Wednesday, February 14, 2007


  • The most exciting news first: Evan and I are flying out to attend NEW YORK COMIC CON!

    This was a last minute decision, but despite the potential FEET of snow and frigid temperatures, we've decided to take a trip to visit our buddy at Columbia, hang out with friends from Vertical, meet Stephen King (!), and eat pommes frites & sing karaoke. YES!

    Is anyone else attending the con? We're mostly hoping to score new and/or free comics, meet Jeff Smith (this time in America), Wes Craven, Public Enemy, Jim Steranko, and hopefully chat with David Kalat.

    Let us know if you'll be around-- we'll be there all-day Saturday, probably hanging out at Vertical or Giant Robot's booths during down time.

  • After looking at their schedule for upcoming horror comics, I decided to start a a thread on the Dark Horse manga message board.

    I applaud DH for releasing so many good horror titles, but wanted to bitch about the increasingly frustrating pattern in which they abandon a series at the Volume 3 mark, leaving the rest of the books in limbo (Most notably, Museum of Terror, School Zone and Scary Book...)! The text of my initial post is here:

    Hi Dark Horse,

    I'm an avid reader of comics, and my tastes run the entire gamut from american mainsteam and indie comics to european graphic novels to all things manga. I've met a few people from Dark Horse/DH at book fairs over the past year, and with my good friend, run the underground manga site Same Hat (

    I'm a huge fan of what you've been doing lately in horror manga, and we noticed a real upswing in the quality of your books and the titles you were licensing in 06 and into 07. I've talked extensively about your great work on Museum of Terror, Octopus Girl, Lullabies from Hell, and most recenly Mail & Kurosagi on our site:

    THAT SAID, we've been really sad to notice that MANY of your horror manga titles are only making it to volume 3 before they get killed/discontinued or left off the schedule. Right now, I know that School Zone, Scary Book, Octopus Girl, Musuem of Terror, Mail and Kurosagi have only been scheduled through volumes 3, with further issues nowhere on the schedule.

    This is a major bummer as a reader. I assume this is a mix of sales figures not meeting expectations and a slew of other reasons, but it's turning into a really bad trend that leaves us readers frustrated.

    Having read some of these titles in Japanese, I know that series like Museum of Terror, Scary Book and others go much longer--- Museum of Terror has 15 total volumes, I believe. Can you please let us, as the rabid fans who pick up your books each week, know what is going on with these? More transparency please on this issue. Also, as much as I do applaud you licensing titles like these, it will be for naught if Dark Horse ends up pulling the Miramax route of grabbing something good and not releasing it, keeping it away from readers indefinitely .

    I know that sales are what really matter, but other companies like Tokyopop and ADV seem to be making their books work and fulfilling their committment by publishing the entire series of Dragon Head & Cromartie. Not sure about Dragon Head, but I know from ADV folks that Cromartie's sales for Vol. 3 were not strong compared the best-selling manga titles (naruto, etc) but they've decided to stand by the title because they believe in it (and there is a dedicated group of fans that feel the same and think VERY highly of them for putting out Cromartie).

    Readers of our blog were so delighted by your pulishing of Museum of Terror (especially when you consider how poorly ComicsOne originally handled the series), but we want to know... what's next for these series that you've left in limbo? I am very excited for more good news and good books from you guys


    A lively debate is starting up (with our friend Tina and others) and hopefully someone from DH will reply soon to give some explanations and let us know what to expect in coming months. Head over and take part in the conversation!

  • Thanks to the readers that have written us recently! We've gotten a few extremely generous and nice emails from readers all over the globe-- cool folks with equally twisted, equally peculiar tastes. Thanks for reading Pedro, Radek & everyone else we've heard from!

Monday, February 12, 2007


Clay, gaijin abroad and Same Hat reader, has (perhaps unwittingly) become the internet's star expert on the laughably awful, ridiculous movie adaptation of Kazuo Umezu's Drifting Classroom.

A few weeks ago, Clayton did a video review of the late-80s, multilingual film adaptation of this infamous horror manga. The review is hilarious, and is only outdone but the utter SHITTINESS and CRAZINESS of this film:

You can also view the review directly on his site. Most recently, Clayton was somehow able to score an interview with one of the child stars of this film, Arthur Johnson, who talks about his experience as an African-American kid in Japan starring in a Umezu adapation. in the Eighties. that was in English. Stuff like this is the why internet is teh best!!

Thanks again for the links and patronage, Clayton!

Here are 10 minutes of selected shorts from the film:

Friday, February 09, 2007

Death Note as Simpsons FTW

A few weeks back, Journalista and other blogs posted about a deviantART site member who had posted fan art of the Simpsons and Futurama characters done up her own 'Anime-style'. Turns out spacecoyote (aka Nina Matusmoto from Vancouver) did the drawings as a joke for a few of her friends, and the digg/ machine took over, granting Nina the coveted and surreptitious honor of Internet famousness.

Here are the two pics (click for full-size):

Holy shitballs, in this case it seems that Internet famousness has alchemically mutated into fame IRL, as she's now received job offers from Bongo/Groening to work on a comic for them, along with possibly the upcoming relaunch of Futurama (DANG!). According to her livejournal, she's also been contacted by a yet-unnamed US manga company about doing a comic with them. Oh, and Nina was also recently interviewed by the Toronto Star, which you can click here to read.

To be totally honest, at first I was sortof, well... MORE enamored with the story of fan-art turning into a real job (it's like a Harry Potter slash fiction piece getting turned into an actual TV pilot!) but LESS taken with the actual piece. Something about the SIMPSONZU pic creeped me out (though, the Futurama one is pretty damn nifty). Well, I've come across ANOTHER piece by Nina that basically affirms her position as geek-made-good starlet, deserving of her luxurious job offers: The cast of Death Note as Simpsons characters!

Okay, I'm sold!

PS: Dorkdom omake, Nina's redux of My Neighbor Totoro in the Simpsons' style:

PPS: I have to wonder, did the person who did the Battlestar Galactica characters in Simpsons style get any job offers?

Saturday, February 03, 2007

TRANS-EUROPE EXPRESS 5: German gem, Insekt by Sascha Hommer

Okay, okay-- So I've read over our last, hmmm 3 or 4 posts, and I DO see that we basically have devolved into hyperbolic "OMG!1, you HAVE 2 check out this AWESOME [fill_in_the_blank]!~#@" ravings. But jeez, I think we're at a historic comics/cultural epoch, where there is basically a rapidly and exponentially exploding amount of cool graphic novels/manga/publishers, and the number of hours outside of work to nerdily blog about them is, sadly, not increasing any time soon.

BUT we're doing our best, and splitting leisure between a goal of posting at least once weekly, and slaving away on more long-form scanlations and an original comic for APE 2007 (More details later). Right, OK... back on the COOL SURPLUS tip, this post is about our newest cartoonist crush, this time hailing from Germany: Mr. Sascha Hommer.

Sascha Hommer (real name = Pascal Bohr) is a German cartoonist, currently residing in Hamburg. He's a young dude, born in 1979, and has been busy and active in the German comics scene for a few years. For one, Sascha founded and edited the German comic anthology/magazine, ORANG, which is still going strong but no longer under his tutelage.

He also guest edited issue 82 of the luxurious and thick publication, STRAPAZIN, from Zurich. STRAPAZIN is like a weirder, more avant stepsister to The Comics Journal, and I wish something like this was being published in US. You can check out the one issue I picked up here, which included Same Hat staples like Tatsumi, Maruo, Takano Fumiko, Tsuge Yoshiharu, and Furuya. D-D-DANG.

Sascha has published shorts in ORANG and other places, but his first major release was just this past year, with his graphic novel INSEKT, put out by Reprodukt. Stroke of weird luck for that trip #217-- I got to meet him at Frankfurt Book Fair's giant comics pavilion. He spoke quietly in English and was really generous, and we talked briefly about European & American indie comics. He also signed the copy of Insekt I bought directly from him (that always feels nice).

He described his two main influences for this book as CHARLES BURNS & CHARLES SCHULTZ. Can you see it? (duhhh) The main drag of this entire post is that I DON'T SPEAK German, and so I've only been able to pore over the pictures. But like many fanboys before me (Evan in high school with unreleased Battle Angel Alita, Commodore Perry whacking it to kick ass Hokusai tentacle shunga) I can still tell that the book is some damn amazing cartooning. Thanks to babelfish, I know that it's about an insect-boy who lives a bearably normal life in a town laden with fog/smoke, where it's basically always night. Only when he has to leave (escape?) with his mother to the countryside, does he have confront his differentness. You know, because he's a giant bug-boy. You can check out free previews here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Oh god actually, a quick search just found the whole thing online! UPDATE: Upon closer inspection (DUH), this fully-available link is the english scanlation of the Insekt. HOT DAMN!

This is another example of me wishing I had more clout-- Throw my sweaty weight around and petition that this book gets bought, translated and released in the States. It seems like a perfect fit for either Dark Horse or Fantagraphics, depending on which way you packaged it. I actually mentioned Insekt to the guys at Reprodukt's booth and they said that there had been some early interest from a few US publishers, but no official action yet. Sucks, doesn't it?

Here are more pictures from Sascha's site that you should check out. You can also download min-comics as free PDFs on his page, including the short but awesome "Reach out and touch someone.... undead" comic Telefon (right-click for PDF download). Another great find (and awesome person we've met), thanks to a corporate, work-funded book fair trip. I'm all for mixing business & pleasure. Can't wait to see his next book (slated to be released in 2007)!

Next up: A PREVIEW OF VERTICAL'S UPCOMING TO TERRA by Keiko Takemiya. Oh, and the conclusion (finally) of the TRANS-EUROPE EXPRESS posts.