UKIYO-E by Bob Kessel


FUJI FOG by Bob Kessel

Bob Kessel’s art series “100 VIEWS” is based on Japanese UKIYO-E woodblock prints. These pictures are available as signed and numbered limited edition fine art prints. Contact Bob Kessel for pricing and availability.

Ukiyo-e (浮世絵), “pictures of the floating world”, is a genre of Japanese woodblock prints (or woodcuts) and paintings produced between the 17th and the 20th centuries, featuring motifs of landscapes, tales from history, the theatre, and pleasure quarters. It is the main artistic genre of woodblock printing in Japan.

Usually the word ukiyo is literally translated as “floating world” in English, referring to a conception of an evanescent world, impermanent, fleeting beauty and a realm of entertainments (kabuki, courtesans, geisha) divorced from the responsibilities of the mundane, everyday world; “pictures of the floating world”, i.e. ukiyo-e, are considered a genre unto themselves.

The art form rose to great popularity in the metropolitan culture of Edo (Tokyo) during the second half of the 17th century, originating with the single-color works of Hishikawa Moronobu in the 1670s. At first, only India ink was used, then some prints were manually colored with a brush, but in the 18th century Suzuki Harunobu developed the technique of polychrome printing to produce nishiki-e.

Ukiyo-e were affordable because they could be mass-produced. They were mainly meant for townsmen, who were generally not wealthy enough to afford an original painting. The original subject of ukiyo-e was city life, in particular activities and scenes from the entertainment district. Beautiful courtesans, bulky sumo wrestlers and popular actors would be portrayed while engaged in appealing activities. Later on landscapes also became popular. Political subjects, and individuals above the lowest strata of society (courtesans, wrestlers and actors) were not sanctioned in these prints and very rarely appeared. Sex was not a sanctioned subject either, but continually appeared in ukiyo-e prints. Artists and publishers were sometimes punished for creating these sexually explicit shunga.

MENKO by Bob Kessel


Menko Samurai by Bob Kessel

Bob Kessel has created a new art series titled, “MENKO” based on the Japanese card game. The pictures are available as limited edition fine art prints, signed and numbered by the artist. Contact Bob Kessel for prices and availability.

Menko is a Japanese card game played by two or more players. It is also the name of the type of cards used to play this game. Each player uses Menko cards made from thick paper or cardboard, with one or both side printed with images from anime, manga, etc. The pictures on these cards reflect the popular culture of their time, and Menko cards from the past reflect important information about their era. In the Edo and early Meiji period, images like ninja and samurai were popular. Before World War II, the most popular images were of the military, like fighter planes and battleships. After the war, characters from anime and manga were popular, as well as baseball players.




Marlon Brando, pictured here in motorcycle hat and jacket in the 1950’s movie , “THE WILD ONE”.
Brando is the leader of a motorcycle gang.
An old man asks him,  “Where are you going?”
Brando replies, “Going somewhere is for squares. We just go.”

Bob Kessel has created a new art series titled, “AMERICAN ICONS” featuring a picture of Marlon Brando. The pictures are available as limited edition fine art prints, signed and numbered by the artist. Contact Bob Kessel for prices and availability.

Bob Kessel’s American Icons art series also includes Marilyn Monroe, Miles Davis, Charles Bukowski, Muhammad Ali, Elvis Presley, John F Kennedy and many more.

8th MAN by Bob Kessel


8th Man Print By Bob Kessel

Shown above; 8th Man smoking an atomic cigarette by Bob Kessel. 8th Man, also known as 8 Man (Eitoman), was an animated cartoon that appeared in the 1960s. In the middle of every episode, 8th Man would run out of energy and need to stop and smoke an atomic cigarette (which he kept in his belt buckle secret compartment) to restore his energy. Back in the sixties this was acceptable in a cartoon for kids. Today it would be considered politically incorrect. This picture is available as a limited edition fine art print by Bob Kessel. Contact the artist for pricing and availability. More pictures of 8th Man and Astroboy and other Japanese characters can be seen in the art series “KAIJU” (Japanese monsters) and “FUTURISM” by Bob Kessel.

8th Man was a Japanese “manga” or comic strip which first appeared on a weekly basis in May of 1963. Written by Kazumasa Hirai and drawn by 28 year old artist, Jiro Kuwata, 8-Man told the story of Detective Hachiro Azuma, who was killed by the notorious gangster Mukade and resurrected by Dr. Tani in the form of a human-looking robot.

The series proved to be so popular that TCJ Animation produced 56 animated episodes of 8-Man’s nuclear-age escapades. On November 7, 1963 – 8-man made his television debut in Japan! Within two years (or less) a freshly dubbed 8th Man was showing in American living rooms.

8th Man is hands-down my most favorite animated series (but you’ve probably guessed that already!) Truly ahead of its time, 8th Man pioneered many of the elements that have distinguished Japanese Anime for years until the present. So did Astroboy, but this is not his page, ok? Despite the “limited-action” and low cel count, even in the earliest works of 60’s Anime, we see that the inventive Japanese went beyond the one-dimensional mind-set of the American television industry animation houses and their shallow “talking animal” toons. And in the most ingenious manner applied cinematic technique to their TV animated works. Through the use of simple yet clever camera methods – cut, pan, focus & zoom were used to create tension, excitment, or suspense. Characters were manipulated inside the frame as never before with highly exaggerated and 3-D in-your-face action!

But more than this, the Japanese totally revolutionized that industry with stories and scripting that went beyond children’s ideas and introduced passion, pathos, and personality into the world arena of TV animation, filling the void left by the cat-&-mouse slapstick humor prevelant in American TV animation at that time.
Yes, 8th Man, Prince Planet, Astroboy and others were the dawn of a new age of TV animation where the players could laugh, cry, hurt, and even die…were these concepts too strong for young children? Perhaps. Many people who testify of their childhood experiences with these early anime-works will state they were deeply moved and thus, well remember these works as they have seemed to make more than a lasting impression…