Monday, March 24, 2008


As part of Shonen Sunday Magazine's 50th anniversary celebration, Uniqlo will be releasing limited edition manga t-shirts! Uniqlo, a Japanese clothing retailer that's like the GAP but not lame-- or H&M but not totally chinsy, has released the firs 12 or so shirts so far, with the release dates of new designs meticulously scheduled through the rest of 2008, until March 2009. The shirts retails for 1500YEN each, and according to what I've heard are already selling out briskly.

The Ge!Ge!Ge! no Kitaro! shirt!

Both Chris (thanks for the above image!) and Dylan at Rumic World have posted details and images of some of the first batch of shirts. I had actually heard about this last week on Umezu's site, but wasn't clear what I was reading about. Turns out the next limited edition shirt is a Makoto-chan shirt scheduled to come out on Wednesday!

Whoa! Just in time for my vacation to Japan! I've heard from Chris that the shirts are only on sale at the new Uniqlo shop in Harajuku right now, and no word yet if they'll make it over to their NYC branch. With dozens more shirts on the way over the coming year, I'll keep an eye out for any especially cool series getting the special treatment. Hell, maybe I can fit a few extra in my bag and give them away as the prize in a Same Hat contest? (Although the brutal exchange rate makes me shudder at the thought)... Here are some of the coolest of the initial batch (link to the Mainichi Shinbun article via Dylan)

Kyojin no Hoshi (巨人の星)

Ashita no Joe (あしたのジョー)

TIGER MASK (タイガーマスク)

UPDATE: It's now 3/26 in Japan, and the Makoto-chan shirt has been added to the Uniqlo site! Now we'll see if they still have it next weekend when I get to Japan...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

NEW COMICS DAY: Early Works & Crying Giants

Things are getting busier and busier, with a big deadline coming up, and my Japan vacation now less that 2 weeks away (YES!). Things with the secret project are coming along swimmingly, with final proofreading this weekend and our back cover blurbs all lined up. We'll be able to tell you more about it very soon.

Aside from all that business, it was an awesome week for comics: a new entry in both my favorite manga series and favorite comic series? FUCK YES:

+ Phoenix Vol. 12(of 12): Early Works

The final installment of all things Phoenix. The real meat of Tezuka's favorite project concluded in Volume 11, but this addendum book brings us back to his first stab at weaving the Phoenix mythos.

As noted in the Author afterword, Tezuka created these short stories on the heels of the success of Princess Knight, for a similar female readership. The noted influence of American films like Helen of Troy, and his hometown Takarazuka Revue are palpable in these sweeping but light tales, each which takes place in a different ancient civilization (Egypt, Greece, etc).

While it's just a snapshot, it's great to glimpse Tezuka's skills in the shojo genre, which he also helped pioneered. This book is not an viable entry point for checking out Phoenix (or Tezuka) and more for the completist fan. That said, it's just a shame that so few manga fans have actually bothered to read Tezuka's Phoenix.

+ Dungeon Monstres Vol. 1: The Crying Giant

Joann Sfar and Lewis Trondheim's Dungeon series are everything good about European comics. But more than that, they're a summation of everything that is awesome about fantasy, as a device/genre/whatever. Without resorting to mere parody or satire of the genre, Dungeon employs all the fantastical action, monsters, tropes of fantasy adventure, with dashes of slapstick, buddy comedy humor, and really poignant romanticism. Not to get hyperbolic, but this dorky ass comic works you over, in a ton of really happy ways.

The newest batch of volumes (Monstres) is drawn by guest artists, and tells the side stories of other monsters and secondary characters in the Dungeon. This book includes art by French cartoonists Mazan and Jean-Christophe Menu.

The main complaint about Dungeon (and it's a totally fair one) is that the numbering of editions and non-linear volumes don't make it easy for new readers to figure out where the hell to start. But as a standalone read, Monstres Vol. 1 totally works on its own; However, Sfar and Trondheim pepper in tons of fan service-y connections for longtime readers. You can check out a preview on NBM's site.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Professor Miriam Silverberg, RIP

I usually don't post much related to the world of academia (even though I still try to keep my head in that world when possible), but I wanted to share a bit of sad news.

This past weekend, author and Japanese popular culture scholar Miriam Silverberg passed away after a lengthy illness. I never had the luxury of meeting her in person, but I first encountered her work in an undergraduate course and was captivated by her discussions of sexuality, gender and modernity. More recently, I have been working my way through her fantastically detailed book, Erotic Grotesque Nonsense: The Mass Culture of Japanese Modern Times.

I know a few other Same Hat readers have checked out this book, and I've found it's filling in the gaps in my awareness about a subject I find increasingly interesting. Her book deals directly with the 1920s and 1930s period, when Japan went through a particularly interesting stage of its rapid modernization and mass culture awakening. This is the time period from which grotesque fiction like Edogawa Rampo & Yumeno Kyusaku, the Moga ("Modern Girl"), the Takarazuka Revue all sprung. This quote from Laura Miller's book blurb serves as a good summary:

"Unlike other scholars who merely view ero guro nansensu in its literal meaning, Silverberg brilliantly documents it as a complex cultural aesthetic expressed in a spectrum of fascinating mass culture forms and preoccupations"

If you want a guidebook for piecing together these cultural artifacts in their specific and compelling historical context, I highly recommend the book, along with Prof. Silverberg's other essays. (You can preview some images from the book here or download the first chapter as a PDF here.)

Miriam Silverberg's work tackled the exact type of questions, periods, and topics I like to think I'd have feebly tried my hand at if I'd managed to go the graduate school route. All of us (especially us nerdy fans of the weird descendants of the Taisho era cultural stew) are worse off having lost this vital and unique intellectual.

Monday, March 17, 2008


...and Shintaro Kago manga, courtesy of Trevor Brown!

Panorama-tou Kitan

Ana, Moji, Ketsueki ga Arawareru Manga


Many thanks for posting these!

[UPDATE]: More pages can be seen at the Span Art Gallery shop here, which is selling an autographed copy it seems. (thanks for the link, Substrom!)

Thursday, March 13, 2008


...spending your night reading advance copies of Dororo Vol.1 and Cat Eyed Boy Vol.1 .

(Reviews and such coming soon!)


Just a brief note... it's not major news, but checking in on some titles I'm anxious to read in 2008, I noticed that release dates have been set for the first two volumes of Vertical's epic publishing undertaking of BLACK JACK.

This release schedule seems like a pretty healthy clip, with these books coming out less than two months apart. It bodes well for getting the entire series out by the end of 2009 or early 2010. I could definitely live with a volume every other month of Tezuka's raddest series. Annotate your calendars accordingly!



I figured it's not a week of blogging on Same Hat unless I dig up Kazuo Umezu videos on YouTube. Enjoy these gems!


I'm gonna have to track this down and try to visit during my trip... I hear it's in Musashino city's Kichijoji neighborhood (A hip area west of Shinjuku, where the Studio Ghibli museum is also located).

Umezu interviewed about My Name is Shingo, and then dancing with ASIMO:

Man, walking around a sunny park talking to Umezu about his comics = DREAM DATE

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Trying to stick to a more frequent posting schedule, so here's three separate tidbits from the past week.


Via the TACO CHE blog, I learned that BEAM COMIX released a new Suehiro Maruo book on 2/25/2008! The new manga is an adaptation on the of Edogawa Rampo's infamous classic, パノラマ島奇談 (The Strange Tale of Panorama Island - panorama-tou kidan).

Rampo wrote The Strange Tale of Panorama Island back in 1926, during the height of the erotic-grotesque nonsense literary stew of the Taisho era. From what I gathered on Maruo's site, it's partially a faithful adaptation of Rampo's story, and partially a visual reinterpretation-- perhaps akin to his take on The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, or Philip K Dick's stories?

Maruo seems indebted to Edogawa Rampo's themes and style more than almost any other figure, so this seems like an perfect match. I'm DEFINITELY gonna pick this up during my trip, and will post some images when I get back. Has anyone checked it out yet?


Heard this week from Drawn & Quarterly that their two big announced (so far) manga titles for 2008 have been delayed. Instead of April releases, Seiichi Hayashi's Red Colored Elegy and Goodbye, the third in their series of Yoshihiro Tatsumi collections, have been delayed until July.

This change is already reflected on Amazon, which shows both titles coming out on July 8. I'm bummed that we have to wait two more months for these books, but if it's to finalize the production and get everything ironed out just right for the release, then it'll definitely be worth the wait.

According to a friend who was at a recent signing and talk by Adrian Tomine, his next comics project will be a story for the next volume of Kramer's Ergot, and it will be a color comic. It sounds like Tomine is consciously trying to break from his previous materials, habits and subject matter, and told attendees of the talk that he won't be using his usual materials on this story either.

Tomine all loosey goosey and in color? I'm actually pretty interested to see how that'd turn out. He's already shown he can do funny and spontaneous (in his Scenes from an Impending Marriage mini comic that was given out to wedding guests), but can he do... experimental stuff? We'll see...

Monday, March 10, 2008


Hot off the presses from a Viz press release, here are the details for the two volume US edition of Umezu's Cat Eyed Boy, along with new cover designs (thank you,!)...

Details and release date:
CAT EYED BOY • Rated “T+” for Older Teens • MSRP: $24.99 • Available June 17, 2008
Cat Eyed Boy is a half-human, half-monster child whose mostly human appearance bans him from the demon world. He lives hidden in the shadows of the human world, hated by humans and demons alike. Wherever he goes, awful events occur as the humans and demons interact. In 11 stories of revenge and retribution full of disturbing images, Cat Eyed Boy acts as a trickster, saving the innocent and helping the wicked receive the punishment that fate metes out. The first volume contains four stories and the first part of a fifth and longer story. CAT EYED BOY was created by Kazuo Umezu, the undisputed master of Japanese horror manga and creator of the critically acclaimed DRIFTING CLASSROOM (also published by VIZ Media). Cat Eyed Boy offers up a concoction of dark vignettes dripping with the macabre and the absurd.

Sunday, March 09, 2008


This is a new record for me, in a bad way. Nearly a month since I last posted? Damn, it's definitely time to show Same Hat some love. In the past few weeks, I've managed to pile up a decent list of OH SHIT, I GOTTA TELL FOLKS ABOUT THAT and DUDE, I HAVE TO POST DETAILS AND GET THE REST FILLED IN BY YOU GUYS. My plan is to finish off a few more things tomorrow and be back in earnest starting this week. So, before that here's a big update on the what's what in Ryantown, if anyone cares (and hey, it's my fucking blog so I'm gonna post it):

Holy crap, it's been a long time since I first posted back in February of 2005, with the overly-earnest idea to blog about gag manga and translate some of my favorite strips by a basically unknown Sensha. It's now less scanlations, more manga news and musings, but hopefully it's still cool for you guys.

We're in crunch time with the deadline looming, but the book is turning out really fantastic. I've lined up blurbs, we've finalized the cover and I'm hammering out final edits to the pages. I can't wait to be able to talk more about the book, and for you guys to be able to read it later this year.

I'm talking a 12 day vacation in April with my GF! The plan includes 5 nights in Tokyo, 5 nights in Kyoto and a night in Osaka. Not much is set in stone yet (Except a Takarazuka Revue show I snagged tickets to..) but we have our eyes on Fushimi Inari Shrine, Ueno park swap meets, riding bikes around Kyoto, butler cafe in Akihabara, MOS Burger, drunken sakura hanami, and SO SO SO much manga buying (Taco Che and Mandarake, here we come). It's my first time back since 2004, and we're totally geeked. I am hoping to bring back tons of photos, new manga to report on and some omiyage to send folks (I'm thinking it's time for some sort of SH contest... any ideas?)

On top of all that, my secret plan is to meet Kazuo Umezu. No seriously, I am gonna make this happen, somehow. And them my brain will explode and I can die happy.

As we're coming out of winter, I'm trying to figure out which cons to try to check out. Has anyone made specific plans yet? I wanted to go to Stumptown but it's too soon after my vacation... If all goes well, I'll definitely be at MoCCA in New York, SDCC, then SPX and APE.

This is a shitload of travel, but I think 2008 is the year to do it-- to keep meeting folks and get to hang out with comic and manga nerds. And like APE has taught us, there's nothing like a con to get our asses in gear and finish a goddamn project.

The zine was put on hold for the aforementioned SECRET PROJECT. But it's back in business and going to the printer next month. The plan is to have it back by June, and then on sale via our site and at COMIC-CON... We'll also have it to sell in person at SPX and our table at APE. Just today I was looking over a new comic by Fart Party's Julia Wertz and transcribing my interview with Fred Schodt. Can't wait to finally get this thing released (and start on issue #2)!


I tried to learn how to draw by posting daily sketches on Thing-a-Day. Much more artistic success was had by Sophia, Hellen, Ryan G and Calvin.

I helped manga editor Jason Thompson (ex-Viz editor of Drifting Classroom, Pulp, Uzumaki etc and author of Manga: The Ultimate Guide) with this manga tasting article, along with Jake Forbes (ex-Tokyopop editor, author of Return to Labyrinth). I don't really know what else to say about it... Check it out and prepare to be beaten into submission by our sheer dorkiness. Happily, we managed to work some Maruo and Umezz into the article's photographs.

I talked over email Vice's editor-in-chief Jesse. Although he was put off by some of my anti-Vice rhetoric, he is a nice guy and into the blog. He made a really generous offer-- sending us some copies of the Shintaro Kago issue to give out to SH readers! If you have tried to get a copy and haven't managed yet I'll see if I can mail one out to you. First dibs to folks that have been commenting on SH for a while and/or live in a city/country that's hard to track Vice down in.... Drop me an email if that's you and I'll try to get one to you when they arrive (of course, depending on how many we get!)