Saturday, April 3, 2010

Monster Men review

Monster Men Bureiko Lullaby
Takashi Nemeto
Picturebox Inc.

The first English translation of Japanese heta-uma (bad-good) cartoonist Takashi Nemeto’s outrageous graphic novel from the mid-80s, the hair-raising antics depicted throughout Monster Men Bureiko Lullaby expose readers to a super-intense world of hilarity and woe. The first thing I thought when I got the shrink wrap off this volume and flicked through was “Uh-oh... I hope I don’t get raided by the cops”. A collection of short stories combined with the longer The World According To Takeo, there’s also an interview with Nemeto and multiple text pieces to contextualise his works. The longer story tells the tale of the relationship between a radioactive lunatic and his son, a lonely gigantic sperm. Beyond the constant sex and frequent violence a subtle sense of pathos and moral reflection lurks amongst his characters. The surface crudeness belies the impeccable craft involved in constructing these improvised narratives - the amoral world Nemeto creates is compelling and perversely addictive, while his drawings and page layouts compliment his themes smoothly. Certainly not for the faint-hearted, well outside the bounds of what currently constitutes acceptability in the graphic novel realm yet perhaps essential because of it - Monster Men Bureiko Lullaby is difficult and highly rewarding reading.

Chris Cudby

(originally published in Real Groove magazine, February 2009)

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