Thursday, April 19, 2007


I have a sneaking suspicion that those who might've given us translations of material like THE DRIFTING CLASSROOM a long while ago held off because, they assumed, it was just too strange for Americans, especially American comic book readers; it doesn't fit exactly into any genre, as we've known them.This is ostensibly a horror comic with plenty of violence and suspense, but it's full of melodramatic sentiments common in material for younger readers, which THE DRIFTING CLASSROOM is/was designed for ; Confounding to the smarmy ad-man (that I've invented out of whole cloth), I'm sure.
I'm not sure what it took to get them to go forward. I'm sure rabid scanlators played a part, but it may have struck them that outlandish and bizarre concepts are pretty mainstream nowadays.Look at the show LOST, for instance; Magic numbers, sentient clouds of black smog, Polar Bears on a tropical island. Ridiculous, of course, but I love this kind of material when it's done well.
I've always been suspicious of any form of fiction that attempts to represent any kind of "real life expeience" ( Carver, Philip Roth,((internal shudder and groan.))) . If your aim is to cut through to some kind of truth, or raise some indefatigable question concerning "real life", I've always found the most interesting way to get there in fiction is in some construction that kind of forces the issue, in a way; like how a well told joke can cut through minor quibbles and reveal some hidden truth that couldn't possibly have been expressed in another form. And this method totally embraces the very idea of fiction, which , in very academic terms, I'll identify as "making shit up". And why make shit up? Cause it's fun , exhilerating even.
Witnessing or reading the developement of the construction that forces the issue is really fun. It's the ride, pretty much.Vonnegut did this, Kafka, Borges, Dick ( sometimes inspite of himself, I think), tons of Science Fiction does this. Conversly, my dislike for the type of material I describe lends itself to appreciating its opposite- No one is mroe willing to play with the preposterous than the Japanese, for some reason.
An isolated school house is the perfect setting to explore all kids of interesting social questions in the same way. But how to isolate it? - Lift it off the ground in an earth-shaking minute, have it hover in some kind of starkly rendered, phantasmagoric nether-region. That'll do. Will the kids take over the school? Will they find means to leave? How many teachers will go bat-shit crazy?
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I'm only two volumes in ( my one complaint about manga is that your average $10 paperback feels like the equivalent to about ten to 12 minutes of a 2 hour film) . My favorite scene so far happens after the teachers have warned all students to never, never go beyond the front gates of the school and into the weird, shifting landscape. A younder student, overcome with greif, desperate to get out, slips through the gate.He runs and runs for a bit as his sister screams for him to return- and then the now tiny figure stops and falls to the ground without a sound. And just lays there. Is he dead? Unconcious. The kids quietly look out at the little body wondering..
I have no idea how this one's gonna go.
It's drawn in a really stark, almost ratty line.It's not pretty, it's not fluid, really, in the way Junji Ito's later stuff is, but it works really well in setting a claustrophobic, grimy mood . From what I can gather from the back of the book- which includes descriptions of each of Umezus' works- this is stark style done intentionally as it's not employed in all of his other works.
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(someone translate this Umezu comic, please!)

2. My New Savage Pencil t-shirt, purchased at the Southern Lord shop
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He's apparently really into Black Metal right now and it shows.I'm happy to see him doing work for Southern Lord and related bands- it's a good fit.

(clik to engorge)
I've been thinking lately about the potential for becoming a little bit "known" as an artist and what that might take, realistically. It might seem gaucheto write about this kinda thing, I realize, but fuck it.
I've always vacilated between different interests, styles, materials,etc. I don't really have a consistent or recognizable style, I don't think, and I've always resisted sticking with one believing that it would inherently limit me from developing other aspecs of my art. I'm starting to believe it's flat out necessary for me to pursue one that's distinct ; Savage Pencil is so very distinct and he draws stuff that I could imagine being interested in drawing for the rest of ones life. Pretty inspiring.

3. Battlestar Galactica- Aright. I'm sure that a) You don't give a crap about this kind of stuff and never will, b) You've heard plenty about the show already, or c) You watch it and know it's awesome.
It's occassionaly a little drippy, a little ponderous, but Jeez- those space battles look so fucking cool.

4. Ridiculous Grinding Death Metal.
I hung out exclusively with metalhead friends for a few years during adolescence.I still count these guys as friends, but I kind of moved on from it socially ( metal chicks are not my cup, to make a long story short.) but I never stopped listening to metal, mostly death metal.
Friends and girlfriends would ask - 'Do you actually like this stuff, actually?' - Yes and no,I'd say, and then I wouldn't shut up for hours as I explained exactly why I loved Death Metal, no doubt boring them to tears as I cited Medievel Artworks, Pulp Fiction of yore, etc. ( I'm sure I'd bring up Hitler somewhere into hour two ). I'm not going to get into all of it now, but I'll say this; "Musically", I don't 'enjoy' listening to Death Metal, in the same way that I 'enjoy' listening to Thin Lizzy, or Pet Sounds, or early Kraftwerk, but Death Metal almost isn't a musical experience. It’s a sensory experience, I think.
I've also had freinds who were uncomfortable with the violent subject matter of some death metal , but I've always seen this stuff as kind of a cartoony thing. I know I differ here with some of the serious fans out there, and I'm not sure if my perception of it is at odds with the musicians' intentions, but I've always felt that the exagerrated vocals and the insanely fast instrumentation kind of abstracts the violence in a way. For instance, If I were to see a literally interpreted filmed re-creation of , say, a Cannibal Corpse lyric, I'd be grossed-out to the bone, I'm sure ( I can't take realistic gore/violence in a movie- I turned white(r) while watching I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE..).I've never experienced anything like that while listening to Death Metal.
There is also something about this secret, underground world of death metal- full of crazy imagery and cool looking, illegible logos that's really appealing for reasons I can't really explain.I imagined, as a teenager, that these young guys with really long hair, horror art t-shirts with cryptic text on them had some balls to create art that was completely indifferent to social expectations.It wasn't even against anything, it's as though it hadn't occured to them that all of the banal and shitty aspects of everyday life existed, or at least weren't worth noticing. I had no idea where these guys came from. I was pretty sure they were in on some kind of secret; maybe some books I'd never heard of, or movies I couldn't rent at the drug store would clue me in.
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I'd also like to draw a distinction here between the classic, awesome death metal of bands like Morbid Angel and Nile and these "ridiculous" bands, bands like Decrepit Birth, Burial and Devourment and a few thousand others .
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I've also listened to this stuff for so long that it no longer sounds at all abnormal to me; I play it at mid-volume while drawing pretty often. I no longer respond to it in any kind of physical way, like I did when I was 14 ( didn't music sound better at that age?).

5. CHILDREN OF MEN- Did you guys see this movie? It's pretty sweet.

Be sure to list your top 5 in the comments section!


Matthew Allison said...

Umezu translation:

Sean the Sean said...

Ha ha. Great post. It's weird, i'm rediscovering alot of those artists like Savage Pencil & Jeff Gaither, i remember when they were in tons of the underground magazines & zines, but i was into that stuff then, i was trying to "mature" out of the Garbage Pail Kids & grossness culture of being 10, & trying to be a more serious teenager... anyhow, it's funny to remember all of those artists & how i thought they were old fashioned at the time. Crazy. Here i am today! Back in 1988. Also, great post in general.

Sean the Sean said...

Oh yeah, Children of Men was fucking wicked! Loved it. Best science fiction movie in a bit.

aeron said...

I keep seeing mention of this drifting classroom, I need to check it out. And concerning the drawing style, I think that it's important for someone to be able to glance at one's work and know that it's made them.

I've never really listened to speed/death metal but you know I love the imagery. With that style of music I always think of the movie "The Gate" where the kids are looking at the album art with all the demonic woodcut drawings, fuckin a!

I watched Children of Men a few weeks ago. I liked it up until the end which I thought needed another half hour of plot that went somewhere. The motorcycle chase scene was awesome.

Luke Pski said...

The action in that movie was out of control!

Luke Pski said...

Is anybody gonna do their own top 5?

Luke Pski said...

"hurting me in the face" is fucking hilarious.

Matthew Allison said...

Top Five:

1) All Star Superman #7

2) 42nd Street Forever XXX-Treme Edition: DVD collection of classic porn trailers

3) "Night on Bald Mountain" by Bob James. Funky madness from the guy who did the "Taxi" TV theme

4) DEATH WARRIOR - Insane Turkish martial arts mash-up. Most bizarre and hilarious fight scene ever

5) Seeing Things - Jim Woodring. Amazing.

aeron said...

1. The Pelagic Sea Slug -

2. Ulrich Schnauss - Stars

3. Mighty Boosh - This sums it up right here -
If you haven't watched the show, check out these mp3's.

4. Japanese Hell -

5.Grindhouse - if you haven't seen this yet, then... fer shame...fer shame... There's a missing leg missing!

Luke Pski said...

Grindhouse was good. Well, I thought it was half-good. I loved the action but thought it went on for a little bit too long. I loved the concept of Tarantinos' part, but his dialog drives me batty.
I actually liked the trailers more than anything else.

aeron said...

Kurt Russell crying is one of the funniest things I've ever seen. That and him eating a plate of nachos.