As Argentina battles a plague of locusts of biblical proportions, we’re happy to return to a much more benign insect visitation. Japanese graphic artist Akino Kondoh’s “Ladybirds’ Requiem” opens with the main character, Eiko, mistaking a button on the sidewalk for a ladybird (known as ladybugs in North America). That resemblance and the narrator’s discovery of a flattened ladybird in her curtains lead to a fanciful sequence of events, as Eiko honors the deceased by collecting buttons and presenting them to her. In doing so Eiko performs the Japanese ritual of presenting o-koden, an envelope of money offered at the funeral; in this case, however, the recipient gives back in an unexpected and delightful way.
We published “Ladybirds’ Requiem,” in Jocelyne Allen’s translation, in our annual graphic novel issue from 2013. Next month marks our tenth edition, and to celebrate we’re presenting new work from some of our favorite contributors, including Kondoh. Until then, we invite you to enjoy this and the other 116 graphic works on the site. Stand by for this year’s model of our annual salute to this vibrant branch of international literature.
Image: from Akino Kondoh, “Ladybirds’ Requiem,” translated by Jocelyne Allen