African lion Sahar runs through his outdoor exhibit in our Photo of the Week. Besides exercise, the 5-year-old big cat can count on a special “hot rock” to stay warm in the snow. (He can always head inside too!)
ok so I was at a zoo in winter (we were looking at the Christmas lights) and since almost all animals weren't outside there weren't many animals to watch but the wolves were all still in there place and their enclosure is right by the fence at the edge of the zoo so it's right by a sidewalk and a street. There was an ambulance that went by with its sirens and everyone nearby went to the wolves because they all started howling it was amazing. Is this a common thing or does that not happen much?
Super common. Everyone loves sirens (and train whistles, too) - wolves, wolfdogs, even wolfy-looking regular dogs all often howl along when they go by.
Concept Art for the Menagerie in The Lunar Chronicles, I went it a bit more of a different direction to the book, in the book it seems to be described more as corridors of cages, but i felt more inspired to create a room full of cages you could get lost in. I used my trip to Kew gardens to help inform me on the plants as I wanted a more Tropical/rainforest look. I decided to also incorporate the character Winter into both of the images.
Jiro Taniguchi has made a career of making comics about journeys. His characters and narratives navigate territory in both physical (Quest for the Missing Girl) and metaphysical ways (The Times of Botchan). A constant in his work is imagery of a protagonist walking, with one of his collections titled “The Walking Man”. The journey itself is central to Taniguchi’s work. His protagonists are on a path that, while never clear, will inevitably lead them to either catharsis or enlightenment. For him, it’s never important where his protagonists eventually end these journeys but how they get there. So it makes sense that when Taniguchi created the autobiographical A Zoo in Winter it would be a work that was about journeys both physical and metaphorical.
The physical journey of this book involves young Hamaguchi, a fictional avatar for Taniguchi, moving twice at the beginning of the book. The first happens before the story starts with him having moved to Kyoto to find work with a fabric company in their design department. After an incident involving his boss’s daughter, Hamaguchi goes to Tokyo to find work. Here he takes a job as an assistant to a popular manga artist and begins his career as a mangaka. Throughout the book, there’s journey’s both seen (leaving the studio to explore Tokyo) and unseen (at one point, the manga artist Hamaguchi works for goes to America leaving his assistants time off). It’s the journey that various characters take that drives the action of the book. The events of the book are started when the Boss’s daughter leaves to join her lover at a zoo while another major event in the book happens only when Tamaguchi walks to a bar. People are shown constantly traveling by various methods and the only time people are still or sitting is when they sit down to draw manga. Taniguchi takes great steps to show the importance of venturing into paths both known and unknown. Every path requires an action that will lead to reaction that is either positive or negative which shapes our lives.
The other important journey here is the metaphysical one, the path to becoming an artist that Hamaguchi takes. The thrust of the book is Hamaguchi’s quest to become an artist and what drives him as one. This path is the more difficult of the two shown constantly through the book. His early goal of creating patterns for a fabric company become fruitless when he realizes that his company outsources that work to other companies. As he becomes a mangaka, the path becomes more treacherous. Hamaguchi witnesses that various difficulties that making comics presents. One co-worker created comics at one point only to continue his career as an assistant while another spends an agonizingly long time creating his own manga only to be rejected when he finally presents it. The path of becoming an artist is never glamorized in this book with several scenes dedicated to the long hours and continuous mentions of the deadlines that loom over artists. Ultimately though it’s the path of the artist and its difficulties that Hamaguchi will find most fulfilling and satisfying in his life. By the end of the book, he’s had one of his stories published in an anthology which normally would be the end of this journey. However, the path he’s on at the end of A Zoo in Winter won’t be the one Hamaguchi remains on in his life. The characters know the work Hamaguchi submits isn’t one they expected from him. We as readers know that Hamaguchi will continue down different paths being that he’s an avatar for author Tanaguchi and that this is one such work.
It’s hard to write this look at Tanaguchi’s portrayal of the manga industry and not think of Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s masterwork A Drifiting Life which covers similar ground. Though not nearly as in depth as A Drifting Life, A Zoo in Winter is a companion piece to that work. Mentions of the Japanese anthology Garo and Yoshiharu Tsuge’s short story “Screw Style” dot the later parts of A Zoo in Winter, works hinted at coming to fruition in A Drifting Life. If anything it shows the path that one artist took in parallel to another. It’s not a major statement from a master in the way A Drifting Life was about Tatsumi and his life in post-war Japan. It is though an important minor one of Tanaguchi looking at the path his life went from an older perspective.