Do you consider yourself an otaku?
I think I count as one, though I ascribe no positive attributes to the word. In fact, I sort of resent the fact that I can’t live without cartoons and comics. This stuff sustains me on a level that probably isn’t healthy, and I don’t beam with pride when I admit that. Thank Odin I have a job and don’t have parents to live with, otherwise the self-loathing would be overpowering.
I’m not the only one using the otaku banner to do things besides feel good about myself. There’s of course the Anime Club series, an offshoot of some dude’s webcomic that’s so popular it became its own thing. I can take it or leave it; I’ve never had a positive anime club experience to begin with, so the webcomic is less a parody of something I know, and more a confirmation I don’t belong within a hundred yards of one of those things.
Having said all that, I’m not totally anti-otaku and on occasion I can be interested in what it means to be an otaku in other parts of the world. So for that reason I bought Magical Otaku #1, a comic by Portuguese independent comics publisher Ruru Comix.
Ruru Comix is a one-man publisher ran by an artist who goes by the pen name Rudolfo. In addition to his Magical Otaku series, Rudolfo has collaborated with other artists on Lodaçal Comix, an international anthology he manages. Past contributors include Italian comics artist Detrocboi, who I’ve written about before.
I don’t know to what degree Magical Otaku is biographical, but I can only assume something this knowingly hideous has many kernels of truth built into it. Turns out Portuguese otaku (or this comic’s parody of such) are no different than the ones I’m used to: they have bad skin, refer to female anime characters as their waifu, and deal with bullying in awkward, unproductive ways.
There isn’t much time for the comic to kick into high gear, as it only runs for ten pages. The rest of the issue consists of pinups, two pages of biographical comics describing the creation of this issue, and a back-up feature about Musclechoo, a fleshbomb portmanteau of that yellow and black electric Pokemon.
I may regret saying this once subsequent installments come out, but I would have preferred if Magical Otaku had stayed closer to its original subject throughout the issue. The drawings of fleshlights and poop in the margins lead me to believe it has potential to go to even more entertaining places.
I think I’ve read enough small press comics to say: if you have more than an ounce of drawing talent and like comics, why not make one? The thing wouldn’t have to number more than twenty pages, and you’d be releasing it into a world mostly apathetic to its existence, because it wouldn’t be free. The only people that would buy it would be friends, family, and crazy people like me, and trust me, when it comes to individuals earnestly trying to get their art into the world, my kind is kind folk.