Tuesday, January 26, 2010


On the always-hopping UMEZZ.COM blog, our favorite uncle Kazuo Umezuo has posted covers for volumes 1-4 of "My Name Is Shingo". These covers are part of the ongoing UMEZZ PERFECTION series of definitive re-releases from Shogakukan, celebrating Umezz's 50+ years in the business. All of the releases to date have been super fresh, and these don't disappoint. Check out the minimal spot colors and digital font treatment!

Volume 1

Volume 2

Volume 3

Volume 4

Each book is around ~150 pages and sells for 1500 Yen. Volumes 5 & 6 will be released later in 2010. For other posts about UMEZZ PERFECTION releases, check out these results!


It's the beginning of a new week in 2010, which means only one thing! A fresh batch of 7 new daily strips over on his site. Please enjoy the strips (along with my quick & lazy translations):

Monday - Sorted & classified
Says: "Unnecessary, Unnecessary, Unnecessary, Unnecessary"

Tuesday - Foreskin uses
Clockwise from top left: Water balloon, Cheese fermentation, Hand warmer, Cold weather tent

Wednesday - Prostitute Oral Training Bottle

Thursday - Dekichatta Marriage 1 (They went & did it marriage!, convoluted pun joke)
Says: So, that's a "Dekichatta Marriage" ("Deki" here means: death by drowning!)

Friday - Linear Motor Toupee
(a Perfume joke from Kago!? Rhymes with Linear Motor Girl)

Saturday - Real Octopus Wieners

Sunday - Dekichatta Marriage 2 (They went & did it marriage!, convoluted pun joke)
Says: So, that's a "Dekichatta Marriage" ("Deki" here means: death by dismemberment!)

(You can check out all the previous Kago strips by clicking the daily strips label)

Monday, January 25, 2010


I promised myself I would show proper love to Same Hat and post more in 2010. Here's me getting back to basics and down to brass tacks... it's time to talk about NEW COMICS! Oh yeah, I forgot to mention here, but a few weeks back I was the guest contributor for Robot 6's What Are You Reading? and talked about Moyasimon & Shintaro Kago's new book Fraction.

Anyway, I hadn't bought new comics for a few weeks, so I went sorta overboard this past Wednesday at my local shop. Here's what I've just read (or am about to read tonight):

+ Pluto vol.7 by Urasawa X Tezuka

It's hard to have new things to add about Pluto that hasn't already been laid out by jog, Ed Sizemore and many others comics bloggers. Pluto is an unwound Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead approach to a big ol' tree in the forest of Tezuka's greatness, and required contemporary manga reading for all fans.

I got weepy a few times in the early volumes, and as the finale in Volume 8 is coming, this series has already burrowed a place in my top comics of all time list. That said, I'm finding myself riding harder on the 20th Century Boys train right now. I've heard folks say many times that Pluto is the Watchmen of manga except even better... But I am wondering if given the structural, I dunno, quickness(?) of Urasawa's pacing will make this short series hold up to multiple re-reads the way Watchmen does? Regardless, it's breakneck awesomeness right now, a must-read for manga fans of all stripes. [link]

+ not simple by Natsume Ono

This is one of the books that I saw EVERYWHERE when I was in Japan last, in Spring 2008. It was featured at mainstream bookshops and also heavily at places like taco CHE and Mandarake in Nakano. And now, 2010 is looking to be the year of Natsume Ono over at Viz, with the planned release of four of her titles in English in the coming months: House of Five Leaves, Ristorante Paradiso, and Gente.

I haven't read beyond the first chapter yet, so I won't/can't take a stab at anything approaching a review. Ono's simple line style is unique among most of the manga I've read, which in not simple seems helpful for creating visual space while telling a tense, meta-fictional road story. I felt confused about the inter-personal relationships among the family members and strangers that fill out the first chapter of the book, but confused in a curious, compelled-to-read-further way-- rather than a "What is going on here, and why should I give a shit?" Secret paternity, fictional narratives, hitmen, and deception seem to await in the remainder of the book, and I can't wait to get knee-deep in this book tonight. [link]

+ King of RPGs by Jason Thompson & Victor Hao

Is it a graphic novel? Is it Original English Language (OEL) manga? Do I give a shit about that sort of categorization? WHO KNOWS! This book is the excellent debut publication from a longtime friend of mine, author Jason Thompson. Jason spent 10 of the most exciting years in manga publication (mid-90s to mid-00s) as an editor at Viz, working on projects like Dragon Ball, Uzumaki, PULP magazine and about a few dozen other radical books. He also wrote the totemic encyclopedia on manga, Manga: The Ultimate Guide-- the Elements of Style bible for any manga completist.

For his hilarious graphic novel debut in King of RPGs vol. 1, Jason penned an elaborated version of an old mini-comic of his, following the story of two college Freshman gamers. The dudes have their own vices (Online MMORPGs, Japanese console RPGs) and are navigating the dicey waters of identity and self-invention in their dorm when they get sucked into the word of tabletop RPGs. The book structure is a mix of Rumiko Takahashi's episodic unfolding of interpersonal relationships, and the EACH CHAPTER = A BATTLE format of Hikaru no Go or even Detroit Metal City. For the book, Jason teamed up with new illustrator Victor Hao. My only complaint is that Hao's page compositions and skill at cartooning the character's faces/body language (that is, simplifying down) starts out really static and awkward in the first half of the book's pages. That said, by the final chapter, I felt like Hao had figured out his characters and got looser with art, to solid comedic effect. I'm super stoked for the next book, and many congrats to Jason & Victor! [link]

+ RASL #6 by Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith forever has my D&D (dollars & devotion) after Bone. Though I read Bone (starting with issue #11?) in floppies as it came out sporadically over almost 10 years, subsequent re-reads of the collected volumes had dulled my memory of how frustrating it can be to wait for new issues of a fascinating serialized book. Thankfully, Smith has moved to a faster, near-bimonthly schedule for RASL in 2010.

This installment is all Tesla, all the time. This issue uses our narrator recounting of his grade school fascination with uber-genius inventor Nikola Tesla as a frame for schooling the reader on Tesla's meteoric rise (and fall) to prominence. I already knew this stuff, but it was exciting to see the chronology depicted by Smith's inky and smooth lines here. Tesla energy, parallel universe art thievery, sex scenes, and freakish mutant corporate assassins. I'm definitely on board with this book for the long haul. [link]

+ The Unwritten: by Mike Carey & Peter Gross

I just got this and haven't had a chance to dive in yet. I've heard really solid things about this new-ish Vertigo Fantasy-meets-noir series. I haven't been into a Vertigo book for a long time (Unknown Soldier and Air both left me apathetic about further installments) so I'm hopeful that The Unwritten delivers. If I like the trade, I plan on grabbing issues 6-9 at the store and following along monthly. Has anyone read this one? [link]

So... What stuff have you guys been reading and enjoying lately? Manga, indie comics, zines, European comics?

Friday, January 22, 2010


The end of the work week is so close I can almost taste it! For your weekend reading pleasure, the guys at Pink Tentacle have posted scans of an incredible indie manga gem they scanned from the '70s. From their post (which features large scans):
"Desert Eyeball" (Sabaku no Medama - 砂漠の眼玉), a deliciously nonsensical one-shot manga by Maki Sasaki, appeared in the August 1970 issue of Garo magazine.

Pink Tentacle previously posted another short by Maki Sasaki, "A Dream To Have In Heaven" (Tengoku De Miru Yume – 天国でみる夢) from the November 1967 issue of Garo.

I'm posting some capsule reviews this afternoon of the excellent slew of new comics that came out this week, so please check that out in a few hours!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Our man Shintaro Kago is setting himself a rapid pace in 2010, posting a fresh batch of seven peculiar Daily Strips on his site. As usual, here they are with my quick fan translations!

Before getting to the daily strips, it's worth noting that Shintaro Kago did a major update to the B&W originals section of his overseas mail order page, which now includes a number of smaller pieces (many of them originally daily strips themselves) that go for $30-$50 USD. These are selling fast, but would be a great way to get yourself an original Kago piece for a great price!

Monday - Bride with one month left live

Tuesday - PM Hatoyama's gift envelope (to himself)
Says: Costs 'bout 100 Million yen?
Bag - "New Year's Gift"

Wednesday - Eczema Park

Thursday - Russian roulette nipples
Says: Which one's poisoned?!

Friday - Cat & Duck joins forces to cheer up Yui-chan
Says: Ahhh, so good!

Saturday - Elderly death row inmate's final meal
Clockwise from top: "Sweet Red Bean Soup, Konjac Jelly, Isobe Mochi"

Sunday - The Grateful Crane [a Japanese folk tale]
Says: "Thanks you!"

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Exciting news for fans of psychedelic horror, one of my alltime favorite Japanese films is finally getting a proper DVD release (with English subtitles). Eureka Video is planning a 2010 release of cult masterpiece, HOUSE (aka HAUSU), directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi (director of the insane film adaptation of Umezu's Drifting Classroom).

It's been a bit of a challenge to track down, but lots of folks including me know this film from torrents that have made the rounds online. More recently, it was shown at a number of film festivals in the Fall of 2009. HOUSE is an insane and retarded piece of perfection- a visual distillation of most everything we at Same Hat hold dear aesthetically. Flying heads a la Bali Mystics? CHECK. Hand-drawn trippy backdrops and bursts of anachronystic, analog color sfx? CHECK. Singing babes and blood-spewing cats? CHECK. Carnivorous piano and Amityville horror? CHECK.

With help from Evan and Ryan G., we actually projected HOUSE on the wall of my apartment at my last birthday party. This article from the Village Voice helps give some context on this 1977 triumph (is that the right word here?). They say:
An uncanny prophecy of Sam Raimi's Evil Dead 2 a decade later, this exhumed freaker conjoins New Agey schoolgirl farce and the cheesiest then-there-were-none haunted-house dynamic imaginable, while the painted backdrop skies suggest Teletubbies and the special effects run from solarized-video-absurd to cardboard-hilarious. The rum-stumble cast and crew obey no rules—the movie often seems to have two or three conflicting scores running simultaneously, and inappropriate freeze frames and pointless fades to black are the norm. The story isn't a story at all: A gaggle of sailor-uniformed schoolgirls (with names like Gorgeous, Prof, and Fantasy) head to a weird aunt's cheap-set house for spring break, and start getting minced up, one by one, into crude superimpositions, perambulating body parts, and rivers of blood that look like cherry Hi-C.

It's a real treat to finally get a proper DVD release of HOUSE, and it's my most-wanted film release of 2010. The Eureka Video catalogue doesn't give a specific release date, but I'll be keeping my eyes peeled:

If you're already into HOUSE and can't get enough, I'd like to also mention that Same Hat friend and artist Brendan Ninness created a HOUSE-inspired piece for Electric Ant #2's illustration feature, THESE BLOODY MOMENTS. Here is a smaller version of that piece:

[As always, if you haven't yet you can still purchase a copy of the zine.]

Here's the Japanese trailer for HOUSE, followed by some stills. Enjoy!

UPDATE: As commenter Stephen mentioned, there are rumors that Janus/Criterion are going to be releasing HOUSE in the US as a Criterion DVD/Blu-Ray, as Janus was responsible for organizing the showings of the film at festivals last fall. The just posted this Q&A article on their blog too. That said, it's still sorta unofficial 'til they confirm or put it on their release schedule. Has anyone heard more specifics? (thanks, Stephen!) In the meantime, as Matt points out, Janus is taking HOUSE to independent movie theaters around the US in the Spring and Summer. Full schedule is online here. I'll be at the April 17 show in San Francisco!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Happy New Year, 2010!

I'm back from another overly-long break and anxious to get going with posts. I spent the last 3 weeks swamped with work at the day job, then traveling to the Midwest to see extended family. More recently, I've had a few weeks to hang out with my GF, watch movies, play Call of Duty (gamertag: "hell of mirrors") and be lazy.

[By the way, I have a New Years Resolution for 2010 to send mail every single day the post office is open, so if you wanna be pen pals, mail me your address to samehatATgmailDOTcom!]

Time to get back to business here on Same Hat. To start what I plan to be a long run of new content, I've posted our friend Shintaro Kago's new batch of daily comic strips! This bunch is more cerebral, but creepy and goofy like you'd expect. Please enjoy these quick translations by me :)

1 - The truth behind Usui Yoshito's passing

2 - Boob-covering Prevention Function

3 - Stone Age LASIK surgery

4 - New condom technique

PS: Kago updated his overseas mail order page, with new B&W original illustrations and now... TOYS!