Naoki Urasawa is a japanese manga artist and manga teacher known mostly for his long running comic books Monster and 20th Century Boys.   I really love his style but what really draws me  into his work is the incredible quality of the scripts. He has been translated into many languages and also adapted into anime, movies and what not. He is like a manga superstar now and every new work by him is always an important event.

Manben  is an artbook showcasing his illustration work and also some of his comic book work. It was published in 2008 by Shogakukan. It is a pretty nice hardcover, 200+ pages book where we can find lots of stuff. Not only art, also photographs, interviews,  and even a copy of a manga Urasawa did when he was young.

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The book follows Urasawa career, from the very beginning right up to Pluto, so it covers a lot of ground. You will find art, illustrations, designs, sketches, enlarged panels, etc, from all his manga, including Yawara, Happy!, Master Keaton, etc. You can see a hint of Moebius here, some Otomo there, but always with that nice personality Urasawa imprints in all his works. Quality of the printing and paper is up to usual japanese standards, which is quite high.

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Pictures of artist´s studios are always fascinating and here you have quite a lot of Urasawa´s workplace. You can easily spend a few hours just trying to find out what manga and books are filling his shelves.

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I had no idea that this book existed so when I found it in Tokyo it was both a surprise and an instant purchase. It was 3000 yen, which is not bad at all, so if you like Urasawa I am sure you will do the right thing. The book is all in japanese, but there is not so much text. Also it has been published in France by Paninni, so you can get it from there too. Absolutely recommended.


Conan Red Nails – Original Art Archives Volume 1

Let´s take a look at what Genesis West Publishing bring us: Conan Red Nails – Original Art Archives Volume 1. Red Nails is probably my favourite comic book ever, together with Wolverine #205. Both were created by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith.  Windsor-Smith, as I stated before on this blog, is the artist I was influenced more when I was young and I still love his work, scarce as it is.

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Red Nails is a Conan story in color but what we have here is the reproduction of the original full size color boards by Windsor-Smith. This is very much similar as the IDW´s Artist´s Editions. However I must say this is not a perfect way of doing it. The paper used here is not as good as the bristol board paper that IDW uses. We have some glossy good quality paper, but I believe is not the best way to reproduce this.  Also, there is a lot of empty space as the pages are printed only in the right side of the book. The opposite side only has some enlarged panels or pieces of panels.This makes this volume the most expensive art book I have. At 200 dollars, retail price, you get a book with half of the pages worthless. This is not good at all. Also there is no input from BWS, and it is really missed. There are contributions by other people, and all are interesting pieces, but it feels something like a missed opportunity.

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The book is huge and comes protected by a cardboard box. Inside you will find a slipcase with the comic inside. Besides all the problems I commented above, it is great to see the art at this size and being able to analyze the brush strikes, changes, corrections and hand written notes. We have also an introduction by Roy Thomas, an appreciation by George Perez, and more texts by José Villarubia, Andrew Steven and Michael Thibodeaux.

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So I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand I love to have it and spend hours enjoying the detailed art and re-discover it in this new size and reproduction. On the other hand I really feel this could have been done better. If it were half the cost I would recommend it for sure. Now, as it is, I recommend it to people like me.

DOMU film project.

It is strange, but after a week of the screening I have not seen any comment about it.

Last saturday night there was an all night screening of Otomo Katsuhiro works: Short Peace, Manie Manie and Akira.

Right after Short Peace there was a “secret screening”. Turned out it was a teaser trailer of a live action version of the manga Domu, written and drawn by Otomo. The trailer stated that the movie was directed by Otomo himself.

And it was AWESOME.

The trailer begins with a shot near the ground moving towards an elevator door. The lights are flickering. The elevator doors open and we see the good old guy of the manga, with his cap full of pins and badges. All around him the lights flicker, even on the other side of the building. All has a slightly green look. Then we see aerial views of the residential complex and lots of images that look like straight out of the book. We see the salary man committing suicide by jumping from the top of the building, we see the little girl flying around the building with amazing and impossible dynamics. the old guy flying next to some apartments and they blow up as he passes by, the old guy flying through some subterranean tunnel, and we can see through some grids the building outside. We get a short look to some characters, a cop shaking as he sees a gun, the guy that cuts his own throat… I can´t remember all of it perfectly but it was intense. Wish they had screened it once more.

All in all was absolutely amazing, and I was so thrilled to see it there, completely by surprise, in Kichijoji no less. I had no idea this was happening so it was quite special thing.

Disclaimer: I have not much control of japanese language, but the guy said that this was just a short teaser. I am just not 100% sure there is a movie in the making behind it. Maybe this is just a teaser trailer to get financing. I guess sooner or later we will all know.