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I Wish I Was Stupid by Yoshikazu Ebisu (1982)

Overview

“I Wish I Was Stupid” (original Japanese title: Watashi wa Baka ni Naritai) is the second book by Japanese manga artist Yoshikazu Ebisu.

About the Author

Yoshikazu Ebisu was born in Kumamoto Prefecture in 1947, and grew up in Nagasaki Prefecture.

After being impacted by “Nejishiki (Screw Style)” (1968) by Yoshiharu Tsuge, he moved to Tokyo in 1970.

He debuted as a manga artist with his new face award-winning one-shot manga “Pachinko”, which was published in Seirindō’s monthly manga magazine “Garo“ in 1973. However, he couldn’t get income from creating manga until the end of the 1970s because Seirindō couldn’t pay manuscript fees to manga artists at that time because of their financial difficulties.

After working as a sign maker, a waste-paper recycler, and a Duskin (cleaning business company) salesman, he published his one-shot manga “The Uncertain Family” in jihanki-bon (magazines for adults, which had been sold from vending machines from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s in Japan) “Jam” in 1979, and re-debuted as a commercial manga artist.

From 1979 to the early 1980s, he published many surreal manga works in understand magazines, such as jihanki-bon, gekiga (realistic manga) magazines for adults, and “Garo”, and he established his position as one of the new wave/alternative manga artists.

He had also been recognized as one of illustrators/manga artists called “heta-uma” (bad but good) in the early 1980s in the sense that their works look poorly drawn, but attractive.

In 1981, his first book “Teacher Fallen to Hell” (the title of the English edition published by Breakdown Press in 2019 is “The Pits of Hell”) was published by Seirindō, and he became independent as a manga artist, leaving Duskin.

He has also worked as an actor and a TV personality since the late 1980s.

He is also a popular essayist, and he has also published many essay books.

He is known as a lover of gambling, especially boat racing.

Commentary

The book “I Wish I Was Stupid” was published by Seirindō in 1982.

It contains 13 one-shot manga works. It is mainly composed of the works Ebisu published in jihanki-bon, such as “Jam”, “Pussy” and “Fotogenica”, gekiga magazine for adults “Manga Piranha”, and “Garo” after his 1979 re-debut.

At the end of the book, there is the author’s afterword, “Two or Three Unattractive Things I Know About Myself”.

Ebisu’s manga works on this book are characterized by his own “heta-uma” style of drawing, nightmare-like fantasy, surrealism, dark worldview, black humor, sexually explicit contents, brutal violence, absurd, and nonsense.

According to Ebisu, he had drawn his surreal manga works based on the dreams he had at that time. This creation method is heavily influenced by Yoshiharu Tsuge’s “Nejishiki”.

All of Ebisu’s early manga works are worth noting. His first two books, “The Pits of Hell” and “I Wish I Was Stupid” have been acclaimed by many manga lovers.

Japanese rock band Hikashu released a single with the same name as this book in 1983. The cover illustration of the single was drawn by Ebisu.

Though this book had long been out of print, it was republished as an ebook by eBookJapan in 2003.

In 2018, the reprinted edition of the book was published by Seirin Kōgeisha.

In 2023, the English edition of the book was published by Breakdown Press, UK. It was translated by Ryan Holmberg, a comics historian, translator and editor.

The List of the Included Works

  1. The Intellectual Reports – “Jam” No. 7 (September 1979)
  2. My Peaceful Village – “Pussy” (date unknown)
  3. Virgins in School – “Manga Piranha” (December 1981)
  4. Death by Penis – “Manga Piranha” (August 1981)
  5. The Uncertain Family – “Jam” No. 4 (June 1979)
  6. I Wish I Was Stupid – “Manga Piranha” (date unknown)
  7. Food and Family – “Fotogenica” (date unknown)
  8. Normal People – “Manga Piranha” (September 1981)
  9. The Matchstick Wife – (publication and date unknown)
  10. Boat Racing Days – “Garo” (January 1974)
  11. The Artist Gets Mad – “Garo” (August 1981)
  12. Young Women’s Secrets – “Pussy” (date unknown)
  13. White-Collar Workers Get Twice Upset – “Jam” No. 9 (November 1979)
  14. Afterword: Two or Three Unattractive Things I Know About Myself – (1982)