Monday, August 10, 2009

DJP IS BACK!

Its been an embarassingly long time! My sincerest apologies for my lack of activity. I have no real reason for not updating, I guess I'm just that much of a lazy bastard.
Anyway, enough chitchat.
I haven't really compiled anything for this entry, so just to help myself get coordinated, here's a list of new manga to look forward to later this year and after!

  • Red Snow - Susumu Katsumata (Drawn & Quarterly, released September 29th)
  • The Box Man - Imiri Sakabashira (Drawn & Quarterly, released September 29th)
  • Gogo Monster - Taiyo Matsumoto (Viz Media, release date unknown, possibly at end of year)
  • Panorama Island - Suehiro Maruo (Last Gasp, sometimes next year)
  • Fancy Gigolo Pelu - Junko Mizuno (Last Gasp, released Spring)
  • 51 Ways To Save Her - Usamaru Furuya (CMX, release date unknown)
  • What A Wonderful World - Inio Asano (Viz Media, release date unknown)
  • Not Simple - Natsume Ono (Viz Media, released January 19th)
  • AX Collection volume 1- Various (Top Shelf Productions, release date unknown)
  • A Distant Neighborhood volume 1- Jiro Taniguchi (Fanfare/Ponent Mon, released soon)
  • Summit of the Gods volume 1 - Jiro Taniguchi (Fanfare/Ponent Mon, release date unknown)

Okay, that's em all off the top of my head. I'll sort out links to info about those titles tomorrow.
Next post (it'll be sometime this week, I promise!) I'll have a bit on
SIGIKKI, Viz's new readable alt-manga site! And hopefully I'll have a proxy workaround figured out for my fellow Europeans who've been denied access to the site as well...

Friday, January 16, 2009

LULLABIES FROM HELL - REVIEW

Happy new year folks, sorry for my late return. I've been quite up to my eyes in shit, mostly just working on my portfolio I have to send off in a month or so. And then there's the CAO form ordeal...
But forgetting that, let's get onto some manga, eh?
First up, my review of Hideshi Hino's Lullabies From Hell, as promised two posts ago.

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LULLABIES FROM HELL
By Hideshi Hino
Dark Horse Manga
227 pages

Ashamedly, this is my first taste of Hideshi Hino. I first came across his art in the first issue of British Manga and Anime mag Neo, and boy it was fucked up. There was a review of The Red Snake and Bug Boy. One particular image from Bug Boy attached in the review has remained a stain on my mind for years since reading that review.
Over the last while, I've gained an interest in horror manga, and naturally I heard the name Hideshi Hino come up a lot. And thus, I was more than delighted when I spotted one of his books, in this case Lullabies From Hell, for a cheap price of six euro over in Chapters Bookstore. I bought it without a second thought, an I do not regret that decision.

Lullabies From Hell is the first work of Hino's released by Dark Horse, who by now are well-known for their catalog of horror manga. I was suprised to find that the 13+ volumes of Hino Horror I'd heard of before were not published by Dark Horse, but by DH Manga (hard not to make that mistake, right?).
This particular collection is nicely balanced one, to say the least. It opens up with an introductory story ("A Lullaby From Hell") concerning the manga-ka himself, and his childhood gift of determining the death of those around him. The first page is quite startling; Hino, a slim figure with greasy black hair, unflinching eyes and revoltingly twisted sneer, stares out of his run-down house, that lies amid various filth-clogged sewers and smoke-belching factories;
"My name is Hideshi Hino. I am a mangaka who obsessed over bizzare and terrible things... In this rickety old two-story house, surrounded by factories and chimneys, I draw grotesque manga every day."
Really sets the atmosphere, doesn't it?

The second story ("Unusual Fetus - My Baby") concerns a mangaka and his wife who consider the thougth of animals being born to humans, only for that idea to become ultimately realized. I liked the premise of this story a lot, and the sheer thougth of it is unnerving. Hino brilliantly portrays the frustration and confusion of a father of an alien child, whose every day is a tormenting stuggle to hide the mutant child. Unfortunately, this story is ended pretty abruptly, which is a shame for a manga that would make an interesting multiple-volume series. Hino adapts a more realistic, Gekiga-influenced style here. Richly inked and moody panels add to the sense of paranoia and suspicion surrounding this story.

The third is a more conventional horror story, titled "Train of Terror"; a group of kids emerge from a train tunnel into a world of alienation where everyone they knew has turned against them, and a silent stranger in a black fedora and trenchcoat pursues them. What I liked most about this one, was it's nightmareish quality that I can relate to; the unexplained black-clad figure, the turn-of-events ending, and generally the thought of your closest ones becoming demons.
Art stlye of this story was akin to good ol' Umezu, with some scenes reminiscent of Drifting Classroom.

The fourth and final story was by far the best in the collection; "Zoroku's Strange Disease".
A heartfelt, and grotesque story of a farmer back in pre-modern Japan who suffers a strange condition that presents him with large boils and lumps on his body an face. He is a simple man of few words who is constantly under surveillance from his family because of his mental condition. Zoroku is criticized and spurred by the village for his lack of productivity, as he prefers to wander off to remote regions to paint and observe nature. Eventually Zoroku's state worsens to a stage where he's cast to the darker regions of the forest to reside in a small cottage. The ending left me wordless, almost depressed, but I won't ruin it for anyone who's yet to read it. Hino magnificently illustrates Zoroku's transformation in an inhuman being, a bulging mass of skeleton and bulbous oozing boils not even the local wild carnivores will dare approach, never mind his own mother. Zoroku's pain is heart-breaking; his isolation incomparable; he is reduced to a blithering creature bathing in his own multicolored pus, urine and sweat.
The last few pages are some of the most memorable in manga, including a two-page spread of the men of the village gathered in warlike formation, adorning traditional Oni masks, standing silently in the chilling wind and snow, poised with spear and shield. Breathtaking stuff.

I've written just about enough now; if this review intrigued you whatsoever, then don't waste another second and order that shit! It was only released a few years back, so don't wait till its OOP and too late!
On an ending note; I am now in love with Hideshi Hino. I'm dying to buy Panorama of Hell, his Hino Horror collection and the recent art book of his as well. Whether Dark Horse plan to release any more Hino material in the future is unknown, but I'd certainly welcome it!


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* Sean Michael Wilson is one of the first non-Japanese author to have his work readily available on mobile phones over in Japan, as he relates to us over at his blog. He also tells of a new book on the style of Gekiga he's currently working on (not related to his other upcoming Gekiga work, Top Cow's AX Anthology)
* Ryan Sand's posts his favourite manga of 2008 over at Same Hat
* Deadbeat Scans begin work on scanlating Naoki Urasawa's latest manga, Billy the Bat. Unfortunately, only chapters 2 and 3 are available at the moment, but anyone who's an Urasawa fan should know to download them anyway!
* Scanlation group Kitten-Patriot release an interesting short minimal romance story from a 1967 issue of GARO; A Train At the End of Summer. Should be of interest to anyone who enjoyed Seiichi Hayashi's Red Colored Elegy. (Thanks to Oli of Bakaneko for originally scanning this in French!)
*The cover to Viz Media's volume 1 release of Daisuke Igarashi's fantastical series Children of the Sea has been released (the title looks a little off-center though, doesn't it?)
* Christopher Butcher shares some highly interesting thoughts and predictions for this year in manga, over at Comics 212 (RECOMMENDED READING!). He also gives us the lowdown on Yoshihiro Tatsumi's mammoth biography A Drifting Life, due sometime this year, along with the news of Tatsumi's previous collecions getting re-printed!

Coming up soon; a review of Adolf : An Exile In Japan, manga to look forward to in 2009, pages from a short story by Yoshiharu Tsuge, and the usual news...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

CHILDREN OF THE SEA, LICENSED BY VIZ MEDIA!























Great news for fans of Daisuke Igarashi's... according to SimonSays,
Viz Media have are releasing the first volume of Children of the Sea in June next year! If anything, this'll be a great step for the English-language Seinen market. Whether this'll gain an audience outside of Igarashi's relatively small circle of fans is yet unknown, but at least its his most accessible work to date that they've licensed (rather than Witches or Hanashippanashi, which are brilliant as well)...

Also, this would make it the second legally-translated English work of his;
Fanfare released a short story of his in the outstanding anthology Japan - As Viewed By 17 Creators (info here on that)

For now, enjoy this lovely watercolour volume cover from the Japanese editions!

Friday, November 21, 2008

SURREAL MANGA, SHINTARO KAGO & MORE























Wow... I haven't updated in quite the while, heheh!
I'm a bit bogged down with certain things in life, but I'll try to post as often as I can 'round here.
Anyways; manga!

Pink Tentacle posts the entirety of a short surreal story from Garo, by Maki Sasaki titled A Dream To Have In Heaven. Its well-worth a look, for the artwork at least (considering there's no real plot to begin with). Maki has some killer inking going on, and he's clearly influenced by European comics (4th panel on pg. 155 is a good example), judging by the sense of spacing in some of the many beautiful panels. Reminds me of Nishioka Kyodai (of The Journey To the End of the World fame) in a way...
There are only a few words in the story, and they're mostly FX sounds, so don't feel as if you're missing out. (the guy in on pg. 144 with the pick-axe is saying "Ro ro ro ro", the phantom says "ke!" when he floats over the barbed wire...)
Read it here!
(thanks to Connie of Manga Blog for mentioning this again, I'd have never found it otherwise!)

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Over at Same Hat, Ryan Sands (with the help of Tokyo correspondant Nate) are having a very Shintaro Kago-filled month, including; a special report on a Halloween event with Kago (including a photo of Kago himself, looking So Damn Awesome), a poster of his recently created for Design Festa 28, and pimps a new short story released by Wanted : Cheap Manga! with the help of Anonymous K!

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Not really news, but I've decided to off-put any talk on this Bat-Manga & Chip Kidd hullabaloo. I haven't bothered delving too deep into the affair myself, but it appears things have cleared up, so...

* Triple Black Jack bill! Deb Aoki reviews Black Jack volume 2, David Welsh offers five lucky winners some BJ manga sets, and Vertical hosts another free chapter on their website, this time a gritty tale of love and booze from volume 3!
* The New York Magazine posts an excerpt from Yuichi Yokoyama's gorgeous-looking train-journey based manga; Travel
* Ed Chavez has a spot-on review of Seiichi Hayashi's Red Colored Elegy over at the Mangacast
* The Mainichi Daily News has a moving interview with Keiji Nakazawa, author of Barefoot Gen and survivor of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima
* Sean Michael Wilson (co-editor of the upcoming anthology AX) is scripting the comic (and film) Buskers, with art by the spectacular Michiru Morikawa (whose short story "Advent" from Ilya's New Manga Anthology was absolutely terrific!). Read more here...

Coming up soon : my first manga review; Hideshi Hino's Lullabies From Hell, some exclusive pages from Japanese Katsuhiro Otomo anthologies, overlooked scanlation gems, and more of the usual (or un-usual) cuppa...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

OSAMU TEZUKA; 1928 – 1989


As of yesterday, it has been 80 years since Osamu Tezuka was born. I dedicate this post in his memory, and in honour of his legacy and impact on Japanese comics and animation. As celebration, Tezuka Productions are planning on releasing 700 volumes of his manga online for free (and 100 episodes/films of anime he created, though they will be pay-per-view)), starting as of this week. I'd imagine they will be in Japanese, but recently TP updated their website to include links to the foreign publishers of Tezuka manga, so there may yet be a chance.
Also, the Ikeda Elementary School, which Tezuka attended as a child, recently unveiled a touchingly beautiful statue of his most famous creation, Astro Boy, in commemoration of the 80th anniversary of his birth.

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Let's Fall Asleep posts an interesting account of some of Taiyo Matsumoto's European artistic influences (including Jean Moebius Giraud, Hugo Pratt and others), and questions just how faithful Michael Arias' anime adaptation was to the original story, design-wise.
I'm tempted to scour Taiyo's manga for the various other artists names he's scribbled as grafitti in his works, especially Blue Spring and Tekkon. I recall spotting Francoise Schuiten on a cubicle wall in Ping Pong, anyway...

Let me know if anyone remembers any others...

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  • Deb Aoki reviews Inio Asano's Solanin and recommends it to fans of American indie/underground comics
  • Sean T. Collins posts up a review of PictureBox's newest release in their line of extremely unique manga, Monster Men Bureiko Lullaby, by heta-uma legend Takashi Nemoto, and doesn't know what to think of it!
  • PictureBox-related again, as Yuichi Yokoyama's Travel makes it into the comics category of Publisher's Weekly's "Best Books of the Year", alongside Takehiko Inoue's Slam Dunk
  • Comics Village reviews volume one of Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi's Oldboy

Saturday, November 1, 2008

FREE BLACK JACK CHAPTER; AX ANTHOLOGY ARTISTS & MORE




















Well, happy one-day late Halloween to anyone who bothered celebrating it! Here's a round-up of the latest news;

Heidi McDonald over at The Beat has a special Halloween gift for Tezuka fans; a complete chapter available to read from volume 1, titled "Teratoid Cystoma"!
Its a great example of how Tezuka applied his medical training to his storytelling, and also introduces BJ's well-known aide, Pinoko!

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In other news, Sean Michael Wilson (co-editor of Top Shelf's new AX anthology) has released an official list of some of the artists we can expect to feature in the anthology;
Akino Kondoh
Minami Shinbo
Shinichi Abe
Namie Fujieda
Mitsuhiko Yoshida
Yuichi Kiriyama
Osamu Kanno
Shigehiro Okada
Yunosuke Saito
Yeong Choi
Kazuichi Hanawa
Yoshihiro Tatsumi























Above is a teaser page from the anthology, beautifully drawn by Shinichi Abe.


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  • Over at Same Hat; a short taste of Electric Ant Zine's exclusive interview with author of legendary Manga! Manga!, Frederik Schodt
  • The gorgeous covers for the first two volumes of Naoki Urasawa's madly popular 20st Century Boys are revealed over at Comics 212
  • Kodansha America release their first English-language book this week, Akiba Manga Guide To Akihabara
  • Connie begins to favour Umezu over Hino in her review of Cat-Eyed Boy
  • A Japanese otaku gets over a 1000 signatures in his petition for the allowance of marriage between humans and 2d, fictional anime characters. Let's hope that interest doesn't catch on outside of Japan...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

AX'S NEW GEKIGA ANTHOLOGY

Alternative/indie comics publisher Top Shelf are putting together an anthology of stories selected from AX's last ten years. AX is a manga anthology known in Japan for it's wildly experimental and alternative stories and art styles, the predecessor to Garo in ways.
Many modern greats such as Kazuichi Hanawa, Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Suehiro Maruo, amost other younger artists such as Nishioka Kyoudai (Journey To The End of the World),
Akino Kondo (artist of the anthology's cover), Usamura Furuya (Short Cuts), have contributed to this anthology over the years.
This promising looking collection is co-edited by Scotland-born Sean Michael Wilson, and AX co-founder Mitsuhiro Asakawa.
It is roughly 400 pages long, and due for release sometime next year.

A 16-page sampler will be available at Top Shelf's booth at the Alternative Press Expo in America, where Sean will be holding a talk on Gekiga itself.

LINKS;
http://www.seirinkogeisha.com/ax/008-8.html - Seirinkogeisha's AX Page
http://samehat.blogspot.com/2008/10/exclusive-top-shelf-to-release-ax -
Source (cheers to Ryan)