It's hard to know where to start on a post about Suehiro Maruo, even when aiming to keep it brief and on point. I mean, he's the unofficial godfather of Same Hat (along with our...er, godmother Yoshida Sensha). And, as the site stats point out, Maruo is one of the main reasons people check out this blog. His fans are rabid and hail from all over the place (especially Eastern Europe, Brazil and South Asia), and even beyond just fans, he continues to influence American artist, like
Despite all this, America seems to be one of the hardest places to get ahold of his work. The translated books and stories that have been released can be counted on one hand, and are all out of print at the moment. It seems baffling that while magazines like Juxtapoz and The Comics Journal run features on him (most notably last year in conjunction with the Japanese art books Maruograph I & II), you can't buy any of his comics in bookstores. This underlines the fact that while bloggers, magazines and artsy-types are happy to invoke Maruo's name as a form of cultural currency, the publishers aren't convinced that he's worth the sales risk, the controversy, or simply being associated with Uncle Maruo's dirty pictures. It isn't hard to see why scanlators have stepped in to fill this lust for more of his stuff, and many are currently available online. They include:
+ Farewell Showa - scanlated by us
+ Totally Scary - scanlated by us
+ The Gold Notebook - scanlated by us
+ Poison Strawberry - scanlated by us
WARNING: Stuff on the following links are extreme and NOT for the faint of heart!
+ The Laughing Vampire - scanlated by GuroFan folks
+ Rose Colored Monsters - scanlated by GuroFan folks
+ Most of Maruo's major collections! - scanlated by various folks via Caterpillar.voiea.net
Disclaimer: This next bit is my own opinion, so excuse me for putting on my amateur, art-critic dork hat. But since we linked to GuroFan here (yes, a first) I thought it'd be worth adding a few things. It's definitely true that lots of people who get into our site are also into GuroFan and some of the, well... grosstitude that floats around there. In my mind, Suehiro Maruo is really a cut above nearly all other writer/artists working in the erotic-grotesque-nonsense scene. And while his comics are absolutely depraved, just as often as they are beautiful, his art is in a different class than Jun Hayami and even Shintaro Kago, whose work exist beyond subtlety, or whatever else. Suehiro Maruo, to me, lies (visually at least!) right on the borders (or would that be the intersections?) between art, satire and vileness.
As I was saying above, American continues to lag behind the rest of the world; The last new thing published in English was 2001's short story collection Ultra-Gash Inferno from Creation Books, which is very out-of-print and averages around 50 bucks used. (The good news is that they are working to make an ebook version of this available in the near future!!) Perhaps it's easy for people like us, who are in love with his comics, to overstate the possible English audience. But it seems clear that America is due for another shot of Suehiro Maruo. Sadly, I haven't heard any talk of American companies licensing his stuff or planning new releases. But there is a magical place where Suehiro Maruo is actively promoted, and his translated books are not only available, but win major awards. And that magical place is Spain!
The company to thank is Glénat, a huge France-based comics and manga publisher that also publishes in most Western European languages, and is home to the plentiful Spanish editions of Suehiro Maruo's books. (They also do a hell of a job in French, with other favorites like Kazuo Umezu's Baptism and Drifting Classroom.) Some really awesome stuff there, if you take the time to dig through their various catalogues.
At Frankfurt Book Fair (you were wondering when I'd tie this whole thing back to my trip, right?) my coworker and I visited Glénat's booth and checked out a copy of their Spanish Edition of Maruos' Dr. Inugami:
Big format, nice softcover edition-- just like the Japanese releases
A dog's bloody head and a voodoo doll?? SIGN ME UP!
TU ALMA!! (translation: Grant me your soul, dude!)
Suehiro Maruo has his own author page at Glénat, as you'd expect. From there, you can check out the following translated books:
Gichi Gichi Kid (ギチギチくん)
La Sonrisa del Vampiro (笑う吸血鬼 : The Smile of the Vampire)
MIDORI: La Niña de Las Camelias (少女椿 : Midori: The Girl of the Camellias)
Lunatic Lover's (月的愛人LUNATIC LOVER'S)
El Monstruo de Color de Rosa (薔薇色ノ怪物 : Rose Coloured Monsters)
Along with Glénat's great catalogue, another publisher in Spain called Ediciones Otaku Manga has put out DDT and New National Kid (our scanlated stories were sourced from the Japanese edition of this).
As if all this wasn't cool enough! : Glénat flew Maruo out to Spain as the featured artist at their booth at the Barcelona Comics Festival in 2004. The trip is detailed on his page, and looks like one of the rare recent appearances by the dude outside of Japan in past years. As my coworker explained at FBF, Maruo's The Smile of the Vampire won a major Spanish comics' award upon its release. AWESOME!
FINAL NOTE: On Sunday, Evan and I were doing purikura and comics shopping in J-Town and had a great discovery at Kinokuniya. They had copies of the very very recently re-released 夢のQ-SAKU (yume no Q-SAKU : The Dream of Q-Saku) collection by Maruo!! As Nate pointed out, the title is a play on Yumeno Kyusaku, the name of a famous mystery/suspense writer from the early 1900s, and a contemporary of Edogawa Rampo. He wrote tons of short stories, and one of his most famous novels was Dogura Magura, which is supposedly a 600 page novel about mental hospital torture. Thanks for the details Nate! This just came out in Japan on 9/25/2006. The art in this book is amazing!
This collection was originally released in 1982, and the re-release includes mostly SM and Guro stories originally published in erotic and fetish manga magazines in the early '80s. They've included two extra stories, one from 1996 and another from 2000, as an update to the collection. The thing is beautiful, and Evan and I are already considering a few for future scanlation projects :)
Please leave any comments, news, questions below! We're always anxious for more Maruo news!!