After years of whining over how avant-garde manga is basically inaccessible to the western world (beside the awesome Gekiga titles published by D+Q and the marvels PictureBox has put out - obvs), Top Shelf's AX Volume One is here to help calm my insatiable hunger for weird, artsy and raw Garo/AX/COM comics.
Featuring familiar names like Yoshihiro Tatsumi (A Drifting Life), Imiri Sakabashira (The Box Man), Kazuichi Hanawa (Doing Time), Yusaku Hanakuma (Tokyo Zombie), Akino Kondoh, Suehiro Maruo and Shin'ichi Abe, the book gladly showcases extraordinary authors yet to be read overseas:
Like Otoya Mitsuhashi, whose work reminds me of both Victor Moscoso's psychedelia and whoever inspired Yokoyama's geometric dynamism...
Or Saito Yunasuke, below:
And Kotobuki Shiriagari, another one of my favorite 'heta-uma' authors, with these ambiguous and super-stylized sparkly-eyed semi-stickfigures:
Bref - it's a wonderful and voluminous repertoire compiling a good portion of the main artists that have graced the pages of Ax magazine, and also a highly recommended purchase for those of you who like to pressure publishers into translating the unknown-est of the japanese underground.
Click here to read a series of ongoing Twitter reviews for every 33 stories featured in this anthology, and, as always, visit Same Hat! for the best coverage there is of anything pertaining to art-manga.
In other anthology-related news, we're also majorly excited about just getting this year's edition The Best American Comics. With this 2010 edition, editors Jessica Abel and Matt Madden introduce Neil Gaiman as guest-editor of the year. This anthology covers both essential and well-known comic artists and a lot of up and comers as well, in an attempt to represent the outstanding comics published in North America between September 2008 and August 2009 - a great way to discover a wide range of current artists without selling body parts to buy every single new release of the year.