Image Comics has already published two volumes of Emi Lenox’s personal journals as Emitown graphic novels, and their relationship continues this year with the release of a new autobiographical work outside of the Emitown banner. Announced today at Image Expo 2015, Tadaima is a travelogue of Lenox’s recent return to Japan after 12 years away, a time in which she lost both of her grandparents. Lenox and her mother traveled together to renew the sotoba—a wooden grave marker—at her grandparents’ tomb, and her personal experience abroad is detailed in painted watercolor journal entries, a shift from her digital work on Emitown.
“[Tadaima] is more centralized on a specific event, whereas my past comics were more about day-to-day life,” Lenox tells The A.V. Club via email. “I really wanted to capture all of the emotions that I had when I went to Japan. It felt like revisiting a dream but things were different. It’s hard for me to describe and I’m hoping I can get it across somehow in this comic.”
Lenox has kept some sort of comic journal throughout her life, but since 2008, it’s become her go-to method for improving her drawing skill and documenting memories. “I was never great at writing descriptive paragraphs,” Lenox says. “Finding a dozen ways to describe a red apple on plate… I’d just say that it’s a red apple on a plate. My brain works better at creating the images instead. I feel like through art, you can capture the entire spectrum of human emotion. Or maybe that it’s just easier for me. Plus comics are fun.”
While Lenox says her visit to Japan didn’t have much of an impact on her artistic evolution, it was enlightening in other ways. “It had a lot of influence on my mental development. It’s a different experience going to a different country as an adult than as a child. You appreciate more and see things differently.”
For the major takeaway from her trip, Lenox has a simple answer: “The importance of family. That even if there’s an ocean and a language barrier that can make it difficult to stay connected, it’s so important to do so. It seems like a given, but with daily life and pressures, it’s easy to lose touch.”
With a title that translates to “I’m home,” Tadaima sees Lenox getting back in touch with her departed family by engaging with her Japanese heritage. Readers looking for something more personal and introspective from Image Comics can find it when Tadaima is released later this year, but in the meantime, The A.V. Club has a first look at the cover.