Friday, November 24, 2006

We're bringin' Sensha back

That's right... our main man and comedic hero, Yoshida Sensha!

Not too much news just yet, except that it's FREEZING in SF right now, and we survived Thanksgiving holiday in style (Benihana excess and hilarity: shrimp + butter + fancy island drinks = retardo fun for Evan, me and my lady). Our next project is about 75% done and we're excited to get it posted soon: A 15-panel gag strip by MR. YOSHIDA SENSHA. We're hoping to have this up next week, and then we're following that up with a 16-PAGE short story as well. ZANG!!

In the meantime, there are some NEW SENSHA TOYS from Artstorm available.

Next up: Trans-Europe Express 4: Jeff Smith and his Bone in deutsch

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Gwoemul (AKA THE HOST) - the FRESHEST monster movie of 2006?

This might be old news to the lucky readers that live outside of the US and saw this released already. From a few folks, I've been hearing really amazing things about Gwoemul (The Host in English, グエムル in Japanese). Sounds like a a mix of solid, monster & murder mayhem, political commentary on fucked up post-colonialism in E. Asia, with a dash of the joke stylings of Korean comedies.

The story takes its starting point from a real event:
"The event described in the beginning of Gwoemul is based on an actual event. In February 2000 in a US military facility located in the center of Seoul, US military civilian employee Mr. McFarland ordered to dispose formaldehyde into the sewer system leading to Han River despite the objection of a Korean subordinate. Korean government attempted to prosecute Mr. McFarland in Korean court but US military refused to hand over the custody of Mr. McFarland to the Korean legal system. Later, a Korean judge convicted Mr. McFarland in absentia. Public enraged at the Korean government's inability to enforce its law on its own soil. In 2005, nearly five years after the original incident, Mr. McFarland was finally found guilty in Korean court in his presence. He never served the actual prison sentence, however."
- from IMDB

Here is one of a few English reviews online. You can check out the UK Trailer here:

For some more info and stills, The Japanese official site has a lot of details. According to Twitch, even even Kim Jong-ill loved the movie, for it's 'anti-American influence' stance and subtext.

Has anyone seen this? Was it as radical as it sounds? Twitch says it's set to come out in the US at the end of January.

Monday, November 20, 2006


Is this the greatest t-shirt ever made?!

I came across this at one of the boutiques on Haight this past weekend:

Mishima. Pink ON Pink with Stars... And the kanji says:
(literally: cho-douseiaisha)

I want to know... who is the demented genius that designed this thing? For those of you interested, here is the famous original image of Yukio Mishima used as the source.

EDIT! Thanks to whoever commented this info. Turns out the shirtmaker is local (from details in his blog) and you can buy the ULTRAHOMO shirt directly at his site, Seibei!!

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Trolling around Amazon and noticed that listings for the next two volumes of Phoenix have been added to the site. Getting closer to the completion (well, near-completion since the old man never finished the epic!) of this series in English. SCIENCE FICTION AND FURRIES, YES!

Released December 12, 2007

Released February 26, 2007

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

TRANS-EUROPE EXPRESS 3: A preponderance of Maruo

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, 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 Trevor Brown (edit: He's actually British, whoops!), Johnny Ryan, Gea, and tons of other weirdos.

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

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!

New Edition

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 :)

Original edition

Please leave any comments, news, questions below! We're always anxious for more Maruo news!!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

TRANS-EUROPE EXPRESS 2.1: Follow-up on Dark Horse & Frankfurt!

"There are thousands of horror manga and hundreds of creators — it’s just a shame that given our finite lifetimes, we won’t have a chance to expose English-language audiences to everthing that’s out there!"
-Dark Horse Licensing Director Michael Gombos

There have been some really cool responses lately to the Dark Horse/Frankfurt Book Fair post we put up last week. Before diving into the next installments of the TRANS-EUROPE EXPRESS posts (Maruo next!) I wanted to post some of the cooler things:

# Tina Anderson's blog Gynocrat posted some commentary on my Dark Horse post.

# There is also a lively thread about our post/Museum of Terror on the Dark Horse boards. I recommend everyone check it out (hey, some of you may already be posting there!).

# The MOST INTERESTING thing to come of this is a fascinating interview with Dark Horse Licensing Director Michael Gombos over at the horror/sf/comics mega-site Dark, But Shining. Sounds like he's (Rightfully) optimistic about Horror and Dark Horse in the coming year, but no specific mentions of Museum of Terror here. He talks about how titles by one creator get released by a number of english publishers (as with Ito, Tezuka and Umezu) and talks about the second-wave of horror titles from Dark Horse by less-famous names (Mail, Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, etc). He also talks about DH's take on scanlations(!) and we found this exchange especially interesting:

Q: MPD Psycho has something of a reputation among horror fans, partly thanks to the Takashi Miike miniseries, I’d bet, but also due to its scanlation, where’s it’s been available for some time. Now Dark Horse is releasing an officially licensed version. Scanlation groups are usually good about removing their work from the web once it’s been licensed, but there are bound to be files kicking around out there. What’s your view of scanlation?

A: Strictly speaking, I am aware that there are scanlations of MPD Psycho about, and I am happy to know that there is such a strong following to this wonderful property; it is certainly one that is devout to the property, and we appreciate their devotion.

However, Dark Horse has taken the steps to acquire the rights (as you have pointed out) to publish this in English through licensed, legal means. The only indicator that the Japanese would have about how much Americans/English-speaking audiences like the properties are by sales numbers. If scanlations would adversely affect sales numbers, how can we expect to have more great manga here for us to read? This is also the way that the creators get paid, and lets them know that English-speaking audiences love the work, and to give us more! So, if you like the series, buy the book and let everyone know! This will ensure a steady flow of fantastic manga coming in for us to enjoy for years to come.

# Finally, we received some interesting comments we received from Eric-Jon Rössel Waugh of Next Generation in the comments of our previous post. He writes:

>Yeah, Dark Horse has initially only committed to the first three volumes. I've not heard a word about volumes four and on -- and given the lead time between localization and printing of these volumes, that means that even should Dark Horse decide tomorrow to continue the line, they probably won't get around to publishing the rest until next fall.

Weird thing is, the first volume at least was the best-selling manga for several weeks in various third world countries that carry Englis manga translations; it's just over here that it's been having difficulty.

A reason for that might be that nobody carries the darned thing! Seriously, I went to every book store and comic shop in San Francisco looking for the first volume, for weeks after its release -- and nobody had even heard of it. Not Borders; not the small indie shops. The only place I was able to find a copy was in Japantown -- which on a level almost feels like it defeats the purpose of the localization.

Interesting stuff across the board. Please continue to send us links and posts comments!