Today Kazé Manga released a trailer for the French-language release of Tetsuo Hara’s Cyber Blue manga. The four-volume series was Hara’s first project after the conclusion of Fist of the North Star in 1988. Kazé Manga will be releasing the series in three volumes, the first of which goes on sale tomorrow.
In Megalex, writer Alejandro Jodorowsky assembles a perplexing science fiction story of man versus nature which flirts with absurdity.
It’s hard for me to thread the needle of talking about Jodorowsky without burdening the conversation with my own personal history. I’ve gotta tell you, when I was younger, many of the traditions he loosely incorporates in his storytelling (Fourth Way, shamanism, dream psychology) were major preoccupations of mine.
I’m not going to defend wackadoo esoteric shit, even if I used to be obsessed with it. In fact, my awareness in this area didn’t particularly enhance my experience of Megalex, although it did give me things to think about after the fact. I can summarize how I read Jodorowsky in a single word: surrender. I surrender to his tapestry of symbols and enjoy them for their sheer unpredictability and aesthetic framing. Megalex is not runic, it holds together when interpreted literally, though the glue is coarser here than in most of his comics. Jodorowsky is sort of a devilish Joseph Campbell, using his knowledge of mythic frameworks to tell weird stories. He’d probably call it magic with a straight face.
What I’m trying to communicate is that Megalex isn’t incomprehensible, heady stuff. It’s mad comics.
Artist Fred Beltran says in the foreword to this hardcover collection that the project was originally planned as a collaboration between Jodorowsky and Akira artist/director Katsuhiro Otomo (?!!). I wonder to what degree the final product resembles that original script, because Megalex largely appears to be a reflection of what Beltran himself likes to draw: sexy porcelain women.
This book is made up of three chapters, and the first two incorporate three-dimensional computer assisted design. Yes, CG. But Beltran deserves credit for earnestly trying to use CG to enhance his work, even if he doesn’t fully succeed. One only needs to take a look at U.S. War Machine MAX (2001), a comic which came out around the same time as Megalex’ original publication, to see what it looks like when CG is used to cut corners. There’s clearly a great deal of effort and care going into these Megalex pages, regardless of how computer-generated they are. Don’t get it twisted.
For not-fully-explained reasons, the final third of the book has no CG. It’s not totally jarring because it’s work from the same artist, but it looks better than the rest of the book and helps end it on a high note.
I like Jodorowsky when he’s writing sf. It seems to bring out the best from his imagination, and it’s a genre where we’re accustomed to a jarring, inexplicable quality. Similarly, it takes Fred Beltran beyond the voluptuous female figures he’s predominantly known for.
Megalex may never be as well known as The Incal, or The Metabarons, or even The Technopriests, but it’s still an off-beat science fiction story written by a shaman and drawn by a man who likes big boobs. Buy it for your grandmother on Valentine’s Day.
Review copy provided by Humanoids, Inc.
Maybe this can become a thing… me writing about compelling weird shit coming out of Italy.
Detrocboi is a thirty-page self-published booklet from an Italian freelance illustrator who goes by the same name. Meant to serve as both a portfolio of his talents and a comic in its own right, Detrocboi is divided into three parts.
The first fifteen pages form two full-color short stories about a fantasy heroine named Peqotl. Then there’s a black and white six-page short story where the same person transforms into an Ultraman-like character to battle monsters resembling those in the famed tokusatsu series. (This story is available in its entirety on Detrocboi’s blog, as is a lot of other terrific drawings of monsters and crystals and crystal monsters.) The final eight pages of the booklet are comprised of full-bleed reproductions of Detrocboi art prints.
There’s a pervasive Japanese influence in his work, but it also stands independently on its own, with fantasy elements clearly culled from the deep realms of Detrocboi’s imagination. There isn’t much left for me to say other than this a weird book that’s cool to look at. I hope Detrocboi does more sequential artwork, though his prints are interesting enough to stand by themselves.
2300 years ago China was divided into seven battling kingdoms. A monastic order known as the Men of Bokk, self-declared enemies of war, come to the defense of besieged cities. Using their battle skills and tactical brilliance, these men are a formidable force feared across the seven kingdoms, sworn to defend the defenseless.
But when a dumpy, bald man of Bokk comes to the small city of Ryo to defend it against an army of thousands all by himself, a series of events are put into motion that will impact China for centuries to come.
Bokko is stunning historical fiction, winning the 1994 Shogakukan Manga Award (I love a lot of what makes that list). It’s a sweeping adventure with a meticulous attention to detail that never gets tedious or confusing, even to someone who possesses little familiarity with ancient Chinese history, like myself.
Bokko was originally published in Big Comic, a seinen anthology most distinguishable for serializing Golgo 13 all these years. It’s adapted from a Japanese novel by a capable artist named Hideki Mori. Mori never fails to omit the requisite dirt and grime necessary for the time period, and renders his characters in a style that is reminiscent of nineties Ryoichi Ikegami, though his lines are yet to be as sure of themselves. Mori grows as an artist over the eleven volumes making up this series, incorporating more elaborate hatching and dynamic compositions to his work. It’s a similar trajectory to what you will find in Hitoshi Iwaaki’s Historie, another historical fiction manga: the artist’s basic style remains the same, but it’s used to better effect with each passing volume.
I’ve been in a bit of a manga slump recently, reading titles here and there because they were officially licensed in English, and getting bored as a result. Bokko is exactly what I needed to remind myself of how gripping manga can be. Even with an exceptionally interesting anime season (I’m watching two different shows! Two!!), comics still remain a more accessible and vital medium for me. But you should be aware–Bokko is only available in English scanlated from the French edition (of course it was published in France… a recurring theme you’ll find in a lot of the manga I talk about).
So there we have it, Bokko: historical fiction at its best, with a heartfelt anti-war message at its core. I found it impossible not to love.
Today Comic Zenon launched this commercial for a DVD collection of the quirky super-deformed take on Fist of the North Star named DD Hokuto no Ken:
The twelve-episode series (total run-time approximately 45 minutes) was originally animated in Flash and published on the web. In addition, a short series of 4-koma manga was published in Comic Bunch shortly before the magazine’s relaunch and departure of editor Nobuhiko Horie. A serialized DD Hokuto no Ken manga is now being published in Horie’s Comic Zenon.
The DD Hokuto no Ken anime will be available on the Comic Zenon web store, and goes on sale May 25th.