It’s no secret that the award-winning mangaka Naoki Urasawa is a big fan of Bob Dylan. The 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature winner has appeared multiple times in Urasawa’s works, including in Sneeze: Naoki Urasawa Short Story Collection and a 2007 book co-authored with Kouji Wakui. It is, therefore, undoubtedly a dream come true for Urasawa to get a chance to do an official Bob Dylan collaboration.
Unveiled on 1 December, Japan’s first rock promoter UDO is selling a line of t-shirts and other apparel based on a Bob Dylan-themed illustration by Urasawa. More specifically, it takes the lyrics from the 1973 song ‘Forever Young’ (originally released on Planet Waves) and uses them alongside an illustration of a young boy playing the harmonica and air guitar on a broom, perhaps a scene from Urasawa’s own childhood.
In his official comment, Urasawa says, ‘It’s an honor to be able to illustrate official Bob Dylan merchandise. I wish I was able to tell the fourteen-year-old me, who was so strongly impacted by “Like a Rolling Stone” despite understanding none of the words that he ran all the way to the record store to buy it, grasping tightly his pocket money along the way.’
Such tales are often talked about in Talkin’ About Bob Dylan, Urasawa’s book on the artist. Furthermore, the image of the young boy is very reminiscent of 20th Century Boys, which is also influenced by Urasawa’s early childhood. Clearly, this is something that comes from the heart.
UDO sells official Bob Dylan goods alongside a couple of other artists (Brian Setzer, Tedeschi Trucks) so we can be sure that this Naoki Urasawa collaboration really is a legitimate one. It’d be nice to think that Urasawa also got to meet with one of his foremost heroes to work on this, but considering Dylan’s reclusion and residence in the United States, that seems unlikely.
You can purchase Naoki Urasawa’s official Bob Dylan collaboration merchandise via UDO’s online shop. It’s unknown whether they ship outside of Japan, so don’t hesitate to check out the official website for more details.