery) the hazards of biotech, the criminal hunt for endangered species, the hypnotic power of commercialism, the merits of Buddhism, and of course, the virtue of love motels. That he manages to explore such deep themes in such a funny and cheerful way is truly an achievement. At the end of the day, however, the story is really just about a man who wants to get home, and we root for him every step of the way.Adventures of a Japanese Businessman is available on Amazon and at your local comic book store.


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