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The wildly grotesque erotica of Japanese manga legend Suehiro Maruo
05.05.2017
11:14 am
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A rather tame example of the work of Japanese artist Suehiro Maruo.
 
Japanese artist Suehiro Maruo has been an active member of the art community in Japan since he was a high school student. At the young age of fifteen, he left school and moved from Nagasaki to Tokyo where he found work as a bookbinder. He would later attempt to get his artwork published in the hugely popular weekly manga magazine Shōnen Jump but was rejected because his work was considered too graphic. Unfettered, Maruo would follow his instincts and in 1980 would finally get a break with another popular manga magazine, Ribon no Kishi which embraced the artist’s violent and often sexually charged vision. This relationship would open many doors for Maruo including a long-term partnership with celebrated alternative monthly manga, Garo. Maruo’s illustrations and paintings have had a deep impact on the world and his work has been translated into many languages from English to Russian. Though I’m a huge fan myself, it’s safe to say that Maruo’s work appeals to a fairly specific audience as the title of this post quite plainly suggests.

Maruo’s style falls under a couple of classifications in the world of Japanese art;  “Muzan-e” that when translated means “Bloody Prints” which is the traditional Japanese art of carving gruesome images onto wood blocks as originally conceived during the Edo period. Another category that applies to Maruo’s work is the term “ero guro” or “erotic grotesque” which should be self-explanatory. I dug through Maruo’s Tumblr (which is quite addicting) and came across some screen shots of an interview he did where he was discussing what drives him to create, noting that he was actually quite “sensitive” but that his sensitivity wasn’t “unshakable.”

“I tend to create expressions that get stronger and stronger and more grotesque. It’s actually just one of my fantasies. Pleasure and pain are subjects I’m particularly interested in.”

Maruo has a rather strong worldwide cult following—connoisseurs of his special brand of diabolical, blood-soaked Japanese erotica are everywhere and his work has been compiled in books, as well as other various publications such as graphic novels and comics. Maruo also makes an appearance in the documentary film Sex in the Comix along with two other influential illustrators you may have heard of, Robert Crumb and German artist Ralf König. If you’re a fan of the band Naked City—the spasmodically awesome ensemble featuring John Zorn and the talented Bill Frisell—then you may already have some of Maruo’s artwork in your record collection as his work is featured on a few of the band’s releases from the 1990s. Included below are images from Maruo’s collaboration with Naked City as well as selections from his catalog which are completely NSFW.
 

 

 
Much more Maruo after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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05.05.2017
11:14 am
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Hikari Shimoda’s strange and beautiful paintings of children on the edge
06.23.2016
10:51 am
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Kids are cute. Paintings of kids are cute. But Japanese artist Hikari Shimoda’s paintings of kids are cute and kinda scary.

Shimoda paints bright day-glo colored anime-inspired portraits of young children. These are no ordinary portraits. These are no ordinary children. Shimoda has said her paintings are not “human’ children—but are like avatars used to convey the artist’s “emotions and feelings to other people.”

Shimoda describes her paintings:

My motif is children whose ages are around 10 to 15 years old. Their attempt to adjust themselves to the modern environment in our time seems to be a hard battle to me. Also, they are living in an unstable time between being a child and a being an adult.

I pick up their warped attitude or feeling toward the outer world and express it through their unstable presence, I can express deep feelings I have inside, such as grief, alienation, and love.

I believe that adults who were once a child feel compassion with the children I paint.

These children are “magical.” They have no discerning age, gender or identity. They are heroic yet full of human weakness and fragility. Their vulnerability at odds with a dangerous and despairing environment—”a world of isolation and alienation.”

More of Hikari Shimoda’s work can be seen here.
 
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‘Children of this Planet #11’  (2013).
 
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‘Children of this Planet #6’ (2012).
 
More of Hikari Shimoda’s paintings plus video interview with her, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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06.23.2016
10:51 am
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Amusing manga of The Cure, Siouxsie Sioux, Marc Bolan, Hanoi Rocks & more from the 80s

Robert Smith of The Cure on the front cover of Japanese music magazine 8 Beat Gag, 1988
Robert Smith of The Cure on the front cover of Japanese music magazine ‘8 Beat Gag,’ 1988.
 
I’m really into these sweet manga illustrations which were published back in the 80s in a Japanese music magazine called 8 Beat Gag. Written in Japanese, most (if not all) are likely by the the rather prolific manga artist Atsuko Shima—but she wasn’t the only artist that created the cartoons that featured popular musical acts in weird situations that Japanese youth were obsessing about.

The fantastic cartoon of Finnish band Hanoi Rocks, which may have also been published in 8 Beat Gag, did show up as a surprise insert UK pressings of the band’s last record 1984’s Two Steps From the Move. Which makes me want to hunt a copy down just so I can have one of my own. When it comes to finding copies of 8 Beat Gag, good luck. As when they do pop up (which they occasionally do), they will cost you a tidy sum. The comic featuring The Cure (where Robert Smith Inexplicably morphs into some sort of goth Yeti. Because, Japan), follows in its entirety as well as a few others featuring Siouxsie Sioux going up against Girlschool in some sort of track event involving vegetables, Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy, Marc Bolan, Peter Murphy, Morrissey and 80s New Wavers Ultravox.
 
A manga cartoon about The Cure from Japanese music magazine, 8 Beat Gag, 1988
A manga cartoon about The Cure from Japanese music magazine, ‘8 Beat Gag,’ 1988.
 

 

 

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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04.20.2016
09:14 am
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Anatomical illustrations of Japanese folk monsters
03.16.2016
09:17 am
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“Doro-ta-bō” - the “muddy rice field man.” Anatomical features include a gelatinous lower body that merges into the earth, a ‘mud sac’ that draws nourishment from the soil, lungs that allow the creature to breathe when buried.
 
In 1960, the great manga artist Shigeru Mizuki took on the task of illustrating anatomical versions of over 80 monstrous members of the yōkai—a group of monsters who, according to Japanese folklore, inhabit the countryside of Japan.
 

“Makura-gaeshi” - the “pillow mover” who can only be seen by children. Anatomical features include an organ for storing souls stolen from children.
 

“Yanagi-baba” - the “willow witch” is the spirit of a 1,000-year-old willow tree. Anatomical features a stomach that supplies nourishment directly to the tree roots.
 

“Bisha-ga-tsuku”—a soul-stealing creature. Anatomical features include feelers that inhale human souls and cold air, a sac for storing the sounds of beating human hearts, and a brain that emits a fear-inducing aura.
 
Mizuki’s monsters first appeared in a Japanese magazine as a part of a series of manga comics called GeGeGe no Kitarō but was deemed “too scary” for kids. Adapted from traditional Kamishibai tales (the art of storytelling using paper scrolls) from the early 1930s, Mizuki’s stories that center around the adventures of a ghost-boy named Kitarō, have gone on to become the subjects of long-running television series, films and of course a video game.

Long considered a master when it comes to yōkai-style storytelling as well as pioneer of manga animation, the prolific and much loved Mizuki passed away last year at the age of 93, leaving behind a massive body of influential work that is well worth exploring. Especially if you dig the strange anatomical illustrations in this post which can be found in the 2004 book, Yōkai Daizukai.

More after the jump, including Mizuki’s black and white cartoon, ‘GeGeGe no Kitarō’ from the early 1960s…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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03.16.2016
09:17 am
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‘Bartkira’: Japanese anime classic ‘Akira’ gets Simpsonized
07.06.2015
11:24 am
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If you’ve not seen the definitive anime Akira, I highly suggest you make the time to watch it. If you’ve not read the comic it’s based on, I demand you get on that shit, like, yesterday. Set in post-nuclear Tokyo (well, technically “Neo-Tokyo,” an artificial island in the bay), Akira is a sort of post-apocalyptic coming-of-age story—just with telepathy, gang wars and terrorism. The first of the six volume series was released in 1982, but the decrepit futurism and universal themes have made it a timeless classic.It’s difficult to imagine anyone collaborating with or updating it, but the Akira/Simpsons mash-up, Bartkira, is positively inspired.
 

 
Hundreds of cartoonists are collaborating to re-create all six volumes of the series, panel by panel, recast with characters from The Simpsons—you can see the cast list (pre-determined for consistency) here. The project will run until the series is reproduced in its entirity, and you can actually submit your Bartkira fan art to the Tumblr (which has a ton of great art), or send samples of your work to bartkiracommittee@gmail.com if you want to contribute to the actual Bartkira comic.
 
As if that wasn’t ambitious enough, over fifty animators have actually produced a video trailer for the project, and it’s dead-on. If you’re wondering if this is legal, so are the artists involved:

We’re not sure. We kind of just leapt into it. To be on the safe side, we’re keeping Bartkira as an entirely non-profit operation and we’re giving all the proceeds from sales of books, shirts and so on to charity. If you’ve made merchandise from your Bartkira artwork, we encourage you to do the same. We suspect the project occupies a legal grey area protected by parody laws. Regardless, as of writing we’re a year in and we haven’t received our cease-and-desist yet.

Supposedly, Akira creator Katsuhiro Otomo got a kick out of the project, and while Matt Groening hasn’t been reached for comment, he’s got a huge collection of bootleg Simpsons merch, and likely wouldn’t care. And who wouldn’t be flattered by a project this formidable? The scope and artistry of the parody is positively sublime.
 

 

 

 
H/t Jason Clarke

Posted by Amber Frost
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07.06.2015
11:24 am
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Move over Tom of Finland, macho Japanese gay comic art is soooooo hot right now
09.15.2014
04:28 pm
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Watch out Tom of Finland, there’s a new milieu of gay nationalist iconography in town! Massive is a new brand producing clothing, accessories, art and original and translated books centered on gay manga—meaning Japanese comic books celebrating bears, bears and more bears! I’m generally of the opinion that pin-up art has jumped the shark, but these manly men are just as delightful as they are niche—sort an army of Bettie Gay-ge’s!

The art itself is really charming: sophisticated, without being pretentious or self-important. Japanese artist Jiraiya comments on his work for the the sweatshirt above:

These two guys have the same muscle mass, but I’d guess different body fat percentages. In my opinion, they’re a perfect couple. But if they fight, their house will be partially destroyed.

And how!

I don’t know about you, but much I’d rather wear this than one of those bland, now ubiquitous American Apparel “Legalize Gay” shirts. Between that jumper and my Hüsker Dü tee, bear culture will always have a place in my wardrobe… but never in the closet!
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…
 

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Posted by Amber Frost
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09.15.2014
04:28 pm
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Karl Marx’s ‘Das Kapital’ in Manga!
08.17.2012
10:00 am
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You would think that it would be difficult to take a daunting 19th century masterpiece of economics, philosophy and history like Karl Marx’s Das Kapital and turn that imposing intellectual colossus (which is well over 1000 pages in length) into a simple, straightforward and easy to follow comic book, but you would be dead wrong.

In 2008, Tokyo-based publishing company East Press published a manga version of Das Kapital by Variety Artworks that flew off the shelves, selling 6000 copies in the first few days and getting discussed in the media the world over. The manga market is huge in Japan, generating billions of dollars, even so, Das Kapital: Manga de Dokuha (“Reading ‘Das Kapital’ through Manga”) was one of the publishing events of that year. Now it’s being published in a new English translation as Capital In Manga! by radical publishing house Red Quill Books.

I loved it. Admittedly, I’m one of those people who is all for recommending to someone who is considering taking on Marx’s thought, to TAKE THE EASIEST ROUTE. Reading Marx in the original is not something that’s easy to do, but trust me, if you want to “get the gist” of Marxian concepts, it’s not really as difficult as you might think. There is no better way to dive in than via popular books like Terry Eagleton’s highly readable Why Marx Was Right or Rius’ masterfully done cartoon primer Marx for Beginners, and now this new Marxist manga.

At first I found myself reading Capital In Manga! skeptically. How are they going to pull something like this off? Like most manga, the characters are simplistic, but in the case of trying to create a fictional bridge from this century back to Marx’s original writings about capital formation and surplus labor, and make that easy to understand, it’s not like it could really be any other way. If you are looking for nuanced character development, you’re not going to find it here.

The simple but effective narrative in Capital In Manga! follows Robin, an earnest young cheese maker who works alongside his widower father. The father and son make the best tasting cheese around and there are long lines at the market for what they produce. For the father, this is enough, but his son has other ambitions and fears poverty.

That’s when Daniel, a shrewd and cynical capitalist investor enters Robin’s life and offers to set him up in business (In a movie version, evil Daniel would be played by a young James Spader.) As the story plays out, the reader sees Robin’s moral dilemma with Daniel’s brutal exploitation of their employees, and we meet Carl, a brave worker at the cheese factory who fights back against the harsh working conditions and resents that he and the factory workers are making someone else wealthy with their labor. (It’s fun to consider how Capital In Manga!—which can be read in 45 minutes or less—is pretty much the Bizarro World polar opposite of Ayn Rand’s dryly unsubtle and overlong polemic novel Atlas Shrugged!)

Capital In Manga! renders Marxian concepts about as easy to understand as, well, Who Moved My Cheese? (or any comic book for that matter) and will set off several “light bulbs” over the reader’s head, just as that simple “parable” about business innovation did for the entrepreneurial types who made it a best-seller in the 1990s. Even someone who thinks that they’re hostile to Marxism might unexpectedly find something there for them when it is presented in this broadly drawn, but emotionally satisfying way.

To expect that even one person in 10,000 is going to care to slog through over a thousand pages of a dense 19th century philosophical treatise in 2012, is probably expecting too much, but this doesn’t mean that there aren’t new and novel ways to bring Marxism to a popular audience and it’s wonderful to see this novel Japanese publishing experiment successfully translated for English readers.  Just as this unconventional approach to Marx and manga has helped to spread the message of Marxism in modern day Japan (where nearly a third of the population is unemployed or underemployed and young people are increasingly pessimistic about their futures) this quirky attempt ito create a new kind of 21st century popular socialist meme is a welcome one.

(In case you are wondering what else is out there like this title, East Press has additionally published manga guides for Dante’s Divine Comedy, The Brothers Karamazov, Goethe’s Faust, Hitler’s Mein Kampf, The Metamorphosis by Kafka and Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra (I’d love to see that one). In 2011 The Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant was given the manga treatment by Variety Artworks, the same company who are responsible for the original Japanese revisioning of Marx’s treatise.)

Posted by Richard Metzger
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08.17.2012
10:00 am
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