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 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 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 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!

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!!


Anonymous said...

trevor brown's british, not american...

I think kago is about as brilliant as maruo in his own way, honestly, and that much of his work contains elements of satire/social commentary/whatever. hayami doesn't impress me so much but is still sort of artsy (or at least pretentious) and not quite down there with uziga & friends

caterpillar.voiea.net is more comprehensive for those maruo scanlations, I don't know how often that gurofan thing updates. they're up to something like 7 complete books (!)

there are also french editions of maruo from lezardnoir.free.fr, which judging from other stuff out by them I've seen are probably beautiful

Anonymous said...

hmmm, rereading my comment, I hope I don't come off sounding critical/snippy...just offering my opinion + random hopefully of interest information.

you guys do great work, I hope you will bring us more maruo!

Anonymous said...

I was flipping through 'Dreamland Japan' or something, and it had a section on Maruo. In the list of his works translated into English it named a short story called 'Michael Jackson Bad'. Has anyone ever read it / know anything about it ? I can't even begin to imagine what it's about...

Cool update. It sucks that so little Maruo makes it over here officially.


Anonymous said...

Hey Ryan,

I really disagree with you on Kago Shintarou. As far as I'm concerned Maruo's stuff is much more on-the-surface shock-value focused. He has developed a brilliant style, but ultimately the erotic grotesquery of his work is cosmetic and really only occasionally satirical - his works seem to me to be much more about nostalgia and reprocessing of cultural detritus. I find Kago's work, on the other hand, to have much more of a real subversive social theme. Check out his "Kagayake! Daitouakyoueiken", if you haven't already done so.

BTW, it would be great if you could scanlate (or even just scan) the 2 extra stories in the new edition of Yume No Q-Saku, since I have the first edition. ^^ Have they never been released before?

Also, I recently purchased this book:
"Manga - Masters of the Art"

It has interviews with 12 different manga artists ranging from the mainstream (Asamiya Kia, CLAMP, Inoue Takehiko) to artists such as Furuya Usamaru, Tsuno Yuko, Takaya Miou and, of course, Maruo Suehro, examining their artistic development, themes and modus operandi. Really a very interesting book and highly recommended. Unfortunately the taciturn and shy Maruo doesn't really offer as much insight as the other artists, answering most questions with a simple "Hmmm, I guess so" or "Hmmm, not really". -_________-

Anonymous said...

would anyone happen to know if other maruo books beside Q-Saku have new content added to later editions? I'd hate to be missing stories...

Ryan said...

It looks like the new (2006) edition of Rose Colored Monsters has one extra story not in the 2000 release:


See the Works page of his site for more details:

If you click on the covers of the books, they give you the "オリジナル版" & "新装版" links in the window to see previous editions.

Anonymous said...

I note that each entry in "Trans-Europe Express" has become less and less about the trip and more about whatever Ryan wants to talk about.

I think this is a good thing, because as much as I like the Ryan who points out crazy German subtitles, I suspect art-dork Ryan has more to say.

Ryan said...

anonymous 1 & Ben: Hmmm, yeah i may have definitely overstated myself about kago,, though i think hayami (& uziga, benkyo, etc) are still a bit problematic and beeeelow. I'll update the post with some more bits on kago tomorrow@

Adam: Yeah, the BAD story is actually really, um... bad. as in, not good. But, you can check it out in scanlation in New Nationalist Kid, at the lezardnoir link above. Lots there, but i have to admit/agree that scanlations are nice but not as cool as having a physical copy of a release to hold.

Ben: I need to broaden my mind on Kago still.. I have read all of , but I definitely have more to get through. I do see the commentary and critique he's pointing to, and it's a more contemporary kind of statement-- but i have trouble getting past some of his.. er, METHODS for making those statements (and by methods, here, i mean genital mutilation of young girls, gang rape fantasies, etc). I will take your suggestions though, as always :)

oh, as for the second two stories-- if we don't scanlate them both, i'll make sure we send you copies (probably via email to be kosher with the kopyright kops :) but i'm hoping to scanlate the 2000 story since it looks interesting!

anthony: you love both RYANs! just admit it :) And thought dork-hat (is that the nickname now?) ryan is winning, europe-trip ryan will rear his head for the mighty GERMAN COSPLAY PICTURE EXTRAVAGANZA post!


Ryan said...

ooops, i meant to say above
" I have read all of 'Comic Massacre by the Train Station ', but..."


C.M.B. said...

Interesting post as usual! I really appreciate the translations you guys have done.

I have a unrelated question, that maybe you guys could help me out with...

I recently started getting into Matsumoto Taiyo stuff, and ordered 2&3 of the black & white series, among other things, but have had lots of trouble getting my hands on a copy of vol. 1. I would happily pay for it, but not $50! Would you happen to know if there has been any scans of that volume? I'm dying to read these copies!

Gynocrat said...


Ryan at Same Hat Same Hat goes to bat for the aesthetically pleasing, yet ultimately gory, Suehiro Maruo:


Anonymous said...

you should check our website for some maruo french edition books
and Trevor Brown is japanese btw...

Anonymous said...

Trevor Brown is certainly not Japanese. He is British, as stated before, although he resides in Tokyo.


...but i have trouble getting past some of his.. er, METHODS for making those statements (and by methods, here, i mean genital mutilation of young girls, gang rape fantasies, etc).

So, how is this any different from Maruo then? ;)

Adam said...

I'd love to see more translated Maruo too, but its absence is part of a more general phenomenon: publishers today balk at any manga that's too "underground" in either writing or art. It's a shame, but I think the U.S. market for underground manga has actually contracted, even as the market for manga in general has vastly expanded. I don't think an anthology like "Comics Underground Japan," "Sake Jock" or "Secret Comics Japan" could be published today. And it's not just manga, but foreign "underground" material of any origin. (A few years ago iirc, Fantagraphics published an anthology magazine, Bete Noire, carrying foreign underground-type stuff, including some manga. It sold terribly, and was cancelled after one issue.)

Incidentally, the "Midori" whose cover you reproduce above is the same book that was published in the U.S. in 1992 by Blast Books under the title "Mr. Arashi's Amazing Freak Show."

Adam said...

Oops, I forgot to mention that I'm not the "Adam" who posted above as "anonymous."

Ryan said...

@ben : I guess at this point I have to just claim personal preference for mr. maruo's sickness vs. kago's sickness. because maruo makes it more stunning? i think the comment somebody posted that maruo is less "guro-y" does sometime ring true, to a certain extent, especially to someone who's only seen the nastiesy examples of Kago or Hayami's comics. And I can sympathize with that sortof feeling to an extent :)

@ adam2 : thanks for the comments! you're right that the 'midori' cover is the same as the english title (quite a stretch from teh orignal title) "Mr Arashi's Freak Show". The # of Maruo titles in english really is woefully small.

About indie manga, i've been wondering myself if it's really true... In about a million ways, now is sortof a heyday for manga, and some weird, weird WEIRD and awesome stuff that might not have had a potential audience in the past is doing midly-well (like JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Octopus Girl, Cromartie High School). I talked to the guys at ADV at BEA this spring to thank them for putting cromartie out, and they admitted that while it's not ever gonna sell like OnePiece or ranma, they are publishing it because they really really think it's one of the best manga out there (and I AGREE).

I think you're right though-- the anthology of weirdness model is really not happening right now. STRANGE, because an updated "Comics Underground Japan" (my personal fave of the 3 you mentioned) would be SO AWESOME, wouldn't it? At least among people who read this blog, it would be extremely well received.

The sad trend underlying all the awesome stuff seeing print these days is that dreaded VOLUME 3 mark... If they don't make the sales, that's where it ends. Right now, Museum of Terror, Octopus Girl, School Zone and a bunch of others are stuck there (as Phoenix was too, for months and months before it was restarting).

just my thoughts off the top of my head :)

Anonymous said...

Trevor is no longer british he has the japanese passports for some times now...

Anonymous said...

*hate* Please invite me to your next J-town trip, or call me to let me know what's going on! Nothing like this ever happens in Sacramento. Poop.


Anonymous said...

Two of Maruo's manga have also been published in Germany:



I think it's unlikely we will ever see his more extreme and experimental short story material officially published in English. Certainly in the US the publishers are scared shitless about obscenity trials - a very real possibility with anything involving scat. And if Creation Books are also having trouble even getting Hayami's BEAUTY LABYRINTH printed (I don't think it's more graphic than ULTRA GASH INFERNO) I doubt they will try to put out a lot more guro. However, there are a number of more harmless Maruo books like DR. INUGAMI, WEIRD STORM BOY, LAUGHING VAMPIRE 1-2 and GICHI GICHI KID that I could very well see getting an official publication in the US. I guess it must be a matter of licensing costs versus what the publishers think they can make by selling these titles.

Katie AkaTako said...

Hardly anything has been translated into English - makes for a great reason to learn to read Japanese? I wonder why the manga get translated into Spanish & French but English somehow misses out....

Side note: copies of Maruo signed manga (in Japanese) http://www.akatako.net/catalog/japanese-artists/suehiro-maruo