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Comics by Shintaro Kago
October 25, 2007 11:38 PM   Subscribe

Abstraction by Shintaro Kago is distilled surrealism, a fourth wall-smashing comic that amazes at every turn. (NSFW)

Also by Shintaro Kago, Punctures, Multiplication, Blow-Up, and The Memories of Others. (all these NSFW too)

Shintaro Kago (駕籠 真太郎) is a Japanese guro manga artist. The works above are scanlations, scanned and translated by Anonymous K.
posted by carsonb (45 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite

 
There was no forth wall! There was no forth wall!
posted by Citizen Premier at 11:46 PM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


awesome.
posted by juv3nal at 12:12 AM on October 26, 2007


Damn these hemorroids!

That was weird. And memorable. Thanks.
posted by zardoz at 12:13 AM on October 26, 2007


tubgirl!
posted by tellurian at 12:16 AM on October 26, 2007


Well, that was weird.

Provocative, yes, but definitely weird.

I wonder, though, in the big picture, what the point was, beyond experimenting with turning comic book panels into 3D space, and evoking wall-less apartment buildings, and trying to shock the audience.

Not that there's anything wrong with trying to shock the audience, mind you, but I've just been reading Lajos Egri, and I wonder what the premise of this was, what is the theme, what was the artist attempting to communicate with his audience?
posted by MythMaker at 12:33 AM on October 26, 2007


Ah, damn. I thought my latest ruminations on the comic media were going to be revolutionary. I just got to the point of "aha, what if a comic occupied more than just two dimensional space? How would you represent that?"

Then I find your post. And Shintaro Kago is awesome cause he does it and takes it an visually deconstructs comics...

what the fuck?

Exactly. What the fuck.

*weeps*



PS Suck it Scott McCloud. This scanlation is all I need to know about comics.
posted by Mister Cheese at 12:35 AM on October 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


So what you're saying is...I can't buy any of these comics outside of Japan? No-one translates them and sells them to the West?

This post just made my world slightly smaller and duller.
posted by creasy boy at 12:38 AM on October 26, 2007


This post seriously needs an NSFW tag. There's a good bit of potential workplace horror here, to say nothing of the mental damage from the ODDNESS of his stuff.
posted by SansPoint at 12:54 AM on October 26, 2007


Oh, carp. I didn't notice the NSFW tag. I've been up too long. Mods?
posted by SansPoint at 12:54 AM on October 26, 2007


That was ... crazy. Thank you.
posted by blacklite at 12:57 AM on October 26, 2007


creasy boy, the fact that I can't go to the local bookstore and find manga or bande dessinée makes me quite sad. I want more visual feasts that I can only so far read about.

Oh, wait, I guess I should be more specific: manga that isn't Bleach or Naruto or Dragon Ball Z and bande dessinée that isn't The Adventures of Tin Tin. I know where to find those. Not that I'm sneering with disdain, but I know that there's so much more and I donno how to understand that more unless I start learning more than English and Spanish.
posted by Mister Cheese at 1:20 AM on October 26, 2007


I wasn't prepared for all that cock and cleaver action but - awesome. Thanks.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:22 AM on October 26, 2007


DUDE, CHECK OUT HOW WEIRD JAPAN IS
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:11 AM on October 26, 2007


That was brilliant. I got a little giggle when I saw the action lines behind the guy's head become planes actually penetrating his head. Also, I'm a sucker for the old "diving into the water but breaking your next on the bottom of the panel" trick.

I am going to have a lot of fun trying to imagine a perspective view of ordinary comics now. I think I'll start with "Mary Worth".
posted by phooky at 5:45 AM on October 26, 2007


Seriously, fuck Scott McCloud. He wouldn't recognize Experimental Comics even if his anthropomorphized books fucked him in holes torn in his gut, got him male-preg, and he gave birth to a lolicon version of Dromeciomimus as it shat all over him.
posted by blasdelf at 5:46 AM on October 26, 2007 [5 favorites]


Intriguing and weird, but I dunno, doesn't quite make it for me. I was hoping it'd play more with the interesting frame structure, and actually use it to serve a decent story. I guess I've seen a lot of experimental comics, but usually they just remain that, experiments, which succeed visually but possess no narrative follow-through to make something coherent and solid.

Honestly, while the two-headed taxi and the crawling genitalia might seem pretty out there, I'm guessing that for this artist, it's business as usual, and that while there's a lot of craft going into the comic, the subject matter itself is easy and doesn't mean much to him.
posted by picea at 7:02 AM on October 26, 2007


there's so much more and I donno how to understand that more unless I start learning more than English and Spanish.

I feel you. Last summer in Paris, my biggest disappointment where the book stores stacked with thousands of really cool-looking comics, and me unable to read a single one.

what was the artist attempting to communicate with his audience?

Art is not about communication, it's about creation.
posted by signal at 7:04 AM on October 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Put me down in the "this sucks" column. What a pointless exercise. The presentation is annoying and the subject matter is crap.
posted by autodidact at 7:14 AM on October 26, 2007


Duly noted. Now go away.
posted by carsonb at 7:24 AM on October 26, 2007


My anus is bleeding.
posted by fungible at 7:30 AM on October 26, 2007


There are a few more works of Shintaro Kago available via bittorrent at deadfrog.us (NSFW, full page ads).
posted by yeoz at 7:32 AM on October 26, 2007


These are lovely strange.
posted by Nelson at 8:38 AM on October 26, 2007


signal -

Well, if the art is a story telling art, and I certainly include the comic medium as a story telling art, then it most certainly is about communication. Creation and communication are not mutually exclusive.

As I pointed out above, I was analyzing this in the context of Lajos Egri, specifically the Art of Dramatic Writing, considered a bible of sorts of playwriting and screenwriting. Here's the first few chapters if you're interested in what he has to say.

It seems to me that the comic as a medium shares many similarities to movies, so I was merely analyzing this based on asking "what is the premise?", a perfectly valid question.

One of Egri's points was that a story that has no premise isn't very good and won't stand the test of time.

This was a story about a bleeding anus.

Interesting visuals, but nevertheless...
posted by MythMaker at 9:12 AM on October 26, 2007


MythMaker writes "Not that there's anything wrong with trying to shock the audience, mind you, but I've just been reading Lajos Egri, and I wonder what the premise of this was, what is the theme, what was the artist attempting to communicate with his audience?"

Sometimes there is no theme. Sometimes art is created for the sake of evoking emotions, or to experiment with styles, effects, etc., not to say something. Sometimes the only important aspect of art is how it makes you feel, not what it says to you.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:55 AM on October 26, 2007


MythMaker writes "Well, if the art is a story telling art, and I certainly include the comic medium as a story telling art, then it most certainly is about communication. Creation and communication are not mutually exclusive."

Well, I don't think there is an imperative with comics that it has to mean something, no more than any other art form. In its popular form, comics mostly communicate easy jokes, but usually not more than that.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:57 AM on October 26, 2007


Sure, krinklyfig, that's fine. And I think in this case, the artist was mostly just trying an experiment, which is admirable.

But if he cared about story, and decided that the story he was telling ought to, in itself, have meaning, then this work would have more depth. A viewer could watch it and get something out of it beyond merely watching a formal experiment.

Eraserhead, for example, is most certainly a formal experiment, but it has deeper psychological meaning, with regards to fear and alienation, how people see each other, etc.

Having narrative depth makes the work better.

To quote Egri (this is from the link I had above):

We are taking it for granted that you want to write a fine play, something which will endure. The strange thing is that all plays, including farces, are better when the author feels he has something important to say.

Obviously you feel that it's not important for an artist to have something important to say. I do.

And one of Egri's points is that all lasting narrative works, and this goes back to the Greeks and Sumerians, frankly, had a premise to their stories. Shakespeare did.

There's nothing wrong with experimentation. But this piece, while experimental, certainly was narrative. It was telling a story about 2 people who had sex together. It seems necessary, then, if you want the work to mean something to other people, for the story to have resonance and depth, that the artist have something to say.

That's all my point was.
posted by MythMaker at 10:24 AM on October 26, 2007


Mmmmm ... well, all that said, I'm not sure how this makes me feel ...
posted by krinklyfig at 10:24 AM on October 26, 2007


MythMaker writes "Obviously you feel that it's not important for an artist to have something important to say. I do."

Well, it depends. I don't necessarily think a linear narrative is important. An artist may explore different themes, true, but art is open to interpretation.

I guess it applies more to visual art, but not all art is trying to say something thematic, and I don't think that's a qualifier for quality. In this case, the artist is trying to break apart the linear quality of comic storytelling. I'm not sure why art in a comic medium would have to have the same qualities as literature.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:39 AM on October 26, 2007


Amazing stuff—thanks for the post!

DUDE, CHECK OUT HOW WEIRD JAPAN IS

YES WE MUST NEVER POST ABOUT JAPAN BECAUSE EVERY POST ABOUT JAPAN OR ANYTHING JAPANESE IS REALLY ABOUT "HOW WEIRD JAPAN IS" SO LET'S JUST PRETEND JAPAN DOESN'T EXIST

bakayaro

posted by languagehat at 11:13 AM on October 26, 2007


I never met an artistic endeavor featuring the line "My anus is bleeding!" I didn't like, and this is no exception.

At risk of sounding pretentious I look at it as an structural experiment/artistic exercise - in that context it's wildly successful, especially when compared to most short-form comics, which are often unsatisfyingly facile in terms of both narrative and structure.

That shit nearly broke my brain, and I'm curious if Morrison and Quitely's much-ballyhooed 'Western manga' flourishes in We3 were referencing or influenced by Kago.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:29 AM on October 26, 2007


YES WE MUST NEVER POST ABOUT JAPAN BECAUSE EVERY...

Down boy. Mr.Encyclopedia was quoting the page I linked to, where the blog author mentioned that he found Abstraction in some random DUDE, CHECK OUT HOW WEIRD JAPAN IS forum thread.
posted by carsonb at 12:08 PM on October 26, 2007


Oops, sorry!

*commits ritual suicide*
posted by languagehat at 12:41 PM on October 26, 2007


ガロ (Garo) was a pretty fantastic alternative manga magazine that was published for thirty years or so (now defunct, alas).

I managed to dig up an archive of title pages here that's hosted by the Nagai something something Manga museum, but you'll have to poke around a little to make the Japanese site do you bidding.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:42 PM on October 26, 2007


Whoops, not title pages, but it looks like pages from one issue are online here.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:43 PM on October 26, 2007


picea writes "Honestly, while the two-headed taxi and the crawling genitalia might seem pretty out there, I'm guessing that for this artist, it's business as usual, and that while there's a lot of craft going into the comic, the subject matter itself is easy and doesn't mean much to him."

Yeah, it's pretty par for the course for Kago, and he's very hit and miss. I think this particular piece was somewhere in the middle. He's made some really nice looking but incredibly pointless comics (like this one, but without the experimental comic-frame angle), and some experimental pieces that are much more successful (usually either playing with the idea of comic panel frames, like this one does, or with the sequentiality of comics, or the flow of time in comics).

What this comic doesn't get across, though, is just how deliberately offensive he is. Sure, this has bleeding anuses and hemmorhoids and killing young boys with sleeping pills, but his usual fare is much, much worse.
posted by Bugbread at 1:55 PM on October 26, 2007


Well, I guess it all depends on how much you think of comics as being a narrative medium. And narrative doesn't have to be linear. Pulp Fiction is a great example of a non-linear narrative.

But if you're going to bother to tell a story in the comic medium, you might as well try to tell a coherent one. Clearly, this artist isn't particularly concerned with coherency, he's far more interested in shocking and formal experimentation.

But, Sandman, for example, is a hell of a story. I would predict 100 years from now it might still be studied in schools as an achievement.

Bleeding out the anus here, not so much.

As an experiment, sure. But a work of art needs to be more than an experiment. Do you know how many awful, pretentious experimental films (videos mostly these days) are made every year? Thousands (shorts, mostly).

You'll never see them because they mostly suck. Or maybe you'll catch a couple on youtube.

Kubrick's 2001, on the other hand, was an incredible experiment with form and with narrative. It's better than things that are experiments ONLY.

All I'm saying is that one can experiment and have something to say. Having something to say makes a work of art better.
posted by MythMaker at 4:07 PM on October 26, 2007


Having something to say makes a work of art better.

I object on grounds of speculation.
posted by carsonb at 6:40 PM on October 26, 2007


If you enjoy this, you can get quite a lot of it here.
posted by rifflesby at 4:57 PM on October 27, 2007


You don't think the people who made the statues on Easter Island were doing it for a purpose? That they had an objective in doing it? Of course they did.
posted by MythMaker at 6:56 PM on October 27, 2007


And beyond that, it strikes me that statues are a bit off what I was discussing which was specifically and only *narrative* art - which is to say, art which tells stories. I think if you tell a story with no point that what you have done is not as good as a story which has a point. That is all.
posted by MythMaker at 7:02 PM on October 27, 2007


You don't think the people who made the statues on Easter Island were doing it for a purpose? That they had an objective in doing it? Of course they did.

I'm sure they did have a purpose. But we have no way of knowing what that purpose was—the art is still striking and excellent to the audience without that knowledge. I'm saying that since you don't have to know the artist's purpose/story to truly appreciate a work of art, that initial purpose doesn't carry the weight you attribute to it (Having something to say makes a work of art better.).
posted by carsonb at 1:12 PM on October 28, 2007


In other words, having something 'said' to me by an artist isn't necessary to mine appreciation of their art.
posted by carsonb at 1:13 PM on October 28, 2007


I don't think it's necessary for the viewer of a narrative story to know exactly *what* the artist was trying to say, merely that the work itself is better if the artist has a point. It's fine for the point to be occluded.

IMHO, this artist didn't have much of a *narrative* premise with his story of ass bleeding. He had some thoughts about *form*, but the narrative seemed thin, and semi-gratuitous. Some of the other pieces linked above had slightly more coherent points to make.

And, again, I'm talking about narrative art. An abstract painting or a statue aren't, generally speaking, narrative. On the other hand, this comic was, even if the story was incoherent. That's why I'm judging it on its merits as a narrative, and finding it wanting.
posted by MythMaker at 5:33 PM on October 28, 2007


Well thank you for your time, just the same. I hope you find a narrative you can rave about soon.
posted by carsonb at 5:54 PM on October 28, 2007


Sure. I'm glad I took a look. I really like the idea of pulling the comic panel into 3D and deconstructing it. It's a clever conceit.

I just wish he was telling a story within that conceit, that's all. :)

Blow Up, linked above, I actually thought was a pretty cool example of "form follows function." His narrative was about someone preoccupied that the planet is an atom and the universe just a larger object, and then used the panels to explore that idea visually. He seemed to have a premise here, although I thought the Space Invaders thing at the end felt gratuitous. But I could see what he was doing and I thought it seemed a bit more thought-out, thematically speaking.

He might be better as an artist working with a writer, so someone else could take on the responsibility of telling a coherent story, and he could continue to do his visual, formal explorations.

Just a thought.
posted by MythMaker at 12:33 PM on October 29, 2007


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