Thursday, January 31, 2013

Frederik Schodt at the Mechanics' Institute

Frederik Schodt at Mechanics' Institute, 01.30.2013 Frederik Schodt speaking at Mechanics' Institute about Professor Risley.Wednesday evening I heard translator & author Frederik Schodt give a slide lecture at the Mechanics' Institute about Professor Risley, a 19th century circus impresario. Though Mr. Schodt called this a "lost history," he claimed that Professor Risley was once a household name & "the Michael Jackson of his day." To set the mood for his talk, Mr. Schodt donned a fancy hat & performed a magic trick in which he made drawings appear on the pages of a blank book. He then led us through Professor Risley's colorful life, which involved, among other things, touring an American circus through Asia, introducing ice cream into Japan, & meeting history's most handsome samurai. He brought a Japanese acrobatic troupe to San Francisco in 1867, on the 1st stop of a world-wide tour. I was fascinated to see photos of the Japanese acrobats taken in New York & Paris. Risley's own circus act involved him juggling small children high in the air with his feet. The presentation was informative & entertaining. Many of Mr. Schodt's friends seemed to be in attendance.

§ Professor Risley and the Imperial Japanese Troupe: A Lost History, and a Lost Page from San Francisco’s History
Frederik L. Schodt

Mechanics' Institute
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 6:00 PM


Michael Strickland said...

Schodt is a very cool character who lives in the Inner Sunset and who crosses cultures with trailblazing enthusiasm. He was the discoverer/translator of "The Four Immigrants" manga along with being one of the major Tezuka (Astro Boy, etc.) translators and essayists. Envy you seeing him and glad to hear he's got another strange, fabulous project.

Axel Feldheim said...

Indeed, I have the Four Immigrants manga as well as other of his books. The 1st time I saw Schodt in person was, I believe, at an Asian Art Museum event where he was the translator for someone from the Tezuka museum in Japan.

Schodt happens to be a member of the Mechanics' Institute. He told us that the Risley book was one of his most fun books to research. He also mentioned that on-line archives of 19th century newspapers were a huge help.