The Man Next Door

Masahiko Matsumoto (Edited and translated by Ryan Holmberg)
Published by: Breakdown Press, 2014

By the late 1950s, a new language of expression had come to dominate Japanese comics. Against the conventions of children’s manga, it introduced a more adult focus on dynamic cinematic panelling, gritty urban settings, and the violence and hardships of everyday life in postwar Japan. Today, this style is known as “gekiga” (dramatic pictures), a term coined by one of Japan’s most famous cartoonists, Tatsumi Yoshihiro, in 1957.

The true innovator, however, was a little known figure named Matsumoto Masahiko. His name for the style was “komaga” (panel pictures), in honor of the fact that the essence of storytelling in the comics medium is based on the dramatic composition of multiple paneled pictures. Matsumoto began exploring this new language in 1954, then perfected it in a series of gripping mystery stories between 1955 and 1957. Japanese comics would never be the same.

The Man Next Door collects four of Matsumoto’s “komaga” stories, each of which have been translated into English for the first time. The volume also includes an essay by Ryan Holmberg on the importance of Matsumoto’s work in the history of Japanese manga, as well as an explanation of “komaga” by the artist himself.

The Man Next Door was printed by Risograph at Victory Press in London.
The production of this book was supported by the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures.


Ryan Holmberg is an art and comics historian. After receiving his PhD in Japanese Art History from Yale University in 2007, he taught at the University of Chicago, City University of New York, and the University of Southern California. He is a frequent contributor to Art in America, Artforum, Yishu, and The Comics Journal. He has edited and translated a number of historically important Japanese comics, amongst them Tezuka Osamu’s The Mysterious Underground Men (PictureBox 2014), winner of the 2014 Eisner Award for Best U.S. Edition of International Material: Asia.

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