Mio Matsumoto

This article is from 2009.

Mio Matsumoto

Sketching a spiky ode to recovery

Never before has cancer looked so cute. But then, it’s the gift of artists to transform the brute chaos and fear of everyday life into objects of delight. This is what Japanese graphic artist Mio Matsumoto does with My Diary. On the surface it’s a lightly scrawled flip-book of scenes from a young woman’s life, until you notice the images of drips, nurses, needles and bodies. Matsumoto has sketched a comic ode to the tongue cancer she discovered in February 2002, which was treated during five months in hospital. Her stay was enlivened with enemas, pain and a hot doctor.

Matsumoto traces her recovery through her spiky, stark images, which transform the banal lines of hospital rooms and medics’ coats into tableaux of scratchy wryness that never descend into infantilism. That should be no surprise: Matsumoto is an international illustrator who studied at the Royal College of Art and currently works in Tokyo. And My Diary is a neat corrective to those tomes which transform cancer into a grand philosophical chance to consider life, the universe and everything. Instead we have a sketch of Matsumoto kneeling, hands clasped, gazing at a star, imploring, ‘God, please give me a chance’. Well, he did. And she triumphed.

15 Aug 2009, 2.30pm, Charlotte Square Gardens, £9 (£7); 15 Aug, 5pm, Charlotte Square Gardens, Edinburgh, £4.

Mio Matsumoto

GRAPHIC NOVELS My Diary is a beautiful and poignant memoir from a young Japanese graphic artist. While studying in London, Mio Matsumoto discovered she had cancer and on returning to Japan for treatment she began to keep a visual diary capturing the emotion, humour, boredom and absurdity of her five months of treatment.

Your Story with Mio Matsumoto

Children's event: TEENS My Diary is a fascinating sketchbook of Mio's experiences at art college. It traverses her everyday life including her struggle with cancer. See her incredible story unfold in sprawling yet intimate detail, and create a diary postcard afterwards to tell a personal story of your own.


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