Thursday, October 23, 2008


I am very, very excited to share some fantastic news for Same Hat readers, and for all fans of indie manga and experimental cartooning... Top Shelf will be publishing a 400 page AX ANTHOLOGY, a selection of stories from the bimonthly underground manga anthology AX... all available in English for the first time!

(Here is the front and back cover to a 16 page AX Anthology sampler to be given away at Alternative Press Expo!)

We've posted extensively about AX before, but remember that it's an anthology book published by Seirinkogeisha, that took up the reins of GARO after they closed their doors and ran with the weirdness. Tokyo Zombie originally was serialized in AX, along with works and interviews of Suehiro Maruo, Shinichi Abe, Nishioka Kyoudai, Naoto Yamakawa(Oops, he was in Comix Beam), Usamaru Furuya, Toshio Saeki, Akino Kondoh, Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Toyo Kataoka, and many many many other amazing mangaka.

I don't have anything to do with this book, but recently learned about it and got permission to break the news to ya'll (and of course, am supremely jealous I didn't get to edit or translate for the book!). The full table of contents details have not yet been made available, but I hope to hear more specifics this Fall and post them here.

This gigantic book was co-edited by author Sean Michael Wilson and AX co-founder Mitsuhiro Asakawa. Sean is a comic book writer from Scotland, now an ex-pat living and working in Japan. He's published a number of books, nine graphic novels, and his first English- Japanese-language manga was published this past summer. Asakawa-san is an author and current editor of AX, and worked in the 90s on the staff of GARO, along with writing a number of books on alternative manga and gekiga.

At Alternative Press Expo next weekend, Sean will be doing an presentation on gekiga and presenting rare images from the early, emergent days of the genre. He'll also be there with a 16pg sampler of the AX ANTHOLOGY on hand to give away. I'll be helping run the presentation (and on hand to score my own copy of the sampler, duh!). Details from the APE Site...

SUN, 5:00-5:45: AX and Gekiga: Alternative Manga in Japan—Sean Michael looks at the roots and contemporary state of indy/alternative manga in Japan, using rare and unseen visuals supplied by the original Gekiga creators of the 1950s and 1960s and info from the editors of AX, the premier alternative anthology in Japan today. Plus, a preview of the upcoming book AX Collection (Top Shelf), which presents a selection of this indy manga for the first time in English.

I'm hoping to do an interview with Sean (and Leigh at Top Shelf) and post more details later this fall. What AX creators are you guys most looking forward to reading in English?


Anonymous said...

That on the front, is that by Kohdoh Akino? Looks really nice; got my attention.
I would love to get it *--*

Ryan S said...

Yes indeed, that is Akino Kondoh :)

Oh ps, volker... Remember the First Kiss survey from ages ago? You will find your avatar in the color spread on page 46 of Electric Ant #1
thanks again for your submission!!

Shano said...

This may be the book I've been dreaming of. Must have this.

Anonymous said...

This looks great. I've been hoping for some Garo material to be translated, so this is the next best thing. I hope there's some Kazuichi Hanawa...


Tropy_29 said...
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Eoin Marron said...

Seriously, this has made my day. I hope we get some Nishioka Kyoudai (shame Journey To the End of the World was never finished), Shinichi Abe (just looked him up, beautiful inking) and Kazuichi Hanawa material, but I'll be over the moon with anything Gekiga!
Did Yoshiharu Tsuge ever produce any work for AX, or was it just Garo?
Goddamn I wish I could get my hands on that sampler. Will you be getting any spare copies Ryan? Hahah

Ryan S said...

@shannon: Most definitely! This type of book has actually been the one book I'd most want to see (and the dream pet project!). I'm particularly interested to see how the table of contents shakes out

Ryan S said...

@anonymous: Yeah, I agree. It would be lovely to see some of Hanawa's lush and weird stuff in the book

Ryan S said...

@eoin: The 21st century version of SECRET COMICS JAPAN and COMICS UNDERGROUND JAPAN... it will be a fantastic book, I think. I am surprised that no one has released Nishioka Kyoudai's stuff in book form, but this is a good start. It seems like they'd be great for Fantagraphics, just saying.

I saw a few pages of the Abe stuff that will be in the AX book and it looks really great. Can't wait to see more!

I actually don't know if Tsuge ever was in AX, but I do know that a different publisher MAY be putting out more Tsuge in a separate form, so I think you're covered on that front.

I will do my best to grab some copies from Top Shelf and see about distributing them via the blog. No promises, but at very least maybe I can get them to ok scans of the sampler? we'll see!

My ONE concern with this book is that there are a number of Seirinkogeisha creators that I would maybe want to somehow pursue, and possibly with one of the other manga / indie pubs. It'd be a shame if this anthology locks up Seirinkogeisha licenses in the future... Doubtful as Hanakuma's from AX and was licensed by Last Gasp, but I'm interested to see how that goes...


Eoin Marron said...

Ooh, is that publisher that's interested in Tsuge a secret or can you tell us? I'd love if it were The Untalented Man (L'homme Sans Talent in French)...
Oh, and scans would be great, if they let you that is!
Any idea if it'll be a hardcover release?

Ryan S said...

@eoin: Ah, the Tsuge stuff is a second-hand rumor, so don't quote me on it yet!

I'll keep you posted after APE about the sampler and Sean talk.

Not sure, but I'm guessing it's a chunky softcover book-- could be wrong though (it's not listed on Amazon yet, so I assume we're talking sometime in 2009).

helllllen said...

dude I'm SUPER excited!!! I'm totally snatching one of those samplers next weekend

Anonymous said...


I cant wait for this!!

I hope hanakuma,maruo,kago and ebisu!!

I have a lot of maruo in spanish but i know in english they dont have too much!!

saludos from argentina..

pd: I bought tokyo zombie INCREDIBLE!!great to have hanakuma in english!!I will do a review of that book in magazine that we do in argentina about manga and anime!!

Anonymous said...

dont forget about sake jock a great boook from fantagraphics about underground manga!!

with a lot of YASUJI TANIOKA...some kind of peter bagge japanese!!


I forgot hanawa please more!!the story of comics undeground japan is great!!and doing some time or something like that in english that is about his time in prison is brilliant!!

Sean Michael Wilson said...

hi all,

This is Sean Michael Wilson, the co-editor of the upcoming AX book. Thank you for your excited interest in the book - everyone involved is very fired up about it. In fact I just had two important distribution/media emails about it today, in terms of those key people who can promote the book and make it a sales success. Please all play your part in helping the book be known - arigato gozaimasu!

I will write a longer reply soon answering your various points!

Sean Michael Wilson said...

Opps, forgot to say: "his first English-language manga was published this past summer."

- Ryan, it should be that my first JAPANESE language work was published in summer, as a 'keitai manga' (download to cell phone format). Manga onto cell phones, as you may know, is very big business here in Japan - $75 million worth of downloads last year. Though they were not all of MY book sadly!

Ryan S said...

Thanks for the update and sorry for the mistake, updating now :)

We are all looking forward to hearing more about this book in the coming months!

Anonymous said...

oh wow. i feel like i just got pantsed! i know how you feel ryan. why couldn't i be translating/editing this!! well, maybe next time. hopefully this will really open the market to interest in more full-length books like tokyo zombie.

Ryan S said...

@azraelito: I'm excited too!
Oh yeah, SAKE JOCK. It's not quite at the same level as the other two books, but it's quite good you're right.

I'm really pleased to hear that you enjoyed TOKYO ZOMBIE! I know that you and I have very similar taste and sense of humor, so it means a lot to know that you liked it :) Hanakuma is fucking great, isn't he?

Ryan S said...

@hellen: We should bring torches, storm the Top Shelf booth and steal all their samplers! I feel like APE this year is going to be in-sane in the mem-brane.

Ryan S said...

@rizzah: yeah, I've definitely been hoping a book like this would come along.. it feels like the market (barring a further/total economic meltdown) is finally ready for it. As long as they are all committed to their projects, the more publishers in the indie manga game, the better. Right now we've got:
Top Shelf, Fantagraphics (bete noire #1), Last Gasp, Drawn & Quarterly, Pantheon, PictureBox, and Viz-- along with Vertical and Dark Horse to a degree. Not too shabby.
We always have to be sure to give Kudos to Creation and Blast for opening the doors early on, by the way :)


Sean Michael Wilson said...

Hi again all - sorry Ryan and Rizzah if you feel 'pantsed'. But your help is needed to make the AX collection a success! Please help out in whatever way you can. Ryan's already agreed to help me out in the APE talk, arigato. It does indeed look like 2009 is going to be 'indy manga' year! And long overdue right?

One way is that you might tell me which manga ka you would like to see in the collection. Asakawa-san and myself have not finished choosing them all yet, so room for suggestions!

Looks like we are going to have to ration the AX sampler - there will only be 100 copies. So put your names down for one now! See some of you at APE this week. I will be at the Last Gasp party on friday, sitting at the Fanfare booth 249 with Deb Aoki much of the time and AX/Gekiga talk is sunday at 5pm.

- Yoroshiku onagai shimasu!

Anonymous said...

greetings from argentina to all!!

In the magazine that I work of manga and anime in argentina I will include the Ax news as one of my favorites!!

we have to talk about this great news and start talking about creators like hanakuma,kago,maruo,tanioka,etc...and start opening minds of reading other things that dragon ball or naruto...

for me there must be stories of:

kazuichi hanawa (pleaseeeeeee...)
suehiro maruo
shintaro kago
takeshi nemoto

apart from this!!

keep the good work on this blog ryan talking about rare and strange manga!!


ps: as always my englis sucks...

Sean Michael Wilson said...

Azraelito - thanks, please do spread the word about AX collection in Argentina (and invite me over there for a convention!). Hanawa and Tatsumi will definitely be in, and probably Nemoto too (I will show a page from his 'heta-uma' AX work at this sundays talk in SF).

Ryan, sad to report that these below creators will NOT be featured in the collection, for the simple reason that they have never had any manga published in Japanese AX yet: Suehiro Maruo, Naoto Yamakawa and Usamaru Furuya.

- gomen!


Ryan S said...

Hey Sean!
Thanks for the latest update. You're right, I got a little ahead of myself. I know that Maruo was featured on the cover of AX issue 8, and Furuya on the cover of AX issue 12-- but going back I see those are just interviews and not serialized manga.

Naoto Yamakawa was serialized in EnterBrain's Comix Beam not AX, as you pointed out. Whoops!

That said, cool to hear that Tatsumi and Hanawa will be included. I'm excited to hear more details about which contemporary, previously-never-in-English creators will make it. Like Comics Underground Japan did (at the time), it's most exciting for me to have the anthology include not just gekiga kings (which is great) but also to introduce some weird and more recent mangaka to new readers!

Sean Michael Wilson said...

Ryan, you researched the inclusions of those artists in AX! Well done, glad to have you in my corner. Especially as I am pains to point out that I am NOT a manga expert... I am learning too, in the process of making this book and giving these AX/Gekiga talks.

First and foremost I am a comic book writer, who lives in Japan and can therefore work directly with Japanese manga ka and hen shu sha (editors). My Japanese partner, Asakawa, is the expert on alternative manga. My role in our partnership is as the 'gajin spokesman' and production co-ordinator for English editions of the AX and GEKIGA books. Something that I DO know a lot about, thankfully, as this will be my 14th published book, and the 6th book I've edited myself.

I have a list of contributors that ARE going to be in the AX collection so far - and yes, there will be many that have never been seen before outside of Japan... let me ask Top Shelf if I can release them to you here. Since 'Onaji boshi!' is becoming the news hub for the AX collection!

One more neat thing is that I was given the current issue of AX yesterday, issue 65. On the back is a lovely little Tatsumi drawing, with the full title of our Gekiga book noted for the first time in public:
'GEKIGA:THE ROOTS OF JAPANESE ALTERNATIVE COMICS'. The title tells you what THAT book is about: the history and development of the Gekiga style, in the words of the original creators, with plenty of rare images from the 50's and 60's.

In my talk on sunday in APE I intend to read out a few bits from a conversation between Tatsumi and Masahiko Matsumoto, from this upcoming book, in which they discuss how they came up with the gekiga style in the mid 1950's. Great stuff!

Anonymous said...

great news!!that there will be Hanawa,nemoto,Tatsumi in the book..

I forgot to say before a big congratulations for top shelf and sean of doing the job of research in manga and having these kind of book posible!

I think that this kind of book will have a lot more fame that comics underground japan!perhaps because of internet and all the feedback,forums,blogspots and things that can help this book be succesful!

It would be great to have top shelf publishing more anthologies like this or alternative mangas!

apart from I was checking comics underground japan and I was seeing muddy wehara and the only thing that I have to he still working??he is such an incredible artist!

who knows in the future,maybe we have the lucky of having kaze shinobu trasnlated!!one of the best,bizarre and unique style underrated artist of all japan!!

do you imagine strongest man on earth ryu in english!the scene vs jesuschrist!!just of thinking in that is mindblowing! jajajajaja

saludos to all from here!!

Have a nice day!!

Sean Michael Wilson said...

Ok gang,

Ive got the OK from Top Shelf to tell you who will be in AX collection, so far, as an exclusive for 'Same Hat'

- Drum roll...

Akino Kondo
Minami Shinbo
Shinichi Abe
Namie Fujieda
Mitsuhiko Yoshida
Yuichi Kiriyama
Osamu Kanno
Shigehiro Okada
Yunosuke Saito
Yeong Choi
Kazuichi Hanawa
Yoshihiro Tatsumi

- any new names there?

And that's just who we have selected so far, there will be a lot more!

- Sean

LOOKA said...

Hey this sounds supergreat!

Could you work out that SANPEI SHIRATO gets the same treatment as Osamu Tezuka and Koike/Kojima?

We NEED some mass of output in english by him! VIZ give out those rights!

Anonymous said...

This really sounds great. I just wrote about the book on, the - if I may say so myself - leading general comic magazine in the German-language part of the internet. Do you have any idea about a publication date and price yet, or how to get my hands on a copy here in Germany?

Sean Michael Wilson said...

Hey Henning, thanks for posting about AX in Germany... the samplers are all gone, sorry. Try bidding for one on ebay in about 5 years for $100!
He he... But Top Shelf may be printing more for a spring convention before the book comes out in summer i guess. anwyay please keep supporting the AX collection, its much appreciated.

Sean Michael Wilson said...

Hi looka - what has there been so by of
SANPEI SHIRATO? Right now we are focusing only on those artists wo have been IN the Japanese AX anthology over the last ten years. But SHIRATO will be mentioned in the GEKIGA: ROOTS book as a second generation gekiga artist.

Anonymous said...

sorry that I miss something..

but gekiga roots is another book coming also from top shelf??

if it is...

I hope there is a great dedication to Hiroshi Hirata and Sanpei Shirato and all the kind of explanations of the 60s with them and particulary the social ones.


Sean Michael Wilson said...

Yes, the plan is to do another book called, with the short name of GEKIGA:ROOTS. This will examine the origins of gekiga style in the 1950's and, yes, include the other creators in the 1960's who took the style forward.

Sean Michael Wilson said...

Sorry to be silent for a while, but the AX book is progressing nicely

- All 33 creators that will be featured have been selected now; amongst the pages already made into English versions is the 22 page story by Tatsumi - a wonderfully odd but understated story of big city alienation; and a well known designer has just made a great cover for the book.


Sean Michael Wilson said...

Hi all,
the AX book is now done!

we are proofing the pages for typos now, but all the interior art, bios and intro are done.

- and its looking great!