Tag Archives: manga

70 Aspects Of Batman: 32

JIRO KUWATA

From Wikipedia:

Jiro Kuwata (桑田二郎, Kuwata Jirō, alternatively 桑田次郎, born April 17, 1935 in Suita, Osaka) is a Japanese manga artist.

A gifted artist, Kuwata started out as a manga artist at the young age of 13, when he created The Strange Star Cluster (怪奇星団) in 1948. His turning point came in 1957, when he created Phantom Detective (まぼろし探偵) (which was adapted into a tokusatsu TV series in 1959). Since then, Kuwata devoted himself to creating science fiction/superhero adventures. His most famous was 8 Man, which he co-created with writer Kazumasa Hirai.

Unfortunately, in 1965, when he was to finish the final issue of 8 Man, he was arrested for possessing a handgun (he had contemplated suicide). With Kuwata in jail, co-creator Hirai got other manga artists to finish the final issue, but wasn’t satisfied with it. It was published in a manga magazine, but has never before been reprinted.

Nevertheless, Kuwata, released from prison shortly thereafter, continued his manga work well into the 1970s, but also ran into depression and alcoholism. In 1977, he had an epiphany and converted to Buddhism. He has since done beautiful art books about the life of Buddha. He also occasionally got back into manga work, and in 1992, he agreed to do his own version of the final issue of 8 Man, upon being asked by co-creator/friend Kazumasa Hirai.

Kuwata’s Batman work was published in Japan around the time of the huge hit TV show; like most manga adaptations of American superhero comics, its appeal seems to have been somewhat limited to the Japanese audience, and was largely unknown in the States until the publication of a compilation from a couple years ago, entitled Bat-Manga.

Bat-Manga was curated by Chip Kidd, noted graphic designer, author and Batman fan. There was a bit of a kerfluffle when the book was published because of the absence of a credit for Kuwata on the cover. While this was almost definitely an oversight, it remains an unfortunate error. Nevertheless, on its release, Kuwata finally received recognition for his work on the character; Grant Morrison even introduced the Kuwata characters Lord Death Man and Professor Gorilla to DC continuity in the initial Japan-centric arc of his Batman Inc. series.

And, since it’s from Japan, you get some amazing scenes like these:

– Greg

Thanks to the excellent ISB for several of the scans featured here.

Some manga series: first books and favorable first impressions

I recently remarked to my brother that Akira and Lone Wolf and Cub (and similar works by the creators of those works) were the only mangas (I’m going to pluralize it with an “s” because that’s how we fucking indicate pluralization in English) I’d ever read that weren’t retarded. Further review reveals that assertion as impulsive and over-general, as I really enjoyed the 3 volumes of Hiroshi Hirata’s Satsuma Gishiden that Dark Horse bothered to publish, and I’ve died laughing at the 4 volumes of Cromartie High School that I’ve read. Still, with as many comics as I read and how little of it is Japanese, it seemed like I must have been missing some good stuff.

I surfed around, consulted “best-of” lists, and did that sort of nonsense and came up with a list of works that I want to check out. Then I downloaded or checked out the first volumes of these series from my local library and read them. Here are the opening volumes that I thought were great and convinced to read the rest of the series (which I will do in the future).

Uzumaki
Uzumaki by Junji Ito, 1998
You won’t need a Japanese-English dictionary to figure out that uzumaki means “spiral”. The things are everywhere in this story and inspire major obsessions and eventually supernatural happenings. The characters are flat as hell but the events are creeeepy.

Drifting Classroom
The Drifting Classroom by Kazuo Umezu, 1972
An entire school is suddenly teleported to a hostile wasteland and everyone. Barely any time passes before kids started gettin’ fatal.

Parasyte
Parasyte by Hitoshi Iwaaki, 1990
I actually read some of this series back in the 1990z when Tokyopop was serializing it in some wacky magazine my brother was buying. Anyway, I think of Parasyte as a horror version of the 1960s Spider-Man comics. A run-of-the-mill teenage boy is randomly gifted with an incredible power. However, this gift is a parasitic alien with a mind of its own that really enjoys eviscerating its alien peers.

Biomega
Biomega by Tsutomu Nihei, 2004
This is really the most cliche of the mangaz that I’m covering in this post, as it’s mostly brainless with stupid fashions and wussy heroes. However, the whole atmosphere is so gripping and several wide-lens type landscape shots are so epic that I was sucked in (also, there is a bear sleeping in a bed). A lame android rides around on his motorcycle avoiding zombies and firing RPGs at nuke missiles.

Eden
Eden: It’s an Endless World by Hiroki Endo, 1998
The story takes place in your basic, near-future, post-apocalypse but with a multi-generational twist. The character development and long stretches between major events almost give it a “slice of life” feel.

20th Century Boys
20th Century Boys by Naoki Urasawa, 1998
The story jumps back and forth in time, showing the same group of males as pre-adolescent boys and then as early middle age men. In the past, the boys hang out and have fun while in the present, a cult gets busy and starts a murder mystery.

Children of the Sea
Children of the Sea by Daisuke Igarashi, 2005
Full of beautiful depictions of the ocean and shoreline areas, as well as the animals one might find in those areas. Also, there are some kids that are kinda magic in water or something and a girl gets kicked off of her handball team.

Well, if I included a premiere volume in this post it means I think it was overall excellent and worth your time and, most importantly, I intend to read the remaining volumes in the respective series. There were definitely some first volumes that I didn’t get into but I’m just keepin’ it positive here. Also, there are several others that I haven’t gotten to yet and I’ll give a full report when I have!

-kicknz

70 Aspects Of Batman: 22

KATSUHIRO OTOMO

From Wikipedia:

Katsuhiro Otomo (大友克洋, Ōtomo Katsuhiro?, born April 14, 1954) is a Japanese manga artist, film director, and screenwriter. He is perhaps best known for being the creator of the manga Akira and its anime adaptation, which are extremely famous and influential. Otomo has also directed several live-action films, such as the 2006 feature film adaptation of the Mushishi manga.

Otomo’s Batman has only appeared once, in an 8-page story featured in Batman: Black & White from 1996. The story features Otomo trademarks like psychic battle and crazed psychos…I can’t admit I actually completely understand it, but it’s interesting and looks like great and is, thus far, his only foray into American comics. The image above is the only one I could find online, but it gives you an idea. Even though his Batwork is limited to one picture here, I wanted to include Otomo because of his impact on world comic culture, and my own love of his work. It would be lovely to have another Batstory from this influential artist (or another comic story in general), but I’m not holding my breath. I guess we’ll just have to be happy with what we have.

G.

Amerikan comic publishrs is tsupid

Okay. I’ve said this before and by the grace of Satan I’ll say it before: why is American comic book publishers so dumb and why have they STILL not adopted the Japanese manga publishing format? In case you don’t know, manga is released in big-ass telephone book sized anthologies over in Japanz. They’re stocked in newstands and all over the damn place. Popular manga publications sell millions of copies and feature all the hot, piece of shit anime, video game, toy, whatever properties. They’re printed on shitty paper to cram in as much stuff as they can. There are lots of ads, usually BETWEEN the various stories. I mean TONS of fucking ads. Ads means money.

So let’s say Marvel wanted to give this shit a shot. They’d throw together a book with stories starring all of their biggest properties, slap a bunch of headshots on the cover, solicit every company they can find that markets to males between 5 and 35 and put that shit on the stands at a low, low price. I’m talking 200 pages for $5. I guess Marvel and DC are too fucking stupid to realize this, but it ain’t like the old days. In the 80s I could grab a 22 page comic book printed on shitty paper from the magazine rack at the grocery store priced at 75 fucking cents, show it to my grandma, and there was a good chance she would buy it for me. Now the pieces of crap are $3, still only 22 pages, but now on deluxe paper. When a kid runs up to their parent with this horrible value they are quickly slapped in the face.

So put out anthologies, in black & white, on shitty paper, chock full of ads, at a reasonable price. Use stories that are six months old – the dumb kid at the supermarket won’t know the difference because he’s not a 30 year old guy that hangs out at comic shops. By reprinting older stories you can avoid pissing off the comic shops and you wouldn’t even have any new material costs to go against your budget. Your only expense would be compiling the stories and printing the books.

God, why you so stupid?