Title: Fallen Words
Writer and Artist: Yoshihiro Tatsumi
Drawn & Quarterly
Fallen Words is an ambitious project: an adaptation of eight rakugo to graphic novel form by Tatsumi, an accomplished Japanese manga artist. Rakugo is a traditional form of storytelling. Tatsumi writes of the challenges in converting an oral tradition to comic book in the book's afterword. Whereas a storyteller can alter the tale with each rendering, the same flexibility is not possible in print. He also writes of the challenge of conveying humor in this medium.
Drawn & Quarterly published the English translation in 2012. The material ranges from parenting struggles to misadventures in geisha houses. Humor is usually the first casualty of translation and some of the stories fell flat for me. However, they get better as you go. Tatsumi saved the most famous story, "Shibahama," for last. While I'd say I enjoyed the idea of the book more than the execution, it's worth a read for those interested in Japanese folklore.