Yoshihiro Tatsumi, 79, a Japanese cartoonist who expanded the boundaries of graphic storytelling with tales rooted in the disappointments of ordinary people in post-World War II Japan, died March 7 in Tokyo, Drawn & Quarterly, the artist's English-language publisher, confirmed.

Mr. Tatsumi was a pioneer of the alternative comics style called gekiga. Japanese for "dramatic pictures," gekiga became a flourishing subgenre of Japanese manga, exploring alienation, sexuality, violence, and other mature themes.

Although he began publishing as a teen in the 1950s, he found wide attention in the West only in the last 10 years, particularly with the 2009 release of A Drifting Life, a graphic novel-cum-memoir.

"I didn't want to write bright things," he told Singapore's Straits Times in 2010. "They were just not true."

The Osaka-born Mr. Tatsumi's 855-page memoir opens with a panel depicting Emperor Hirohito's surrender. It moves on to scenes depicting important moments in Japanese pop culture, such as the introduction of Coca-Cola, and his own frustrations. - L.A. Times