Thursday, July 31, 2008


I'm back from Comic-Con and still recovering a bit from the crushing exhaustion (and accompanying sore throat) that seems to plague everyone who spent the weekend at the San Diego Convention Center. A quick round-up and pictures coming tonight! Meanwhile, I'm pleased to announce...


After debuting the book at the Last Gasp booth at San Diego, Tokyo Zombie hit local comic shops yesterday! Some enthusiastic reviews have started to pop up here and there:

Zombie Reporting Center
Neo Magazine (UK)
Daily Yomiuri Online (wow!)
Disaster Year: 20XX
PopCultureShock's Deb Aoki
Jog the Blog review and shipping day preview
Comics Reporter review [updated]
Ain't It Cool News [with a 5 page preview!]
Slightly Biased Manga
Comics Village
[Mention on Newsarama]

I would love to hear comments once people get their hands on the book. It should now be available via your local shop (or should be very soon!), and online here:
Last Gasp

PS: If one or two folks want to write a review on Amazon about the book, we would definitely appreciate it!

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Evan and I are about two hours away from departure for our San Diego road trip. Right before heading south, I wanted to put up some pics of the Black Jack sampler Vertical will be handing out at their booth (and I received in the mail yesterday).

Everybody knows already how excited I am about the Black Jack releases coming this fall. The sampler is the size of a normal-sized floppy comic, and features a previously unreleased story from Volume 1. You can read the story at Vertical's Black Jack page (along with a story from Volume 2 featuring... A KILLER WHALE!)

A clearer image of the rad covers for the entire series.

This story in this sampler presupposes the plotline of the Japanese Hong Kong-Thailand horror film The Eye (and it's Alba-rific remake). EVIL CORNEAS!

Dude! Tezuka OUT-TATSUMIs Tatsumi himself! Look at those details!



WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH (Spoiler Alert! Things don't go well!)

Here's the marketing hook from Vertical for their Tezuka books: THE COMIC CONNOISSEUR. (That means you!)

Radio silence for a few days, but expect tons of pictures when we get back from Comic-Con!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Thanks to everyone who has already started adding shops and hot spots to the SAME HAT GUIDE TO EVERYTHING. I realize that I could have provided better details in yesterday's post on how to actually add places to the map. Here is a quick step-by-step on using the map, with the New York takoyaki stand Otafuku as an example.

STEP 1: When you're viewing the Same Hat Guide to Everything, click on the [Edit] button on the left side to start adding stuff or making changes to other people's stuff on the map.

STEP 2: When you click [Edit], new little tools will show up at the top of the map frame, including a icon marker thingy, a line tool for drawing routes, and a blobby-looking tool for drawing areas and shapes. In this case, I know where Otafuku is on the block, and clicked the icon marker thingy there on the block in the East Village.

STEP 3: Now that the placeholder is there, it's time to start the magic. I'm sharing as much detail as I have, which in this case is my experience there and a picture from Yelp. If I know the hours they were open or had specific recommendations on times to go or what to order, I should add them too.

I also clicked the upper right icon to bring up a menu to choose other icons. This is a "restaurant" so I'm using the food icon that's already there. You can also use the Same Hat-specific icons Evan and I made, or upload your own. Once I'm all done, I clicked Save (I actually saved a few times along the way so I wouldn't lose my progress). Then click Done to stop editing the map, and view it as everyone else will see it. Booyah, you are now officially an altruistic, contributing member of the Same Hat community!

ALSO: If you are using Google Maps for something unrelated, but look up a place that'd be good for SHGTE, you can simply click "Save to My Maps". This will automatically create a placeholder in that spot in SHGTE (with the address and details if available pre-loaded) and you can simply customize and save the entry from there.

Let me know if you have any questions. Otherwise:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Writing this on a plane returning home to San Francisco from a weekend back in my hometown, I'm feeling contemplative about where I "exist" and how I connect with people I care about. Like probably everyone, I have my own rituals, reminders and rules for trying to keep up-- on family, on friends, on my projects, on information (Damn you, Google Reader! You are both a boon and a CURSE). Hand-in-hand with all that jazz, I've been thinking about Same Hat and what role "community" should play in our site.

At this point, I've been writing Same Hat for more than 2.5 years and our traffic is beefier than I ever imagined it'd get. But, we're not a huge site by any measure. Through the blog, I've been able to make some awesome IRL friends and exchanged emails and passed on reading recommendations with similar-minded weirdos. We've also gotten hooked up with a wild bunch of cartoonists, writers and artists from around the world, and in some cases introduced these people to eachother; The latest and best example being the badass T-shirt collaboration between master shirtmaker David (SEIBEI) and comix demigoddess Hellen Jo, which debuted recently at Renegade SF and will be on sale online as soon as David is back from Europe.

Despite all this, I'm not sure that Same Hat or its readership is quite hefty enough to sustain a forum just yet. I'd love to have a place to dish with everyone, but nothing is more depressing and hideous as running a ghost town forum with no posts (except by the moderator, sometimes under fake names desperately attempting to seed threads). The best stand-in for a forum in the meantime is the comments, and I'm sure I can speak for all the regular readers when I say thanks to the hardcore folks leaving updates, questions and links for us all to check out. The comments seriously make my day and often lead me off on crazy hyperlink goose chases for even more stuff to read up on. You guys are awesome.

So what should come next? I've been talking to Evan about a project to tackle after Electric Ant #1 is final-fucking-ly finished, and before we start work on the next book (oh shit!)... The plan is to finally migrate over to, which I've been squatting for over a year while being too lazy to build a proper site. In the meantime, I wanna get started with what is the first Same Hat community project, something I plan to turn into its own section of the new site. Without further ado, let me invite you to take part in...

The Guide (or um...SHGTE) is an open and editable Google Map, detailing any and all spots of interest to rabid Same Hat geeks.

View Larger Map

Anyone can participate and edit any entry, and anywhere in the world is fair game for inclusion. The only requirement is that you sign in with a Google Account (your gmail or blogger username, etc) so that it knows to attribute your entry to you.

If you haven't used the Google Maps My Maps feature, it's basically a way to create custom maps by pinpointing specific spots (think: The Kazuo Umezu Makoto-chan house), insertings overlays (think: A scanned floorplan to the Nakano Broadway mall's shops) or drawing custom routes and shapes (think: A walking tour of Brooklyn or Berlin, hitting the best comic and used-book stores in a neighborhood).

You can choose the icon associated with each entry you add, and Google provides pre-made icons to denote shops, train stations, and shopping. Evan and I also whipped up a few Same Hat icons for Sentai toy shops and Umezu, Maruo and Kago-related hot spots. You are also totally and completely welcome to add your own custom icons as well!

So, what should you add to the map? I envision this map to be in partially a guide to Japan for visitors heading over, and partially a repository of local tips from where you like to hang out. I've started adding things to San Francisco, Tokyo and Kansai to seed some ideas on formatting. If you need some tips on writing entries, I strongly recommend Schutlz's Tokyo Damage Report Guide to Tokyo, which is some of the funniest and smartest guide writing online.

With the SHGTE, the focus isn't on duplicating the work of others, but thinking about what your fellow readers would have in common with you and wanna know about; Basically what is the shit you'd send in an email to a friend going to that/your city for the first time? Some ideas include:
+ The best manga shops in Sao Paolo
+ A custom doll shop and gallery in Akihabara that displays Suehiro Maruo's paintings
+ The Osamu Tezuka museum (and the train route to get there from Kyoto)
+ A club with a monthly gothic lolita cosplay night in Athens
+ The restaurant in Kichijoji where you spotted Demerin out eating soba and playing gameboy

I won't be moderating the map per se, but might remove wildly off-topic or spam entries or fix formatting on confusing text. Otherwise,I leave it to you guys to play with and fill up. There is now a link on the sidebar ,and I plan on adding a few spots a day as we build the site. This is OUR resource, and I'm geeked to benefit from you sharing the wealth.


If you have any questions about how to use the map or suggestions on how to improve it, leave them here! After SDCC I'm planning to roll out Same Hat community feature #2.

[UPDATE]: I've posted a brief "How-To" on adding stuff to the map here.

Monday, July 21, 2008


As mentioned last week, the first print review of Yusaku Hanakuma's Tokyo Zombie has been published in the August 2008 issue of OTAKU USA Magazine. My GF picked up a copy at Borders (thanks hon!) and I wanted to share a few pics.

Getting reviewed on the same page as Red Colored Elegy is never a bad thing.

My name is Tokyo Zombie and I approve this message.

Chapter Two: the zombie holocaust begins in style.

If you want a little taste of the book before Comic-Con, please stop by your local shop and check this issue out.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Let the countdown begin... Only a few more days until San Diego Comic-Con madness begins!

I'm assuming that everyone going already has their passes and lodging already figured out, right? Evan and I will be driving down from San Francisco on Thursday, and attending SDCC 08 from Friday to Sunday. We're cheap and forgot to plan ahead, so we're staying north of SD in Escondido, CA (at least for the first night).

I'm supremely geeked to hang out and drink booze (and sing karaoke?) with a rad contingency of Bay Area and LA friends, and embarass myself in front of assorted cartoonist legends and famous folks (Jim Woodring! Simon Pegg & Jessica Hynes (Stevenson)!! Mindy fucking Kaling!?). I'm bringing the autograph book again, and on the prowl for sketches.

But most importantly, Comic-Con marks the debut of TOKYO ZOMBIE by YUSAKU HANAKUMA!

I strongly, strongly encourage you all to come by the Last Gasp booth (#1614) and pick up a copy of the manga! To sweeten the deal(?), Evan and I will be working the Last Gasp booth on Friday from 2pm - 7pm and would love to meet as many of you guys as possible. Please stop by and hang out, and check out the book in person! Anyone gonna be in town?

For everyone that won't make it out to SDCC, I'm happy to announce that the Tokyo Zombie shipment has landed, and you can now purchase Tokyo Zombie directly from Last Gasp's site or from Amazon. YES! I'm dying to hear what you think of it!

[UPDATE]: Here is the Last Gasp booth books and appearances:
New books you probably won't find anywhere else:
Sweet Wishes - the new book by Mark Ryden
Tokyo Zombie - horror/comedy martial arts zombie manga
Museum of Love and Mystery - the new book by Jim Woodring

Signing Schedule, featuring...
Emmy-award-winner GARY BASEMAN
Eisner-award-winner CRAIG YOE
the infamous RON ENGLISH
and photographer extraordinaire CARLOS BATTS

1:30pm – 2:30pm - Craig Yoe signing Clean Cartoonists’ Dirty Drawings

12 – 1pm - Carlos Batts signing posters and DVDs for Kiss Attack
2pm – 3pm - Ron English signing his new book Abject Expressionism
3pm – 4pm - Gary Baseman signing his new book Dying of Thirst

12-1pm - Carlos Batts signing posters and DVDs for Kiss Attack
1:30pm – 2:30pm - Craig Yoe signing Clean Cartoonists’ Dirty Drawings

Monday, July 14, 2008


Hey all, I'm back from a weekend in St. Louis and already heading out again (this time to Michigan for a wedding). Somehow July turned out to be the busiest, most exhausting month of 2008. My apologies for the lack of updates-- I do have some drafts simmering, I swear to god.

In the meantime, here are a bunch of pictures from Kazuo Umezu's Picasa Web Album.

Umezz as a young man; He looks like an angel and his friends all look like gangsters.

The gang all together, at あやめ池遊園地 (Ayame Pond Amusement Park?) in Nara Prefecture.

Umezu in high school, back row and 5th from the right.

High School group photo again, Umezu's in the 2nd row, 3rd from the left.

Umezu in high school art class! Umezu = back row, 2nd from the right.

From 1955, class signatures in the album. Umezu's early illustrations grace the corners of the pages!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Exciting news for us-- the first review of Yusaku Hanakuma's Tokyo Zombie hits shelves this week! You can read the review and see a preview page in the August 2008 of Otaku USA Magazine!

Their site includes details on the other content of this issue. I hear that Tokyo Zombie got a "glowing review" and includes at least a few panels from the book unseen until now. The issue also includes an excerpt from Black Jack Volume 1, if you need another incentive. Thanks to Jason and Otaku USA for writing up the book!

Has anyone picked up the magazine yet? Please check it out! My local shop's shipment of new stuff was delayed by a day because of the July 4th holiday, but I'll try to post a scan once I get my copy.


I'm starting to get that crazy sensation again. Do you feel it too? It's time to start anxiously awaiting the newest Osamu Tezuka release from Vertical!

I'm still enjoying the hell out of their Dororo editions (just read Volume 2 last week, will post thoughts on that and other stuff I'm reading soon), but they've decided to start their onslaught of Black Jack buzz.

Everyone worth their manga mettle has at least heard the name of the expansive Black Jack serial already, which is considered by a lot of folks as the greatest series by the greatest cartoonist ever. A tall order, but not far from the truth. Viz took a shot at publishing this series previously, and managed to get two fantastic volumes out in the '90s before pulling the plug. Those books are short and hard to find, but still remain utterly shocking and thrilling collections.

Now, we're about to head off on an odyssey of awesomeness, as the first volume (of 15+ total?) is released by Vertical on September 23, 2008. The publication plan according to them is to:
...Release the Black Jack episodes in the order that Tezuka indicated for a hardcover “Deluxe Edition” planned before his untimely death in 1989 at the age of 60. Each 300-page volume of the Vertical, Inc. series will feature a dozen-plus stories, most published in English for the first time. The Vertical volumes will also embody the high production standards that readers have come to expect, not only from the publisher’s Tezuka output, but also its line of Japanese pop fiction.

I was dubious at first about the overly-busy cover designs, with a simple 4-color block slapped front and center; From this picture of the coming volume stacks, though, it looks like that's simply a slipcover over a crazy B&W collage of Tezuka panels. If that's the case, I think I'll be taking the slips off the books and stacking them up as pictured here:

The big finale here, Vertical has posted a preview of a new story from Volume 2-- about beach surgery on a Killer Whale! HUZZAH!

UPDATE: It sounds like Diamond will be offering exclusive hardcover editions of the first three Black Jack volumes via Previews, with an additional story thrown in to boot. Hmmmm. (Tip via kouros!)

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


Holy crapola, what a strange feeling. Evan and I just got our copies of Tokyo Zombie last night from Last Gasp, hot off the presses!!

After working on it for so long, it's crazy exciting to see the finished product. I can't wait for you guys to read this book... Yusaku Hanakuma is gonna slay you!