Friday, June 24, 2011


Longtime reader and Suehiro Maruo superfan Suzanne just sent us pics of her RIDICULOUSLY AWESOME tattoos. For her sleeve piece, Suzanne worked to carefully compile images from a number of Suehiro Maruo works, including panels from The Laughing Vampire and illustration work featured in his Maruograph art books.

If you can believe it, she says it's still an in-progress piece, with further details to be added to her arm(!!). The tattoo artist was Piotrek Taton at Good Times in London.

Suzanne, and our previously-mentioned friend Beth... you are the queens of Maruo fandom!

To see all of the Same Hat community's awesome manga tattoo, simply click the "tattoo" label.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Over on the Same Hat Tumblr, I restarted an open call for pictures of your manga-related tattoos... These are to add to our growing archive of tattoos (depicting the works of Kazuo Umezu, Shintaro Kago, Suehiro Maruo, and others!)

The lovely secretcat's amazing NEKOJIRU tattoo!

teendrama's crazy GURREN LAGANN tattoo!


Jake's UZUMAKI tattoo!

Jeremy's GETTER ROBO tattoo!


If you have a picture to share, send me an email at SAMEHAT [at] GMAIL [dot] COM.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Last week I spent a lovely couple of hours re-reading back issues of PULP off my shelves (for research for my Usamaru Furuya post). While most all of the series that ran in PULP have been collected in their own trade paperbacks (though I believe they are all out of print other than Uzumaki), and some of the best essays and columns were collected in "Fresh Pulp", there really is nothing quite as fun as reading these comics in serialized form, running alongside each other!

As an extension of the PULP experiment/enterprise, the editors (including Jason Thompson, Izumi Evers, Carl Gustav Horn and others I'm surely forgetting) worked with Chikao Shiratori (an ex-GARO editor) to put together an anthology called Secret Comics Japan. I've previously posted about this important collection which (along with Comics Underground Japan and, to a lesser degree, Sake Jock) is a key piece of reading for any Same Hat reader.

I have really distinct memories of first encountering this book when Evan brought it along on our cross-country road trip to get me out to Stanford in 2001. This book is where I first encountered Shintaro Kago, as well as Furuya's PALEPOLI strips and Makoto Aida's groundbreaking MUTANT HANAKO. At the time of Secret Comics Japan's publication, PULP ran an overview of the state of "indie manga" in Japan in the early-2000s, as well as detailed notes on each story included in the anthology. I found it pretty fascinating to revisit this stuff, and have included large scans for your reading pleasure below:


(Interview about PULP x SECRET COMICS JAPAN, page 1)

(Interview about PULP x SECRET COMICS JAPAN, page 2)

(LOOKING AT: The Life of Momongo, Gedatsu Man)

(LOOKING AT: Swing Shell, JR.)

(LOOKING AT: Heartless Bitch/Painful Love, Punctures)

(LOOKING AT: Mutant Hanako)

(LOOKING AT: Editor Woman, Palepoli)

(A hilarious "rating" of each story in terms of Gore, Porn-ness, Huh?, Laffs, and other traits)

Friday, June 10, 2011


This quick post was spurred by a question asked over on the Same Hat TUMBLR (which, by the way, has remained very active the past two months even as Same Hat proper was languishing). strangeandstranger asked about finding evidence online of Junji Ito's "CAT DIARIES"...?

Somehow I'd missed this manga's release, but it turns out it is a real thing that actually exists!

There book is called 伊藤潤二の猫日記 よん&むー ("Junji Ito's Cat Diaries: Yon & Muu"), and here is the listing on It looks like the book is about 116 pages and pretty cheap, a one-off collection published by Kodansha.

I dug around the internets and found some panels to share. Enjoy!

There's more about Junji Ito's cat insanity here on this Japanese blog about cats and this other blog by a Junji Ito fan.

And in case you've forgotten who we are dealing with, hear is a wonderfully eerie (and oddly romantic) photograph of Junji Ito:

[As a final piece of Junji Ito miscellany, here is some Ito ASCII art I found on a Japanese message board!]

UPDATE!: Lovely readers of the Same Hat Tumblr have alerted me to the fact that a Yon & Muu scanlation does exist (and was posted recently). If you feel so include you can check it out at MANGA READER and MANGAFOX.

Thursday, June 09, 2011


Over at the (relatively) recently-revamped The Comics Journal site, my buddy Michael DeForge is posting a series of rad "A Cartoonist's Diary" dispatches; in these posts, DeForge talks about his comics work and process, muses about gig poster design, and talks about comics he's enjoying.

In the "Day 2" post, Michael mentioned picking up GIRO by Jiro Ishikawa, which is a lovely little book published in-house by TACO che:

For those that missed my earlier posts, TACO che is a wonderful shop in the Nakano Broadway mall on the west edge of Tokyo, specializing in indie/horror/alternative manga. Basically, it's if the beating heart and cultural brain was manifested into a tiny bookstore of wonders. In addition to selling books by Seirinkogeisha, EnterBrain, Ohta, and others, TACO che has a series of self-published art books/collections. In addition to GIRO, they have also published booklets featuring the Namio Harukawa's thick ladies, paintings by Imiri Sakabashira, and the gay eroticism of Gekko Hayashi.

GIRO itself features an sampling of the intense and rad work of underground artist, Jiro Ishikawa, from comics and minis he cread between 1996 and 2001. Some images here (taken from

You can actually buy a copy via TACO che, or for US folks at this site (and I believe The Beguiling in Toronto has copies as well).

I didn't want to just write about Jiro Ishikawa, without adding some visual ammunition to the interweb, so I dug up two additional mini-comics I snagged while in Tokyo last year. These are both self-published book and look more like the comics our friends sling at Alternative Press Expo than the typical manga tankobon you encounter. Here are my favorite images/pages from these two minis:


(Cover for スナックまぼろし - "SUNAKKU maboroshi/Snack Bar Phantom")

(Jiro Ishikawa is really into dogs, it seems)

(Cover of チンコマン - "Chinkoman / Dick Man")

(Dick Man fighting. I love the thickness(!) of Ishikawa's lines.)

(Bird demon schoolgirls. Check out that "evil train" panel on the left page!)

(Why does this dog get in on the action?!)

(Beach babe and Dick Man drinking a coke...somehow.)

More scans from Ishikawa's work are on this Japanese blog.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011


Last month, I took a lovely trip to Canada and attended the fantastic Toronto Comics Art Festival. I was there specifically to sell my zines, including a book of erotic indie comics titled THICKNESS #1. The book was created and edited by me and my buddy Michael DeForge, and includes original comics by my favorites: Jonny Negron, Ze Jian Shen, Derek Ballard, Katie Skelly and a new color strip by True Chubbo.

[PS: You can buy a copy for $10 (+shipping) right now.]

I'm going to write about the zines and comics I picked up at TCAF over on the EAZB this weekend, but for Same Hat I wanted to post about a dream coming true... having the opportunity to meet genius mangaka USAMARU FURUYA!

[Furuya photo via this site]

Usamaru Furuya was at TCAF as a "Guest of Honor", and promoting both Viz's Genkaku Picasso and Vertical's release of Lychee Light Club. I feel intimidated by the task of explaining Furuya's importance/talents in a simple Same Hat post due to both my deep fondness for his work and the variety/breadth of genres and types of cartooning he has produced over his career. For a primer, this profile of Furuya does a great job of introducing his work if you've not read anything by the dude.

I first encountered Furuya's work back when I was in high school, in the now-defunct PULP Magazine. PULP was a monthly manga magazine, which functioned as a primer on all things "indie" for English readers in the late '90s. I spoke at length (along with Chris Butcher and David Welsh) about the importance of this book on my reading habits and sensibilities on this episode of Inkstuds, and Furuya's kogal-skewering SHORT CUTS strips were a focal point of that teenage excitement about what manga and comics could set out to achieve.

Ostensibly, a 2-page formal gag strip skewering Kogals, SHORT CUTS was a funny gag comedy about youth culture with great timing, cute girls, and surprisingly beautiful art; but it also was an avenue for literary and internationally-minded Furuya to namecheck Dali, Yoshiharu Tsuge, Kazuo Umezu, Aphex Twin, and Osamu Dazai (along with boob jokes!). It's an absolute delight to read and a collection of gags that I come back to every few years and find another reference or angle I had missed previously.

Here's a bonus Short Cut strip (which is fantastically NSFW and hilarious): Page 1, Page 2.

Furuya's silly and quietly amazing strips for Short Cuts were predated in his bibliography by a series of 4-panel gags published under the name, PALEPOLI. I'm prone to hyperbole, and biased by encountering these comics at an extremely impressionable phase of my teenage years, but I've found Palepoli holds up extremely well to repeated re-reading. A selection of the Palepoli strips were published in English in the fantastic Viz-published indie anthology, SECRET COMICS JAPAN. Here is how editors Jason Thompson and Izumi Evers described Palepoli:

At TCAF, Furuya mentioned that his biggest challenge when starting out was around paneling and pacing his manga to tell effective stories. With Palepoli, Furuya purposely constrained each strip to 4-panel/"yon-koma" format. Within that format, Furuya soars artistically and slams formally against the visual language of a four-panel grid. It's full of hilarious sex jokes and pop culture references, as well as formal experiments rivaling Shintaro Kago's Abstraction.

Here is an example of one kind of approach the strip took, with a juxtaposition of Furuya's Makoto-chan stand-in Takashi pondering his own hand:

Additional Palepoli strips: 1 2 3

As I started the post off saying... Usamaru Furuya was a Featured Guest of the festival, and a number of events highlighting his work were scheduled throughout the weekend. As part of this, Furuya signed books for fans for a few hours on Saturday... I had a chance to talk to him, shake his hand enthusiastically, and have him sign my Disneyland Autograph book!!

(Furuya and a red-faced with excitement Me)

Furuya was incredibly sweet in person, and was nice enough to take a photograph with me (below). He had his wife and baby (both were insanely cute) in tow, and later after his signing Furuya walked around the festival checking out minicomics and booths on display.

In addition to the signing, Festival Director and master blogger Chris Butcher hosted a Spotlight Panel and interview with Usamaru Furuya. I haven't seen video surface yet, but this summary of the Spotlight Panel over at Kuriousity does a great job of summarizing the event. (The mentioned "audience member" who asked about Plastic Girl is me, haha). My buddy Ikki Nikki also conducted a fantastic interview with Furuya for the Shonen Jump Magazine site that includes further great details about his process and thoughts on comics.

The most interesting and crazy points to me were:
  • Furuya created his ground-breaking PALEPOLI comics when he was only 24 years old(!!). This was the #1 holy shit moment of TCAF for me.
  • He described drawing layouts and panels as a muscle that needs to be flexed and can only be honed via repetition. 'Someone once said "you can master any kind of skill with 10,000 hours of practice." I also find this to be true.'
  • Furuya talked extensively of the influence of Suehiro Maruo on his work, and that he idolized Maruo and wanted to be a part of GARO after seeing his short stories printed in the magazine. Furuya called Lychee Light Club his tribute to the Grand Guignol theatre and Suehiro Maruo.
  • There wasn't a real point to my question, except that I got to say out loud to Usamaru Furuya in public that he was one of my alltime favorite cartoonists and a genius, and that Plastic Girl was an amazing and beautiful piece of work :)
  • Furuya is very interested in digital publishing and integrating social media into the experience of sharing his work with an audience. He mentioned how other than conventions (which he doesn't really attend) he never has the experience of experiencing an immediate reaction to his works. As part of this, Furuya is serializing his newest manga online, allowing users to comment directly on individual panels (more below).

After hearing Seth and other somewhat-crankypants cartoonists talk about their weariness of the internet and ebooks, it was surprising and exciting to hear that Furuya was the one that drove his publisher to serialize his prequel to Lychee Light Club for free online. You guys are all reading this new series, right? If not, you gotta check out BOKURA NO HIKARI CLUB.

Ah, it feels good to finally be back posting on Same Hat! I missed you guys.