Saturday, 17 August 2013
Looking though my sporadic collection of translated Manga as I tried out different Genres, Writers and Artists, and with the hope that they would continue to be on the shelves next month, I can say that though many are incomplete sets of comic book stories I find the variety very pleasing!
[Sadly I have now found nearly all but only a few of the manga I remember so fondly from the 80's & 90's are still in print in English – And that Anime & manga fans from the late 90's onwards have yet to discover them]
So what Japanese comic books were people reading in the late 80's, and when did they appear in our Comic Book stores (and what did I get and read?)?
'Lone Wolf and Cub' should not need any introduction to this influential Japanese manga that is so widely recognised as an important literary work. First published in 1970 Japan was at first released in the United states of America in the flipped-format translated English editions by First Comics in 1987, as a monthly comic-book, with covers and introductions by Frank Miller no less!
This manga was created by writer Kazuo Koike and artist Goseki Kojima, depicted violence (extreme at the time) in such a cinematic way that most Western mature comic book readers just had not seen at all!
The main protagonist Ogami Itto used a Dōtanuki 同田貫 (Torso Cutter) styled sword, a no nonsense blade designed to cut off its target's limbs or head in a single stroke (the sword was outlawed in times of peace)!
The chronicles of 'Lone Wolf and Cub' tell the story of Ogami Itto, the Shogun's executioner who uses his sword skills using the Torso Cutter. Itto is then disgraced by false accusations from the Yagyu clan, and looses his respected position with the Shogunate's court, he is then forced to take the path of the assassin (about the only payed work he can get or wish to do) and viewed as a Ronin (Master-less Samurai). Along with his three-year-old son, Daigoro, they seek revenge on the Yagyu clan and are known as "Lone Wolf and Cub".
A slice of Japanese culture as Black 'n' White as any Western!
[ First Comics closed down in 1991, with just over 40 or so issues of 'Lone Wolf and Cub' published out of a possible 140 to150 issues to complete the set]
[The Lone Wolf and Cub story has been adapted into more than six films starring Tomisaburo Wakayama (edited in the West as 'Shogun Assassin', and almost banned for its extreme violence), four plays, a television series starring Yorozuya Kinnosuke (very highly praised for a TV drama, now out on DVD), and is the monologue from the unseen TV in Kill Bill Volume 2, and who's cameos pop up in many an animation.]
Saturday, 10 August 2013
What could you find in the shops, and how to get items from Japan!
[Telephone Directory (commonly known as “the Phone book”) was a regional book with hundreds of white pages listing individuals and businesses who had phone (land-line) listed in alphabetic order with an addresses. Each city would have held one or two copies of the other cites and counties Phone books in your Central Library]
Back in the late 80's in to the mid 90's London had its far share of Japanese book shops, one that I found was behind St. Paul's Cathedral called 'Books Nippon' (whose parent company was Nippon Shuppan Hanbai) [look it up!], another book shop I encountered was 'OCS Books' (Overseas Courier Service – that did bespoke logistical Worldwide delivery). You could subscribe and have delivered Japanese Anime magazines to your door, and even ask them to hunt down the 'trade paperbacks' of popular Japanese comic books [a must for collectors] if you had enough details for them to go on.
[remember No online shops, or google to help you get what you were after!].