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New Smithson!

It is just. So. Emotional.

www.smithsoncomic.com

The 2007 Marvel Holiday Special, featuring a story written by Andrew Farago and myself, goes on sale Wednesday. So keep an eye out for that.

This Saturday, Andrew and I will be doing sketches at Al's Comics in San Francisco, as part of the first annual Al's Comics Holiday Sketch-A-Thon and Rent Fest. Many tall inkers will also be there. If you're in the area, stop in, say hi, and support Al.

If you like comics, please consider including The Cartoon Art Museum in your holiday giving. Andrew tells you why here, and I echo everything he says. The museum is a hell of a resource for cartoonists, comics and animation fans, and cartoon-loving kids, and the staff of three and a half employees works hard to make it that way. I've been volunteering there since 2000, and I can't say enough about how much the museum does--or how much it struggles for funding.

Daniel Pinkwater, my mentor and spiritual guide, now has a podcast at Pinkwater.com. So far, it's consisted mostly of highlights from his old NPR commentaries (published in the great essay collection Hoboken Fish and Chicago Whistle, which I happen to be rereading right now), introduced by Webmaster Ed. It's pretty great. No, actually, it's really great. Mr. Pinkwater's essays basically tell you everything you need to know to live well. Also, in the audio archive you can get podcasts of him reading from his book Lizard Music.

Whew, lotta announcements this week. Hey, how about an Overlooked Manga Festival? Let's do an Overlooked Manga Festival!

Last week, I covered the adorable Chikyu Misaki, about cute little girls protecting a cute little sea monster. So of course this week I'm going to talk about a comic that consists of nothing but a teenage girl blowing people's brains out.

Hey, it's still got cute girls and little kids. Bambi, a stone-cold assassin who introduces herself as "Me Bambi" and is apparently capable of killing without remorse because she possesses the mental sophistication of a preschooler--in other words, a woman after my own heart--steals a mute, unappealing little boy from some kidnappers and sets out to deliver him to her bosses, the unseen "old men."

The journey takes them through a weird, blighted, Americanized landscape, where Bambi fights cowboys, truckers, masked wrestlers, hired guns, and other weirdoes, like something out of a Quentin Tarantino film or "Six String Samurai" (does anyone else out there love that movie?). And on her tail are the original kidnappers, led by a vampire pop-star Elvis lookalike named Gabba King, who sends women into paroxysms of lust and is searching for the secret to immortality. No, really. Check out Gabba King's groupies.

Bambi and Her Pink Gun basically exists for no reason but to give Kaneko Atsushi the opportunity to draw stylish, hyperviolent action scenes. His art style is, as you can see, very un-manga-like, much more similar to American alt-cartoonists; depending on what he's drawing, he reminds me alternately of Mike Allred, Charles Burns, and early Dan Clowes. He even works in visual nods to American countercultural cartoon icons like Zap Comix and the Grateful Dead bears, mixed in with periodic tributes to trashy Asian pop culture.

DMP put out two sweet volumes of Bambi, with an appropriately foul-mouthed translation and a faithful reproduction of the Japanese edition's candy-colored inks. Unfortunately, they never got around to publishing the last four volumes, leaving us English-reading folks on tenterhooks since 2005. I would, of course, love to see the rest of the series translated. Even more than that, I'd like for someone in the U.S. to pick up Atsushi's more recent manga, Soil, which is equally funky but has some semblance of a plot. Soil is a David Lynch-like story about two eccentric cops investigating a case in a small suburban town; as they and some of the residents probe beneath the town's bucolic surface, they of course find all manner of corruption and weirdness. To give you an idea of the tone of the manga, I should probably mention that the case the cops are investigating is the mysterious disappearance of an entire family, including the hamster, on the same night that a thirty-foot pile of salt materialized in the local school parking lot.

But, you know, Bambi is good too, mostly because it has Bambi.

Bambi and Her Pink Gun is another of those titles that doesn't look very much at all like most people's idea of manga. It's more like an American/Japanese indie-comix hybrid, drawn before every kid in America was trying to do something like that. Through such cross-cultural ass-kicking shall we find world peace.

Previous Overlooked Manga Festivities:
Basara
Please Save My Earth
From Eroica with Love
Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga
Dr. Slump
Your and My Secret
Phoenix
Kekkaishi
Wild Act
Knights of the Zodiac
The Drifting Classroom
OMF Special Event: Manga Editors Recommend Manga, Part 1
OMF Special Event: Manga Editors Recommend Manga, Part 2
OMF Special Event: Manga Editors Recommend Manga, Part 3
OMF Special Event: Great Moments in Manga Baking
Shout Out Loud
Monster
Swan
Warren Buffett: An Illustrated Biography of the World's Most Successful Investor
Sexy Voice and Robo
OMF Special Event: 2006 Overlooked Manga Update
The Four Immigrants Manga
Gerard and Jacques
Ode To Kirihito
Bringing Home the Sushi
Banana Fish
Skip Beat
OMF Special Event: The Greatest Manga Magazine in American History
Cyborg 009
Anywhere But Here
To Terra
Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms
Doing Time
The Walking Man
Sugar Sugar Rune
Parasyte
Japan as Viewed by 17 Creators
Mariko Parade
Golgo 13
Ricca 'tte Kanji!?
Pure Trance
OMF Special Event: My Legacy
OMF Special Event: An All-Star Tribute to Carl Gustav Horn
Guest OMF by Jason Thompson: 888
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
Tekkon Kinkreet
Yakitate! Japan
Flower of Life
Domu
OMF Special Event: Top Ten Lines from the Excel Saga manga
Nana
What's Michael?
OMF Special Event: Jason Thompson Presents the Top Ten Best Worst Manga, Part One
OMF Special Event: Jason Thompson Presents the Top Ten Best Worst Manga, Part Two
Aria
Comics Underground Japan
Yotsuba&!
Slam Dunk
Moon Child
Chikyu Misaki