Cartoon Alley : Reviews and commentary #22… Tim Bollinger

Comix Reviews (Part 2) Tim Bollinger

‘Vampires’ by Osamu Tezuka – French edition

Originally serialised 1966-69
(Asuka Editions 2006)

Another Japanese comic I’ve been reading lately is Tezuka’s 1966 classic ‘Vampires’.

In reality, not a vampire story at all but about people who transform into all varieties of animal, especially wolves, this was the comic where Tezuka first put dark glasses on his adolescent boy-hero ‘Rock’ to create Rokuro Makube, a much darker character, apparently based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth (see: Rock Holmes Transformation).

I recently bought the complete set of three French translated volumes over the net (no English version yet being available), only to find myself engaged in one of the most peculiar comic-reading experiences I’ve had for a while.

Despite the loving reproduction of the original Japanese pocket format, complete with introductory colour sections, I found that Volume One fell apart in my hands, almost immediately, page by page, as I read it. I could hardly get through it fast enough as the leaves spilled from my fingers at every turn. It says a lot for the work that despite my halting French, and the tiny italic font, I still found it an oddly gratifying comic reading experience, with Tezuka firing on all cylinders in an era before he even considered his comics for an adult audience.

See how in the following episode, (lifted from volume 2), the action shifts so effortlessly from the dramatic to the comical and back again, with even an autobiographical reference thrown in (Tezuka plants himself as a central character in this story, a couple of years before Robert Crumb similarly immortalised himself in the American comix underground). The artist is so fluent that each page becomes a playground for everything from new and arresting narrative techniques to throw-away references to the comics of fellow contemporary manga artists.

The pretext of this episode is that each vampire’s transformation has its own particular trigger. The girl character, Ruriko, reacts to onions, while the small boy, Chippei, responds to the sight of anything circular. It’s a great gag (story reads right to left).

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Joe Daly

The Red Monkey Double Happiness Book (Drawn & Quarterly 2009)
Dungeon Quest: Book One (Drawn & Quarterly 2010)

Daly’s dry Capetown take on underground comics is expressed differently in every volume of his I read. The stories in 2007’s ‘Scrublands’ are deliberately underground, while his more recent work takes on the influences of the European album and the RPG video game respectively.

I really like the breadth of influences apparent in his work, his attention to detail in local South African cultural and geographical references. Plus he makes me laugh out loud.

Excerpt from Joe Daly’s ‘Red Monkey Double Happiness Book’

Excerpt from Joe Daly’s ‘Dungeon Quest: Book One’

There are a couple of good interviews with Joe Daly here: http://www.avoidthefuture.com/2010/05/interview-joe-daly-creator-of-dungeon.html

And here: http://www.fantagraphics.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=5677&Itemid=87

ENDS