Since we won't have any new comics online until SATURDAY, I wanted to share a few morsels of awesomeness with you all. If you haven't seen or read these strips yet, I do recommend making an Amazon order, or doing some scouting of ebay or your local used book crypts for the collections they can be found in.
SECRET COMICS JAPAN
This book is the lesser of the two books I'll mention here, but definitely has a few moments of brilliance. There is an early strip illustrated by Junko Mizuno (but thankfully not written by her-- sorry, not a HUGE fan of her storylines, just her aesthetic!) and a few other grotesque jems. The huge winner here is a story by Shintaro Kago called "Punctures."
This story freaked me out quite thoroughly when I first read it as a freshman in college (borrowed the book from Evan, naturally), and it has been one that I find myself mentioning and describing to friends often. The story revolves around a man so stricken with anxiety of accidental injury or damage to his property that he begins drilling (and later CARVING) holes into things like his milk carton, books, automobile and eventually his own body. (Afraid of being poked by a fellow commuter's umbrella, he stabs a preemptive hole into his own eye!).
The climax of the story takes the irrational, hyper-paranoid concept to frightening ends and really pleased me (in a sick sortof contentment that Kago actually went THAT FAR). Okay, okay-- the purpose of this blog isn't to post comic reviews, but I wanted to whet appetites enough that everyone would track this one down. It is right up their with Sakyo Komatsu's short story "The Savage Mouth" as chilling stuff that really opened up my eyes and still feels as visceral and speculatively fantastic today.
more info on his newer works here. I've also added his official site (in japanese) to our links!
Comics Underground JAPAN
man, what a winner! This book is the one that really blew the doors open for me, the book that showed me that manga wasn't just CLAMP and RANMA (right, right... takahashi rumiko is GOOD, like, maison ikkoku made me cry alright?-- but her stuff IS LIMITED in scope-- it's just soap operas, really awesome soap operas mind you!, but still) and wretchedly masculine/boring stuff like GTO and SLAM DUNK.
How is this for a primer?-- this book contains stories by Suehiro Maruo, Hideshi Hino, Carol Shimoda and Yamada Hanako!! Not every single story is perfect, but this book was where I first read Maruo's classic "Planet of the Jap" and saw "Mary's Asshole," an refreshingly femme and depraved blackcomedy strip (and the author is a radical, middle-aged woman!). Also, I remember Evan used to have a "Mary's Asshole" keychain for his bookbag, depicting a woman nursing a chimpanzee. wheeeee!
The comics in this book (along with "Punctures") feel like they should be pieced together with Lynch, Chronenberg, Miike (especially "Gozu"), "atrocity ukiyo-e" of the 19th century and all that is great about short gag strips. OH, and the sexiness of Weimar/Taisho uniforms.
To tide you over until we are back to updating new strips, here is Selfish Carol's Summer Vacation ENJOY!
ps. if anyone knows of places other than these two books to find translated stories by Carol Shimoda or Yamada Hanako, we would love to hear about it in the comments' section!