Shinbun nishiki-e prints were one-page stories light on words and heavy on scandalous imagery. Illustrating them were some of the greatest Japanese woodblock artists of the time. Their outdated art form was losing in popularity, so they were probably glad for the regular paycheck. This led to very evocative pieces with very disturbing subject matter, like the surely real story of a rude foreigner kicking a prostitute in her moneymaker ...
... or a smoke monster getting freaky with a carpenter's wife ...
Even the few bits of fluff about cute animals were presented in an overly dramatic way, with titles like A cat interrupts a dogfight to avenge the death of her mother taking a lot of the whimsy out of it.
But with no censorship laws and a government that purposefully sowed misinformation to the public, the tabloids could really push the limits of journalistic decency (which would explain this illustration of murder victims getting eaten by wolves). In fact, the only print to have ever been pulled was one of a woman who had reportedly cut off her husband's mistress' genitals and fed it to him as sashimi -- and that was due to public outrage over the improper preparation of the sashimi.
However, as scandalous, fearmongering, and exploitative as shinbun nishiki-e was, the prints were also great art. Japanese woodblock printing tended to be very traditional -- all geishas, cherry blossoms, and that one print of a wave that now hangs in every sushi restaurant with an average Yelp rating. The tabloid prints were bold and new, with subject matter that shocked folks into admiration. People would buy these prints and take them back to their villages to brag about how interesting big city life was, like we would today brag about getting a selfie with a Real Housewife. Sadly, with the rise of Western printing techniques, both shinbun nishiki-e and woodblock printing were quickly snuffed out. But for a brief moment, the tabloids breathed new life into a dying art form, and in return, that art made fake news more beautiful than it's ever been.
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