Thursday, January 29, 2009


Well I mean, aside from this one...

I just wanted to give another shout-out to the new Electric Ant Zine Blog (EAZB). I started it a few weeks ago as I began work on issue 2 of the zine. EAZB is a group blog on the Electric Ant site, with all the zine contributors from issue 1 (and folks signed on for issue 2) as posters.

So far, it's exploding with a wild swatch of posts, including:
  • Cartoonists Calvin Wong, Mickey Zacchilli, Michael DeForge, Evan Hayden, Elio, and others offering their own takes on the COVERED meme [link]

  • The AX ANTHOLOGY research project, started by Rob Syrett, where we're digging up links on the artists featured in the upcoming book from Top Shelf [link]

  • Pre-war Vietnamese new year's jams encoded off old tapes and reel-to-reels [link]

  • Electric Ant friends with cartoons and art featured in Vice Magazine [link]

  • What's Your Take On... posts where we feature artists we like and dissect their shit [link]

  • New music by SHUNGA and other musicians [link]

  • Updates from me about stores carrying Issue 1, zine sitings, and features in the second issue! [link]

I encourage folks to come over and check it out! (You can also click this: for RSS!)


This is mostly a reminder for any Tokyo folks that might be thinking about attending and/or sending us pics(?)... To celebrate the release of his newest manga collection, Shintaro Kago will be appearing at Taco Che and signing copies. The event will take place on February 1, 2009 from 3:00 - 4:00pm, and Kago will also be selling copies of his DVDs, prints and toys.

Kago's first new book in 10 months is called, おばあちゃんが死体くさいよ (Grandma's Stinking Corpse) and went on sale 1/20/09 for 1260 yen.

Full event details (and directions to Taco Che) are online here. If you're a SH reader and go to the event, it'd be cool to mention this site and his large (and growing) squad of English-speaking fans!

ALSO! There will be a second signing and book release event in Tokyo, in Koenji at the Matching Mole Cafe. That event is similar in format to the previous night at Cafe Flying Teapot that Nate attended, with books on sale and a screening of Kago's short films. The date is February 13, from 7-9pm. More details here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


A quick plug for the current sale going on at PictureBox right now, which has been extended until 2/8/09. If you didn't already know, PictureBox publishes a fair share of rad manga.

Details about the sale on their blog. A few highlights for Same Hat readers:
Each book is a stimulus package for the soul! Plus every purchase from now until February 8 will include a FREE copy of Paper Rad's DVD Problem Solvers. So, here we go:

* Curious about the book of which the New York Times exclaimed: "Few cartoonists of the moment are weirder or more original than Yuichi Yokoyama - his work obsessively diagrams architecture and design ... Travel is remarkably entertaining." Travel can now be yours for just $9.95!

* Want to dip into a graphic novel on nearly ever top ten of '08 list? Interested in Dune? Philip K. Dick? What about masterful drawing? Well, my friend, check out C.F.'s Powr Mastrs 2, now just $10!

* And then there's Monster Men Bureiko Lullaby! The Village Voice crows: "By depicting human behavior at its worst, Nemoto recalibrates the limits of what we can bear to consider on a page of comics." Damn straight. Yours for $8.95!

* Many consider Lauren Weinstein's The Goddess of War a shortform masterpiece of graphic storytelling. I sure do! Richard Gehr calls it a "A blend of Marvel's Thor comic, a Wagnerian space opera, and Anthony Mann's Westerns" Sounds right to me! Yours for just $7.95!

The sale also extends to rad prints by SH friend Jon Vermilyea. ONE NOTE: The shipping can be hella pricy (but fast), so you'll still be spending a bit here. But this seems to be the best way to get TRAVEL and MONSTER MEN direct.

Go here to check out their catalogue; The sale prices are already reflected and noted on each book's page.


It appears that today in Tokyo, the lawsuit against Uncle Umezz filed by his cranky Kichijoji neighbors was settled in Umezu's favor. According to the report on Mainichi Shinbun, Tokyo courts rejected the lawsuit complaining that Umezu's radical red-and-white striped house was ruining the neighborhood.

Umezu wore a suit with a red-and-white tie, and looked impish and happy after the courthouse:

For everyone who forgot, here is some footage of the Makoto-chan house:

Now, I just want someone to note the location of the house on the SAME HAT GUIDE TO EVERYTHING so I can make a pilgrimage to it next time I'm in Tokyo.

(Thanks to Costas & Myrto for the news tip!)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Short news from Kazuo Umezu's site. On his blog, Umezz has released the covers for the deluxe UMEZZ PERFECTION editions of his fantastic series, 『洗礼』 (Senrei aka BAPTISM). There color covers are absolutely beautiful:

Volume 1: Available 12/26/2008

Volume 2: Available 1/30/2009

The third volume of the set will be released in February. But when do English readers get this book published for them? (PSST, VIZ: I WOULD WANT TO WORK ON THIS BOOK, JUST GIVE ME A CALL!)

Monday, January 26, 2009


We're stretching even further into 2008, so here is the second in my series of YEAR-IN-REVIEW 2008 posts. I'm splitting things (perhaps unduly, so sue me) to the following categories: BEST MANGA! BEST COMICS! BEST BLOGS! and MOST ANTICIPATED IN 09! This is similar to what I did last year, except I smooshed all my best of 2007 lists into one post.

Click here for the BEST MANGA! 2008 list.

Compared to the manga list, for folks keeping score, my best of comics list is not quite as widely spread in terms of genres; It also probably contains a greater share of self-published minis than most of other lists too. That said, I tried to read broadly, but was most taken by personal and experimental works (along with a few mainstream gems). I look forward to hearing recommendations and outrage in the comments!

12. SnooPee by Ken Kagami

I picked this comic up from the PictureBox booth at MoCCA in New York. PictureBox and a few other cartoonist groups have published a number of comics on newsprint, which makes them easy to carry and cheap to buy. Ken Kagami is best known (by me) for doing the packaging design for Bay Area band Deefhoof, but in this series of sultry vignettes we get all types of Snoopy-on-Charlie Brown action. Hilarious and repulsive, I need to snag a bunch of copies as Valentine's Day presents. [link]

11. BodyWorld by Dash Shaw

I think I'm in the minority here, but I thought Dash's ambitious and huge debut graphic novel, Bottomless Belly Button, was a good book but not a great one. I admire the care and effort in the book, but it didn't quite click with me when I finally sat down to digest it. Not content to simply make a huge debut with Fantagraphics, Dash moved quickly to begin another ambitious project: BodyWorld, a space and drugs and teenage comedy IN THE FUTURE, which he serializes on his site. The use of color, messing with visualizing web space and lusty spectacles in BodyWorld make it a super-compelling and satisfying read. I hear it will be getting a print publication (from Pantheon?) next year as well. Badass. [link]

10. Stay Away From Other People by Lisa Hanawalt

This mini from cartoonist and artist Lisa Hanwalt was strongly recommended to me by Hellen Jo and Calvin Wong, and I always make a point to follow those two's suggestions. Lisa's book doesn't carry any strict narrative panels/comics, but is more like a minizine. It features hilarious lists that struck close to home (like, "12 Things to Do When You Are Stuck in Traffic" and "Ideal Wedding Plans") along with her intricate, creepy and beautiful drawings of a cornucopia of animal-headed dudes and gals in various hip attire and/or legwarmers and farming gear. I absolutely love Lisa's line work, and this mini made me LOL more than a few times. [link]

9. Ramble On! / Millie & Hattie by Calvin Wong

I've said it before, but I think Calvin Wong is a bit of a hidden gems within the indie comics scene. Full disclosure, Calvin is good buddy of mine, but I have been a fan of his comics since before I met him. 2008 saw him release two fantastic minis; Millie & Hattie is a newly-printed collection of his flapper detective strips, following the eponymous duo's sharp tongued defeat of opera vampires and other villains. Ramble On! is an entirely new book featuring a woodland creature guitar battle and the humdrum life a warlock fate-wrangler. In another word, fantastic shit! Calvin's comics (in addition to his organic and detailed linework) feature comedic timing nearing perfection... like the first volumes of Jeff Smith's Bone or Dungeon's funniest moments. He is a dude to watch, and his books need to be sought out and read!! [link]

8. Omega the Unknown #10 by Jonathan Lethem/Farel Darlympe

Before getting into the book itself, I would say this was one of my favorite covers of any comic this year. It's creepy and melty and deeply weird, but also secretly uplifting. Just how I dig it. The book itself is the final installment of a strange and sprawling "superhero" tale by SF-turned-"indie mainstream" novelist Jonathan Lethem. Strictly speaking, this series is Lethem's reboot of the 70s Steve Gerber superhero, but it does a lot more heavy lifting behind the scenes. The story stands up over multiple reads, and worked for me as arch-metaphor for whatever I was feeling... teenage idleness, the comics industry, etc. In addition, Farel Dalrymple's art is lovely and they got Mr. Paul Hornschemeier to do the coloring. Not too shabby. [link]

7. Crickets 2 by Sammy Harkham

Until this last year, I knew and respected Sammy solely as the curator and editor of the Kramers Ergot book series. At MoCCA, I finally picked up the two issues of Sammy's current comic book. Since MoCCA, I've sat and re-read Crickets 1-2 from start to finish 5 or 6 times and keep coming back. The second issue was funnier and featured more wild strands, while continuing the main Black Death story from the first installment. To me, Crickets 2 is a lover of cartooning showing he walks the walk like he talks the talk (whatever that means). A refreshingly excellent floppy. [link]

6. Acme Novelty Library #19 by Chris Ware

I don't have too much to say about this book, except it's basically impossible to fight the artistry of this thing. I am not a fan of Ware, and have only read enough of his work to know it's deeply talented but very unfamiliar to the things I want to get out of narratives and art and story. He just never like... speaks to me? But I read this latest edition to see what the fuss was about, and found a book chock full of smartly-woven threads that hit just the right combo of interests, pathos, speculation and focus. Other people that have been following the dude for longer have better reviews, but I was really drawn into this one. [link]

5. Tales Designed To Thrizzle #4 by Michael Kupperman

Another fantastic piece of work from America's funniest cartoonist. If you're a Same Hat reader (and get down with Yoshida Sensha, Johnny Ryan, Enomoto, Koji Aihara and the other kings of gag manga), then I'm sure you're already on top of Kupperman's work. The latest book of his biannual(?) series hit all the right notes, and delivered on a slightly different conceit this time (24 hours of cartooning fun for the whole family!). The first 4 issues will be collected by Fantagraphics in 2009, I hear. [link]

4. All-Star Superman #10 by Grant Morrison/Frank Quietly

I was so fucking dubious about this series, and it ended up really getting to me. And I think Superman is aB-O-R-I-N-G character. So how the hell did Morrison and Quietly pull this shit off? One of the best single issues of the best mainstream miniseries in many, many years. [link]

3. Jin & Jam #1 by Hellen Jo

We've made it to the top three, and like the manga list these represent the cream of the fucking crop, right here. Another full disclosure, Hellen is one of my best buds and some of her original art hangs in my apartment. After her excellent one-shot Paralysis and aborted (but badass) series Blister, Jin & Jam #1 marks Hellen's first "officially published book." In it, Hellen has perfected and distilled her elegant but wet & wild uber-detailed style into a cohesive (but still surreal) form that just flat out WORKS in serial form. Aside from being beautiful, the book harkens back to a raw emotion of adolescence and summons up all the evil obstacles you used to fight off on Sunday afternoons: church, lamewads, the cops, siamese twins, and the future. Fuggin' awesome sheeeit. BUY IT! [link]

2. Dungeon Monstres vol.2: The Dark Lord by Sfar/Trondheim/Blanquet/Andreas

Despite a crumbling world economy, war, and environmental degredation, 2008 was an alright year. That's a logical truism for any year where we get more of Dungeon in English (HEY-O). As stated, all Dungeon is good Dungeon, but the newest installment of Monsters was the most exciting installment since we first peaked into the end of days in Twilight Volume 1. I loved how both stories played off each other (Rashomon-stylies), but the real gem is Stéphane Blanquet's stunning and surreal colors in the second half of this book. I say it in every year's BEST OF list, but Dungeon is probably my all-time favorite series, ever. Start it soon (with Zenith 1: Duckheart) so you can work your way back to this excellent book! [link]

1. What It Is by Lynda Barry

Dude, what isn't it? I can imagine folks not really needing this entire book, which mixes autobiographical and Raw Power narrative strips with Barry's own insights and open questions in dozens of free-form and lovely ink & collage pages. Like with her novel Cruddy, I was feeling this book in a sentimental and unshielded way that is usually pretty rare for me with comics. For whatever kind of "comic" this thing is, it was definitely the single biggest achievement (in my eyes) in comicdom during 2008. I also had the distinct pleasure to meet her twice at events in 2008 and dudes, she's a wonderful creature. [link]

New Character Parade by Johhny Ryan

NCP was another fantastic collection of the weekly strips Johnny has been putting up on his site. Featuring a hand-screened cover and unhinged mania, I placed this book on the top of the hallowed coffee table of "cool shit you just gotta see!" in my apartment. More about Johnny in the most anticipated in 2009 list tomorrow! [link]

The Would-Be Bridegrooms by Shawn Cheng

I wasn't very familiar with Shawn's stuff, but had the chance to meet him and get this mini at APE a few months ago. Featuring a Sword in the Stone-esque magical transmogoration battle between two suitors, this short comic had me laughing my ass off. On top of that, Shawn has an arresting visual style- check out the daily(?) sketches posts of his work on the art group site, PARTYKA: [link]

Bullshit Frank & Gorilla Joe by Mickey Zacchilli

Previously-mentioned here for her Kazuo Umezu and Go Nagai fan art, Mickey went berserk this year with her raw and borderline experimental art brut series BF & GJ. I just got the third issue a few weeks ago, and her existential meets batshit gag strips continue to deliver. Each issue also features hand-screened covers (inside & out) and other goodies. Mickey is a comics-creating dynamo... check it out! [link]

Empire Park by Jason Shiga

After Knock Knock's massive and multi-hubbed sprawl, and Bookhunter's noirish ode to dusty pages, Shiga's latest self-published comic is a longish narrative about love and devotion. True life Sleepless in Seattle shit with some real talk honesty that struck a great note. I think it's still a bit hard to find, but you should buy it from the man at cons this year and marvel at his genre-jumping mastery. [link]

RASL by Jeff Smith

The first three books of RASL don't add up to much actually happening, but I am hooked on this book. Following up after BONE is a hell of a task that Jeff Smith has made for himself, so I was excited to see the science fictional, boobs and blood and weirdo noir direction he is taking. Now if more shit happened and the books came out faster! [link]

COMING SHORTLY: Best Blogs! and Most Anticipated Books 2009!


Comments from frustrated Same Hat readers that bought the disappointing reprint of the infamous Suehiro Maruo & Kazuichi Hanawa art book, titled here as NEW ATROCITIES IN BLOOD, are continuing to come in... As posted previously, the book was sold by Creation Books for $69 + shipping (as much as $125 AUD for friends in Australia) and turned out to be a tiny, pixelated, and poorly-made book. The frustrated comments on that post are up to 24 responses, and you can read the details by clicking the link above.

One reader got in touch with Creation Books, and received a reply over the weekend. That email reads,
Sorry to hear this. We'll pass your comments on to the publisher, Yubari Books, and await their reply. We haven't actually seen the book ourselves yet but were actually told by our order fulfilment agency that it looked "gorgeous". So that's strange.

Checking over the blurb that Yubari sent us, and looking at our web page, it does say that the 1886 images are only included as a "mini-gallery", but we didn't know what size the book would be (at A5 it would be the same size as the original, which seems reasonable). It should also be noted that not every book includes blurb or author details on the cover - particularly hardbacks, so this is certainly not a fault. Does the front cover match the image provided, which we included on our page?

If the reproduction of the images by Maruo and Hanawa are actually very bad, this would be a problem, however. We will ask the publisher to send us sample copy and check this ourselves.

Thank you for informing us of this."

So, it sounds like they are saying that:
+ They didn't even see the books before accepting money and orders?
+ They didn't realize all the Yoshitoshi images from the original would be squashed on one spread?
+ They are stating the original book was A5 (5.875" x 8.25") when folks who have copies say it is A4 (8.5" x 11.25") or bigger?
+ It would be a problem to them if the images are bad. So um... are they folks?

I encourage anyone who got the book and was disappointed to send their thoughts and questions to Creation Books at: (from their Contact Us page). I encourage anyone who writes to be polite and direct about their frustration with the book. I'm also curious to hear official word that Yubari Books or whoever initiated the project licensed all the images and work from the original publisher and/or Maruo and Hanawa.

If you get any news back, feel free to share them in the comments!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


If you have 30 seconds, please vote Tokyo Zombie in the the 2008 Readers Poll: Best New One-Shot Manga. With polls about to close on Sunday, it looks like Tokyo Zombie is slightly trailing the leader, "Seduce Me After The Show." I would be okay losing to Disappearance Diary or Tatsumi's Good Bye, but not this book!

Thanks for your support :)

PS: In other news, I'm at home with a debilitating migraine, goddammit. I'm finishing up a few more posts by tomorrow afternoon, barring my skull case breaking open and evil spiked worms burrowing out of my brain!

Monday, January 19, 2009


I just got reports of some disappointing news. Do folks remember in early November, I posted the news that Creation Books was re-printing a limited English edition of the infamous and deluxe Suehiro Maruo & Kazuichi Hanawa art book, 江戸昭和競作無惨絵英名二十八衆句 (28 Famous Scenes of Murder and Verse)?

This weekend I got emails from four different friends, all informing me of the same basic news: The reprint is a disappointing, shoddy and mediocre book!

If folks remember, this was a limited edition run of 50 copies, with a price tag of $69 bucks (plus $5 shipping domestic, $13 for folks outside the country). I put off buying my own copy, then ending up forgetting altogether. Now, it sounds like I was one of the lucky ones.

Here are some pictures from an upset friend that got the book (Quarter there simply for size reference):

And here are a few quotes from Same Hat readers that are quite unhappy customers:

"I just received my copy and I felt pretty disappointed. I was expecting something more like an actual artbook, bigger size, better quality etc."


"Received my copy today too.. really disappointed, especially as I was broke as hell when buying this. Poor student whining aside, the book design is really shit. Not even a title or ANYTHING whatsoever on the spine or back. Really crappy stock, and not even a credit to Maruo or Hanawa to be found outside of the book."


"I'm not very impressed with this new book. The art is of cousre brilliant, but the accompanying texts are cursory at best. It is also a great shame that the words that are part of the artwork remain untranslated."


"Biggest rip off of my life. 6.25x8 inches big, print quality is the worst i've seen for...anything, recently. Undoubtedly the worst I've ever seen for something of such a "limited edition," literally some images are mildly pixelated!!!

UGH. Did anyone else buy a copy of the book? Please let me know your thoughts about it, and maybe I can get in touch with Christian, the publisher at Creation Books, and find out what happened.


It's about time for the latest news on one of my absolute most-anticipated books of 2009, AX(Vol 1): A Collection of Alternative Manga... coming out from Top Shelf! Since we last heard the announcement of the project, editors Sean Michael Wilson (author, manga creator) and Mitsuhiro Asakawa (journalist, Japanese editor of Ax) have been working hard on production for the collection's first English release.

According to Amazon and Top Shelf's site, the book will be published in December 2009! ($29.95, ISBN 978-1-60309-042-1)

Here's the latest news sent by Sean in the comments to my previous post:
All 33 creators that will be featured have been selected now; amongst the pages already made into English versions is the 22 page story by Tatsumi - a wonderfully odd but understated story of big city alienation; and a well known designer has just made a great cover for the book.

An incomplete list of confirmed mangaka in this first volume includes:
Akino Kondo
Minami Shinbo
Shinichi Abe
Namie Fujieda
Mitsuhiko Yoshida
Yuichi Kiriyama
Osamu Kanno
Shigehiro Okada
Yunosuke Saito
Yeong Choi
Kazuichi Hanawa
Yoshihiro Tatsumi

As Sean notes, the final book cover will NOT be the image above, and we can hopefully expect a preview of the real deal coming in the near future.

Finally, I wanted to post the pics I've been sitting on from the talk Sean gave at Alternative Press Expo 2008, on November 2 in San Francisco. Sean showed off scans from rare manga and magazines, and outlined the history of gekiga and underground manga for the audience. I ran the presentation and chipped with occasional asides (while sneaking photos quietly). Sean and I didn't have a lot of time during the busy weekend to hang out, but we've be in touch ever since over email. Please enjoy these photos:

A blurry Sean introduces the audience to the world of gekiga.

The book that basically launched the modern form of manga, New Treasure Island by Osamu Tezuka; The cover to one of the first magazines showcasing gekiga, Kage #1.

Scans from Matenrou, one of the early anthologies popularizing gekiga works. Check out the snazzy group photo of late-60s mangaka studs.

Images from books by heta-uma pioneer King Terry, and early panels by Yoshihiro Tatsumi.

Panels from one of Tatsumi's earliest works, Children's Island, alongside recent panels from the end of his epic autobiography, A Drifting Life.

The early, badass "Gekiga" logo and cover to Gekiga Fan magazine #1.

Early works by seminal underground manga figure, Yoshiharu Tsuge (check out those cover designs!!).

Pages from Tsuge's (and possibly, alternative manga's) most influential work, Nejishiki.

Example panels from the more recent, Ax anthology. Seen here: Shinichi Abe's "Me".

Enthusiastic manga fans talk shop with Sean and vie for copies of the Ax Anthology sampler from Top Shelf.

That's all the news fit to print. Will share more in the coming months as we hear it from Sean and Leigh!

Friday, January 16, 2009


My new friend Bharath Murthy emailed me this morning to inform me he's posted a 20 minute video interview with Junji Ito on his site! As mentioned in an earlier post, Bharath and his partner Alka Singh are documentarians (and comics nerds!) living in Tamil Nadu, and run the indian comics and film site, NUMBER21PIX.


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This interview was filmed in September 2007, in the top-floor studio of Junji Ito's home in Gifu Prefecture. Like me, Bharath holds Ito-san as one of his all-time favorite mangaka, and took the time to visit him and conduct this interview while filming for he & Alka's forthcoming manga documentary.

Highlights from this fantastic and casual look into Junji Ito's life & work include:
  • Ito-san showing off his original script outlines and rough panel layouts, with descriptions of his process when creating manga.

  • A long discussion of the influence of urban legends on Ito's manga, how he got the idea and visual inspiration for Tomie, and how he became a manga artist.

  • A tour of Junji Ito's studio and art desk, process using mirrors and photo-references in his work, and much more!

After watching the video, please head over to NUMBER21PIX, and say thanks to Bharath for sharing this interview with us!


Hi guys, just an FYI that Tokyo Zombie is one of 10 books in the running for Best New One-Shot Manga 2008 over at Deb Aoki's About.Com: Manga blog.

If you have a second and enjoyed the book, please go over to the site and cast a vote!
2008 Readers Poll: Best New One-Shot Manga