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Tales from the Dark Side

Maids: Katie Skelly's American Grand Guignol

Maids: Katie Skelly's American Grand Guignol

by Renzo Adler November 18, 2020

Since 2012 Katie Skelly has been drawing a world of pastel colored carnage. Not interested in anything that would typically be considered grounded, Skelly’s worlds are sensational, sensual, and sanguine. Nurse Nurse, released in 2012, played with elements of science fiction evocative of Jean-Claude Forest as a space faring nurse encountered strange new worlds and dismembered ex-boyfriends.  Operation Margarine from 2014 exists in a Russ Meyer-esque world of stylized biker gang violence as two women go on the run in the desert. My Pretty Vampire from 2018 is a parade of wonton bloodlust and secret societies evoking the sleaze cinema of Jess Franco.  Skelly’s erotic anthology The Agency, also published in 2018, is sort of a sampler platter of all of the above but with the ribald sexual excess of Guido Crepax or Milo Manara. In her latest comic, Maids, Skelly enters into a world of class struggle, teenage rebellion, and murder.
"Ju-On: Origins": A Cycle of Terror

"Ju-On: Origins": A Cycle of Terror

by Renzo Adler October 29, 2020

This Halloween season it’s pretty easy to feel dread and fear around us. Maybe you have some fears that go further back than 2020 or 2016. Perhaps you have a building on your street that’s vacant of people, but is full of uneasy dread. Or did your parents tell you about a time when they nearly had a brush with death in their own neighborhood? Do you have lingering unanswerable memories of past trauma? Ju-On: Origins, currently streaming on Netflix, suggests that ghosts are the residue of a perpetual cycle of cruelty and tragedy. 
DNA of Tokusatsu Ultraman Genealogy Safely Lands at Tokyo Dome City

DNA of Tokusatsu Ultraman Genealogy Safely Lands at Tokyo Dome City

by Renzo Adler October 07, 2020

Article and photos by David Namba

The DNA of Tokusatsu Ultraman Genealogy exhibition on Ultraman, the reigning king of Japan heroes and the history of Tsuburaya Productions safely lands with COVID-19 prevention measures at Gallery AaMo in Tokyo Dome City. From the first program in 1966 to today, no Tsuburaya hero or program is left out at this game multimedia exhibition that additionally highlights Reiwa era hitters like Ultraman Z, now running Saturday mornings on TV Tokyo and the Ultraman Tsuburaya YouTube channel.

Keizo Murase: A Brush With the Phantasmagoric

Keizo Murase: A Brush With the Phantasmagoric

by Renzo Adler October 02, 2020

 

Somewhere between science and myth, the unknowable and probing curiosity, giant monsters lingers in our minds. Colossal and crawling, Varan haunted the forests of rural Japan in the 1958 film Daikaiju Varan (aka Varan the Unbelievable). Varan, with a craggly carapace (modeled after peanut shells) adorned by semi-translucent thorns, and the countenance of a demon was crafted by one Keizo Murase. Born in 1933, Murase has had an illustrious career crafting the various giant monsters of the Showa era, including Mothra, Gamera, Godzilla, and more. 


"Sazan & Comet Girl": A Retro Adventure

"Sazan & Comet Girl": A Retro Adventure

by Renzo Adler September 15, 2020

Nostalgia is a powerful force and it can even hold sway on us with stories we’ve never seen before. YouTube is currently replete with compilations of 1980s Japanese City Pop set to clips of Urusei Yatsura and City Hunter to the delight of people that weren’t even zygotes when this stuff was out. But the easy breezy melodies combined with the intoxicating intermingling of neons and pastels captivates people and wraps them in a warm blanket of alto saxes. Sazan & Comet Girl by Yuriko Akase and published by Seven Seas Entertainment, goes for this same sort of pseudo-nostalgia, but in comic form. 
Across Time & Space: The Legacy of the Japanese "Starlog" 

Across Time & Space: The Legacy of the Japanese "Starlog" 

by Renzo Adler August 18, 2020

First published in the US in 1976, the magazine Starlog was conceived by Norm Jacobs and Kerry O’Quinn initially as a Star Trek centric magazine, but became an all encompassing look into the burgeoning world of science fiction a scant year before the release of Star Wars. 1976 was the year before Star Wars would hit the big screen in the US, which Starlog was primed to take advantage of. American sci-fi films seemed poised to take over the world, but Japan was also voraciously consuming scifi (or SF for speculative fiction) for decades. Japanese magazines and fanzines on science fiction go as far back as 1957’s Uchujin.
Blood, Guts, & Water Colors: The Art of Peach Momoko

Blood, Guts, & Water Colors: The Art of Peach Momoko

by Renzo Adler July 30, 2020

Peach Momoko is an artist that has been steadily gaining acclaim for her covers and illustrations that have been used by DC, IDW,  Marvel Comics and Magnetic Press. These covers have become highly coveted by collectors and have sent the artist from Japan to tour the United States convention circuit (until Covid put a stop to all that). Her soft pastels, and use of heavy inks give her covers a cute and dreamlike feel, and her convention commissions are often chibi versions of popular American comic characters. Though these illustrations of Harley Quinn, Batgirl, and Spider Woman belie a more sinister world she is constructing within her comics.
The Super Creators: Moebius in Japan

The Super Creators: Moebius in Japan

by Renzo Adler July 08, 2020

Jean Giraud (1938 - 2012), also known as Moebius, took the comics and science fiction medium to new heights. ArzachThe World of Edena, and The Incal reverberated beyond just the medium of comics and affected film, animation, and art. Combining simplistic characters with other worldly details, Moebius’ work traveled from France to the US thanks to the comics anthology Heavy Metal, while his work had already spread across Europe, but what about Japan? In this article we'll be looking at how Moebius' work made it's way to Japan and influenced some of the biggest names in anime and manga there.


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