Secret Comics Japan

March 14, 2008

I spotted this in a used bookstore a couple weeks ago and went back for it after I read Comics Underground Japan.  They’re both basically the same thing.  I think I liked Comics Underground a bit more (the material was a bit more twisted and depraved, which is how I like it), but then again, I didn’t have an absolute burning NEED for a graphic novel for any of the artists in Comics Underground (save for Hideshi Hino, which I can never get enough of, but that’s beside the point), whereas I would give anything for a copy of Palepoli in English.

I was more familiar with the artists in this anthology than in Underground, too.  I have read things by Junko Mizuno, Usamaru Furuya, Shintaro Kago, and I was familiar with the work of Kiriko Nananan.  None of the stories were quite as out there as in Underground, which I mentioned, but I still liked almost all of them quite a bit.  It was easier to digest these stories than the others, too.

As I said, Palepoli was my hands-down favorite.  I’ve read some of the Short Cuts comics, and they’re funny, but they’re just not the four-panel comics of Palepoli.  When was the last time Golgo 13 sniped a cute Baskin-Robbins girl through a window for embarrassing him in Short Cuts?  Some of them were funny and I didn’t understand why.  I laughed until I cried at the very first one, which was two little kids fighting a stag beetle and tiny Jesus.  There was one with 4×4 panels which took me a long time to understand, but when I did, I thought it was one of the most brilliant uses of panels I’d ever seen.  I also kind of liked the ghost of rejection, but I had to read a couple of them before I understood the joke in the first one.

Mostly, Secret Comics Japan was just made by Palepoli, and I’m just so bummed there’s no more in English.

Anyway, what else?  I don’t really like Junko Mizuno, I never have.  Her story was okay, though.  I also think it’s fair to say I didn’t like Gedatsu Man, which was total nonsense with the barest fringes of narrative.  I kind of respected what it was doing, but I didn’t like it.  Yuko Tsuno, Kiriko Nananan, and Benkyo Tamaoki’s stories were all very girly, and I liked them all pretty equally.  Well, that’s not true, I liked Yuko Tsuno’s story the best.  It didn’t quite make sense, but I liked what was going on quite a bit.

Jr, by Yoshitomo Yoshimoto, is apparently based on a Donald Barthelme story, which is totally awesome.  What’s even more awesome is that it’s about a 30-some year old man going to an elementary school, and it has occasional graphic flashes of the teacher masturbating at home.  How disturbing.

Shintaro Kago’s story was really great, too.  I kind of like him, he’s great in the same way as Suehiro Maruo, but sometimes his stories are a little much and can be almost difficult to read.  This one wasn’t, and I’m glad it was chosen for this anthology.

I really didn’t like Makoto Aida’s story very much.  Once again, WWII themed, this time mostly about a girl who is mutated after she is raped by American soldiers and strapped onto the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.  She comes back to life as a superhero ready and willing to stop America.

Overall a great collection of stories.   I liked most of them quite a bit, and really, I think my life was incomplete without Palepoli.