Tama Chan

Episode one of a defunct comic diary of life in Japan

This is one of eight or so comics that I'm just putting up online just so that all the effort that went into it doesn't go totally nowhere.

About ten years ago I had this idea that I would do short comics based on real life incidents that either happened to me or that I heard about from friends. The intention was to do slice-of-life, amusing moments, not exaggerated or punched up comedy. However, I gave up on it pretty soon, and if you read this comic and have no idea what half the things I'm referencing are, then you'll have a good sense of why it is that this project never really went anywhere.

In any case, if you want to know what the deal is, please read the notes after the comic. First, though, without any more preamble, here it is, in all it's awkward glory...

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The project fell apart for me because it slowly dawned on me that the audience for this was probably too limited to be worth the effort involved. I waffled about doing it in Japanese, and I have Japanese versions I may upload later, but, for most Japanese people, the kind of experiences that foreigners are familiar with is so esoteric that I wasn't confident that it would be endearing to anyone. In English, the main problem with appealing to the sensibilities of foreigners familiar with Japan is that when it comes to talking about Japan, foreigners are like blind men touching an elephant and describing different things. The number of people who might find my little anecdotes interesting is probably just one faction of a very fractious and already tiny bubble of non-Japanese in Japan.

This particular one that I'm uploading first does a good job of representing everything wrong with these comics. At the time, there was this nebulous but vaguely controversial issue of whether or not foreigners could get a kind of identification document called a "juminhyou" , which is a home address registry system thing. Intersect that with a very momentary fascination in Japan with a sea lion that was on the news because it was outside of its usual range and in a river that goes through Tokyo and Yokohama. The people more likely to know what Tama Chan is (Japanese people) are not likely to be the people who know about any issues foreigners have with juminhyou (foreigners), and vice versa. And, on top of that, this comic is now completely stale having been shelved for so long, because no one remembers Tama Chan , and the juminhyou system was completely revised as of 2012 in such a way that the issue of foreigner representation was wiped away. So there's nothing in this comic that resonates anymore.

Oh well. This comic is probably the most egregiously specialized, so I figured I'd put it up first, and then the rest won't seem as bad by comparison.

On a technical note, the first panel in here I coloured myself, but the rest of the panels were coloured by Eddie Jensen , who also makes a comic called Grappleseed . Jensen coloured the other comics that I'll be uploading, and he did a great job. Check his stuff out if you get a chance.