Saturday, April 6, 2013

BIG ON JAPAN: A Fistful of International Artists Croon The Country's Cultural Praises

Recently, I've been doing my best to mimic a literary ostrich since I've had my head buried deep inside assembly of the next novel.

Trouble is I have trouble picturing a big bird with a hardback and a pair of spectacles, wrapped in Harris tweed.

And I say assembly, because this brute not only deconstructs 1930s detective noir/pulp and 1960s Marvel comic book lore, but renovates them together as a conjoined tome over 100,000 words in length — stitched together by 35 images from 28 artists. 

It's the way comic books, after all, work in the real world.

Bryan Hitch's perception of Captain America in 2009 was far different from Jim Steranko's in 1969. Then compare and contrast John Buscema's chunky-thug idea of Conan the Barbarian in 1980 with the lithe, laddish figure originally put out by Barry (Windsor) Smith a decade earlier in 1970.

But now I'm geeky nitpicking. If I haven't lost you already, I swear I'll try harder, there are some pretty pictures still to come, and a bunch of other people take the verbal reins.

For now, suffice to say, this train of thought (the wayward one about comic book art) inspired me to ask artists from Australia (Paul Mason), the UK (Harvey Finch and Andrew Chiu — see picture at right), Italy (Giovanni Ballati), Russia (Saint Yak), Spain (Javier 'JG' Miranda and Carlos Gomez), Canada (Fred Rambaud), Mexico (Rodolfo Reyes), Chile (Juan Andres Saavedra — see picture above), the Philippines (Hannah Buena) and Argentina (Maan House), amongst others in Japan and America, to get involved drawing characters and events from the book — and then let their hair down for a rambunctious tête-à-tête together here.

All in all?

Putting together the novel has been like taking Lego and Meccano and making the pieces function together as a futuristic-retro superhero romp that mixes and matches 1930s Art Deco architectural lines with the gung-ho Soviet formalist propaganda style, twisted into '60s pop art sentiment and the huge influence of Jack Kirby. 

Anyway, Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? will be published via Perfect Edge Books some time around September, but what I'd like to share with you over the next couple of months of this column are the insights and opinions of some of the fascinating, talented and truly cool visual artists I've had the opportunity to touch base with — while attempting to keep the bulk of these within Flash in Japan's obvious perimeters: focused on, well, the Japanese archipelago.

If interested, you can read Part 1 of this interview @ FORCES OF GEEK.

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